Rand Paul filibuster of John Brennan's CIA Nomination in March 2013

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On March 6, 2013, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R) led a nearly 13-hour filibuster of President Obama's CIA Director nominee, John Brennan. Paul started the filibuster in order to highlight his concerns about the administration's drone policies. In particular, Paul said he was concerned about whether a drone could be used to kill an American citizen within the United States border, without any due process involved. Paul and other civil liberties activists have been critical that President Obama did not offer a clear response to the question. A total of 14 senators joined Paul in the filibuster -- 13 Republicans and one Democrat.[1][2]

The filibuster had both bipartisan support, and bipartisan criticism. Some liberals lauded Paul, including the ACLU and Huffington Post. Others said the filibuster was a waste of time. Meanwhile, some conservatives supported the filibuster as a way to draw attention to the drone program and a growth in executive branch power. Still others believed the drone program is defensible and believe the president's actions are not a departure from prior policy.[3][4]

Paul's filibuster was the 9th-longest in Senate history, ending after 12 hours and 52 minutes.[5]


"I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA. I will speak until I can no longer speak," With these words Sen. Rand Paul initiated a filibuster to delay the senate vote on the confirmation of the president's nominee to the head of the CIA and to draw attention to the questions surrounding the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or "drones" by the executive branch. When asked why these sort of events do not occur more frequently Paul explained that since who speaks on the Senate floor is decided by the leadership of the Senate, it's often difficult to begin a traditional filibuster. "One of the reasons filibusters don't occur is because they carefully guard the floor from letting it happen. And it was left unguarded," he said."We had no plan and I had the wrong shoes on, my feet were hurting the whole day," Paul said.

Rand Paul takes the floor on March 6, 2013 for a 13-hour filibuster on CIA Director confirmation and drone use. This video is the first hour.

The main topic of Paul's speech was the use of drones as a means of attacking American citizens on U.S. soil, asking "Your notification is the buzz of propellers on the drone as it flies overhead in the seconds before you're killed. Is that what we really want from our government?" [6]. Paul protested the lack of transparency in the drone program, asking "What will be the standard for how we kill Americans in America?... Could political dissent be part of the standard for drone strikes?"[7] Paul questioned the President's refusal to state publicly that such strikes would not be used against citizens on U.S. soil saying. "[Obama] says trust him because he hasn’t done it yet. He says he doesn’t intend to do so, but he might. Mr. President, that’s not good enough . . . so I’ve come here to speak for as long as I can to draw attention to something that I find to really be very disturbing."[8] Paul concluded his remarks asking for his counterparts on the other side of the aisle to join him in his efforts to obtain clarification from the president.


The 13 GOP Senators who filibustered with Paul were:[9]

In addition, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon also participated in the filibuster.[10]

Actor John Cusack tweeted his support for the filibuster, wondering why Democratic officials were not involved.[11]

Daily Show host Jon Stewart praised Paul for using the filibuster the way it is meant to be used, by speaking about the topic under discussion.[12][13]


Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham were among a group of officials who spoke out against Rand Paul, following the filibuster. McCain quoted the following from a Wall Street Journal editorial criticizing the filibuster, "If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously, he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in college dorms."[14]

The 30 GOP Senators who did not join Paul's filibuster were:[15]

Representative Nancy Pelosi told reporters that "life is too short" to watch the filibuster, saying she had other responsibilities.[16]

McCain continued his criticism of Paul in the days following the filibuster. In an interview with the Huffington Post, he said: "They were elected, nobody believes that there was a corrupt election, anything else. But I also think that when, you know, it's always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone."[17]


Some excerpts from the filibuster:

  • "I have allowed the president to pick his political appointees…But I will not sit quietly and let him shred the Constitution." -- Rand Paul (R)[18]
  • “The issues that we are discussing today are profound to the American people. The issue here is the sanctity of human life." -- Mike Lee (R)[19]
  • "The executive branch should not be allowed to conduct such a serious and far-reaching program by themselves without any scrutiny because that’s not how American democracy works. That’s not what our system is about." -- Ron Wyden (D)[20]
  • "Barack Obama of 2007 would be right down here with me arguing against this drone strike program if he were in the Senate. It amazes and disappoints me how much he has actually changed from what he once stood for." -- Rand Paul (R)[21]

See also

External links

Additional reading


  1. CNN "Rand Paul says he's heard from White House after filibuster," March 7, 2013
  2. ABC News "Rand Paul Wins Applause From GOP and Liberals," March 7, 2013
  3. BND.com "Sen. Rand Paul's 13-hour filibuster on CIA nominee divides GOP," March 7, 2013
  4. Los Angeles Times, "Rand Paul filibuster splits GOP, Graham now supports CIA nominee"
  5. USA Today "Rand Paul filibuster ranks among Senate's longest," March 7, 2013
  6. FoxNews.com March 2013 Fox News "Historic filibuster renews bipartisan focus on drones regulation," March 7, 2013
  7. New York Times "Rand Paul does not go quietly into the night," March 7, 2013
  8. Washington Examiner "Rand Paul filibustering over drones," March 7, 2013
  9. The Blaze "Here Are All the GOP Senators That Participated in Rand Paul’s 12+ Hour Filibuster… and the Ones Who Didn’t," March 7, 2013
  10. The Huffington Post, "Democrats Absent During Rand Paul Filibuster Of John Brennan Nomination"
  11. Breitbart "John Cusack: 'Where Are Democrats' on Drone Debate?," March 7, 2013
  12. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, "Rand Paul's Filibuster", March 6, 2013, video 2:31
  13. Business Insider "JON STEWART: Rand Paul Used The Filibuster 'The Way It's Meant To Be Used'," March 7, 2013
  14. Politico, "Rand Paul filibuster blasted by Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham," March 7, 2013
  15. Breitbart "AWOL: Meet The GOP Senators Who Refused to Stand With Rand," March 7, 2013
  16. The Hill "Pelosi: 'Life is too short' to watch Rand Paul filibuster," March 7, 2013
  17. Washington Post "McCain calls Paul, Cruz, Amash wacko birds," March 8, 2013
  18. The Blaze "Top 10 Quotes From Rand Paul’s Amazing Filibuster on Civil Liberties, Drone Strikes," March 7, 2013
  19. Washington Examiner "Ted Cruz and Mike Lee join Rand Paul’s filibuster," March 7, 2013
  20. Los Angeles Times, "Sen. Rand Paul ends marathon filibuster of John Brennan," March 7, 2013
  21. The Atlantic "Cliffs notes for the filibuster," March 7, 2013