Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who filibustered for 13 hours in March 2013 against the idea of using military drone technology against U.S. citizens, said he supported them being used against criminal suspects in an interview with Fox Business Channel on Monday.
“I have never argued against any technology being used against having an imminent threat, [or] an act of crime going on,” Paul said, referring to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. “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.”
According to Mediaite, host Neil Cavuto said he thought of Paul when watching thermal imagery of authorities surrounding Tsarnaev, who was found hiding on a boat stored in the backyard of a Watertown, Massachusetts home.
“Apparently with this thermal imaging, you can see a person behind a wall, or in this case, a cover,” Cavuto said. “And I’m thinking, ‘What else can these guys see? I didn’t even know they had that ability with a helicopter, to do that.”
Paul said there was a different between authorities searching for someone posing an “imminent threat” and conducting surveillance on a person’s residence. But he made no such distinction during his filibuster.
“I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important,” Paul said on March 6. “That your rights to trial by jury are precious, that 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.”
Watch video, posted by Mediaite on Tuesday, below.
UPDATE: Rand Paul released a statement about his remarks on Tuesday night.
“My comments last night left the mistaken impression that my position on drones had changed.
“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.
“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.”