Paul Filibuster Thrusts Drones into Spotlight

13-hour filibuster focused on U.S. drone policy.

Rand Paul

Rand Paul

The top trending search term on Twitter last night was “Rand Paul” as the Republican senator from Kentucky staged a one-man marathon filibuster in protest of an Obama Administration policy that appears to condone drone attacks on American citizens within U.S. borders under certain circumstances.

Paul began speaking on the senate floor before noon yesterday and didn’t yield until after 2 a.m. this morning.

While the lengthy filibuster technically centered on opposition to the president’s nominee to lead the CIA, Paul made it clear that his 13-hour speech was a protest of U.S. drone policy. Throughout the night, Paul stayed on message, referring to talking points contained in three huge binders to shed light on the issue.

Early on Paul talked mainly for the benefit of the C-SPAN cameras broadcasting his remarks in the nearly empty chamber, but as word of the filibuster spread on social media, senators began arriving at the Capitol to urge him on. Paul was joined throughout the night by other lawmakers, who stepped in to help continue the filibuster by asking lengthy questions on the Senate floor.

Paul objects to what he calls the Obama Administration’s “lack of clarity” over whether a suspected terrorist who is an American citizen can be targeted with a drone strike inside U.S. borders. Hours into his filibuster, Paul acknowledged that CIA nominee John Brennan was still likely to be confirmed. He emphasized that the debate was intended primarily to shine a spotlight on the government’s balance of civil liberties with national security.