Rush Limbaugh versus Rand Paul
From Rush’s website:
RUSH: We welcome to the program this afternoon Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky. Senator, you got some sleep last night, I trust?
PAUL: Well, I did, but, you know, I was thinking of you when I was in
the middle of this 13-hours. I got about five hours into it and I was
like, “Well, Rush does four hours of this every day. Certainly I can do
four more hours.”
RUSH: (chuckling) That’s awfully nice of you to say, but I doubt that
I was in your thoughts last night, although I appreciate the comment.
When did you decide, Senator, that you wanted to make this a filibuster?
Did it just happen spontaneously or did you have a plan for it?
PAUL: We’ve been talking for a week about how important the issue is,
that it’s a constitutional issue and has more to do with the
Constitution than it does to do with individuals. But we didn’t decide
on doing it, really, ’til I walked in that morning. I was walking into
the Capitol and unfortunately didn’t have very good shoes on for it,
either. My shoes were hurting me the whole time.
But we walked in, and you have to look for an opportunity when the
floor is open. The Democrats control the floor, and most of the time
they tie it up where you’re not allowed to filibuster. And the floor
became open, and it was either today or Wednesday or Thursday, and we
decided the opportunity was there, and we went for it. But we had
prepared for it in the sense that I’d been going over articles about
drones in the discussion for a couple weeks.
RUSH: Well, the American people recently, modern era, hear about a
“filibuster,” and to them it just means everything’s on hold ’til
somebody comes up with 60 votes. You actually had… People were
marveling last night. We actually had a speaking or a talking
filibuster. You had some help from people on your side and even had some
Democrats join you. I’ll tell you what, you probably know this, but the
people of this country — and I think it’s a majority of people,
Senator — are very frustrated at how we’re being governed by a
minority. We’re the majority of thinking in this country, people that
heard you filibustering on the topic you were filibustering on last
The idea of a smaller government — and government’s simply out of
control, too big, too much in debt — that is a majority viewpoint. But
nobody in the Republican Party has dared take this president on. You did
last night, and you’re alive today to talk about it, and nobody’s
calling you names. You are, in certain ways, a hero to a lot of people
today, and I hope this kind of thing continues. I hope the reaction
you’ve gotten… I know you’re getting some criticism, I’ll ask about a
minute, but to me this was a seminal event last night that could change
the direction that we are all heading, particularly in terms of
educating and informing the American people about what actually is
happening in their country.
PAUL: Well, you know, we ask a pretty important question, and that’s
whether you get to pick and choose which parts of the Bill of Rights
apply to American citizens. And, you know, the Fifth Amendment says you
get a right to a trial, you get a right to due process. And we don’t
think the president or any politician, Republican or Democrat, should
get to choose when the Fifth Amendment applies. We also just weren’t
satisfied with him when he said, “Well, I intend to not do this. I don’t
intend to kill Americans.”
The problem is, it’s sort of like indefinite detention. We can now
detain American citizens without trial, and he says, “Well, I don’t
intend to.” Well, his oath of office says, “I will preserve, protect,
and defend the Constitution.” It doesn’t say, “I intend to preserve,
protect, and defend the Constitution.” So we want stronger language. We
want him to admit it. We’re still talking to the White House today, and
we’re not gonna let the nomination go forward in any expeditious fashion
unless he will answer the question directly.
RUSH: Well, that’s a good point. Your filibuster ostensibly was to
protest the nomination of John Brennan as the CIA director, but it’s
taken on a much larger universe of ideas now. It’s become bigger than
just the Brennan nomination. Now, I imagine a lot of people who came to
this whole debate late, who hear that the subject being discussed is
whether or not the president will promise not to kill American people
sitting in a cafe who are not engaging in any provocative behavior, are
saying, “Come on! There’s no president that would ever do that. What are
we talking about here?” So why are you concerned? Do you actually need
this in writing from the president to be assured that this is something
he wouldn’t do?
PAUL: Well, here’s the question. It seems so absurd and so bizarre,
and it should be a really easy question to answer. But the reason we
asked the question is, we currently do drone strikes overseas, and I’m
all for ’em when people are shooting at American soldiers, I think
they’re a great tool. I think it’s a great weapon we should use to
defend American soldiers and American lives. But we are also killing a
lot of people who aren’t actively involved. Now, they may be bad people.
