In an interview with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto, Senator Paul appeared to backtrack on the position he took on drones in his 13-hour filibuster, which was carefully crafted and narrowly targeted in such a way as to make it tangential to the fundamental issues surrounding drones. Specifically, Paul argued that drones should not be used for surveillance or targeted assassinations of U.S. Citizens on American soil. However, Paul claims he never intended his filibuster to preclude the use of drones altogether. He said, “If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and fifty dollars in cash, I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.”
Judge Napolitano said Senator Paul called him on the telephone after the Internet exploded in criticism of the Senator’s remarks. Napolitano related the essence of his conversation with Paul saying he believes Paul absolutely did not change is position—“an unequivocal no.” The only problem with Paul’s statement in Napolitano’s mind is Paul’s original position on drones, which he defended in his 13-hour filibuster recently, did not go nearly far enough in the Judge’s mind and did not address the fundamental question: Does the government currently have the authority to put drones in the sky over American soil for any purpose, and if not should the government be given the authority to put drones in the skies, which the Judge called “pieces of plastic” over American soil for ANY purpose? The Judge believes not.
In essence, Judge Napolitano said IF the government is authorized to put drones in the skies domestically, THEN it has the power to use the drones like any other authorized government weapon to return fire at someone shooting at a policeman or a private citizen, just as the private citizen has the right to do so in self defense or the defense of another. But in the Judge’s mind, that is a very big “IF.” Right now, the government does NOT have the authority to put drones in U.S. skies, armed or unarmed, for any purpose, therefore it is really a moot issue as to whether it has the authority to arm drones and use them to shoot at people on the ground.
In response to a wisecrack by Fox host Stuart Varney who quipped that he thinks the argument over gun control needs to be expanded to drone control because private citizens soon will be able to have their own personal drones, Judge Napolitano responded:
“Here’s the issue: If the government derives its power from the consent of the governed, not from a monarch, but from the consent of the governed, and if the governed do not have the authority to own drones, then how can the government have the authority to own drones? Stated differently, private individuals are going to have drones to shoot down the government drones in their backyard. Do we really want a society in which that happens?
“That’s why I would argue one step beyond the Senator and say, we need more than just a consensus on drones; we need a judicial authorization that the Constitution [allows] the government in your face with a piece of plastic. In my view, it doesn’t.”
As usual, Judge Napolitano cuts to the heart of the matter and dispels the Jesuitical deceptions of slick politicians attempting to have it all ways. More than damning with faint praise, Napolitano’s defense of Paul’s consistency illustrates the constitutional weakness of the Senator’s arguments on drones and the national-security state generally.
Draft the Judge. He tells the truth. America needs the solid, unwavering voice of an outsider standing up for Americans’ constitutional rights. Judge Andrew Napolitano is that outsider.