An outspoken Republican senator was blocking a
vote Wednesday on President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the CIA,
in protest of the use of drones against US citizens.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, known for his strong support of individual liberties, had demanded a response from the Obama administration as to whether drones could be used to target US citizens without having been convicted of a crime. The Justice Department earlier said that the president could retain the right to use a drone attack on US soil.
Paul was blocking a vote on CIA nominee John Brennan using a parliamentary manoeuvre known as a filibuster, which allows a senator to talk as long as possible on a topic to block further action unless 60 votes can be gathered to halt debate in the 100-member Senate.
He had vowed to talk until he could no longer go on, or until Obama renounced the use of drones against Americans within the United States.
"I will speak as long as it takes," Paul said, "until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first to be found guilty by a court."
Brennan's nomination had been held up as senators from both parties demanded more information from the Obama administration over its drone programme and about an attack by Islamist militants last year on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Brennan, 57, is Obama's chief counterterrorism advisor and architect of the drone strategy. He spent 25 years in the CIA before becoming the first director of the National Counterterrorism Centre in 2004.
UPDATE: Rand was joined in his filibuster, dubbed a "filiblizzard" on Twitter, by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., making the effort officially bipartisan.
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