They may have been involved yesterday or going to be tomorrow.
But we kill them at home, asleep, in restaurants, cafes, et cetera.
Now, that standard may be okay overseas. I think it’s debatable, but at
home that standard’s not good enough. So if you’re in a cafe and you’ve
been e-mailing your cousin who lives in the Middle East, and people here
in a conference room say, “Well, you’re an enemy combatant,” well, I
think you can be accused then of being associated with a terrorist if
that person in the Mideast is a terrorist, but you need to be arrested
and you need to have a chance to defend yourself.
If you have a grenade launcher, though, you don’t get due process.
So if you’re attacking America, inside or out, American or otherwise,
you don’t get a lawyer or due process if you’re setting up a bomb. But
you do, if you’re in a cafe eating with somebody or sending an e-mail to
someone, it needs to be clear that if you’re a noncombatant — if
you’re not engaged in combat — that you get your day in court. The
problem is the president came forward with this document that he leaked,
this drone document, and he said in it that an imminent threat doesn’t
have to be an immediate threat, and then there are these pictures of
people being killed around the world who are not engaged in combat, and I
just don’t think that standard can be used here at home.
RUSH: Senator Cruz yesterday, in hearings at his committee with the attorney general,
eventually pried from the attorney general that such behavior as you
just described by the government would indeed be unconstitutional. It
took him a while.
RUSH: It was like pulling teeth without Novocain but he finally got
that done. Now, that was earlier in the day. Why wasn’t that enough for
you to end your filibuster?
PAUL: Well, we got that news a couple hours into it. I talked to
Senator Cruz. But it’s hard to have conversations ’cause I had to keep
talking the whole time. But we did get a transcript of it and we read
through it, and I described it later on in a debate as a “withering
cross-examination by Senator Cruz.” That’s basically what it was. He did
not want to answer the question, and I think it was under duress and
the word “constitutional” never occurs in any of his answers. So all we
want is a short paragraph.
I think they’re coming towards us. We want them to answer something
that every American believes: That you cannot target an American, on
American soil, and kill them without first charging, arresting, or
convicting them in a court of law. I think every American believes that,
left and right. But some who are so fearful say, “Oh, America’s the
battlefield and this is law of war over here.” But “law of war” means
you don’t get due process, and I’m not against that. In the middle of a
war when you’re shooting at someone, you don’t get a lawyer. You don’t
get due process.
But in America, eating at a restaurant, you get arrested and you get due process.
RUSH: Well, I —
PAUL: And that is a really important distinction, and we need to have
that debate because there are some up here arguing — in fact, the Wall
Street Journal today argues — that if you’re declared an enemy
combatant, you can be killed. The problem is, who gets to decide when
you’re an enemy combatant and when you’re not?
RUSH: The president does. He’s got the kill list.
PAUL: That’s a real problem for me.
RUSH: He’s bragging about it, Senator. He’s bragging. They’re trying
to build up his tough, pro-military credentials by saying, “He’s got the
kill list. He picks the names.”
PAUL: Well, the Bureau of Justice has come forward with some
criterion for people you need to report on if you know these people.
These are people with missing fingers, stains on their clothes, people
who like to pay in cash, people who have weatherized ammunition, and
more than seven days of food. These are people who are potential
terrorists. And if that’s the list, I know a lot of people on that list.
I’m a little concerned that they ought to get a trial before they get a
drone strike ordered.
RUSH: I’m on that list!
RUSH: I am! You raise an interesting point. It’s 2013. There are a
lot of people today who can’t believe — literally can’t believe — that
the highest law enforcement officials in the country will not, with
ease, assure the American people that they will not be randomly targeted
by a drone while they’re minding their own business and not threatening
anybody. This doesn’t even seem, to most people, to be something that
should take five seconds to answer.
