Marking an abrupt shift in tone from his epic March filibuster, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said late Monday that he would be fine with a drone killing a run-of-the-mill armed robber.
"Here's the distinction: I have never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an act of crime going on," Paul said on Fox Business Network. "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."
Paul launched a 13-hour filibuster in March after sending a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to clarify whether American citizens could be killed in drone strikes. "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," he said.
"We should not be willy-nilly looking into everyone's backyard at what they're doing. If there is a killer on the loose in a neighborhood, I am not against drones being used to search them out, heat-seeking devices being used," he told Fox Business.
Law enforcement has increasingly used military technology in policing since 9/11, as HuffPost's Radley Balko has reported. One Texas county's police department said in 2011 that its $300,000 drone could be outfitted with nonlethal weapons, like a Taser or bean-bag gun.
Paul's spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.