Rand Paul Tries to Clarify Drone Flip-Flop

Posted: Apr 25, 2013 3:11 PM

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky), commended by many for his dramatic thirteen hour filibuster against the use of domestic drones, told Fox Business Network on Tuesday he's OK with drone strikes on American citizens who, for instance, rob a liquor store.

"If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and fifty dollars in cash. I don't care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him. But it’s different if they want to fly over your hot tub or your yard just because they want to do surveillance on everyone, and they want to watch your activities,” the junior senator from Kentucky said in response to a question about the Boston Marathon manhunt.

"Additionally, surveillance drones should only be used with warrants and specific targets. I’ve never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an active crime going on.”

Yet during Paul’s famous March 6 filibuster, which obstructed Democratic plans to proceed to vote on the confirmation of John Brennan as the new CIA director, he stated that he was using the parliamentary device to coerce President Barack Obama to state definitively if he would use armed drones against American citizens.

“ I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court,” he said.

Paul clarified his position on his perceived reversal in a public statement Tuesday after reports that he had flipped, admitting he “left the mistaken impression” but that he has not changed his position.

My comments last night left the mistaken impression that my position on drones had changed. Let me be clear: it has not.

Armed drones should not be used in normal crime situations. They only may only be considered in extraordinary, lethal situations where there is an ongoing, imminent threat. I described that scenario previously during my Senate filibuster. Additionally, surveillance drones should only be used with warrants and specific targets.

Fighting terrorism and capturing terrorists must be done while preserving our constitutional protections. This was demonstrated last week in Boston. As we all seek to prevent future tragedies, we must continue to bear this in mind.

Paul’s famous filibuster strengthened his ties with his father's hardcore fan base, but his comparison of a 9/11-like moment with a liquor store robbery has infuriated Ron Paul supporters and libertarians.