Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) clarified a point on the use of drones that he didn’t mention in his 13-hour filibuster: He doesn’t mind if a drone is used to kill American citizens if there’s an “imminent threat.” He told Fox Business’ Neil Cavuto:
“Here’s the distinction: I have never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an act of crime going on. 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. But it’s different if they want to come fly over your hot tub or your yard just because they want to do surveillance on everyone, and they want to watch your activities.”
Conservatives are arguing that this has always been Paul’s position:
The senator has always been open to the idea of drones being used, with a warrant, in the process of a police investigation. And, as a practical matter, if that could have meant, say, a hundred fewer Boston doors knocked on by SWAT teams, isn’t that a net victory for civil liberties? The bit about armed drones, “I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him,” is a tad more strongly worded than prior statements but by no means new.
If this is true, Paul’s entire filibuster was based on the premise that he was against the president using a drone to kill an American citizen on U.S. soil not engaged in combat — a premise that only conspiracy theorists have imagined the president would do.
To Paul’s credit, he also expressed that the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing should be tried in civilian court, unlike senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ), who have called for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to be designated an enemy combatant.