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Via James Bovard and Salon comes the news that Rand Paul is in favor of the use of drones in certain circumstances. It is the easiest thing in the world for those of us on the sidelines to criticize those in power. But it is a lot different when all of a sudden one has to make the tough choices.

Bovard quotes Rand in Salon as follows:

“If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and fifty dollars in cash I don’t care if a Drone kills him or a policeman kills him…”
Sen. Paul also apparently would not object to using drones domestically in critical police actions: ““If there is a killer on the loose in a neighborhood, I’m not against drones being used to search them.” Paul also said in the Salon article: “Here’s the distinction, I have never argued against any technology being used against having an imminent threat an act of crime going on…”
Bovard also notes that the Senate was scheduled to hold a hearing today on the use of drones. However, he reports that Rand Paul has conveniently skipped out of those hearings, citing "conflicts."

These instances of nuance are going to exacerbate the split that is developing between Ron Paul's supporters. Some want to work within the system and some don't. Rand Paul's performances will fuel that conflict. He has his defenders, of course. The American Conservative quotes him on CNN as follows:

Anything that would require a warrant. It would have to have a warrant. And I’m concerned about obviously arming drones. But I don’t want to say that I’m arguing against technology. For example, there’s a bomb in a car, I’m very happy that we have automated robots that can go up to the car and investigate the bomb and we don’t have to risk a human. Same with drones. If they can save lives, that’d be one thing. Arming drones obviously sends up pictures of the military and I don’t think domestically armed drones are a good idea. What I would say is that drones could be used if you have a proper warrant. But that means you go through a judge.
This quote was made last June, which means that he has been consistent in his thinking.

And Salon quotes Rand in The Hill as follows:

“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 fifty dollars 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 tube, or your yard just because they want to do surveillance on everyone, and they want to watch your activities.”
In other words, Rand draws a distinction between imminent threats and preemptive surveillance. But as Bovard says, "imminent threats breed like lemmings."
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