Rand Paul is Right
Rand Paul filibusters on Senate floor
March 12th, 2013
07:15 PM ET

Rand Paul is Right

Editors Note: Jane Harman is director, president and chief executive officer of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She was a nine-term congresswoman from California, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee from 2002 to 2006, and a principal coauthor of the Intelligence Reform Law of 2004 and the FISA Amendments of 2008.

By Jane Harman, Special to CNN

Many disagree with Sen. Rand Paul on many issues, but he is spot-on about the need for a crystal clear framework regarding the domestic and international use of drones.

Inside the United States, without exception, an American suspected of plotting a terror attack should never be targeted by an armed drone. Period.

Rand Paul was right to end the 13-hour filibuster after getting a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder that provided modest clarification about presidential authority over drone use in the United States.

"Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" Mr. Holder wrote. "The answer to that question is no."

Still, the letter left more questions unanswered than answered. Indeed, a simple "no" is hardly reassuring when the policy it supports is not clear.

In the domestic context, drones should never be used against citizens unless there is an armed conflict on U.S. soil.

In "ticking-bomb" situations - when a person in the United States is poised to push the button and create large-scale mayhem - SWAT teams and helicopters can do the work. This is consistent with long-standing law enforcement protocol.

As former chair of the congressional Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment, I started to ring the alarm – as loudly as possible – about the implications of domestic satellite or drone use.

Three years ago, few were paying attention to moves being made by the Department of Homeland Security and a handful of U.S. police departments to use satellite imagery or obtain drones for routine law enforcement or emergency operations. Fortunately, Congress was able to force DHS to close its National Applications Office program that gave law enforcement access to sensitive satellites.

But since that success, there has been radio silence.

America has seen the "creeping executive power" movie before.

Using lethal tools without public debate or clear legal authority is a mistake, a slippery slope, something we will come to regret.

Why has Congress all but ignored concerns about domestic drones?

Only the Federal Aviation Administration has been tasked with reviewing safety of domestic drones - nothing related to legal or security issues.

House members like Zoe Lofgren and Ted Poe have offered proposals to put in place due process protections for Americans against government-operated drones in U.S. airspace and prevent them from being armed, but their bill is far from passage.

In the absence of congressional action, more than 30 state legislatures are banning or contemplating bills governing domestic drone use. But we need a national solution – not a fragmentation of state and local laws.

The federal government is forging ahead with plans to put drones into domestic airspace. DHS has a Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety Program, and it is testing multiple types of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). After testing, DHS will transfer whatever UAV system it determines has the best capabilities for its "customers" – U.S. law enforcement.

Hold on! There are just too many unanswered questions.

Will law enforcement be able to fly a drone over Los Angeles or Topeka at will? How will the information gathered be used? What if increasingly capable drones can "see" into private homes and "hear" private conversations? Can such information gathered without an individualized warrant be used in a court of law?

Beyond the lack of rules for domestic drones, these vehicles are inexpensive. What’s more, the FAA predicts there may be 30,000 of them in the domestic airspace over the next decade and it may be difficult to track them – at least currently – like the drone sighting by an airline pilot in New York.

Don’t get me wrong. Drone technology is not going away and it can be a very useful tool. Fire crews use drones to get a closer look at wildfires when helicopters can’t. And helicopters are expensive for police departments to maintain and fuel.

But helicopters give a clear signal of their presence. Drones – in most cases – are nearly silent and can dwell longer over a particular area.

We need a comprehensive post-9/11 legal framework, which includes when and how to use drones domestically and overseas.

As I wrote weeks ago, the 35-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote, and amended and extended twice since 2008, should apply to the use of drones and offensive cyber strikes overseas. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is investigating this option.

We need rules. Rand Paul has managed to move the issue into the sunlight. It’s a shame it took the crunch time of a confirmation hearing to finally get some focus, but he is right-about the need to get the public into fashioning of public policy.


Filed under: Congress • drones • Homeland Security • Opinion
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Ticktockman

    A stopped clock is right twice a day. That is how I see most politicians. Then again there are the 24 hour clocks, that when stopped are half as accurate. That is where I am with Rand Paul.

    March 14, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  2. Johnboyjr

    Ron Paul was the only politician who stood up for citizens rights but unelectable as bankers,mega corporations choose their Harvard shaped candidates and buy their loyalty.Rand Paul is the only politician who will represent and stand up for the common man.The US is slowly transfoming into a police state before our very eyes and time is running out.

    March 14, 2013 at 10:55 am | Reply
    • ArmyChick

      You are 100%. I campaigned for RP here in New Hampshire and I would do the same for his son seeing that they seem to be the only ones who have taken their Oath of Office seriously (Also Justin Amash among others)

      March 14, 2013 at 11:05 am | Reply
  3. federalreserve

    joe d hit nail on head SQUARELY.... harman is a jew.... and not one of them has ever been american for 1 second, EVER.

