President Obama’s nominee to serve on a federal appeals court stepped on the Bill of Rights when he wrote the legal rationale for the administration’s drone strike policy, Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday.
Paul (R-Ky.) ripped into David Barron, who helped pen a memo that justified the use of drone attacks on suspected U.S.-born terrorists. Paul said that Americans accused of being terrorists should be able to defend themselves in court.
“If I just get to accuse you from the government and then all of the sudden you go to jail or you’re killed?” Paul said in an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos. “I mean, for goodness sakes, that gives up on one of the fundamental things that America’s famous for. You get a trial, you get a lawyer, this is the Bill of Rights. This is a big deal.”
The Senate voted 52-43 to clear a procedural hurdle on Barron’s confirmation on Wednesday afternoon, and he is expected to be confirmed later this week. Paul, a longtime critic of the Obama administration’s drone program, spoke against Barron for close to half an hour on the Senate floor.
Many senators, including Paul, said they would oppose Barron unless the administration released the memos written by Barron that justified the 2011 killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American who was accused of plotting attacks for al-Qaeda. The administration relented this week, and said it would allow them to become public.
“There’s no reason you couldn’t have tried him,” Paul said of al-Awlaki. “If you need to go into secret court, you present the evidence in secret. But a jury still listens, looks at it, and deliberates it.”
Asked about the scandal surrounding misconduct at Veterans Administration hospitals, Paul would not say whether VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should resign. But he did say more VA patients should be able to be seen by private doctors.
“I think if you’ve got a waiting list and you don’t have a VA in your area, or if you do have a VA in your area, why can’t you just take a voucher and go to another hospital?” he said. “Why can’t you just go see a private doctor? This is a longstanding problem, so I don’t understand why we can’t just fix it.”