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  • Executive Session

    by Senator Rand Paul

    Posted on 2013-03-07

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    PAUL. Madam President, yesterday I spent a considerable amount of time on the floor talking about the idea of whether Americans are protected by the fifth amendment always--whether you can be targeted for drone strikes in America without your due process rights; whether you get your day in court if you are accused of a crime in America. I asked this question directly to the President, and I am pleased to say that we did get a response this morning. The response from the Attorney General reads: It has come to my attention that you have a question. Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil? The answer to that question is no.

    So it has taken a while, but we got an explicit answer. I am pleased we did. And, to me, I think the entire battle was worthwhile, one, because we got to have a lot of discussion about when can drones be used--particularly when can a drone strike be used against an American on American soil? The reason this is important is often drones are used overseas toward people [[Page S1256]] who are not actively engaged in combat. I am not saying they are not bad people or they might have previously been in combat. But the thing is, we have to have a higher standard in our country. We can't have an allegation from the country that says you are an enemy combatant or that you are associated with terrorism. That is an allegation.

    If you are e-mailing somebody who is a relative of yours in the Middle East, and they may or may not be a bad person, it doesn't automatically make you guilty; if we label you an enemy combatant and say you are guilty, you don't get your day in court, and that is just not American.

    We have many soldiers from my State, from Fort Campbell and Fort Knox, who fight overseas for us. They are fighting for the Bill of Rights. They are fighting for the Constitution. So I consider it to be our duty to stand and fight for something we all believe in, and that is that the protections of the Bill of Rights are yours. When you are accused of something, you get your day in court.

    So I am very pleased to have gotten this response back from the Attorney General of the United States. I think that Americans should see this battle that we have had in the last 24 hours as something that is good for the country, and something that should unite Republicans and Democrats in favor of the Bill of Rights.

    Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Warren). The clerk will call the roll.

    The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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