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03/06/2013

Rand Paul's epic drone on drones

Rand Paul, the Kentucky senator, is giving his all today for the title of the Eveready Bunny of American politics with what might just turn out to be the mother of all filibusters.

Paul's rant, which began at 11:47 a.m. and is continuing live here, is already an epic rant against President Barack Obama's murky killer drone program. But he's got a long way to go for the all-time record of 24 hours and 18 minutes, as Politico helpfully observes.

Paul has already admitted his goal of blocking the ascent of John Brennan, Obama's nominee for CIA chief, is a lost cause. "Ultimately I can't win, there's not enough votes." If Paul runs out of breath this afternoon, there remains a chance Brennan's appointment will go through today.

But in raging hard for civil rights, Paul's filibuster is winning support on both sides of the Twitterverse, with a wide range of unlikely suspects expressing support for his argument that Obama wields too much power with too little oversight in the prosecution of perceived enemies with unmanned drone missiles.

Among the keeper quotes thus far, Paul wondered whether anti-Vietnam protester Jane Fonda would still be alive today under the Obama administration's standard of what constitutes a threat to the United States. Fonda's support for North Vietnam was "despicable," said Paul. 

"It's one thing to try her for treason. But are you gonna drop a drone hellfire missile on Jane Fonda," said Paul.

Ultimately, said Paul, he only wants Obama to "admit publicly he's not in favour of summary executions. It seems like a pretty easy answer ... we could be done with this. That's what I wanna hear."

MORE: Our coverage of drone warfare

Mitch Potter is the Toronto Star's Washington Bureau Chief, his third foreign posting after previous assignments to London and Jerusalem. Potter led the Toronto Star’s coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he won a 2006 National Newspaper Award for his reportage. His dispatches include datelines from 33 countries since 2000. Follow him on Twitter: @MPwrites

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