Rand Paul Threatens to Filibuster Comey's FBI Nomination Over Drones

Image: Rand Paul Threatens to Filibuster Comey's FBI Nomination Over Drones

Tuesday, 09 Jul 2013 08:55 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Sen. Rand Paul said on Tuesday he would filibuster the nomination of James Comey as head of the FBI if current Director Robert Mueller fails to produce answers about the bureau's use of drones within the United States.

"Without adequate answers to my questions, I will object to the consideration of that nomination and ask my colleagues to do the same," the Kentucky Republican said in a letter to Mueller on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama last month formally nominated Comey, a Republican, to be the FBI's next director. Comey worked with Mueller at the Justice Department during the George W. Bush White House, and also served as acting attorney general. Mueller is retiring after leading the FBI for 12 years.

In his letter, Paul said the Senate Judiciary Committee has begun considering Comey for the nomination, "and that nomination could be considered by the full Senate this month."

The letter, which was Paul's second to Mueller on the FBI's drone policy, was published by U.S. News & World Report. His first letter was on June 20, which Paul sent after Mueller told the Senate Intelligence Committee that his agency was using the unmanned devices without clear guidelines.

Paul, who is considered a likely presidential candidate in 2016, asked Mueller in his first letter how long the FBI had been using drones, how many drones the agency had in its inventory, whether the FBI drones would ever be armed, why they were used, what policies guided their use, and what had been done with the information they collected.

"I indicated that I would like a response to my questions by July 1, 2013, which was a very reasonable timeframe to produce a response to a limited number of questions," Paul said in his Tuesday follow-up letter, U.S. News reports. "Legitimate questions on important government functions should not be ignored."

Comey was expected to win easy confirmation, U.S. News reports.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah told Comey, "I would be surprised if this wasn't the third time you were unanimously approved by the Senate."

A full Senate vote on the nomination has not been scheduled.

In March, Paul and several other senators stood on the Senate floor for 13 hours to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan as CIA chief after Attorney General Eric Holder failed to definitively rule out using drones to kill people within the United States.

Paul stressed then that he was not personally targeting Brennan, but using the opportunity to get answers on a significant issue, U.S. News reports.

Comey refused to reauthorize a domestic surveillance program in 2004.

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