Larry Flynt

Larry Flynt.com > Nat Hentoff Articles

Bold Move

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2016, MAVERICK REPUBLICAN RAND PAUL AMPS UP HIS DEFENSE OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS.

by Nat Hentoff

Impressed by his insistent, often-solitary championing of civil liberties in the U.S. Senate, I twice wrote that Rand Paul should be our next President. But at that time I knew it was just a pipe dream because the Republican’s national name recognition was so low. Now, thanks to his filibuster during the Senate’s ultimate confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director, Paul has become a viable 2016 candidate. Even more surprising, Kentucky’s junior senator barely uttered a word about Brennan throughout the electric 13 hours he spent addressing his fellow lawmakers on March 6, 2013.

Two days later this new media phenomenon made his goal much clearer in a Washington Post op-ed titled “My filibuster was just the beginning.”

For years I’ve been complaining in HUSTLER about the apathy of Congress and much of the country with regard to how the Bush-Cheney regime and then Obama’s formulated their own rules of law against terrorism. That’s why Rand Paul “wanted to sound an alarm bell from coast to coast. I wanted everybody to know that our Constitution is precious and that”—dig this, fellow citizens—“ no American should be killed by a drone without first being charged with a crime. As Americans, we have fought long and hard for the Bill of Rights. The idea that no person shall be held without due process, and that no person shall be held for a capital offense without being indicted, is a founding American principle and a basic right.”

I’ve been writing again and again that, as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison warned, only We the People can protect our individual liberties under the Bill of Rights. Rand Paul began to do it nationally overnight.

Undoubtedly stung by the enthusiastic approval of Paul’s filibuster on Capitol Hill and around the country, Attorney General Eric Holder sent Paul a terse letter that made the libertarian senator believe his hoisting of the Bill of Rights had been successful up to a point: “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.”

But Paul is far from silenced. In his op-ed, he added that “my filibuster was the beginning of the fight to restore a healthy balance of powers. …The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment [granting due process and other protections] applies to all Americans; there are no exceptions.”

Besides celebrating that “millions have followed this debate on TV, Twitter and Facebook,” Paul went on to say that “I hope my efforts help spur a national debate about the limits of executive power and the scope of every American’s natural right to be free. … I believe the support I received this past week shows that Americans are looking for someone to really stand up and fight for them. And I’m prepared to do just that.”

The longer-range significance of Senator Paul’s 13-hour fire alarm is that more of us who do not call ourselves libertarians—or even know what the term means—have been jolted out of the conditioning of Bush- Cheney and Obama’s “new normal” that has increasingly abolished personal privacy. Nevertheless, Americans reelected a President who insists he can order the military to imprison Americans right here in the Land of the Free without habeas-corpus rights for supposedly being “involved” or vaguely “supportive” of terrorism.

After years and years of what Justice William Brennan once told me—“The Bill of Rights never gets off the page and into the lives of most Americans”—Rand Paul has spurred numerous citizens to openly criticize the government’s attacks on our basic liberties.

Exemplifying Americans’ anger is Rita Lasar, whose letter was printed in the New York Times on March 11, 2013: “The idea that any President can kill an American citizen without a trial is abhorrent and frankly scares me more than any act of any ‘terrorist.’”

Although Attorney General Holder assures us this is no longer possible on U.S. soil, smashing the “new normal” hinges on knowing that the assurances of recent Presidents and their minions have been plain crap. So Rand Paul’s Presidential aspirations, while buoyed by his filibuster, will be fruitless if his fellow Americans don’t reeducate themselves on what’s guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. It’s up to us.

Tags:

Comments are closed.

larry flynt's book