Pro-con: Was Paul right to filibuster on drones?

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., got a lot of attention Wednesday for mounting an honest-to-God filibuster of President Obama’s nominee for CIA director, John Brennan. The nation’s political class marveled at his real-life Mr. Smith act. But it’s worth taking a moment to consider the substance of Paul’s objection. The libertarian and son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul has plenty of views that are far outside the mainstream, but in this case he zeroed in on an issue all Americans should find uncomfortable: Would it be legal for the U.S. government to use a drone strike to kill an American citizen on American soil? In the end, the Obama administration felt compelled to respond, and Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder sent Paul a letter assuring him that the president does not “have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil.” That was good enough for Paul to drop his objection to Brennan’s nomination, which was approved by the Senate, but it still leaves open plenty of questions about the use of drones. – Baltimore Sun

Give Rand Paul credit for theatrical timing. As a snowstorm descended on Washington, D.C., the Kentucky Republican’s old-fashioned filibuster Wednesday filled the attention void on Twitter and cable TV. If only his reasoning matched the showmanship. The U.S. government cannot randomly target American citizens on U.S. soil or anywhere else. What it can do under the laws of war is target an “enemy combatant” anywhere at anytime, including on U.S. soil. This includes a U.S. citizen who is also an enemy combatant. The country needs more senators who care about liberty, but if Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms. He needs to know what he’s talking about. – Wall Street Journal