Following reports that Sen. Rand Paul had changed his position on drone use, the Kentucky Republican responded with a statement Tuesday night insisting he hasn’t flip-flopped on the issue.
Earlier on Tuesday, Paul, who launched a dramatic speaking filibuster in March to oppose the potential use of domestic drones on American citizens, appeared on the Fox Business Network with Neil Cavuto and appeared to suggest that drones can reasonably be used in some domestic situations. (RELATED — Paul brings Senate to a halt: “I’m going to speak as long as I can”)
“I’ve never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an active crime going on,” Paul told Cavuto, responding to a question about the Boston Marathon manhunt. “If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and 50 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.”
Paul attempted to clarify his remarks later in the day.
“My comments last night left the mistaken impression that my position on drones had changed,” Paul said in the Tuesday night statement. “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,” he added. “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.”
Foreign Policy magazine reported that Paul’s libertarian fan base had been distressed by his comments to Cavuto, with several of Paul’s followers posting on message boards and forums to voice their anger and frustration.