PAUL: And the real debate is bigger than President Obama or any
president. It’s bigger than Republican or Democrat. It’s about what
Madison said in the Federalist Papers. He said basically that you
can’t… You know, if you had a government of angels, we wouldn’t have
to worry about having rules. But we don’t always have a government of
angels, and that’s why we have the rule of law to prevent the time when a
democracy can make a mistake and elect a bad person, an evil person to
office. So this is not always about the here and now. It’s about
protecting people in the future from bad government.
RUSH: Exactly. By the way, a point of clarification. When I said I
was on the list, I meant I fit the criteria. I don’t think I’m on
PAUL: Yeah, I’ve seen the list, but I don’t want to announce in front of you whether you’re on the list or not.
RUSH: (laughing) Okay, well, I fit the criteria. Now, let’s get to
the critics. Senator McCain, who went out to dinner last night with
President Obama, along with Senator Graham, said that what you’re doing
is a waste of time, and you’re actually maybe doing something harmful.
You are somehow conveying to the American people that the rules of the
Senate are being abused. What in the world could he possibly be talking
about, and what is your reaction to his criticism?
PAUL: You know, I think we’ve struck a nerve, and there is a little
bit of a difference within the Republican caucus and a growing sort of
division on some of these issues. Their side believes that the
battlefield is everywhere. And this is what John Brennan believes
here. He says there’s no geographic limitation to the battlefield. And
that means that if the battlefield is America also, then the people,
you know, like Senator McCain and Graham, they believe that the laws of
war apply. The problem is that the laws of war don’t involve due
process. And I understand when you’re in war, you don’t get due
process. So in the battlefield you don’t ask your opponent, you know,
for Miranda rights, you don’t present them with warrants. You shoot
PAUL: That’s a different sphere than America. That’s why the
military operates overseas and the police operate here. We have
different sets of rules. I don’t want to believe that we’re gonna have
to live in America as a battlefield because I know these young men and
women. When they go over they’re fighting for the Bill of Rights, they
tell me so and I believe so, and I know that’s why we’ve sent them.
They’re fighting for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, but if we
give up and say, oh, we’re gonna have the law of war, the law of war
doesn’t include the Bill of Rights.
RUSH: Senator Graham said that your filibuster has convinced him to vote to confirm Brennan.
PAUL: Hmm. Well, he misses the point. This has never been about
Brennan. This is about the president and whether or not he will respond
to the request I’ve made. And the request is very simple: Can you
kill Americans not engaged in combat in America with a drone strike.
And I think the answer’s gotta be an unequivocal “no.” Brennan may win
over my objections but I’m gonna ask this question of the president. I’m
gonna keep asking ’til we get an answer. We’ve asked them this
morning. We’ve talked with the White House this morning. Other
Republicans are calling the White House, so I’m having assistance with
other members of my caucus who want the answer, too. I think we will
get an answer.
RUSH: Let me give you a real world example. We have, and it’s been
criticized by some, we have killed an American with a drone strike, an
admitted, acknowledged terrorist. His name was Anwar al-Awlaki in
Yemen. Now, let’s play hypothetical, Senator. Let’s put him in an
American cafe, but everything else about him we know. We know he’s a
terrorist. We know he’s acknowledged it. We know that he was involved in
the USS Cole, whatever terrorist activity. Let’s put him in Chicago
and he’s at an outdoor cafe in the summer waiting to go to a Cubs game.
Is the administration asking for the right to drone him, to kill him
with a drone on American soil if he’s in that circumstance?
PAUL: You know, Senator Cruz addressed this last night, is that if
he’s in America and he doesn’t have a weapon or grenade launcher on his
shoulder, obviously we’d arrest him. Senator Chambliss also made the
point that that’s how we’ll get information, is by arresting people.
And, if they don’t have a weapon, why in the world would we want to kill
’em first? We’d get no information. Some of that argument’s been made
overseas, but particularly in this country when you’re unarmed and the
police can arrest you, why would we not arrest you? So even when
someone’s clearly guilty, if we can arrest ’em, it’s preferable for
intelligence reasons. If they’ve got a grenade launcher on their
shoulder, any kind of lethal force can be used against them. If they’re
flying planes into our buildings, F-16s, bombs, rockets, any way we can
stop people from attacking us, we use.
