A short sequel to his celebrated marathon filibuster last year aimed at Obama’s “kill list” and the droning of Anwar al-Awlaki. One of the White House lawyers who greenlit Awlaki’s liquidation is David Barron, the same David Barron whom O nominated to a seat on the First Circuit. Paul’s first move after the nomination was announced was to vow to block the confirmation vote unless and until the Senate got to see the unredacted version of Barron’s memos on the subject. Obama refused and held out, but after the Second Circuit ruled against him and Senate Democrats started to get nervous about the politics of this, he relented last week. The memos were released to the Senate, Democrats sighed in relief and proclaimed them a welcome show of transparency, and Harry Reid proclaimed that he had the 51 votes needed to confirm Barron. (Remember, thanks to Reid, filibusters are no longer allowed to block lower-court presidential appointments.) So Paul modified his demands: Why vote to confirm this guy before the memos have been released to the public? If voters are willing to rubber-stamp extrajudicial killings of U.S. citizens by the government, shouldn’t they at least have the relevant info beforehand so that they can form an informed opinion and weigh in with their respective senators?
Nope. Barron was confirmed less than an hour ago, 52-43, with just two Democrats (Joe Manchin and Mary Landrieu) voting no. Among the yeses was none other than Ron Wyden, a longtime critic of counterterrorism encroachments on civil liberties who spoke in solidarity with Paul during his first filibuster last year. He went face-first into the tank for Obama today, wheezing to the media a few days ago that releasing the memos to the Senate was “a very constructive step.” Don’t be too hard on him, though: My guess is that only a fraction of today’s 41 Republican votes against the nomination will remain no’s if/when a Republican president’s advisors adopt Obama’s drone precedents.
Here’s Paul’s statement from this morning, which Peter King will doubtless end up attacking during the 2016 debates as some form of terrorism appeasement.
Update: Here’s the roll. Not only did not a single Republican vote yes, among the Republicans voting no were … John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Didn’t they scoff at Paul’s filibuster last year?