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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DURBIN. I very briefly thank my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. It was 12 hours ago when I was standing right here, a lonely voice among others who were discussing this issue, bringing up the points the Senator raises. The first is the drone is a weapon. There are many weapons that can deliver lethal force. We should view this as an issue of lethal force, not an issue of drones per se--although it may raise some particular questions in application. It is largely a question of lethal force.

The second question has been raised by both Senators. What if the fourth airplane had not been brought down by the passengers? What if that plane were headed for this Capitol Building and all other planes had been landed across America under orders of our government and we knew this plane was the fourth plane in control of the terrorists, what authority did President Bush have as Commander in Chief at that moment?

I don't think anyone would question he had the authority to use lethal force to stop the terrorists from using that plane as a fourth weapon against the United States.

There was no debate last night about that particular point. This notion--and I am glad this point has been raised--that we are somehow going to use drones to kill people sipping coffee in cafes is ludicrous. It is absurd. It goes beyond the obvious. We need those people. Bringing those people into our control gives us more information.

Second, for goodness' sake, the collateral damage of something that brutish would be awful. So I thank the Senator for putting it in perspective.

I think Attorney General Holder could have been more artful in his language yesterday, but at the end of the day, even Senator Cruz acknowledged he said it would be unconstitutional to use this kind of lethal force if there weren't an imminent threat pending against the United States.

Mr. McCAIN. If I may say real quickly, an imminent threat.

MR. DURBIN. Yes.

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Mr. DURBIN. If the Senator will allow just one last comment and I thank him for the statement on the floor--from both my colleagues. The Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution is going to have a hearing, it is already scheduled, on this issue of drones. There are legitimate questions to be raised and answered.

Mr. GRAHAM. There are.

MR. DURBIN. I might add that in my conversations with the President he welcomes this. He has invited us to come up with a legal architecture to make certain it is consistent with existing precedent and military law and other court cases as well as our Constitution. I think that is a healthy environment for us to have this hearing and invite all points of view and try to come up with a reasonable conclusion.

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