    March 14, 2013 at 10:42 am | Reply
  4. cj

    The US has pushed drone use farther than it should already IMO. To use weaponized drones in a nations airspace there should have to be a congressionally declared war.

    To use them for surveillance inside the US there should need to be either a clearly defined warrant dictating where and when the downward facing cameras can be 'turned on' or a 'clear and present danger' to the public. In cases where 'clear and present danger' is sighted as cause the incidents should be reviewed by an independent civilian panel drawn from the jurisdictions jury pools under a local judges oversight. If the panel does not agree there was just cause whoever gave the authorization will face disciplinary actions up to and including termination of employment.

    That's my 2cents

    March 14, 2013 at 10:25 am | Reply
  5. Hadenuffyet

    Murphy's Law didn't just spring from imagination. It sprang from observation. This is NOT a good idea.

    March 14, 2013 at 10:25 am | Reply
  6. up1652

    Pauls filibuster was intersting but entirely moot. The CIA is prohibited from acting within the United States therefore the CIA Director will never make the decision to use a drone within the boundry of the U.S. That would be the purview of the FBI Director.

    March 14, 2013 at 10:07 am | Reply
    • Eric

      You're absolutely right. The CIA would never run afoul of the written law, that would be unprecedented.

      March 14, 2013 at 10:35 am | Reply
      • picnick

        The FEds wrote their own rules of engagement at Ruby Ridge and Waco.

        Rand Paul puts the executive branch in check.

        Rand Paul 2016.

        March 14, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  7. DrManic

    Follow the money,...

    Mr. Paul's top campaign contributors do not want the EPA using drones to inspect the waterways passing through their vast tracts of land.

    March 14, 2013 at 9:22 am | Reply
    • Eric

      If you think Rand Paul is beholden to campaign financiers then you don't know much about Rand Paul

      March 14, 2013 at 10:33 am | Reply
      • ArmyChick

        A lot of the people who criticize him usually don't know him, that's why. They don't bother to research!
        Rand 2016!

        March 14, 2013 at 11:06 am |
      • Doug

        if you think ANY politician is not COMPLETELY beholden to their donors & campaign financiers, then you have a LOT to learn about modern politics & elections.

        March 14, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Doug

      yes, campaign MONEY controls ALL politicians & ALL politics. without the money for campaigns, they can't get elected, and they have to be elected, to be in office & keep their job. so they ALL do whatever necessary, to keep their donors & campaigners happy !!

      March 14, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  8. joe d

    Jane Harman is an israel first pig who is owned by israel AIPAC..she has no credibility

    March 14, 2013 at 7:49 am | Reply
  9. Dilip Samuels

    Rand Paul is the TURKEY Hilary faced. Does he belong in Turkey ?

    March 14, 2013 at 6:47 am | Reply
  10. ermentrude

    Right now, we are the only country using drones regularly, overseas, to kill people. There will be a day when many other countries can do the same thing, once they catch up. It is up to us to begin defining when, where, and against whom drones may be used. What collateral damage is acceptable. It is political namby pamby that we are afraid to make rules and guidelines known that apply not only to us, right now, but to all nations in the future. It is a complete lack of ethics while we have the advantage, and when we have the advantage is the only time we can impose ethics, starting with ourselves.

    March 14, 2013 at 6:20 am | Reply
    • Avi

      So, you think there are no rules of engagement for Drones right now? And you are so sure that every tom dick and harry (read Rubio, Rand, Jeb etc) that is creating a scene at the expense of the pubic are not really doing this to simply position themselves for 2016? Good enough.

      March 14, 2013 at 6:29 am | Reply
  11. adam

    As a law and order conservative, I'm generally ok with the use of drones, but targeting u.s. citizens on U.S. soil goes too far. The argument that John Q public shouldn't be concerned because he won't be targeted flies in the face of our democrsatic traditions. Most engaged citizens should have an opinion on what the contours of our laws should be, even though most of us will never be directly effected by them.
    Principled liberals should be the most outraged by this however. This is clearly worse than warrantless wire-taps or 4th amendment violations.

    March 14, 2013 at 5:52 am | Reply
  12. Doug

    any of you peeps, that think there is ANY chance, the US Govt and/or President is going to kill avg American citizens with a Drone, are CLUELESS. or have your mind buried in conspiracy theories. or you hate Obama so much, you can't see reality anymore. JUST LIKE REPUB SENATOR MCCAIN SAID.... John Q public American, does not have any worries about being killed by their own govt, with a Drone, or by any other means.
    .

    March 14, 2013 at 4:48 am | Reply
    • Hadenuffyet

      I'm not concerned about the pres doing this , I'm more concerned about some other trigger happy federal agency implementing their use in that the end justifies the means. Ruby Ridge comes to mind.

