Fact-checking Rand Paul's fillibuster on drones

Sen. Rand Paul spoke for 13 hours about the Obama administration policy on drone strikes.
Sen. Rand Paul spoke for 13 hours about the Obama administration policy on drone strikes.

Rand Paul's 13-hour filibuster on the Obama administration's policy on drone strikes was a remarkable display of staying power that has focused new attention on the controversial attacks and turned the usual partisanship of Congress upside-down.

The Kentucky Republican, aided by a few colleagues, spoke for 13 hours Wednesday about his concerns about the Obama policy.  That prompted a response Thursday by two of his fellow Republicans, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who defended Obama's policy.

"To my Republican colleagues, I don’t remember any of you coming down here suggesting that President Bush was going to kill anybody with a drone, do you?" Graham said. "They had a drone program back then, all of a sudden this drone program has gotten every Republican so spun up. What are we up to here?"

We checked several claims from the talk-a-thon:

Paul said that when President Obama's spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked about the killing of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric tied to al-Qaida, the spokesman replied "said he should have chosen a more responsible father." We rated that Half True.

During the floor debate, Paul sent a tweet that said President Obama "is advocating a drone strike program in America." We rated that False.

In the aftermath of the filibuster, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told Hardball host Chris Matthews, "We have no regulation of drones in the United States in their commercial use. You can see drones some day hovering over the homes of Hollywood luminaries, violating privacy."

In fact, there's a ban on commercial drones. Feinstein's claim earned a False.

Finally, we looked into Paul's statement, "When (John) Brennan ... was asked directly … ‘Is there any geographic limitation to your drone strike program?’ Brennan responded and said, ‘no, there is no limitation.’"

That's an accurate characterization of Brennan's comments. The rating: True.