Paul Jacob

Last week, Rand Paul, the junior U.S. Senator from Kentucky, managed to squeeze an answer out of the nation’s highest ups. In constipated Washington, it sure wasn’t easy.

Only via a 13-hour filibuster could Senator Paul capture the attention of the nation’s press corps, and thus, the American people . . . and in so doing, even reach the Obama Administration.

Rising to the floor of what once was billed, straight-faced, as the world’s greatest deliberative body, Sen. Paul stated, “I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”

The senator had previously sent letters to the president, the attorney general and to John Brennan, the president’s CIA director nominee, asking clear questions about the nation’s well known, but secretly conducted, drone assassination program. Most importantly, Sen. Paul inquired whether the Obama Administration believed it had the constitutional authority to murder a non-combatant U.S. citizen sitting at a sidewalk café in an American city (and those in his or her vicinity) with a Hellfire missile shot from a military drone aircraft.

The answers from the Obama Administration? Less than reassuring. As Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart explained it, Attorney General Eric Holder “kind of, sort of implied that, hypothetically, in the right circumstance — yeesss! We can do that. We can do that. Probably won’t, but yeah.”

The senator was not quite as concise as the comedian. “When I asked the President, can you kill an American on American soil,” Paul elaborated during the early hours of his oratorical barricade against the Brennan nomination, “it should have been an easy answer. It’s an easy question. It should have been a resounding and unequivocal, ‘no.’ The President’s response? He hasn’t killed anyone yet. We’re supposed to be comforted by that. The President says, ‘I haven’t killed anyone yet.’ He goes on to say, ‘and I have no intention of killing Americans. But I might.’”

The very next day, Rand Paul’s filibuster paid off. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent Sen. Paul and the media a letter admitting, “The answer to that question is no.”


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.