On Friday night’s edition of “Ream Time with Bill Maher,” host Bill Maher sparred with members of his panel about the utility of armed predator drones and whether or not Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was right to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA.
Maher gave Paul credit for opening a national dialogue about the predator drone program, and whether or not it is ethical to pursue the nation’s designated enemies in such a manner. He took exception however to Paul’s obsessive focus on the question of whether the president of the United States can order the execution of U.S. citizens on domestic soil.
“Every time somebody who is, I’m sure, a proud Christian talks about how ‘They can’t do it to Americans, but foreigners? Fuck them,’” Maher said. “There’s a real world where drones are actually killing people every day, but fuck them, we don’t care about them because they’re not Americans. That just doesn’t seem like the attitude Jesus would take.”
Panelists Ariana Huffington and Avik Roy leapt to Paul’s defense. Huffington said that in this instance, Paul has “completely scrambled that right-left view of politics.”
Maher read from a statement by Gen. Stanley McChrystal about the tremendous resentment engendered in the world by unmanned drone strikes, which are hated “on a visceral level” by people around the world.
Comedian David Cross said that this issue reflects the fact that most people in the U.S., particularly young people, have no idea, even, that the country has been at war for most of their lives. The drone program, he said, is just another instance of how detached we are from the things that are happing around the world in the country’s name.
Maher took a moment to clarify his position, however, on the drone program.
“That’s not to day that all drone strikes are bad,” he said. “Some people do need killing. It’s like what I say about the death penalty, let’s just kill the right people.”
Former RNC Chairperson Michael Steele said that Maher is right, though, that Sen. Paul shone a spotlight on an aspect of the ongoing U.S. wars that most people are unaware of or don’t think about.
“A lot of people don’t really understand or even see the devastation,” Steele said. “It’s not just about the one individual sitting at the café that they wanted to get. It is the 10, 12, 100 people around him who are also killed in that process.”
Earlier this year, the Guardian featured a report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that claimed that “between 2004 and 2013 drone strikes have killed up to 893 civilians (including 176 children) in Pakistan, 178 civilians (including 37 children) in Yemen, and 57 civilians (including three children) in Somalia (while these started under Bush they were accelerated under Obama).”
Watch the video, embedded below via Mediaite: