As I woke up this morning, I learned that Senator Rand Paul (R, KY) had wrapped up, at the thirteenth hour, what had been nicknamed the Filiblizzard, brought about by the nomination of John O. Brennan to the post of CIA Director and the plans by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to use unmanned drones to hunt down and kill American Citizens on American soil.
The Washington Times has the story:
After years in the shadows, the administration’s secret drone program burst into very public view Wednesday with lawmakers grilling the attorney general over legal justification for targeted killings and Sen. Rand Paul launching an old-style one-man filibuster to demand answers from President Obama.
The Kentucky Republican held the floor for almost 13 hours, effectively blocking a vote on the nomination of John O. Brennan, whom Mr. Obama has tapped to be CIA director. He said he would relent only if the administration publicly vowed not to target Americans on U.S. soil.
“This is a long, drawn-out day, but it’s to try to get some answers,” Mr. Paul said after he crossed the eight-hour mark late Wednesday evening. “It’s to try to shame the president into doing the right thing.”
Democrats, who control the chamber, were forced to delay a vote on the Brennan nomination until at least Thursday, and it could go into the weekend, depending on what other blockades Republicans erect.
At issue is the administration’s argument that it can kill those it suspects have ties to terrorism, including U.S. citizens, without having to put them on trial.
The fulcrum of the debate is the drone program, started under President George W. Bush and expanded by Mr. Obama, which many lawmakers said gives too much power to the executive branch — and raises tricky questions about whether drones could be used to execute Americans in the United States.
The administration has only recently acknowledged the drone program and says it is seeking a public debate in order to find common ground on what Americans are ready to accept.
“I think there is going to be a greater effort at the transparency. A number of steps are going to be taken. I expect you will hear the president speaking about this,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told the SenateJudiciary Committee on Wednesday morning.
But he faced bipartisan demands for more information and more clarity on what is and what isn’t allowed.
“You can hear almost unanimous concern about transparency and wrestling with how to move forward here in a way that protects both our constitutional liberties and our security as a nation,” Sen. Christopher A. Coons, Delaware Democrat, told Mr. Holder.
Under close questioning by Sen. Ted Cruz, Mr. Holder repeatedly said American citizens on U.S. soil were not “appropriate” targets for extrajudicial executions.
Mr. Cruz said that wasn’t good enough.
“You keep saying ‘appropriate.’ My question isn’t about propriety. My question is about whether something is constitutional or not,” the Texas Republican said.
“Let me be clear: Translate my ‘appropriate’ to ‘no.’ I thought I was saying no, all right? No,” Mr. Holder said.
Mr. Holder also said he is not sure Congress could ban the president from using drones to kill Americans on U.S. soil.
But, of course, as Obama said, “I am not a dictator”. Yeah, right.
The longest spoken filibuster in American history was by Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who went on for 24 hours and 18 minutes in filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
Thurmond began speaking at 8:54 p.m. on August 28, 1957 and did not stop until 9:12 p.m. on the 29th.
That rhetorical marathon took a lot of preparation, though. Here are some of the details, according to the Associated Press:
Thurmond took a steam bath earlier in the day to rid his body of excess liquid. This avoided the potential for any “accidents” in the chamber.
He went to the floor armed with cough drops and malted milk tablets.
He allowed others to make short remarks and ask questions during his time, allowing him to sneak off to the cloakroom to gobble a sandwich.
He had his aide wait in the cloakroom with a pail when he was about to step down from the dais in case of an emergency evacuation.
So far, Paul’s discussion has been much more lively than Thurmond’s speech, with heavy ad-libbing and contributions from seven different Senators, including Democrat Ron Wyden.
A major question, though, is what exactly did Thurmond talk about for 24 straight hours? Most of the content of the then-55-year-old’s speech was about the right to a trial by jury.
Via Michael McGraw-Herdeg on Quora, here’s what Thurmond talked about for one straight day:
Thurmond read, verbatim, the voting laws of each one of the 48 states.
He read the U.S. criminal code
He read a Supreme Court decision, followed by more laws. A friend brought him a glass of orange juice.
He allowed Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson to conduct some minor Senate business, such as preparing to swear-in the new Senator from Wisconsin, with a promise that Thurmond will be allowed to resume his filibuster.
At 1:40 a.m., Thurmond talked about jury trials.
By 6:45 a.m., Thurmond was having a back and forth with an arriving Senator about the bill. The Senator then left for breakfast with President Eisenhower.
Thurmond fielded questions from sympathetic Senators looking to give his voice a break.
Thurmond read the Declaration of Independence.
Thurmond allowed Johnson to swear in the new Senator from Wisconsin at roughly 1 p.m.
Thurmond welcomed Italian dignitaries to the chamber and then resumed discussing jury trials.
Thurmond took questions from sympathetic Senators again, as well as abuse from adversaries.
A letter from the President Dwight D. Eisenhower momentarily interrupted the discussion of jury trials.
The Senator finished up with a summary of his opposition to the bill. “Mr. President, I urge every Member of this body to consider this bill most carefully. I hope the Senate will see fit to kill it. I expect to vote against the bill. [Laughter.]“
The Senate later passed the bill. Thurmond’s oratorical marathon didn’t change a single vote.
Senator Paul’s filibuster may not , either. But, at least he did something.
Which is more than I can say for the RINOs up on Capitol Hill.
Until He Comes,