Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s thirteen hour filibuster against the Administration’s claim of authority to fly armed Predator drones in America has ended and the President has blinked.
Paul spoke for thirteen hours and brought home the disturbing news to many who were unaware that this Administration had contemplated using Predator drones inside the USA.
No longer does the Administration claim the authority to fire hellfire missiles in “extraordinary circumstances” at Americans inside America.
The good news comes to us in a laconic missive penned by the President’s chief lawyer, Eric Himpton Holder, Jr. The President may hope that this better-late-than-never statement will clear away the cloud of dissimulation regarding drones. He is mistaken.
Paul’s polite requests, starting in February, asked that the White House assure us that it had no legal authority to fire missiles at Americans inside the USA. His inquiries were met with either silence or double talk. The Administration’s 43 word climb-down memo written Thursday implies falsely that Senator Paul’s request only became an issue after the Senator’s filibuster ended. In fact, the Administration has been stonewalling Paul’s “additional question” since at least the 20th of February.
Senator Paul has done yeoman service and this is an important victory, but now is no time for complacency. No one in this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave should ever feel uneasy at the sound of distant aircraft in the night sky.
Now that the Administration has abnegated its right to fire from armed drones in the USA, there is no legitimate reason for armed Predator drones to be permitted to fly over US civilian air space.
Congress has the power to prohibit the flight of armed drones inside the USA. Armed drones in the airspace over military bases would be excepted. Congress must act now — through its power of the purse — to defund armed Predator drone flights over US civilian areas. If Congress and the President cannot agree to this simple stipulation, then the veracity of Mr. Obama’s assurances must be questioned.