Rand Paul says he was misunderstood on using drones against common criminals

April 24, 2013

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who caused a stir among his supporters earlier this week by suggesting that drones could be used against an armed robber, clarified in a statement that he doesn't think they should be used in such situations.

"My comments last night left the mistaken impression that my position on drones had changed," Paul said in a statement late Tuesday. "Let me be clear: it has not. Armed drones should not be used in normal crime situations. They may only be considered in extraordinary, lethal situations where there is an ongoing, imminent threat. I described that scenario previously during my Senate filibuster."In an interview Monday with Fox Business's News's New Neil Cavuto, Paul appeared to suggest that he would be okay with using a drone against an armed robber fleeing the scene of the crime.

“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," Paul said.

The comment caused a stir -- especially given that this was the guy who stood on the Senate floor and filibustered for 13 hours seeking to rein in the Obama administration's ability to use drones against American citizens on U.S. soil. For a time, the Drudge Report ran a banner headline saying "Rand Learns to Love the Drone!"

Paul said in his clarifying statement that the country needs to continue to strike a balance between constitutional rights and drones.

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

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · April 24, 2013