History of a Sort
Yesterday, I was in a staff meeting most of the day, and I took a look at the news on the break to find that Rand Paul was doing an actual filibuster on the floor of the senate. I have to admit, I snuck a peak every chance I could get to see how it was going. NRO has a nice summary of the whole thing, if you want highlights.
After nearly 13 hours and to a resounding applause, Rand Paul yielded the floor, thus ending his filibuster. Paul thanked his staff, his colleagues, Capitol Hill police, and his supporters, among others, before citing “that there are some limits to filibustering and I’m going to have to go take care of one of those in a few minutes” as his reason for calling it a night. He concluded that he hopes his efforts had some impact on the executive branch’s future discretion in its drone policy.
I’ll note that he was joined, if briefly, by Ron Wyden, on of the senators from my state of Oregon. I don’t know that Wyden’s presence makes it an actual bi-partisan effort as much as the thought that any administration could intimate the assassination of an American citizen on US soil and then balk at outright denial…
As to the entire drone question, it’s good that Paul brought it front and center in the national debate. Of course, it probably left a lot of people with some conflicted feelings if they’re being truly honest with themselves. As I none too charitably quipped on Twitter last night, the people screaming about potential drone strikes on Americans who previously supported the Patriot Act remind me quite a bit of those who railed against the Patriot Act under Bush but are now strangely silent when Obama is the one calling the shots. (Both literally and figuratively.)
I can recall an incidence where I witnessed a presentation by a very high-level government security official in information technology. Said person pointed out that, buried in all the data blowing around the world in the form of Facebook posts, Tweets, phone calls, and the like, was information that would indicate the next terrorist attack. Where does the security and livelihood of the nation trump the rights of a citizen on American soil to say or do what that citizen pleases? And where could that turn into a danger that must be immediately eliminated?
I would bet that you could ask me this question in various forms on various days, and I’d probably have different answers. For the most part, I lean Libertarian on freedoms, and I can’t make a case for any extra-judicial prosecution of our citizens. That slope is just way too steep. I would hope that most people feel this way, though I’ve had my arguments with people on both sides who probably wouldn’t depending on the circumstance and the absence of logic.
But at this point, I’m more marveling that I managed to catch some of the filibuster fun. I salute Senator Paul for making his point and pushing the administration to clarify their position, and the use of Congressional Theater to do it was something that I can use as a civics lesson for people… assuming they actually heard about it.
Updated: I just saw this thoughtful piece by JE Dyer, worth a whole read.