Republican Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster on Attorney General Eric Holder's refusal to rule out drone strikes against U.S. citizens, which ended early Thursday morning, was absent from the front page of Thursday's New York Times. The Times buried its coverage of Paul's striking "talking" filibuster, in which he held the floor for nearly 13 hours, ostensibly in opposition to Obama's choice of John Brennan for CIA director. Brennan was serving as a proxy for Paul's demand that Holder rule out drone strikes on American citizens or on U.S. soil.
Paul's performance did not merit a full news story in the Times. Coverage was limited to a few paragraphs in the middle of a more comprehensive story by Charlie Savage on bipartisan criticism of Attorney General Eric Holder, and a single sentence deep into Scott Shane's front-page story "C.I.A.'s History Poses Hurdles For a Nominee." Liberal columnist Gail Collins also wrote about it, in snotty fashion. There wasn't even a print-edition photo of the dramatic filibuster.
(The Washington Post, by contrast, teased the filibuster on its front page, and got two full news section stories out of it -- a 1,000-word story on A2 by Ed O'Keefe and Aaron Blake, and a 750 word story by Al Kamen on page 15.)
Senators of both parties on Wednesday criticized Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. for the secrecy surrounding the Justice Department legal memorandums justifying drone strikes aimed at American citizens, while pushing him to say more about when the Obama administration believes it can use military force on United States soil.
As Mr. Holder came before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a department oversight hearing, the chairman of the panel, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, said he was considering issuing a subpoena to the executive branch to compel it to turn over the Justice Department documents. Mr. Leahy and others have been seeking them for more than a year.
Savage didn't get to Paul until paragraph eight.
But the hearing repeatedly returned to the killing of citizens, a theme that was also taken up on Wednesday by Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican with libertarian leanings, when he began a filibuster of the Brennan nomination. Mr. Paul spoke about the death of the 16-year-old American-born son of Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical cleric and Qaeda planner, in an apparently mistaken drone strike in Yemen in 2011. The father had been deliberately killed in a strike two weeks earlier.
The senator also criticized a letter Mr. Holder sent him this week in response to a question about whether it was legal to use drone strikes against Americans on domestic soil. Mr. Holder wrote that the domestic use of lethal force by the military was “entirely hypothetical” and “unlikely to occur,” but was imaginable in the context of a national emergency like Pearl Harbor or the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mr. Paul continued to speak for hours throughout the afternoon and into the night, condemning the fact that Mr. Holder had not flatly ruled out domestic strikes, especially against noncombatants, as illegal, and demanding a clearer written answer.
Ashley Parker had fuller coverage in a Wednesday night blog post that didn't make Thursday's print edition.