Sen. Rand Paul took to the floor of the U.S. Senate just before noon Wednesday and vowed to stay there “at length” in order to filibuster John O. Brennan, whom President Obama has nominated to be the next CIA director.
Mr. Paul, Kentucky Republican, has said he will hold up the nomination until he gets more information about the U.S. drone execution program, which has become a major sore point for many lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
“I will speak today until the president responds and says, ‘No, we won’t kill Americans in cafes. No, we won’t kill you at home at night,’” Mr. Paul said early on in the filibuster, which began at 11:47 a.m. and by early afternoon showed no signs of slowing down.
Speaking from his corner desk, Mr. Paul, in red tie and gray suit and with a glass of ice water at the reach, spoke about political history and the origins of key constitutional precepts.
He was armed with binders full of information but rarely glanced at them as he rattled off important Supreme Court cases and names of lawyers involved in landmark race relations lawsuits.
The old-style, hold-the-floor filibuster is likely to heighten attention on Mr. Paul, who is thought to be mulling a presidential bid in 2016.
He has staked out a stance as a defender of constitutional rights and has not been shy about demanding votes on his priorities. But the single-handed filibuster is a more dramatic tactic, and he is using it to force attention to his opposition to the U.S. drone program.
Just hours before Mr. Paul began his filibuster, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. testified to a Senate committee that he believed it would be illegal for the government to kill an American who was not actively engaged in an imminent threat to security.
But he could not rule out the use of drones on American soil altogether, saying only that he doubted it would happen because it’s easier to capture people here.
The U.S. extrajudicial execution program has come under increasing scrutiny this year after some of the administration’s legal justification for the executions — most often carried out by drone strikes on targets overseas — leaked to the press.
Members of both parties on Capitol Hill have raised concerns about the program, which started under President George W. Bush and which Mr. Obama has greatly expanded.
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