In the spirit of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Senator Rand Paul delivered the filibuster speech that was trending worldwide on Twitter on Wednesday. He wanted a direct answer from the White House to this simple question: does the U.S. government have the authority to kill an American citizen with a drone on U.S. soil?
The question may seem a bit strange at first. However, with the federal government greatly expanding their use of unmanned drones in U.S. skies, it is a legitimate question that deserves an answer. The U.S. government has already killed an American citizen with a drone.
Sixteen year old Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki who was born in Denver, Colorado was killed by an armed drone while eating at an outside restaurant in Yemen back in 2011.
He was never convicted of any crime, much less charged and tried for any wrongdoings. It appears that he was not even the intended target of the drone strike—possibly just at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
The federal government has never released any statements and Obama has never answered any questions about the killing of this American-born teenager.
So the U.S. government has killed an American citizen with a drone outside of the country’s borders. Could it happen within U.S. borders?
For many months, Senator Paul tried to get a real answer from Attorney General Eric Holder to no avail. Rand Paul did receive a wishy-washy letter from the Attorney General that tapped danced around the question.
Eric Holder basically said: Yes, the U.S. government can technically kill anyone we want, but it’s a highly unlikely that it will happen on U.S. soil.
Isn’t that reassuring?
Rand Paul wouldn’t take “we can kill you, but probably won’t” for an answer. He began filibustering the nomination of John Brennan for CIA Director just before noon on Wednesday, saying that he would be speaking for the “next few of hours.” A few hours turned into nearly 13 hours, as 14 brave senators joined him throughout the day and tons of supportive tweets kept rolling in.
People from all different political backgrounds united behind Rand Paul on social media. CODE PINK on the far left, FreedomWorks on the right, and millions of Americans united in solitary over our constitutional right to due process.
Julie Borowski is a Policy Analyst at FreedomWorks, an organization dedicated to lower taxes, less government, and more freedom. Her writings on economic policy have appeared in numerous newspapers and online outlets. She is on the Board of Advisors for the Coalition to Reduce Spending and she launched an independent YouTube channel called TokenLibertarianGirl in June 2011.
She was previously selected to be a Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow with the Institute for Humane Studies where she worked at the Center for Competitive Politics. Most recently, she was a government affairs associate at Americans for Tax Reform.
Julie has volunteered for political candidates in Kentucky and in her home state of Maryland. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Frostburg State University in May 2010 where she studied political science, economics and international studies. She is now located in Washington, D.C.