Rand Paul’s Apparently Flip-Flop on Domestic Drone Usage

Libertarian sites are expressing shock from the supposed savior’s change in attitude regarding domestic drone usage. Last month Rand Paul performed a 13 hour filibuster against domestic drone usage but yesterday he had an apparent change of heart:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he would have supported police using drones in last week’s hunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombing.

“If there is a killer on the loose in a neighborhood, I’m not against drones being used to search them,” Paul told Fox Business Network.


Paul said that the question of an “imminent threat” was the pivotal one when considering drone policy.

“Here’s the distinction — I have never argued against any technology being used against having an imminent threat an act of 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 come fly over your hot tub, or your yard just because they want to do surveillance on everyone, and they want to watch your activities.”

I said an apparent change of heart because the sentiment expressed above isn’t actually a change in heart. Last year Mr. Paul introduced legislation that he claimed protected Americans from being killed by drones. I noted that there was a major hole in the legislation that effectively rendered it useless:

Sounds good so far, right? Let’s have a look at the exceptions mentioned in the above paragraph:

(1) PATROL OF BORDERS- The use of a drone to patrol national borders to prevent or deter illegal entry of any persons or illegal substances.

So drones will continue to be used to monitor the 100 miles “Constitution free zone” that 2/3 of the United States population lives within? It appears as though Rand Paul’s bill only protects 1/3 of the population from these unwarranted drone uses. That appearance is deceiving though as there are more exceptions:

(2) EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES- The use of a drone by a law enforcement party when exigent circumstances exist. For the purposes of this paragraph, exigent circumstances exist when the law enforcement party possesses reasonable suspicion that under particular circumstances, swift action to prevent imminent danger to life is necessary.

There it is, the one exception that makes this entire bill meaningless. Law enforcement don’t need a warrant to use a drone if they have “reasonable suspicion” that circumstances are such that imminent danger to life exists. “Reasonable suspicion” is another way of saying “because law enforcement wants to.” It’s a catchall phrase that has been used by law enforcement agents to avoid that pesky Forth Amendment.

If his legislation was any indicator Rand Paul has always been fine with using drones to kill Americans so long as the state’ arbitrary “terrorist” label is applied to the target beforehand. Everybody can stop being surprised now. Rand Paul isn’t being inconsistent, he’s always been find with killing Americans with drones.