'Rand Paul and Ron Wyden, Drone Odd-Couple'


Rand Paul ||| Wikimedia commons
Wikimedia commons

So goes the headline on this interesting Eli Lake article at The Daily Beast about an emerging bipartisan civil liberties working group in the Senate. Excerpt:

For some time now, Wyden and Paul—along with two other senators, Republican Mike Lee of Utah and Democrat Mark Udall of Colorado—have been working together to try to curb the broad authorities the Obama administration has asserted in the war on terror. The advent of this group, which calls itself the Checks and Balances Caucus, is certainly not the first time in political history that the libertarian right has allied with the civil-liberties-minded left. Yet at a moment when inter-party cooperation is almost nonexistent in Washington, any bipartisan alliance—especially one that includes some of DC's most committed ideological opposites—is both unusual and noteworthy.

Ron Wyden ||| Wikimedia commons
Wikimedia commons

Lee said the four lawmakers began to reach out to each other in early 2011. "Little by little, those of us who share a lot of these beliefs in common found each other as people who saw the issues in a similar way," he explained, adding, "We definitely have each other's cell phone numbers." Around that time, Lee and Paul were two of the only three Republicans to vote against reauthorizing the Patriot Act, while Wyden used the reauthorization to launch an (unsuccessful) effort to force the Obama administration to disclose what he said was a classified interpretation of the law. […]

[N]ow, on the question of drones—specifically their demand that the Obama administration release more details on the drone program before Brennan's nomination is allowed to proceed through the Senate Intelligence Committee—they seem to have found an issue with legs. "I feel very strongly that the intelligence committee has to have any and all legal opinions related to targeted killings before there is a committee vote," Wyden said.

Read the whole thing here. Eli Lake wrote a Reason piece in June 2010 about a an issue that was largely ignored at the time, but getting some oxygen right now precisely from the Checks and Balances Caucus: the presidential blank check that is the Sept. 14, 2001 authorization of force.