(NBC NEWS) -- Pledging to speak "until I can no longer speak," Kentucky Republican Rand Paul on Wednesday launched a filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan to be the next CIA director, getting assists from a over half dozen other lawmakers over the course of hours standing on the Senate floor.
The traditional or "talking" filibuster - dependent on one senator holding control of the floor rather than a tally of votes -- continued well into its ninth hour after Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois objected to Paul's request that the Senate take up a non-binding sense of the Senate resolution stating that the U.S. government cannot target "noncombatants" with drones on American soil.
Paul objects to what he calls the Obama administration's lack of clarity over whether a suspected terrorist who is an American citizen can be targeted with a drone strike within U.S. borders.
Arguing that such a resolution would be premature, Durbin instead invited Paul to testify at an upcoming hearing on the issue of drones.
But that offer was not enough for Paul to halt his protest.
The Kentucky senator said late Wednesday that the White House "hasn't returned our phone calls" regarding the policy.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., engages in a discussion with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., over the use of lethal force on American citizens on U.S. soil and the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
Hours into his filibuster, Paul acknowledged that Brennan will ultimately be confirmed, saying the lengthy delay is merely a "blip" in his nomination. But he and other participants emphasized that the debate is intended to shine a spotlight on the government's balance of civil liberties with national security.
Paul spoke solo for over three hours before being joined on the floor by other lawmakers who stepped in to continue the filibuster.
Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Marco Rubio of Florida and John Barrasso of Wyoming -- as well as Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon -- participated.
Over six hours after beginning the filibuster, a visibly tired Paul could be seen eating what appeared to be several pieces of candy in between sentences. At one point, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., set a thermos and an apple on his desk.
"You must surely be making Jimmy Stewart smile," Cruz said of Paul upon taking the floor, alluding to the famous filibuster portrayed by the actor in the 1939 film "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."
Rubio came to Paul's aid after tweeting a message of support, saying that Paul is asking "a legit question" of the White House.
Stating that "I will speak until I can no longer speak," Sen. Rand Paul announces on the floor of the U.S. Senate that he will filibuster the nomination of John Brennan as director of the CIA.
"Why so hard for them to just give straight answer?" he wrote on Twitter. "Almost like they feel it is beneath them."
In a response to a letter of inquiry, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote to Paul this week that such a targeted strike is "possible, I suppose" in a catastrophic circumstance, although the administration has "no intention" of doing so.
Paul began his filibuster as Holder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where the attorney general reiterated his defense of the administration's policy.
Paul said Wednesday that he is concerned that the administration has failed to name specific criteria about who could be subject to targeting, invoking the public animosity towards some anti-war activists in the 1960s.
"Are you going to just drop a drone, a Hellfire missile on Jane Fonda?" he said.
Senate Foreign Relations member Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. questions Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, during Kerry's confirmation hearing before the committee to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The Kentucky lawmaker, the son of outspoken former presidential candidate Ron Paul, began speaking at 11:47 a.m. ET. After over an hour of continuous speech, he quipped that his throat was already becoming dry.
He noted later that there aren't enough detractors in the Senate to block Brennan's confirmation, which will require 60 votes for approval.
"Ultimately I will not win," he said. "There are not enough votes."
traditional or "talking" filibuster is the first use of the tactic
since 2010, when Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont held the
Senate floor for eight hours and 37 minutes to oppose Obama's proposed