Rand Paul faces blowback after new drone comments
April 23rd, 2013
08:32 PM ET
10 years 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. GottaBeKidding

    Rand Paul, like most politicians – Democrat and Republican, will say whatever it takes to get into or stay in office. How sad it must be to be in a profession where you can't state your true feelings for fear of backlash from your "base".

    April 24, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  2. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    This incompetence gop teaparty failure being elected to public office just shows the stupidity of the voters in his home state . Idiots that don't speak for the rest of the country but tell you they do .

    April 24, 2013 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  3. thomase

    Ah yes, website comment sections. The new news.

    April 24, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  4. repubs: not here to help the middle class just here to stir the crap

    this random Paul guy is just another wolf in sheeps clothing. pitiful excuse for a human being.

    April 24, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  5. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    It appears that Rand Paul learned all he knows about political speech from the George W Bush School of Advanced Foot-in-Mouth Political Addresses.

    April 24, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  6. Sam I am

    Rand Paul is a Looney Tune.

    April 24, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  7. Jinx9to88

    He is a great presidential candidate for the GOP! Wow!!

    April 24, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  8. john goode

    Everyone is all upset about this statement.
    “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,”
    So what is your solution? Let a cop put his life on the line by engaging in a gun fight where bullets fly and bystanders are hurt? Use a police sniper and, just like the drone, shoot the bad guy in the head? The sniper is the executioner just like the drone operator. Since you all think Paul is wrong about this you must have spent considerable time studying this or may have even been involved in a situation like this. So again what do you propose as a solution?

    April 24, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    Surveillance is a something entirely different from an attack. I'm amazed at the stupidity of these people. If a perp is armed and on the run after robbing a liquor store, isn't the object to find him and catch him? A manhunt is not a game of tag.

    April 24, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  10. 2bsquared

    When this first started to come up as an issue I called the lead engineer on the Predator design team, hes retired now. I asked if they ever thought it would get to this point. I was shocked when he said yes and they had a Lawyer in FAA specialty check it out. FAA laws say that any aircraft that goes beyond the line of sight must be manned at all times. The Predator is not manned. I know you see the guy flying it from afar, but he is only in control at take of an landings, all other times its on a computer delay. I will not say how long, but its enough to cause injury.

    April 24, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  11. Wake up People!

    This guy will say anything. Rand, open mouth and insert foot. He sounds a lot like Mittens. One day he's against it and the next he's for it.

    Just another lazy conservative that's too afraid of getting a real job, so he goes into Politics to suck off the government teat for life.

    Loser. You WILL NOT be POTUS.

    April 24, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  12. BCW

    Rand Paul is a good actor and deserves an Oscar Award for his role in the drama Citzen Paul Go to Washington – Filibuster Edition. "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" – that was his big statement in that 13 hours long filibuster. Now he accepts drone attack on liquor store robbery?! Like father like son – both are idiots. Voters – please send him home for good.

    April 24, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  13. Matt Norris

    Oh come on. Why have this discussion before the logical discussion: The SWAT team or whatever isn't going to get it done if 6 or 8 of these guys get into a school.

    The teams that have a chance aren't going to participate, because it's illegal. Don't change that law, but somebody might want to move the appropriate members of some teams to a civilian law enforcement role.

    April 24, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  14. Hogan's Goat

    " I can't wait for him to be POTUS." A man named after the great atheist Ayn Rand would make a great president, wouldn't he? Who could possibly be against a guy like that, right? Maybe someday a real libertarian will be president, but not this second-rate fool.

    April 24, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  15. plain&simple

    Looslike any idiot can get elected into office. All he or she has to do is get all the other idiots to vote while the ordinary working people with lives don't find the time to! People like Rand Paul should be all the motivation one needs to go to the polls.

    April 24, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  16. The Real Tom Paine


    Rand Paul, a man of prinicipled conviction. He's just not sure what that principled conviction is.
    Whatever suits him at any given moment.

    April 24, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  17. CLT

    This guy is crazy, why are you reporting on crazy?

    April 24, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  18. Derek

    I'm concerned that an elected official thinks its ok for a cop or a drone to gun someone down for $50.

    April 24, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  19. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Incompetent deranged mentally ill psychopatic skitzophrenic right wing lunic!

    April 24, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  20. EDDIE

    Repubs' paranoia has them making situations out of nothing.Tin hat's for everybody and then the drones can't see us.

    April 24, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "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.
    Well if you had any doubt as to what he was working with gray matter wise, your doubts have been dispelled. The man is a Class A, first rate IDIOT.
    He cites that it is okay with him if a drone is used to blow away somebody who just robbed a liquor store and in the same breath says that drones shouldn't be used in "normal crime situations".
    People that would consider this man to be anywhere near the WH even as a janitor are betraying the fact that they'd rather have someone with the IQ of a gnat but who is white sitting in the Oval Office rather than the brilliant, rational, and sensible Black man that currently and rightfully occupies it.
    Rand Paul. What a maroon.

    April 24, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  22. Sniffit

    This is what happens when a nihilist masquerades as an ideologue.

    April 24, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  23. rs

    Mr. Paul is the PERFECT spokesperson for the post-policy GOP. He'll say anything to anyone proving that the GOP has no real foundation anymore. Their often conflicting ideologies on day-to-day issues shows how ill-equipped they are to actually even attempt governing.
    This country MUST have 2 viable parties. Too bad the GOP isn't one of them.

    April 24, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  24. Eardley Ham Woodbury, MN

    1. The rampant use of drones by civilian law enforcement is inevitable.
    2. Unwarranted excesses will result, including the death of innocent citizens.
    3. Society will not be safer.
    4. Autonomous drones will be developed.
    5. SkyNet cometh.

    April 24, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  25. Lynda/Minnesota

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

    I'll second that. Well, the part where the poster asks where Rand Paul stands (as if Paul actually knows where he stands on ANY issue). I can't imagine any scenario where I would believe in Rand Paul.

    April 24, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
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