The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 8, 2013

A filibuster for the right reasons


Daily Item

---- — For the past few days Rand Paul has taken shots from every direction. Democrats mocked the Republican senator from Kentucky for his grandstanding and holding up the inevitable nomination of CIA director John Brennan. Members of Paul's own party, including long-time senate leaders John McCain and Lindsey Graham, basically told the newcomer to sit in the corner and be quiet.

Paul may have been grandstanding. And he certainly was ruffling feathers within his own party.

Good for him.

When he stood up and talked about for 13 hours on Wednesday he was not wrong. He stood up and asked a question that needed asking.

Agree or disagree with Paul's politics, on the issue of drones more questions remain than answers are available. Paul wants to make sure everybody knows that.

Filibusters have, in the past, been utter wastes of time. Strom Thurmond famously filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for more 24 hours. He read the voting laws of 48 states as well as the U.S. criminal code.

Paul could have done that. He could have read from the phonebook and it would have been a colossal waste of time. "I will speak until I can no longer speak," Paul said before getting started.

What he spoke about, however, were real concerns, real questions that demand real debate and real answers on the United States' policy on using drones against American citizens and on U.S. soil.

The issue of using unmanned drones and their ability to go anywhere and deliver a fatal blow to anyone those in power see fit is more than scary. It means the line government should not cross is now in the rearview mirror.

"When I asked the president, 'Can you kill an American on American soil?' it should have been an easy answer," Paul said Wednesday. "It's an easy question. It should have been a resounding and unequivocal, 'No.'"

Eventually, Sen. Paul received just that answer, but it could have come faster, easier and with full assurance.

The United States is a nation of laws; it is the backbone of our democracy. Just because someone -- whether they reside in the Oval Office or at the local police station -- has the power to deny someone due process does not mean they should. In fact, those very people should be the ones protecting it more than anyone else.