“I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA. I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important…”
That was Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) on the Senate floor yesterday just before noon. With the help of several conservative Senators, he continued his filibuster until after midnight.
In an unexpected twist during Brennan’s confirmation fight, these Senators have raised uncomfortable issues for the Obama Administration. Despite failing to head off the earlier confirmations of weak national security nominees like Chuck Hagel and John Kerry, conservatives are digging in on Brennan.
Once again, we have a marginally suited nominee with questionable policy choices and actions in his past. Brennan is being savaged for being the originator of and prime mover behind the overuse of drones and for ignoring the ideological basis (radical Islam) of the terrorists the U.S. is now facing.
While the general concept of the use of drones to attack our enemies is well established, the recent comments by the Attorney General that there was an existing authority to use armed drones domestically against Americans has brought the issue a new scrutiny.
As Heritage has stated before, use of armed drones inside the U.S. would be foolish and wrong. The Administration’s assertion is a dangerous overreach. In general, the overuse of drones as the counter-terrorism method of choice has turned into Obama’s equivalent of Bill Clinton’s use of cruise missiles. Both appear to be cheap and easy. Unfortunately, when used at the exclusion of other military and intelligence means, all you get is press coverage, but not lasting results. The President must utilize a comprehensive counter-terrorism policy that uses all the tools available.
Brennan insists that putting any focus on the radical ideology of the terrorists who presently threaten the U.S. would be counterproductive and wrong. This is ludicrous. How can a man lead the key U.S. intelligence organization when he rejects the explanatory values of ideology in this conflict? This is consistent with an Administration that called the terrorist murders committed by al-Qaeda disciple Nidal Hassan (the Fort Hood shootings) an “act of workplace violence.”
This President has gotten used to getting his own way—in policy, in personnel, even in the budget fights. The problem with a leader who gets such a taste of power is that he forgets the roles of the other branches of government. The issues being raised in the filibuster are legitimate and deserve real answers. Will the Senate stand up as a body and do its job? At least some of them are trying and are shining a light on subjects the powerful would prefer stay hidden.
Several of the U.S. Senators rallying to Paul’s side include some of conservatism’s rising stars: Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Marco Rubio of Florida. They likely wouldn’t be serving in the world’s greatest deliberative body were it not for the work of Senator Jim DeMint, Heritage’s president-elect. Conservatives should thank them for defending the Constitution and standing up for due process.
Steven P. Bucci, who served America for three decades as an Army Special Forces officer and top Pentagon official, is director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
This article was originally published at Heritage.org. Used with permission.