Sens. Rand Paul and John McCain. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
WASHINGTON -- One of the Senate's leading hawks, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), took to the Senate floor Thursday to fire back at Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), saying the Kentuckian's rant against extrajudicial drone killings was "simply false."
Quoting extensively from a Wall Street Journal editorial that mocked Paul, McCain also argued that Paul had belittled the growing use of drones to kill terrorism suspects by invoking the name of Jane Fonda and suggesting a drone could have killed her when she was a Vietnam War protester.
Paul took to the floor Wednesday for nearly 13 hours, hoping to pressure the White House to declare whether or not it might use a drone to strike an American citizen in the United States.
McCain, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, was not impressed.
"I watched some of that, quote, debate, unquote, yesterday," McCain said. "I saw colleagues who know better come to the floor and voice some of this same concern, which is totally unfounded.
"I must say that the use of Jane Fonda's name does evoke certain memories with me, and I must say that she is not my favorite American. But I also believe that, as odious as it was, Ms. Fonda acted within her constitutional rights, and to somehow say that someone who disagrees with American policy -- and even may demonstrate against it -- is somehow a member of an organization which makes that individual an enemy combatant is simply false," McCain said, hitting his lectern for emphasis. "It is simply false."
McCain said it was "ridiculous" and "a stretch of the imagination" to "allege or infer that the President of the United States is going to kill somebody like Jane Fonda, or somebody who disagrees with the policies."
The Wall Street Journal editorial he quoted was even more scathing, declaring, "Give Rand Paul credit for theatrical timing, as a snow storm descended on Washington. The filibuster filled the attention void on Twitter and cable TV. If only his reasoning matched the showmanship."
The editorial also complained that Paul should not be shocked that the United States might kill a citizen by drone strike within its own borders, arguing that the Obama administration is well within its rights to kill enemies of the country, wherever they may be.
Paul has vigorously opposed the growing use of drones by the administration, saying the strikes violate due process guaranteed under the Constitution and permit the president to act as judge, jury and executioner.