Executive Session

Floor Speech

By:  Mike Enzi
Date: March 7, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ENZI. Madam President, I yield myself 10 minutes.

I would first associate myself with the remarks of the Senator from Georgia, Mr. Chambliss, who is the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee and has looked into this much deeper than I would ever be able to. I appreciate the comments, the depth, and knowledge he has imparted on that.

So I would be in opposition of the nomination of John Brennan for CIA Director.

The administration hasn't been forthcoming in answering a vitally important question of whether Americans could be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged----

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Mr. ENZI. I thank the Senator very much.

As I was mentioning, this administration hasn't been forthcoming in answering the vitally important question of whether Americans could be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime or being found guilty in a court of law. This should have been a very simple answer.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated today that the administration does not have the authority to kill Americans on American soil. That is great news. However, it shouldn't have taken a U.S. Senator 12 hours of nonstop talking for the administration to acknowledge the simple fact that it can't kill Americans on American soil without a trial.

I wish to applaud Senator Paul's courage and conviction last night as he stood on the Senate floor for nearly 13 hours defending our rights under the Constitution. Senator Paul deserves recognition for standing up for the American people and bringing this issue to light. And it is an issue that I and many of my constituents in the State of Wyoming find very troubling.

In fact, as I traveled around Wyoming a couple weeks ago, it became abundantly clear that people are very concerned over the administration's disregard for constitutionally guaranteed individual rights.

Drones--unmanned aerial vehicles--have been made famous by their use in our war on terrorism. For a number of years these weapons have served in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan with success. However, the use of drones for both military and civilian purposes abroad and domestically is increasing.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the Federal Aviation Administration predicts 30,000 drones will fill the skies in less than 20 years. Although many of these uses will likely be for civilian purposes--disaster relief, border control, crime fighting, and agricultural crop monitoring--the use of drones raises new privacy and civil liberty questions for U.S. citizens.

The first concern raised by the use of drones is how it may impact on our fourth amendment rights: U.S. citizens have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Drones push the limits of what could be considered reasonable. Courts generally recognize that U.S. citizens have substantial protections against warrantless government intrusions into the home, and that the fourth amendment offers less robust restrictions on public places. However, drones begin raising the question of what is reasonable when it comes to the expectation of privacy in one's driveway or even backyard.

In a speech last night, Senator Paul reiterated additional constitutional concerns that he has been seeking an answer on for a number of weeks. The administration just now responded, but it raises the concern about the willingness of the White House to act transparently.

When it comes to important matters of national security and constitutional liberties, we should all be asking ourselves why it took a U.S. Senator 12 hours of nonstop talking for the Department of Justice to acknowledge the simple fact that it cannot kill American citizens on American soil without a trial. Senator Paul asked a straightforward question and deserved a straightforward answer in a timely manner. His question hit right at the heart of the fifth amendment--rights as U.S. citizens, particularly ``no person shall ..... be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.''

The first response Senator Paul got back was everything short of a straightforward answer. This administration did not rule out the possibility of using drones against Americans on U.S. soil. This is particularly problematic, because our Constitution does not say the fifth amendment applies when the President or Attorney General thinks it applies. But it raises the concern about the willingness of the

White House to act transparently.

There is no reason why it should have taken so long for the administration to acknowledge they don't have the authority to kill Americans on U.S. soil without due process of law--specifically to deny someone the right to a judge and jury and a trial. The fifth amendment was written with this particular form of government abuse in mind and it was more than appropriate for Congress to ask this question in its oversight role.

We know, and our legal system recognizes, that you don't get due process when you are actively attacking our soldiers or our government. However, that wasn't the question Senator Paul posed. Congress needed clarification from the administration on this nomination. In order to build faith and confidence in our Nation's military and intelligence community, we also need transparency and responsiveness in the questions raised by Congress.

I will not be supporting John Brennan's nomination because of the lack of transparency and timeliness on this important matter, and the reasons given by the Senator from Georgia.

Madam President, I yield the floor and reserve the remainder of my time.

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