A picture of Senator John Barrasso
John B.
Republican WY

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  • Unanimous Consent Request—Executive Calendar

    by Senator John Barrasso

    Posted on 2013-03-06

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    BARRASSO. Madam President, I come to the floor of the Senate in great admiration for the Senator from Kentucky, for what he is doing to try to get information. All we are asked to do is to give advice and consent to the President on this very important nominee to be the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, the key to central intelligence in this Nation. I come to the floor this evening to thank my colleague from Kentucky for the leadership he has continued to show by asking questions which are not just questions of his, they are questions of the American people.

    I was traveling around the State of Wyoming last week, talking to folks. I went to 13 different counties in our State of 23 counties. There were many questions being asked about drones, not just their accuracy but their intent and what this administration's policy is related to drones and how they can be used. People in my home State of Wyoming are concerned about drones being used in the United States, not just specifically for attacks against American citizens but also the concept in observation, in surveillance. What about our rights as citizens to privacy? Those are the questions that come up as I travel around the State.

    I had a telephone townhall meeting the other evening with many people from all around Wyoming on the line. They admire the questioning from the Senator from Kentucky. They have concerns: Is Big Brother watching? What is happening and what role has government in observing and surveillance and looking into the lives of the American people? It was not until Senator Paul asked the question would there be strikes on American citizens in America that I think things became very focused at home and all around the country. Then we got more e-mails, more concerns, because the specific question that Senator Paul is asking is a question that is on the minds of all Americans. I believe Senator Paul deserves an answer. The American people deserve an answer. So it is not just Senator Paul who deserves an answer, it is an answer to all of the people of this country. But I appreciate Senator Paul's leadership in asking the specific question.

    The Intelligence Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence met, they had hearings, they had debates, discussions, deliberations, and actually they voted. That is why we are here on the floor tonight, to ask finally from the White House and from the nominee what the specific position and policy of this administration happens to be on drones. I know we have a unanimous consent request from Senator Paul and in a second I am going to ask him to explain and maybe reiterate his unanimous consent request, explain the resolution he wishes to vote on. I think the Senator deserves a vote. We want to make sure the public understands what we are discussing here. That is why I appreciate the leadership of Senator Lee who has come here as a constitutional scholar to address some of these concerns.

    I think before many Senators are able to make the final decision of how to vote, how to give advice and consent to the White House, we need more information. We need to hear from the White House. We need to hear from the administration because the people all around the country want those same questions answered.

    We do have a situation where the Senator from Kentucky said he is willing to have a vote. He is willing to allow a vote on this nominee on the floor of the Senate as soon as his question is answered. He would be happy to proceed with that vote as early as tomorrow morning.

    The American people deserve better than they are getting right now from this administration in so many ways. This is but one. That is why I think all of us try to go home every weekend to learn what is on the minds of folks in our home States, in our home communities. This is clearly what I have been hearing about, traveling around Wyoming, a State of vast open spaces, a State of great majesty and beauty, but a State where people are concerned with their own privacy, with overhead surveillance and of course not just their own personal privacy but their security.

    What are the rights and responsibilities of a national government when new technology exists, as we have seen with drones? I had the privilege of visiting our soldiers overseas in Afghanistan with a number of Senators in January. We have seen up close, through detailed video, the capabilities of drones, capabilities that were not there that many years ago. Questions such as this would have never arisen a number of years ago because the technology was not there. But now the technology is there. With that given technology, that raises new questions. That is why I think so many Americans are appreciative of the work by Senator Paul to specifically ask questions that have never been asked before because the technology was not there before. Now we have the technology, we have the know-how, and the question continues to be asked.

    I ask my friend and colleague from Kentucky if he could explain perhaps his unanimous consent request, what vote he is asking for, why it is so important, and what it means to all of us as free citizens in this great Nation.

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