Rand Paul faces blowback after new drone comments
April 23rd, 2013
08:32 PM ET
12 months ago

Rand Paul faces blowback after new drone comments

(CNN) - Sen. Rand Paul's latest statements on the use of drones in the United States, which caused some outrage among his loyal group of Libertarian followers, aren't a shift in position, the Kentucky Republican explained in a statement Tuesday.

In his original comments, Paul explained his parameters for using drones on American soil.

“We shouldn’t be willy-nilly, looking into their backyard at what they’re doing. But if there is a killer on the loose in a neighborhood, I’m not against drones being used to search them out, heat seeking devices being used,” Paul said in an interview on Fox Business Network.

“If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and $50 in cash, I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him,” he added later.

The question arose in relation to the manhunt last week for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. Tsarnaev was born in Kyrgyzstan but became a U.S. citizen in 2012.

Paul’s hypothetical scenario angered some fans, who loudly supported Paul when he took to the Senate floor in March to question whether the U.S. government believes it had the authority to carry out drone attacks against American citizens on U.S. soil.

“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,” Paul said at the beginning of his 13-hour filibuster, which stalled the nomination of John Brennan to become CIA director. He was eventually confirmed.

The filibuster ended when Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter to Paul that the president does not have the authority to use a drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S. soil.

In a statement Tuesday, Paul said his position hasn't changed on the use of drones.

"My comments last night left the mistaken impression that my position on drones had changed. Let me be clear: it has not," he wrote. "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," the senator continued. "This was demonstrated last week in Boston. As we all seek to prevent future tragedies, we must continue to bear this in mind."

While Paul has acknowledged in the past that an imminent threat could be cause to use a drone to kill an American, the specific situation he noted in the interview – an armed robbery of a liquor store – seemed to some of his fans as too low a threat.

“The guy is simultaneously capable of great good and evil it seems. Scares me. What are our alternatives? I don't know but, I am looking,” one poster wrote on a message board in the Daily Paul, a website for fans of both Rand Paul and his father Ron, the former Texas congressman and presidential candidate.

On his official Facebook page, fans issued similar criticism.

“If someone robs a liquor store, they get due process. Who decides who is guilty? The drone navigator?” one poster asked.

“Which is it Senator Paul?! Where do you stand?! This sickens me! I was just beginning to believe in you, too!” another chimed in.

The new backlash against Rand Paul was first reported by Foreign Policy magazine.


Filed under: Boston Marathon bombing • Rand Paul
soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. la la lam

    Author knows how to twist a comment. People are angry because he said a drone could kill a criminal in the same circumstance that cops respond with lethal force. I don't want drones shooting missiles, rockets, etc. within a mile of me. Drones aren't really set up for the urban theatre.

    April 23, 2013 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  2. Wayne

    What a moron and what an abuse of public office. And politicians wonder why nobody trusts them. I doubt he got elected on that platform.

    April 23, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  3. opinion8it

    "A fool's mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul." - Proverbs 18:7

    April 23, 2013 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  4. jimmyjo

    Must have been sarcasm! He wouldnt talk for 12 hours straight saying he was against it. Have you tried talking for 12 hours! Very hard. He did it with passion and conviction.

    April 23, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  5. Larry L

    Paul has already started his flip-flopping for an election that's three and a half years away! I suppose he'll continue to say stupid things, check the polls, then adjust with some ridiculous flip-flop. That worked so well for Romney...

    April 23, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  6. jerry

    Sounds like he put his foot is his mouth with that comment.

    April 23, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  7. Canuck

    Of course drones never make mistakes ......
    (Sarcasm)

    April 23, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  8. S.B. Stein

    That is a change. I thought that he would say that it was a loan that the robber was getting and should be allowed to walk away. Someone robbing a store should be caught. If there is something that is able to record it and show that the person did it, that is like an eye witness.

    April 23, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  9. Blm

    He is a fake. I never knew he was such a fake

    April 23, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  10. Tony in Maine

    I'd hate to see how they'd shrug off the inevitable "oops." Oh yeah, collaterol damage, the euphemism for wiping out toddlers.

    Talk about using a sledge hammer to drive finish nails...

    April 23, 2013 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  11. MDP

    Okay... So all politician is a flip-flopper? If so, I don't think its a problem since humanity are all flip-flopper, too! I don't care of Rand Paul is a flip-flopper, President Obama is one too... Don't forget President Bush, Mitt Romney and so on... I am a big flip-flopper too. Now you should know that I am safe to run for White House too! :-D

    April 23, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  12. Woman In California

    No need for any comment because we all know the Paul's are crazy and everytime they open their mouths, they just remove any doubts.

    April 23, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  13. picnick

    Rand Paul asks the right questions.

    I'm glad he is there in the Senate. I can't wait for him to be POTUS.

    April 23, 2013 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  14. picnick

    Keep up the good work, Dr Paul.

    The media has to spin your words.

    Your ideas are solid and I am glad you are willing to fight the good fight for Liberty.

    April 23, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  15. Randy, San Francisco

    Libertarians wake up! Sen Rand Paul is really a fascist hiding in the dark closet.

    April 23, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  16. Tom

    And that RANTING JERK thinks he is presidential material?

    April 23, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  17. Quest

    If a U.S. senator is allowed to issue threats against hypothetical criminals, are they allowed to make threats towards him? Who has the king complex?

    April 23, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  18. A Kickin` Donkey

    Rand Paul is not very smart and does not seem to be a deep thinker.

    If he was he`d have never said drones should be used in response to a robbery – which IS what he said regardless of his spin now.

    Just as he said that the Civil Rights Act should not have prohibited discrimination by a business against some of its customers. Rachel Maddow got him to admit that and then Rand " CLARIFIED" his remarks on that topic.

    Tomorrow some journalist should have the thoroughness to ask him if he opposes survelience cameras like the ones that captured images of the BM bombers. There is little difference between that and drone cameras except that one is mobile. If he persists, ask him his position on "dashcams" in police cars; they are mobile. I`ll bet he flip flops more than Romney and it is because he is not a deep thinker; a principled thinker.

    these are not random, isolated events. They reveal a pattern. Rand is not intellectually curious enough for his office and certainly not for even HIGHER office.

    April 23, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  19. gandoman

    Considering his proposal for the use of drones.....& the way he drones on.....I would think a drone up his ass would solve a big problem for decent Americans who do not want this country dominated by Hitler reincarnations.

    April 23, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  20. Guy

    Bye rand. We hardly knew ye lol. Faker. Not even close to being able to carry your dads jockstrap.

    April 23, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  21. F Stocking

    The only offensive part of Rand's statement is the "I don't care"

    April 23, 2013 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  22. mtbeau

    Rand Paul will never get my support. If you have to ask why, you have a problem.

    April 23, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  23. MaryM

    and yet again, Rand Paul opens mouth to change feet. Just like his father

    April 23, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  24. teddyg

    'All terror. All the time' Used to be the mantra of the cable news networks. Now its crept into the U.S. Senate.

    April 23, 2013 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  25. The Other Dale

    As always, Kentucky apologizes for vpting for this idiot. What a waste of space.

    April 23, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
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