Nothing Like the Smell of a Filibuster in the Morning

Posted on March 7, 2013 by

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Rand PaulThe “Randpage,” as Drudge has named it, continues. Rand Paul has decided to use one of the Senate’s most distinguished techniques, the filibuster, to state his opposition to John Brennan’s nomination, and eventual confirmation, as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Paul’s opposition stems primarily from Brennan’s willingness to allow drone strikes of American citizens, even on American soil, in limited circumstances.

The technology is different, and immediate, but the legal system has engaged similar questions in the past. US citizens, via Quirin, can be prosecuted via military tribunal, so they vacate, to a degree, their constitutional rights. Hamdi determined that unlawful combatants could be detained, even if they are US citizens, though US citizens could challenge their status legally. Hamdan, however, limited what the executive could do via military tribunals without congressional authorization.

The Court has been generally deferential to the Executive’s ability to circumvent the judicial system. There is a far jump from detainment to a death-strike from above. Using immediate force against an American citizen would be much closer to a battlefield execution, and given the fluid nature of this battlefield, Sen. Paul is right to have strong reservations. It seems that a bright line between foreign and domestic death strikes makes some sense, though constraining the executive in what could be life or death situations of terroristic activity seems foolish. Hence, the conflict. This issue is a mess as we sit here in an Age of Terror.

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