Senate confirms Brennan to lead CIA, 63/34

Commenters are posting the names of the Republicans who voted yes on Brennan in the Lindsey Graham thread. I didn’t realize opposing him had become a litmus test; Paul’s filibuster yesterday was designed to squeeze the White House for an answer on drones, not to block Brennan. (Paul himself voted yes on cloture today, which assured that Brennan would ultimately be confirmed, even though he voted no on the final vote.) But here’s the list:


The last name there is the biggest, of course. I guess Rubio thought that, having spoken on the floor twice yesterday in Paul’s defense, he had enough political cover to throw hawks a bone by voting for Brennan. Graham, meanwhile, stated on the floor this morning that he would vote for him as a vote of confidence in the drone program, i.e. as a rebuke to Paul. One other interesting vote: Kelly Ayotte, who often serves as the “third amigo” with McCain and Graham in the vanguard of GOP hawkishness, voted no. Hmmm. Starting to inch away from Maverick and his sidekick in light of the last 24 hours?

The cloture vote went 81/16, by the way. The Republicans who voted yes on that one but no on the final vote:


Little surprised to see Cruz in there but Paul set the baseline by voting yes. As for the Republicans who voted no on both cloture and the final vote: Barrasso, Boozman, Cochran, Crapo, Enzi, Grassley, Heller, Inhofe, Lee, Moran, Risch, Roberts, Sessions, Shelby, Wicker, and of course smilin’ Mitch McConnell, who came to the Senate floor late last night to make sure that all the primary-hungry tea partiers back in Kentucky know that he did indeed stand with Rand. For the next year, there’ll be no more reliably conservative vote in the Senate than McConnell. Enjoy it while it lasts.

By the way, if you’re wondering how Obama’s going to prove to his base that he still cares about due process after being roundly humiliated by Paul yesterday, here’s how:

A son-in-law of Osama bin Laden who served as al Qaeda’s spokesman was arrested in Jordan and then brought to New York in an operation led by Jordanian authorities and the FBI, U.S. government sources said on Thursday.

The sources said Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a militant who appeared in videos representing al Qaeda after the September 11, attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, had initially been picked up in Turkey…

Abu Ghaith is now being held in a detention facility in the New York City area and is expected to be charged and eventually brought to trial in federal court. The trial would most likely be in U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan, only blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the September 11 attacks, a law enforcement source said.

The number of Al Qaeda capos I recognize by name has grown very small (most of the A-team has been liquidated in, er, drone strikes) but I do recognize Ghaith. He’s been on the government’s list since shortly after 9/11; you can watch some of the videos that made him famous in counterterror circles at Foreign Policy. Peter King called it a “very significant victory,” which is true if only as a reminder to the rest that the CIA’s still coming for them after more than 10 years. What’s noteworthy here, though, is the venue: After giving up on civilian trials for top jihadis years ago and facing growing disgruntlement about secret “kill lists,” O’s going to prove his by-the-book bona fides by trying Ghaith in federal court. I’m curious to hear Paul’s reaction to that. Republicans are with him on drones, but traditionally they’ve opposed trying 9/11 degenerates in district court. This will get us right back to the “war versus law enforcement” debate on counterterrorism. Just bear one thing in mind: Whatever happens, there’s no chance Ghaith is going free. The risk here for O isn’t that Ghaith will be acquitted and end up back in Yemen ranting about nuking America or whatever, it’s that Obama will be forced to take him back into custody after he’s acquitted and figure out a pretext to keep him locked up. Not so due process-y. The odds of that scenario happening are, admittedly, exceedingly small, but there’s always a chance of a total clusterfark.

Update: And, right on cue, Graham gets the ball rolling.

“To bring this person to New York City, if that’s what happened, without letting Congress know is a very bad precedent to set,” Graham said. “The Congress has tried to tell the administration that when it comes to people like this we want them to go to Gitmo to be held for interrogation purposes.”

Kelly Ayotte joined him in his criticism, so there goes my theory about her tilting away from him and McCain.