Last night, KY Sen. Rand Paul led an historic filibuster on the Senate floor to block the nomination of John Brennan to be CIA Director. The filibuster was driven not so much by Brennan as by the Administration’s ambiguous drone policy. Paul wanted assurances from the Administration that drones would not be used against American citizens on American soil. This afternoon, the Administration capitulated and assured Sen. Paul that it did not have the authority to assassinate Americans here at home.
With Holder’s clarification, the Senate voted 81-16 to cut off debate and proceed immediately to Brennan’s nomination. He is expected to gain confirmation easily.
Paul led a 13 hour filibuster on Wednesday, focused on the Administration’s use of unmanned drones to assassinate individuals suspected to have ties to terrorists. As Paul argued, the increased use of drones, as well as the creation of a Presidential “kill list,” raises fundamental constitutional questions. The drones have been used overseas to assassinate individuals who are suspected to have ties to terrorists. There is increasing worry that these drones will be used domestically, in clear violation of the Constitution’s due process protections.
One Democrat and 14 Republican Senators echoed Paul’s concerns during Wednesday’s filibuster. The other 84 Senators chose to stay silent on the question.
Within hours of the end of Paul’s filibuster, he got the clarification he sought. It will go down as one of the more successful filibusters in history.