About Rand Paul’s filibuster the other night: Initially I was thrilled, but in the cold grey light of morning, it seems its most lasting effect will be limited to advancing Paul’s political fortunes.
I hope I’m wrong, but nothing really tangible was gained. Brennan still breezed through and Holder’s 43-word letter really did nothing to put Paul’s questions to rest.
It certainly exposed a rift between Paul and the Old Guard Republicans, who clearly seem unnerved at this challenge to the never-to-be-questioned primacy of the Military Industrial Gravy Train.
“What is it, all of the sudden, that this drone program has gotten every Republican all spun up?” Graham asked. He said that many are ‘astonished’ that Obama has continued President Bush’s war on terror. “I’m not astonished, I congratulate him for having the good judgment to understand we’re at war,” Graham added.
“To my party, I’m a bit disappointed that you no longer apparently think we’re at war,” he observed. “Not Senator Paul, he’s a man to himself. He has a view that I don’t think is a Republican view – I think it’s a legitimately held libertarian view.
Graham [also] slammed Paul for failing to sign a resolution in which the Senate professed its refusal to accept a nuclear-capable Iran.
McCain also had harsh words for Paul’s “stunt” and the pair had what must have been an incredibly awkward elevator ride together (shown in the image above).
So, are we any closer to progress here? Republicans (some of them anyway) spoke up in support of the filibuster and forgive me if I don’t quite believe they have become converts to the cause of civil liberties. It was simply an opportunity to get on television with the cameras rolling. The Democrats, who might be expected to have a civil libertarian or two among their ranks,* simply circled the wagons around their president and his scary nominee for CIA director. As Glenn Greenwald tweeted yesterday: “4 years ago, Brennan’s advocacy of torture forced him to withdraw for top CIA spot; now, all Dems except 2 vote to confirm him. #ObamaLegacy”.
Andrew Kirell of Mediate was on Current TV yesterday, and put it best and most simply
You should never put faith in a politician to be jury, judge, and executioner.
In the GWOT decade we have seen successive, and mutually exclusive, fatuous personality cults built around whoever was sitting in the White House. Partisans of both parties would do well to put Kirell’s statement on a plaque somewhere in their offices. To me the distinctions between killing Americans on American soil vs. killing them overseas vs. killing non-Americans are really distractions from the major question: does any person, or group, have the right to sentence anyone to death based on secret criteria?
I’m hoping that years from now we will be able to look back on the past decade as an aberration, and we will revert to a time when extrajudicial assassination was, rightly, considered an appalling manifestation of an imperial mindset. Hoping, but not counting on it.
* OK there were exactly two, but one wished for more maybe?