NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

March 16, 2013

Could Rand Paul spark an American Spring?

We know about “the Arab Spring,” when people in some North Africa and Mideast countries had revolutions against unpopular governments.

Granting that some of those revolutions aren’t going well and our government is only annoyingly unpopular so far, I’m climbing way out on a limb that is covered with little buds to predict that the American Spring is coming!

It began with media icon Bob Woodward calling out the Obama administration for refusing to admit the sequester was its idea, and was picked up last week by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul calling out the Obama administration for not making clear that it won’t use drones to kill Americans on American soil.

As the Senate prepared to vote on the appointment of President Obama’s choice for CIA director, candidate John Brennan’s response to the Senate Intelligence Committee last month about drones seemed vague. Attorney General Eric Holder, asked to clarify, sent a letter stating that the U.S. government “has no intention” of carrying out drone strikes in the U.S. However, “It is possible ... to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.” Holder went on to say he would “examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the president on the scope of his authority.”

Whoa there! The correct answer is, the Constitution doesn’t give the president the authority to use military force against American citizens on American soil unless there is “imminent (i.e., immediate) threat.” Otherwise, it requires due process.

Just before noon last Wednesday, Paul took to the Senate floor in a rare standing filibuster, which turned into the ninth longest in American history.

Chip called that evening to tell me to turn on C-SPAN, and we watched spellbound as Paul, aided by questions from other tea party senators, then other more traditional Republican senators, talked about the Constitution and rule of law until after midnight.

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