      March 14, 2013 at 10:19 am | Reply
  13. Howard

    "Inside the United States, without exception, an American suspected of plotting a terror attack should never be targeted by an armed drone. Period."

    Oh, really? I suppose, then, if a terrorist inside the U.S. had a nuke, and we had proof he had one, and he was threatening to detonate it if he even saw police or soldiers within a mile of his location, Jane would be willing to risk the mushroom fireball while trying to talk him out of it?

    Never say, "Never." Never is a very long time.

    March 14, 2013 at 3:19 am | Reply
    • lemon

      Someone watches too much TV....this isn't "24".

      March 14, 2013 at 8:43 am | Reply
      • Howard

        You'd better believe that real, honest-to-Allah terrorists are counting on a lot of people thinking just the way you do.

        March 14, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Hadenuffyet

      Didn't we have "proof" of WMD's in Iraq?

      March 14, 2013 at 10:32 am | Reply
      • Howard

        I posed a hypothetical scenario ... just like Rant Paul did.

        Let me pose another one: Suppose, just suppose, such a scenario DID occur, and YOU were within the blast radius of that terrorist nuke ... what would YOU want your government to do?

        March 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  14. boungiorno

    id rather tango then discuss this

    March 14, 2013 at 1:27 am | Reply
  15. A_U.S.Citizen

    I have three words: Domestic Drone Countermeasures, A new company in Oregon that seems to be able to offer a solution!

    March 14, 2013 at 12:16 am | Reply
  16. MeanOldMan

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    March 13, 2013 at 10:43 pm | Reply
    • Doug

      Unless it's digital....

      March 14, 2013 at 9:09 am | Reply
  17. NoSlack2327

    Jane Harman should have been impeached for sharing state secrets with Israeli Intelligence. Instead, she was told not to run again for office. Shame on the Wilson Center for having anything to do with her.

    March 13, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Reply
  18. Woody Hilliard

    Not taking a public position on the merits of either side's arguements but I have a question..........I see this guy referred to as Ryan Paul by some and by others as Paul Ryan. Which is it??????

    March 13, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Reply
    • Doug

      its NOT "Ryan Paul".... you are getting your Tea Party fanatics mixed up & mixed together. :)

      Rand Paul, is the TeaBagger Senator from Kentucky, and is the son of Ron Paul.

      Paul Ryan, is the TeaBagger Representative from Wisconsin, and was the 2012 GOP VP candidate, paired with Romney.

      Rand Paul is a semi-fanatic ultra-conserv Tea Party Repub, but has some common sense, and some credibility & integrity.

      Paul Ryan is complete fanatic ultra-conserv Tea Party Repub, that is lost in far-right extreme conservatism, and is completely oblivious to the real world issues, and lacks integrity often. such as 2012 campaign, when he was bragging to media about being a marathon runner, with personal best time under 3 hours, to make himself look impressive to American voters. but truth was he ran ONE marathon in his entire life, with a time over 4 hours.

      IMO – it will likely come down to Rand Paul, or Marco Rubio, or Jeb Bush for GOP Presidential nominee in 2016 Presidential election.
      Chris Christie will likely be a long shot, but he is probably not extreme right enough, to get enough GOP following.
      Paul Ryan will also likely be a long shot, but he is such a tool, he will never make it through the primaries against the other GOP candidates above.
      .

      March 14, 2013 at 4:42 am | Reply
      • Gicho Munnee

        Christie is too fat. Seems trivial but this is America.

        March 15, 2013 at 12:49 am |
    • Eric

      Please don't vote

      March 14, 2013 at 10:59 am | Reply
  19. ricdesan

    This is such a joke because if Herr Obama ever declares martial law all bets are off and the general public at large is one big giant target no matter what the reason.

    March 13, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Reply
    • Howard

      "Herr Obama?" Have you checked the purity of your drinking water? Maybe some of your meds are conflicting with other ones?

      March 14, 2013 at 3:22 am | Reply
  20. RetiredVet

    Rand Paul for president 2016.

    March 13, 2013 at 11:39 am | Reply
    • marcellis22

      Ru Paul is an idiot...

      March 13, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Reply
      • Well...

        At least he is white.

        March 13, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
      • Namejake

        Good thing we're talking about Rand Paul ! You numb nuts.

        March 13, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
  21. jarrod

    Rand stopped his filibuster shortly before midnight, he did not receive the letter until the following day. CNN is a lying WH*R*!!!!!!!!!

    March 13, 2013 at 9:34 am | Reply
  22. Sabrina

    Rand Paul is absolutely right on this issue and many others.

    March 13, 2013 at 8:09 am | Reply
  23. Sabrina

    Hey CNN if you "journalists" actually did your jobs and quit talking about hollywood nonsense and what the lovely First Lady is wearing, it wouldn't have to come to this.

