Last week, Sen. John McCain R-Ariz. denounced Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky. on the Senate floor after he spent nearly 13 hours protesting the Obama administration’s drone program. The U.S. Senator from Arizona, now in his twenty-sixth year of office, was unable to contain his dripping disdain usually reserved for his Democratic colleagues.
But McCain and Paul have never been friends, frequently clashing on major issues before the Senate, especially in 2011, when Paul took to the floor to protest one of McCain’s amendments to the Defense Authorization bill.
Paul’s argument was similar to that of his opposition of the executive power to authorize drone strikes: No executive should ever have the power to detain an American citizen without due process. “Now we’re saying that someone accused of a crime could be taken from America’s soil … and taken to Guantanamo Bay,” Paul said.
Paul added that if Americans are denied the right to due process under law then Congress was eroding the very foundations of American principals.
“Should we err today and remove some of the most important checks on state power in the name of fighting terrorism, well then the terrorists have won,” Paul added.
McCain reportedly hurried to the floor to defend his amendment against Paul’s insurrection. In response, McCain insisted that “facts were stubborn things,” frequently citing a report showing that 27 percent of released enemy combatants were returning to target Americans.
The senior senator forgot to turn off his cell phone, which rang from his pocket on the Senate floor as he criticized Paul’s argument.
“When they are enemy combatants, then they are subject to the rules and laws of war,” McCain stated finally.