Rand Paul clarifies stance on drones

After facing heavy criticism Tuesday for his comments on the use of drones to stop common criminals, Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate passes 6B defense bill This week: House GOP caught in immigration limbo Amendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP MORE (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that his position on domestic drones had not changed.

Paul said that he did not believe that armed drones should be used in “normal crime situations,” walking back his statement from less than 24 hours prior.

“My comments last night left the mistaken impression that my position on drones had changed. Let me be clear: it has not,” Paul said in a statement Wednesday morning.

Paul sparked a firestorm among his libertarian following on Tuesday when he suggested on Fox News Business that armed drones could be used against someone who robs a liquor store.

“I’ve never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an active crime going on,” Paul said. “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.

“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,” he said.

Paul’s views on drones gained national attention earlier this year when he launched a 12-hour filibuster over the Obama administration’s ability to use armed drones against American citizens, demanding a letter from the White House saying it did not believe it had the authority to do so.

Last week’s attack in Boston — where security cameras recorded the suspects, and overhead surveillance spotted suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding on a boat — has reignited the debate on how drones should be used on U.S. soil.

Paul cited Boston in his statement as an example of fighting terrorism while "preserving our constitutional protections."

He said that he believed armed drones “may only be considered in extraordinary, lethal situations where there is an ongoing, imminent threat.” Surveillance drones should only be used with warrants and specific targets, he added.