    March 13, 2013 at 8:08 am | Reply
  24. john smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    March 13, 2013 at 2:27 am | Reply
  25. john smith

    A 15-month investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic reveals how retired US colonel James Steele, a veteran of American proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, played a key role in training and overseeing US-funded special police commandos who ran a network of torture centres in Iraq. Another special forces veteran, Colonel James Coffman, worked with Steele and reported directly to General David Petraeus, who had been sent into Iraq to organise the Iraqi security services.

    March 13, 2013 at 2:26 am | Reply
    • William

      Those countries mentioned were under Communist rule at the time and i know a man from El Salvador and he told me of the brutality of the Communist regimes that took power. Proxy war? A good one if you ask me. Contras all the way!

      March 14, 2013 at 8:53 am | Reply
  26. elgatogordo

    Right? I don't think so. Rand Paul is 'nuts'

    March 13, 2013 at 12:55 am | Reply
  27. Matt

    I am a liberal democrat.

    But I will vote for Rand Paul over Hillary (never voted against a war) Clinton or Joseph (also never voted against a war) Biden.

    March 12, 2013 at 9:57 pm | Reply
    • picnick

      Hillary Clinton voted to go into the Iraq war
      Hillary Clinton voted TWICE for the Patriot act

      I'm a Libertarian and I could only support Rand Paul.

      He is the middle of the road candidate we have been looking for.
      He can balance the budget because he is not beholden to the warfare or the welfare state.
      He has already shown that he defends the Bill of Rights.

      I'd say Rand would easily crush Hillary just with these basic facts on the table.

      March 13, 2013 at 12:30 am | Reply
      • Doug

        Rand would CRUSH Hillary in 2016 election ??? – LOL.

        you should look at the recent polls out there on this. they have show Hillary over Rand, and every other Repub possible.

        that crush statement, is just about as far off, as all your other bragging on about Rand. :)

        good luck to GOP in 2016, they will need it IF Hillary decides to run.
        (she says NOW, she does not plan to. but i suspect she will)
        .

        March 14, 2013 at 4:56 am |
  28. Cam

    Rand Paul stood up for civil liberties and the Democratic party was silent.

    March 12, 2013 at 9:37 pm | Reply
  29. patriotic

    Jane Harmen is a crookster who spies for the Jewish lobby and undermines America. this is not an ideological battle of left vs right, GOP vs Dems, Socialism vs liberty. This is ethnic warfare against white people.

    Why are hostile globalist elite supporting Israel as a Jewish ethnostate with Jewish only immigration, but turning white majority Europe, North America into a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Gulag with dystopian non-White colonization?

    Why do gullible Whites kowtow to hostile Jewish elite, who butcher White soldiers in bankrupting wars, infiltrate & subvert our banks & intelligence agencies, indoctrinate us in classrooms & mass media, impose trillions in debt, & plunder our jobs & wages?

    East Asia is 99% yellow. Africa is 99% Black. West Asia is 99% Brown. But 3rd world colonizers are annihilating Whites, like Chinese colonizers are annihilating Tibet. That's the endgame.

    "Native" Americans are not native. They invaded from East Asia. Whites weren't the only slave owners, imperialists. Muslims, Jews, China, India, Mayans, Africans all are guilty of slavery, imperialism. Whites were victims of Islamic, Jewish, African imperialism, slavery.

    Gullible Whites should reject suicidal anti-White Jewish ideologies like libertarianism, feminism, liberalism, socialism. White people should reject hostile slanders of racism, collectivism.

    Love to all, hatred to no one, but White people must unite & organize to advance their families, their fertility, their interests. Reading list:
    goo.gl/iB777
    goo.gl/htyeq
    amazon(dot)com/dp/0759672229
    amazon(dot)com/dp/1410792617

    March 12, 2013 at 8:14 pm | Reply
    • Larry

      ...to patriotic....you sound like you forgot to take your meds...and is probably a Tea Party zelaot who still belongs to the "Flat Earth Society".

      March 13, 2013 at 12:25 am | Reply
    • Larry

      ...to patriotic....you sound like you forgot to take your meds...and are probably a Tea Party zelaot who still belongs to the "Flat Earth Society".

      March 13, 2013 at 12:26 am | Reply
      • William

        Your comment was as stupid as his. Really? Tea Party believes in a flat earth? Tea Party doesnt hate Jews you numb nuts, they complain about fiscal matters. They were supposed to hang blacks too, right? Amazing ignorance from the both of you.
        If you listened to any OWS speech blaming Jews and some world conspiracy you would know he sounds more like todays Liberal than anything.

        March 14, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • William

      Jewish lobby.....
      All your post did was make everyone believe you are an anti-Semite.

      March 14, 2013 at 8:47 am | Reply

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