McCain, Graham snipe at Paul for filibuster
March 7th, 2013
01:33 PM ET
10 years ago

McCain, Graham snipe at Paul for filibuster

Washington (CNN) – Sen. Rand Paul's epic filibuster Wednesday garnered a swell of support, both from fellow Republicans on the Senate floor, and online among his base of grassroots libertarians.

But at least two of his colleagues weren't so impressed.

"All I can say is that I don't think that what happened yesterday is helpful to the American people," Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said on the Senate floor. McCain, along with fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, were skeptical of Paul's claim that the Obama administration was dodging the question of whether or not Americans could be killed by drones within the United States.

During his thirteen hour filibuster, Paul cited actress Jane Fonda, who notoriously protested against the Vietnam War in the 1970s.

"No one will ever forget Jane Fonda swiveling around in North Vietnamese armored guns, and it was despicable. And it's one thing if you're going to try her for treason, but are you just going to drop a drone hellfire missile on Jane Fonda?" Paul asked during his marathon session.

McCain, who admitted Fonda wasn't his "favorite American," wasn't thrilled with Paul's argument.

"Somehow to allege that the United States of America – our government – will drop a drone hellfire missile on Jane Fonda, that that brings the conversation from a serious discussion about U.S. policy to the realm of the ridiculous," the Arizona Republican sniped.

Graham, a close ally of McCain's in the Senate, wondered why Paul and other Republicans were just now asking questions about the American drone program.

"To my Republican colleagues, I don't remember any of you coming down here suggesting that President Bush was going to kill anybody with a drone," Graham said. During his filibuster, which lasted until early Thursday, Paul was joined by a throng of GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, John Cornyn of Texas, John Barrasso of Wyoming, John Thune of South Dakota, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, also spoke during the filibuster.

Graham, speaking on the Senate floor, couldn't recall any vocal opposition to former President Bush's use of drones.

"They had a drone program back then. So what is it all of a sudden that this drone program has gotten every Republican so spun up? What are we up to here?"

Graham and McCain were joined in their criticism Thursday by the right-leaning editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, which urged Paul to "calm down."

"The U.S. government cannot randomly target American citizens on U.S. soil or anywhere else," the paper's editorial read.

"The Wall Street Journal is right on a lot of issues and they're wrong on this issue," Paul responded in an exclusive interview with CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash. "The problem is if I call you an enemy combatant, how do we know if you are or aren't? That's just me calling you and accusing you of a crime."

"Should there be enough power by any politician, Republican or Democrat, to just say you're an enemy combatant and a hellfire missile drops on your house?" he asked. "That's what they're saying. With every fiber of my body, I believe that's unjust and unconstitutional."

Filed under: John McCain • Lindsey Graham • Rand Paul
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. JMudder

    Both Graham and McCain miss the point, which is "due process". Obama and Holder have taken the position (which they were forced to acknowledge by Rand's action) that they believe the President has the legal right to kill/assassinate American citizens within the boundaries of the US, with out due process. That the current administration has "no intention" (at this time) of doing so, is beside the point.
    I support the drone program, as do many citizens, as a legitimate (if terrible) weapon of war. Having said that, it doesn't mean that I support the use of this weapon on American citizens in a US state, without due process. McCain and Graham are getting senile if they do not recognize the issues involved. Additionally for Graham to say that he will now vote to confirm Brennan, because he doesn't approve of Rand's action, is nothing more than egotistical charade of a public official who no longer understands his duties.

    March 7, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. Rich54

    Got to love democrats. They said that water boarding was inhumane but it's ok to kill Americans.

    March 7, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  3. Jeff in Virginia

    Go figure- the lazy old men want to be lazy old men. Shocking isn't it?

    Get rid of Graham and McCain. Wastes of skin, the both of them.

    March 7, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. dreamer96

    Senator McCain remembers what President Bush did on 911...said shoot down any more hijacked passenger jets....
    Maybe Senator McCain reminded Senator Graham....

    Does Rand Paul remember that on 9/11/2001 President Bush gave the go ahead to shoot down anymore hijacked passenger jets..but no more existed....We knew for years about a Bin Laden plan to hijack 12 passenger jets and fly them into US government buildings, the Congress, White House, Pentagon, the CIA headquarters...and other tall towers like the World Trade Center Twin Towers, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Seattle tower, and buildings in L.A.

    I guess that is why NORAD had drills just like the real 911 attack, and sent fighters out over the ocean to intercept any more...To bad they did not understand the meaning of Home Made Cruise Missiles.....and the FBI reports of Muslims just wanting to learn to fly large passenger jets and not to take off or land...Hmmm

    President Bush was willing to kill some innocent Americans, to save more lives dying in a more attacks...3,000 died in New York...

    President Bush ordered what would have been unthinkable on 9/10/2001.. A order to use US military fighter jets to kill innocent Americans, to save more American lives, by killing terrorists in control of a hijacked passenger jet..heading to a building full of senators or civilians...

    Going after Obama and the drones might bring up what President Bush order on the morning of 9/11/2001...

    March 7, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
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