Senator Rand Paul’s celebrated filibuster of the nomination of CIA Director John Brennan over the Obama administration’s unclear stance on lethal drone strikes on Americans on U.S. soil (which was cleared up slightly) apparently meant absolutely nothing. He has now contradicted himself entirely and stated that he supports the idea of drones killing Americans without charge or trial.
He has completely backed down from his previous position in the wake of the Boston marathon bombing, saying that he “never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an active crime going on.”
Paul went on to state that this could even include killing an individual who allegedly committed a robbery. Never does Paul mention a court, a charge, or a trial and he’s already received a lot of criticism for his comments.
“If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and fifty dollars in cash,” Paul said, “I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.”
This sounds eerily like a signature strike like those carried out in Pakistan where people are killed by drones without their identity being known, based on “intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior.”
“It’s different,” Paul claimed, “if they want to come fly over your hot tub or your yard just because they want to do surveillance on everyone and watch your activities.”
Yet Paul once again said, “if there’s killer on the loose in a neighborhood, I’m not against drones being used.”
Since Paul’s comments were clearly referencing the Boston bombing suspect, it must be pointed out that here we’re talking about an alleged killer who actually hasn’t been convicted of anything. That is quite a dangerous and slippery slope to begin traveling down.
“Paul’s comments in light of the Boston suspect’s arrest are a far cry from his staunchly anti-drone stance just last month,” Mediaite points out.
At the beginning of his filibuster that lasted almost 13 hours in total, Paul said,
I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, 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.
Apparently our rights to trial by jury are no longer precious and Americans should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime and without first being found to be guilty by a court.
Paul clearly contradicted his earlier statements on every single point.
During the same interview, Paul said that he did not agree with other Republican senators calling for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to be treated as an enemy combatant, but as Mediaite rightly points out, this is hardly some kind of principled stance for civil liberties.
“[B]y indicating he would have made the call to kill the suspect with drone if he’d had the chance, Paul seems to have betrayed the principles of his filibuster,” Matt Wilstein writes for Mediaite.
Yet Rand Paul went on the defensive, with his office releasing a statement claiming that his position hasn’t actually changed.
“Armed drones should not be used in normal crime situations,” the statement said, according to Reason. “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.”
“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,” the statement concluded.
However, “someone” leaving a liquor store with a weapon and $50 in cash isn’t quite “fighting terrorism and capturing terrorists,” yet that is exactly a situation where Paul said he wouldn’t care if a drone was used to kill an American.
Watch the clip below.
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