Begun, These Drone Wars Have

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 21 2014 4:41 PM

Begun, These Drone Wars Have

484395455-senator-rand-paul-speaks-at-the-freedom-summit-at-the
Rand Paul prepares to shoot Force lightning.

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

The White House, like Ultron before it, has learned to evolve and respond to threats. Sen. Rand Paul gave ample warning that he would oppose the judicial nomination of David Barron, a Harvard Law professor whose greatest hits included the memo authorizing the drone killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki. Democrats remembered what happened the last time Paul did something like this. With the vote set for Thursday, the White House announced—on Tuesday!—that it would release the memo.

Neither Paul nor most Republicans were satisfied with this. ("I still intend to oppose the nomination," Sen. Chuck Grassley told me yesterday.) But the move prevented more defections from Democrats, including Oregon Sen. Rob Wyden, who had requested the memo be made public five times to Paul's four. A disagreement broke out, captured well by Roll Call.

Advertisement

The two civil libertarians were driven apart. Paul fundamentally disagreed with the memo's conclusion (we know what it was before seeing it); Wyden did not. "In the case in question," said Wyden, "I believe that the president’s decision to authorize a military strike in those particular circumstances was legitimate and it was lawful." 

In 2013, to the consternation of hawks, Paul took brilliant advantage of a slow news cycle and Democratic slumber to wage a filibuster about drone policy. In 2014 the debate is being shaped by forces beyond Paul—as is the norm.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
War Stories
Sept. 23 2014 4:04 PM The Right Target Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Outward
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:09 PM Vince Vaughn Will Star in True Detective Season 2
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 1:50 PM Oh, the Futility! Frogs Try to Catch Worms off of an iPhone Video.
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 23 2014 1:38 PM Why Is Fall Red in America but Yellow in Europe? A possible explanation, 35 million years in the making.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.