I think this debate is more about a Constitutional issue and I think it rises to a level, it rises to a level above the individual and it's something that we need to draw attention to, we need to have a good, healthy discussion in our country. And I don't think it has to be a bitter partisan battle. I've met the President personally. I've flown on Air Force One with him. I respect him. I respect the office. And I think he and I could have a reasonable conversation on this.
In fact, I think if he were here today, he might actually agree with much of what I'm saying. What I'm disappointed in, and I don't know if it's the muddle of a large government and not getting a message forward, but what I'm disappointed in is it's been so hard to get him to agree with what I think he should already and probably already agrees with. But when we're talking about doing something so different, when we're talking about changing the way that we adjudicate guilt, changing the way we decide someone's life or death, it's too important just to say, oh, Mr. President, go ahead and do it and as long as you tell me you have no intent of breaking the law or no intent of killing Americans, that's enough. It just simply isn't enough.
You know, it's not enough to say I haven't done it yet, I don't intend to kill anybody but I might. And he came up with some circumstances where he might use the drone strikes in America, and then in Senator Cruz' cross-examination in the committee, we've gotten them to admit under duress I think but to admit that they're not talking about people in a cafe. And some might say, well, he's never mentioned people in a cafe. The reason it comes up of people not involved in combat is that a lot of the people who have been the victims or have been killed by these drone strikes have not been involved in combat when they've been killed. They've been riding in cars, walking down the street, traveling in caravans. And I'm not saying they're good people. I'm just saying the standard for who we kill overseas, we have to ask the question, and I don't think we're doing our job if we don't ask the President, are you going to use the same criteria for how you kill people overseas, is that the same criteria here? And it shouldn't be, well, I'll tell you later. It shouldn't be, I don't intend to do it and I probably won't, but I might. I mean, that's just not enough.
I mean, we are talking about basic protections that we fought our revolution over and really in a way when I see the wars that we've gone to and not every war's been the has been perfectly justified or that we should do. But the thing is, when our soldiers fight, I see them as fighting for the Bill of Rights and I think they see that too. No matter where they are around the world, I see them fighting for the Bill of Rights and our Constitution. But if we're giving that up, if we're not going to adhere to the Fifth Amendment, I find it takes the wind out of the sails. You know, the wind out of the sails.
And can you imagine being a soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq or far-flung places around the world and you're being told, well, you were fighting for the Bill of Rights minus the Fifth Amendment? Or when we say we're going to indefinitely detain people, we're going to fight for the Bill of Rights minus the Sixth Amendment. You know, it's pretty important. These things are what we're fighting for so we really should at least have a robust debate over, you know, the magnitude of these changes, over how these will be set up, over exactly what will happen, how this process is going to work. And just say I'm not intending to do so is not enough. Mr. President, I'd like to, without yielding the floor, allow a question from the Senator from Texas.
SEN. CRUZ: If the Senator from Kentucky would allow this question, I would like to respond to his very gracious invitation and ask if the following letter gives the Senator from Kentucky encouragement and sustenance as he stands and fights liberty. This letter was written February 24, 1836, and it begins as follows.
"To the people of Texas and all Americans in the world. I am besieged by a thousand or more. I have sustained a continual bombardment and cannonade for 24 hours and have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion. Otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword if the fort is taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot and our flag still waives proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then I call on you in the name of liberty, of patriotism and of everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid with all dispatch. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country. Victory or death. Signed, William Barrett Travis."
My question is, does that glorious letter give you an encouragement and sustenance on this 177th anniversary of the Alamo?
SEN. PAUL: Mr. President, I think what Travis' letter at the time Alamo talks about is that there are things bigger than the individual. At the time he wrote that, I don't think they had much hope of surviving and he died at the Alamo as well as with other volunteers, some from my state of Kentucky. But there was an issue bigger to them at the time that they saw as bigger than the issue of the individual, and I think that's what this debate is about. This isn't really about the person of John Brennan. This really isn't about the person of Barrack Obama. This is about the body of the Constitution. It's about our respect for it. And it's about whether or not we will hold these principles so dear and we will hole these principles so high that we're willing to try to enjoin a debate to try to get both sides to talk about this and to try to admit because we don't want people to be killed who are innocent in America. We want to have the process that has protected our freedoms for a couple hundred years now to remain in place, and we're unwilling to diminish that simply because of fear.
You know, F.D.R. said you know, "there's nothing to fear but fear itself." I think we should also say it's not that we should let fear be so great that we allow the loss of our freedoms. And I think that's where we are, that sometimes, you know, terrorists are everywhere and they're trying to attack us. Well, we need to remember that it's our freedom that's precious and we need to try to do everything we can to uphold that. And, Mr. President, at this time, I would entertain a question without yielding the floor from the Senator from Oregon.
SEN. WYDEN: Thank you very much, Mr. President. The issue of American security and American freedom really doesn't get enough discussion here in the United States Senate and it's my view that the Senator from Kentucky has made a number of important points this day. And I'd just like to take a few minutes to lay out my views on this issue and then pose a question to my colleague from Kentucky. We've talked often about these issues and I always learn a great deal. Of course the Senate will be voting on the nomination of John Brennan, the Deputy National Security Advisor, to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
I voted in favor of Mr. Brennan during Tuesday's intelligence committee meeting and I intend to vote for Mr. Brennan on the floor. Virtually every member of the intelligence committee now in my view believes that Mr. Brennan has substantial national security expertise and experience and it's certainly my hope that he will be a principled and effective leader that the CIA needs and deserves. And I think Senator Paul and I agree that this nomination also provides a very important opportunity for the United States Senate to consider the government's rules and policies on the targeted killings of Americans and that, of course, has been a central pillar of our nation's counter terror strategy. For several years now, Mr. President, I and colleagues, Senator Paul as well, have been seeking to get more information about the Executive Branch's rules for conducting targeted killings of Americans, and I'm pleased that after considerable efforts, efforts really that should not have to have been taken to get documents that the intelligence committee has been entitled to for some time. The committee has now received those secret legal opinions.