RUSH: Right. But al-Awlaki was not doing any of that when we killed him in Yemen.
PAUL: Yeah, there’s a debate overseas how you ought to do it as well
because is there a difference for American citizens than foreigners?
My argument — not everybody agrees on this. We’re all agreed, I think,
or many of us on American citizens on American soil. Overseas, my
preference with al-Awlaki would be to have a fairly expeditious trial
for treason. Not one with multiple appeals. One at the highest court
level and then I would do the drone strike after convicting him of
treason. There aren’t very many of these people, so this isn’t
something we’re gonna go through every week.
The problem is, and this is where I really find the president’s men
reprehensible, is that when Awlaki’s son is killed in a separate strike
later, two weeks, we think it’s a signature strike. They won’t tell us
all these things, but a signature strike is where you just knock out a
caravan. You don’t know who all’s in it. You just think they’re bad
people coming from a place where bad people are gathered. And when he
was killed there, the president’s man responded, and they said do you
feel bad about killing the 16-year-old, are you gonna say was he a
target or was he an accident, he said, “Well, he should have chosen a
more responsible father.” And so my question yesterday was, is that the
standard we’re gonna take in America? If you’re related to bad people
are you allowed to be killed with a drone strike? You know, so the
standards overseas, there is maybe some question about those standards,
but for goodness’ sakes, we can’t have a standard in America that if
you’re related to someone who’s committed evil or someone who is bad,
that you are now eligible for a drone strike.
RUSH: Senator, I have to take a quick break. Do you have just two more minutes when we get back?
RUSH: Okay, great. Senator Rand Paul is with us discussing his filibuster last night, the reasons for it.
We’ll be back just a second.
RUSH: We’re back. We have Kentucky Senator Rand Paul fresh off
his… how long did your filibuster go last night? Excess of 12 hours?
PAUL: I think it was close to 13, but just shy of 13 hours. I think
it may have been the second longest one since Strom Thurmond in 1957.
RUSH: Were you thinking of trying to beat that record and the call of nature just overwhelmed?
PAUL: Well, his was 24 hours, so we were only halfway there, and the
other thing is, is, he was using some means of beating the rules on
biological functions. He had some secret devices he was using.
RUSH: I see.
PAUL: And I’ve been there and inserted those, and I decided I didn’t want one of those.
RUSH: (laughing) Okay. Now, one more reaction to criticism you’re
getting is that what you’re really doing, you have a larger mission here
that is hidden, and that is similar to your father. You simply don’t
like drones, period. You don’t like them being used, the War on Terror,
particularly against Islamists, and that that’s what you’re really
aiming for here by calling attention to their use domestically. What do
you say to people that say that?
PAUL: Well, I would say that’s not accurate. You know, I don’t
object to the technology. And, in fact, I’ve been supportive of the
drone strikes, particularly in aiding our soldiers in battle. I’m not
necessarily against targeted strikes overseas. I think we have to look
at the rules. But at home, I’m absolutely opposed to targeted strikes
on Americans. So I think there’s some debatable things overseas. In
the military action, I’m absolutely in favor of them. I think drones in
America, if you have hostage situations or bombs, you know, we use
robots to disable bombs, there’s all kinds of reasons for the technology
to be used. In America, though, I am worried about them doing
surveillance without warrants, flying over my farm, watching where I
hunt, things like that. Looking at my farmland with the EPA, there’s all
kinds of potential abuses, but it’s not the technology. It really gets
back to the Bill of Rights. If you obey the Bill of Rights, I don’t
have any problem with drones.
RUSH: Senator, I appreciate your time. And I know you’re being
hotly pursued today by a lot of people that want to talk to you. I just
want to say that I don’t know if you’ve had time to get a lot of
feedback or if you’re aware of it, but you’ve turned a lot of people
last night, including people predisposed to oppose Republicans. You hit
a nerve with a lot of people last night. And you did demonstrate that
this administration can be criticized. You can take this administration
on and you can get public support for doing so. I hope that others
learn from your example and pick up on it going forward.
PAUL: Thanks, Rush. Thanks for having me on.
RUSH: Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky and his explanation why he was doing the filibuster last night.