Last month, Paul conducted a nearly 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor after the Obama Administration said in a letter that it was theoretically possible for President Obama to authorize a lethal drone strike on an American citizen under "extraordinary circumstances." The administration subsequently clarified that they did not believe the president had the authority to "use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat."Remember that? Conservatives do, they practically had the guy bronzed and mounted on top of the Capitol rotunda they were so proud of him. "Stand with Rand" signs and stickers were everywhere, during CPAC. Defending Americans from being targeted in the streets by Obama-ordered drones was his claim to conservative fame. He won the CPAC Straw Poll. He used it as a major fundraising point.
You know what's coming next, right? Paul now says that his only issue with using drones to kill American citizens on American soil is whether there's an "imminent threat." And if there is, screw it, Paul does think we should be using drones to kill American citizens on American soil.
“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."Holy moly. So it's not okay for drones to be flying over your hot tub, but if someone just robbed a liquor store somewhere in America and made off with 50 whole dollars, screw it—blow the crap out of him with an unmanned drone.
That's not even an "imminent threat" kind of case, mind you; if someone just left a liquor store, the "threat" is now over. And note that he just muses on seeing someone come out of a liquor store with "a weapon and $50," which is a hell of a low threshold for launching an aerial assault over an American city. Maybe the guy was just standing his ground, right? Aren't True Patriots supposed to be toting guns everywhere they go? Didn't we just have yet another effing filibuster about that?
So in the span of a little over a month, Rand Paul has gone from being so outraged over the mere possibility of using drones to kill American citizens on American soil that he's willing to launch an old-school filibuster to a new position far more extreme than anyone else discussing the topic, an assertion that drones can be used to kill American citizens on American soil if you catch them in the act of a suspected crime. You just can't use the drones to look for the crime, though. I don't know what Constitution Rand Paul has been reading, but I'm fairly certain he's been licking toads while reading it.
Of course, what this really means is that Rand Paul's entire famous filibuster was, in the end, bullshit. It was a lie. He didn't filibuster because he was outraged that the Obama administration might send unmanned drones to target and kill American citizens, he just outright endorsed that practice. So why did he filibuster? As a mere political gimmick, a fundraising tool, a chance to bluster about "freedom" to the base on an issue that neither he nor that base really had shred one of concern about to begin with? How many in that base are now feeling suckered, right now, with their "Stand with Rand" stickers and their idol's supposedly deep-held belief in not sending drones out to kill random Americans who a government agent has determined probably deserved it?
And now we have to ask the question—so, Rand Paul, now it's your turn to explain to the American public. When should unmanned drones be used to kill American citizens on American soil? We be using that aerial firepower to respond to liquor store holdups, now? Not just terrorism, but any crime? No trials, no worries about collateral damage, just blast the guys?
That is a hell of a change in position, and a roundly terrifying one at that. What do you really believe, Rand Paul?