Concerned about the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles on U.S. soil, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., spoke unrelenting for 13 straight hours on the Senate floor as he filibustered the nomination of John Brennan to be CIA director. But a 24-word tweet from his official Twitter account is what caught the attention of truth watchers this week.
Paul has expressed concerns that the White House would use drones to target American citizens, including attacks on U.S. soil. But some of the language he has used to characterize the Obama administration's goals have missed the mark. On the same day he took to the Senate floor for his marathon speech, Paul sent out this tweet:
"The President is advocating a drone strike program in America. All we have to compare it with is the drone strike program overseas," the message read.
But the administration is, in fact, doing no such thing. There's a difference between seeking legal justification for targeting Americans who are actively committing acts of terrorism on U.S. soil, and advocating for a "drone strike program."
For misrepresenting the Obama administration's views on the use of drones in the U.S., Paul wins the Whopper of the Week, a distinction awarded by the Washington Guardian to examples of misleading statements, stretched facts and half truths.
Many of the arguments over drone strikes against U.S. citizens started with the death of Anwar al-Awlaki, a duel U.S.-Yemen citizen who was believed to be a recruiter for al-Qaeda. He was killed by a 2011 U.S. drone strike in Yemen.
Since then, debates have raged over the legal jurisdiction of the targeted killing of an American. Paul pointed to a recent ruling by the Justice Department that left open the possibility the government could use drone strikes on U.S. soil to combat terrorism.
Officials have repeatedly said that in the remote possibility such a strike would ever take place on U.S. soil, it would require individuals to be engaged in an immediate act of terrorism that could harm others - think Jack Bauer from 24.
And a March 4 letter to Paul from Attorney General Eric Holder pointed out that the U.S. has for years been effectively combating terrorism on home soil without the use of drones.
"We reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat," Holder wrote. "We have a long history of using the criminal justice system to incapacitate individuals located in our country who pose a threat to the United States and its interests abroad. Hundreds of individuals have been arrested and convicted of terrorism-related offenses in our federal courts."
Following Paul's 13 hour filibuster, Holder sent him another note, this time making even more succinct the legal boundaries.
"'Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?' The answer to that question is no," Holder said.
Paul is clearly still concerned about the issue. Following his filibuster he joined 33 fellow Senators in voting against Brennan's confirmation (but with 63 Yes votes, Brennan was confirmed). And the issue of drones is one the U.S. is still grappling with, presenting a myriad of problems like privacy and security, with so far little guidance or rulings from the government. Still, when arguing about an issue, it is important to present both sides clearly - both yours and your opponents.