Rand Paul had some help from the media during his filibuster of John Brennan's CIA nomination on Wednesday.
Paul held up Brennan's nomination in protest of the Obama administration's drone policy — specifically, Attorney General Eric Holder's contention that, in certain circumstances, it would be legal to target an American citizen with a drone inside the United States. Since his was an old-fashioned filibuster, Paul had to remain on the Senate floor and keep talking. Unlike some of his predecessors, who turned to cookbooks or election laws when they needed time to fill, Paul spent many minutes reading lengthy excerpts from pundits and columnists who penned critical pieces about the drone program.
Among the works cited by Paul: a column about the drone killing of a 16-year-old by The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf; one of Glenn Greenwald's typically pugnacious pieces about Obama's civil liberties policies; a column by Esquire's Charles Pierce; and writing by Firedoglake blogger Kevin Gosztola.
People began tweeting whenever Paul cited another writer; when he heard what had happened, Greenwald said that the issue of targeted killings was bridging political divides:
The Nation's Jeremy Scahill said Paul was providing a "public service":
Another media figure Paul mentioned repeatedly was MSNBC contributor Robert Gibbs. In his past life as press secretary to President Obama, Gibbs told an interviewer that the 16-year-old son of Anwar al-Awlaki —who was killed in a drone strike after his father was — should have had a "more responsible father" — a quote that has dogged him ever since. At one point, Gibbs was on MSNBC, speaking about drones, when Paul spoke about him on the Senate floor.