On Wednesday March 7th at 11:45, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul took the senate floor to begin his filibuster blocking Senate confirmation of John Brennan, President Obama’s pick for director of the CIA. Though I usually do not agree with any Tea Party member, Paul pointed out how dangerous drones are to the American public. Though drones are used on the battlefield across the Atlantic Ocean, the U.S. government is now talking about using drones in the United States for surveillance or killing an American in extreme circumstances.
In a letter to Paul on March 4th, Attorney General Eric Holder stated the Federal government has not conducted such operations and doesn’t plan to…but it was possible President Obama could be forced by an “extraordinary circumstance” to kill citizens inside the United States, such as similar attacks to Pearl Harbor and 9/11 Attacks. Rand took to the senate floor to point how the U.S. government could abuse its power and use the drones to kill terrorist suspects without first taking the suspects to court. As the 5th Amendment states:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Paul was not the only one to question drones, he was joined by several other Republican senators and Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon. The senators questioned the constitutionality of drone strikes on U.S. citizens at home and aboard. As Paul pointed out “No American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found guilty of a crime by a court… How can you kill someone without going to a judge, or a jury?” Already American terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a drone strike in Yemen. Since he was an American, didn’t al-Awlaki deserve a trial? Would soldiers be criticized for killing an American suspect and not taking him in? And if future al-Aklakis were lying in bed in their American homes, would a drone be used to kill them? Does America’s future involve drones flying in American skies?
Since the War of Terror started, about 95% of killings have been done by drones. Drones have killed 4,700 people, but up to 25% may have be civilians. On September 11, 2012, drones attacked U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador. Now I realize that in war, everything goes. Innocent men, women, and children are going to die in wars. But if drones are used in the U.S., doesn’t that mean that innocent people could also be killed. People who are no way near a battlefield could be killed as collateral damage or the U.S. government could be wrong. How many people have died because the SWAT team invaded the wrong house? U.S. Marine Jose Guerena was killed by the SWAT team when he grabbed his gun to protect his family from invaders. The court system is used to make sure a criminal is a criminal.
Not all Republicans agree with Paul ‘s stance on drones (such as Senator John McCain), believing he spent 13 hours scaring Americans. But Americans should continue to question the president, especially since the Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed right after 9/11 attacks, grants the presidents to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against any person, organization, or nation connected to the 9/11 attacks. The War on Terror continues to spread throughout the Middle East, entering Africa. And though drones are usually used when the U.S. is 100% positive the suspect is a terrorist, sometimes the “reasonable man” standard is used. The reasonable man standard means that drones do not need to confirm positive identification of a target before firing, while a soldier would need to know before firing on a suspect.
Paul refused to end his filibuster until he could no longer continue or the president or Attorney General Holder clarified if the president has the power to kill Americans. Paul ended his filibuster finished at 12:45 a.m. Thursday. After 13 hours on the Senate floor, now all of America knows who Paul is and he is now a candidate for the 2016 Presidential election. The U.S. government replied to Paul with the following letter:
It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?” The answer to that question is no.
Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Paul and American received the answer, but the drone issue has just started. America is starting to realize that the president has too much power.
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president… is morally treasonable to the American public.” Theodore Roosevelt