Sen. Rand Paul defended his recent comments backing the use of drones by domestic law-enforcement against eminent threats, saying, “In the famous words of George W. Bush, I think I was mis-underestimated.”
In an interview Thursday with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Paul said he is against using drones or other surveillance methods to spy on Americans, but favors using the latest technology of every kind for crime fighting.
“The type of technology doesn’t really matter. For example, if we were opposed to technology, we might be opposed to a drone or a robot that might dismantle a bomb,” the Kentucky Republican said. “A drone is a type of technology. I’ve been against the abuse of the Bill of Rights, but never said I was against any kind of technology.”
The comments in question came during a previous interview on Fox News where Paul said he had no problem with police using the latest technology — including drones — in the pursuit of common criminals.
“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,” Paul said in the earlier interview. “If there is a killer on the loose in a neighborhood, I’m not against drones being used to search them out, heat-seeking devices being used.”
The comment touched off a flurry of criticism from libertarian followers of his father, Ron Paul, and others, who accused the senator of reversing a position against domestic drone use he laid out during his famous Senate filibuster.
Asked by Hannity whether he had shifted his position since his filibuster chastising the Obama administration’s lack of transparency on drone policy, Paul said, “I didn’t change my position. It’s exactly the same position I expressed during the 13-hour filibuster.”
“I also used the hypothetical, if the Twin Towers are being attacked, that’s deadly force being used against America and Americans, there is the right to defend ourselves with deadly force,” Paul said. “The police have the ability and they have a justified obligation to fire back. The type of technology doesn't really matter.”
Paul added, “The thing is, I’m against targeted killings by drones, but I’m also against targeted killing by sniper, by spear, by knife, by club. ... What I was arguing at the filibuster was targeted assassination.”
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