|US filibuster politician yields after 13-hour gab fest
A Republican senator's lengthy attempt to block confirmation of US President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the CIA, John Brennan, over questions about the possible use of unmanned drones against American citizens ended early today, nearly 13 hours after he began speaking.
Rand Paul, a son of former Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul and a possible candidate in 2016, started just before noon Wednesday by demanding the president or his attorney general issue a statement assuring that the aircraft would not be used in the United States to kill terrorism suspects who are US citizens, AP reports.
Paul finally finished speaking and ceded the floor at about 12:40 a.m. local time.
Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid had been pushing for a confirmation vote to be held on Wednesday, but those plans were dashed by Paul's lengthy floor speech. After Paul stopped speaking, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin filed a motion to cut off debate on Brennan's nomination and bring it up for a vote.
The filibuster, as the delaying tactic is known, is the latest snag to befall Obama's cabinet picks seeking confirmation in the Democrat-controlled chamber. So far, only Senator John Kerry's nomination for Secretary of State was approved by the Senate without any hitches.
Not all Republicans were so enthusiastic about Paul's performance. Senator Lindsey Graham said the prospect of drones being used to kill people in the United States was “ridiculous’’ and called the debate “paranoia between libertarians and the hard left that is unjustified.’’
In a show of support, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came to the Senate floor and congratulated Paul for his “tenacity and for his conviction.’’
Paul said he recognized that he can not stop Brennan from being confirmed. But he said the nomination was the right vehicle for a debate over the federal government's ability to conduct lethal operations against suspected terrorists.
Paul, 50, received intermittent support early on from several other conservative senators holding similar views.
Dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and red tie, Paul read from notebooks filled with articles about the expanded use of the unmanned weapons that have become the centerpiece of the Obama administration's campaign against al-Qaeda suspects.
``No president has the right to say he is judge, jury and executioner,'' Paul said.
Paul snacked on candy at the dinner hour while continuing to speak. Well-wishers with privileges to be on the floor shook his hand when he temporarily turned the speaking over to his colleagues.
Later in the evening Paul offered to allow a vote on Brennan if the Senate would vote on his resolution stating that the use of the unmanned, armed aircraft on US soil against American citizens violates the Constitution. Democrats rejected the offer.
The record for the longest individual speech on the Senate floor belongs to former Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who protested for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
Brennan's nomination won approval Tuesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
If confirmed, Brennan would replace Michael Morell, the CIA's deputy director who has been acting director since David Petraeus resigned in November after acknowledging an affair with his female biographer.