Paul backs Obama on fatal airstrike; sees 'valuable use for drones'

Paul backs Obama on fatal airstrike; sees 'valuable use for drones'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulTrump: 'No doubt' we'll make a deal on healthcare Overnight Defense: General says US strike probably led to civilian deaths | Tillerson to push NATO on spending | Trump taps F-35 chief Senate backs Montenegro's NATO membership MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday defended an airstrike that ultimately killed two innocent hostages as a “difficult situation,” and pushed back against criticism he’s against all drones as a piece of military policy.

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“There is a valuable use for drones and, as much as I’m seen as an opponent of drones, in military and warfare, they do have some value,” Paul said on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends.”

“I’ve been an opponent of using drones about people not in combat; however, if you are holding hostages, you kind of are involved in combat.”

The White House has not confirmed that a drone was used in the January strike, made public last week, which targeted an al Qaeda stronghold that unknowingly held an American and an Italian hostage. But multiple media outlets report the strike was from a drone, which is consistent with how the administration typically handles these types of strikes.

The operation killed Dr. Warren Weinstein, an American, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian, who were held at the same location. While that’s ignited criticism against the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes, Paul, a frequent critic of the President Obama's drone policy, defended him.

“I tend not to blame the president for the loss of life here. I think he was trying to do the right thing,” Paul said.

Paul filibustered the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director in 2013 over the Obama administration’s drone policy. His main sticking point was that the administration needed to confirm it would not use drone strikes on American citizens who they suspect of being terrorists while the suspects were on American soil.