A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Tom Block: Thank you, Sen. Paul, for leading the charge on an issue of major importance

I for one am very proud of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and the strong stance he has taken on the policy of drone targeting of American citizens, especially on American soil. Diminishing our rights under the constitution is a very slippery slope, and this to me seems like a pretty clear case of executive branch overreach.

The reason drone strikes in overseas locations has fairly broad support is that terrorists who plan harm to the United States can be unstoppable using traditional means of military or counter insurgency action when they hide in lawless regions often with the support or acquiescence of local governments. Drone strikes make clear the declarations of both Presidents Bush and Obama, that if you attack America we will track you down no matter where you try to hide.

However, if we know where you are in the United States, we can get you using traditional means. We have outstanding policing capabilities everywhere. When Ronald Reagan referred America as “a shining city on a hill” he was hailing our constitutional protections and the rule of law. If we start to marginalize these sacred protections we diminish our core values.

I did not share the view of many Republicans, including Sen. Paul, who opposed the nomination of former Senator Hagel to be secretary of defense. In my view the benefit of doubt should always go to the president in nominating someone to serve in his or her cabinet.  

These are not lifetime appointments like the courts, but these nominees serve at the pleasure of the president. However, the constitution does give the Senate the power of advise and consent, so the Founding Fathers did envision circumstances when even the prerogative of a president to choose his cabinet can be questioned. In my view, this was an example of exactly what Jefferson, Adams and our founders had in mind. A core principle that needs to be debated, and that is exactly what Sen. Paul accomplished. Few question that John Brennan is qualified to lead the CIA; but to delay the vote in order to have a full debate on drone targeting of U.S. citizens, largely carried out by the CIA, seems like an important debate to have.

Protecting a core value of the constitution seems like a great cause to inconvenience the Senate for 13 hours, and as a Kentuckian I am proud our senator led the charge.

Tom Block is a public policy consultant who had a 21-year career with JP Morgan Chase where he served as head of government relations in New York City and created a Washington research product. He also created the bank’s EU Government Relations program and developed a new position as U.S. Government Policy Strategist focusing on how U.S. government policy impacts capital markets. He has an extensive government and banking background, has worked on political campaigns and as a speech writer. He is a family trustee of Bernheim Aboretum in Louisville and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from American University. He and his wife make their home in Kentucky. He is a regular contributor to KyForward. Contact him at tomblockct@aol.com.

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