The Last Word | March 06, 2013
I would be happy with the vote now. I've talked a lot today. But the only thing I would like is a clarification, if the president or the attorney general will clarify that they're not going to kill non-combatants in America . He essentially almost said that this morning. He could take his remarks that he virtually agreed ultimately with Senator Cruz , put it into a coherent statement that says the drone program will not kill Americans who are not involved in combat. I think he probably agrees to that. I don't understand why we couldn't put that into words. But if he does, I want no more time. But if not, I will continue to object if the administration and the attorney general will not provide an adequate answer.
O'DONNELL: That was Rand Paul five hours into his stunt in the United States Senate today. We are now 11 hours into Rand Paul delaying a vote to confirm John Brennan as CIA director . As you heard him say that the only reason, the only reason he is delaying this is he wants an answer to a question that was answered very clearly before Rand Paul began his stunt .
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Let me be clear. Translate my appropriate to no. I thought I was saying no. No.
O'DONNELL: But because Rand Paul planned this stunt today, and because he had written an opening speech prepared for his stunt today, and because he needs this stunt for fundraising and for identifying himself as the president's big opponent, he decided to do it, anyway, even though the reason he claims he's out there delaying this confirmation no longer applies. Even Rand Paul knows that what he's been doing is just a stunt .
PAUL: Really, there is no ultimate ability of me to stop this nomination. I'm already getting tired. And I don't know how long I'll be able to do this.
O'DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC 's Ari Melber . Ari , you've been watching this all day. We know in the end there is going to be a confirmation. And we know that the thing he wants, this statement has already been made by the administration.
ARI MELBER, "THE NATION": I think the problem for the administration is they were not very forthright about the drone program for a long time. That's why NBC News got ahold of the leaked memo regarding the legal authority. And there are still I think big questions here. You're right, Lawrence , and Rand Paul said himself that Eric Holder 's letter and testimony comes very close to ruling out the use of drones against non-combatants on American soil. But they haven't issued an official proclamation to that effect. And I think whatever Rand Paul 's motives are, I have to say, I think it is good that we re seeing this issue pushed more forcefully in the Congress , which has abdicated these oversight responsibilities for a long time.
O'DONNELL: Well, yeah, I think a discussion of drones and how we use them is fine. What you have here is this rambling madness that's going on out there, with other Republicans coming out to help him, as you know senators do during these things, so he can rest his voice. You have Ted Cruz , in an homage to atheism, I suppose, reading from Ayn Rand tonight on the Senate floor. And this -- what I'm watching is nothing but a fundraising stunt at this point.
MELBER: Well, I think Ted Cruz is a terrible wing man because his record is short and very partisan. But others like Ron Wyden , who has a long record, I think a consistent one on civil liberties, also came out to ask a question. Wyden has been, many people feel, more responsible, because he said he is going to vote actually for Brennan . But he came out to say we need to push these questions. It's not a coincidence, in my view, that Holder 's letter about some of these important issues only came out, despite being basically faced with similar requests from Wyden and others -- it only came out pursuant to this push this week to get the nomination done. We all know, in other contexts, the way the Senate will use, you know, certain hooks to try to get answers in oversight. They've also now said, the administration, to their credit, that they're going to release the full memos to the senators and some of their legal staff. But that took years. So I think, again, that's another breakthrough. And the last thing I'll say for Rand Paul is he didn't vote against Hagel . He's been supportive of the president having other picks. So I don't think he is as bad as some of these Republicans .
O'DONNELL: Ron Wyden came out a long time ago, hours and hours ago, Ari , back when they were actually talking about drone use in the way that we understand it. They are now off into a zone that's just Twilight Zone stuff. Rand Paul said -- this is what he said, "if you're armed and robbing and threatening people in a liquor store, and people, and you come out with a weapon, I don't mind if you get shot by a drone or a rifle from a policeman." So that's where we are now in the Rand Paul nonsense on the Senate floor. The closer, Ari Melber , gets tonight's LAST WORD . Ari , we're out of time. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
MELBER: Thanks, Lawrence.