Update 2:00 pm EST: The Obama Administration has issued a response on drones.
The U.S. government cannot target an American citizen who is not engaged in combat on American soil, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday during his daily press briefing.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) had on Thursday asked the administration if the president has the authority to use a mechanized drone against an American on U.S. soil who is not engaged in hostile activities. “The answer to that question is no,” Carney said, reading from a new a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder addressed to Paul
It was a simple question. Can the President kill noncombatant American citizens on American soil without due process? No answer was given so Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky decided to filibuster. The filibuster would last over 12 hours as Senators from both sides of the aisle would join in.
During the filibuster Senator Paul quoted Glenn Greenwald, Conor Friedersdorf, and FireDogLake’s own Kevin Gosztola to bolster his case against allowing President Obama, or any president, to assassinate American citizens.
Paul’s filibuster also drifted into a thorough exploration of the drone program including a detailed account of “signature strikes” and how they could be used in America and lead to considerable collateral damage. In one of the more memorable lines Senator Paul said
The filibuster became a hit on social media with the tag #StandWithRand trending worldwide. At one point Senator Ted Cruz read tweets under the tag on the Senate floor bringing the filibuster into the 21st century despite a Senate ban on electronic devices inside the chamber.
But beyond the drama is the remaining question about whether Americans have the right to due process of law before being killed by the government. A question that amazingly continues to go unanswered by the White House.