Kentucky Sen. Rand
But it's worth taking a moment to consider the substance of Mr. Paul's objection. The libertarian and son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul has plenty of views that are far outside the mainstream, but in this case, he zeroed in on an issue all Americans should find uncomfortable: Would it be legal for the U.S. government to use a drone strike to kill an American citizen on American soil?
In the end, the Obama administration felt compelled to respond, and yesterday, Attorney General
The efficacy, morality and legality of drone strikes on foreign soil as part of an ill-defined war on terror are troubling enough. The 2011 killing of an American citizen in Yemen,
In the earlier letter, Mr. Holder made clear that what he meant by "extraordinary circumstances" was something like the Japanese
To Mr. Paul, and to many others, including Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, who joined Mr. Paul on the Senate floor, that all sounded a little too subjective. How exactly would the administration going to decide whether law enforcement or the military provides the "best means" for taking out a terrorist? Does due process factor into the equation?
Mr. Paul did not dispute the government's authority to shoot down an airplane flying toward a skyscraper or "whether a terrorist with a rocket launcher or grenade launcher attacking us ... can be repelled." The question was whether the rather loose rules the Obama administration has followed for killing overseas apply here, and to that, Mr. Holder has still not given a fully satisfactory answer.
As it happened, Mr. Paul's 13-hour talkathon came on the same day that Republicans for a third time blocked an up-or-down vote on Caitlin Halligan, a nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals in
By contrast, Mr. Paul showed the extraordinary power of the talking filibuster in the age of social media. It quickly became one of the most Tweeted and searched topics on the Internet and sparked far more discussion of the issue at hand than any other filibuster has in years. Mr. Paul didn't stop Mr. Brennan's confirmation — that wasn't really his intent — but he did succeed in shaping the debate.