Last week the nation watched as Sen. Rand Paul, in an epic move to protect the freedoms of millions across the nation, during a filibuster on the Senate floor lasting over thirteen hours.
This filibuster, which was driven by Paul's determination to preserve American's freedom, reminded many of the fictional character Jefferson Smith, forever made memorable in the 1939 movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington starring James Stewart and Jean Arther.
Smith entered the political arena suddenly after the sudden death of a U.S. Senator from the state of Montana. Smith, a student of history and leader of the Boy Rangers a boy-scout type group, arrives in Washington with utopian ideas of honorable men serving in the legislature, but is surprised at the vice and corruption. After drafting a bill for a summer boys camp, Smith unwittingly heads straight into a collision with his state's political machine. This leads to endless hearings which attack Smith as a man who has an underlying agenda, what happens becomes a beautiful tale of a man willing to sacrifice all to stand for what is right, no matter the consequences.
Taking the Senate floor Smith speaks for hours on end knowing that if he gives up the floor for anything but a question he will be losing the floor and his cause...The best part of the tale is that Smith wins and good conquers over evil.
Similarly Rand Paul took a stand to stop the vote which would confirm John Brennan as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
As Paul, said at the beginning of what would become a thirteen hour talking filibuster,
"I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan's nomination for the CIA. I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime without first being found to be guilty by a court. That Americans could be killed in a cafe in San Francisco or in a restaurant in Houston or at their home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is an abomination. It is something that should not and cannot be tolerated in our country. I don't rise to oppose John Brennan's nomination simply for the person. I rise today for the principle."
- Senator Rand Paul
Sen. Paul took a strong stand to defend our rights as guaranteed by the fifth amendment, which reads:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
- Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, 1791
What is the purpose of having drones in our nation which may or may not be used against our citizens? This is the question that drove Sen. Rand to take such a drastic measure-- this is something that concerns every citizen of the United States. We need to know that we will be safe and will not be in danger of losing life, liberty and property without due process.
The outpouring support which was brought to Paul's attention would later overwhelm him and though he did not receive as prompt a response as had been hoped, he believes a stir was made and hopes the rights of citizens will be protected.
The outpouring of support for my filibuster has been overwhelming and heartening. My office has fielded thousands of calls. Millions have followed this debate on TV, Twitter and Facebook. On Thursday, the White House produced another letter explaining its position on drone strikes. But the administration took too long, and parsed too many words and phrases, to instill confidence in its willingness or ability to protect our liberty.
I hope my efforts help spur a national debate about the limits of executive power and the scope of every American’s natural right to be free. “Due process” is not just a phrase that can be ignored at the whim of the president; it is a right that belongs to every citizen in this great nation.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, may have been one of the first to liken Sen. Rand Paul to the character of Sen. Smith from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He was certainly right. Our freedoms will always be important and it is worthwhile to fight for them.
Cross-posted on my blog politicalfireball.wordpress.com