Paul Flips Position on Drones and Backs Obama
Policy + Politics

Paul Flips Position on Drones and Backs Obama

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Freshman Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) first broke onto the national scene in March 2013 when he staged a nearly 13-hour filibuster to protest the Obama administration’s drone policy and highlight the danger of strikes against U.S. citizens.

Paul’s surprise stunt galvanized conservatives to delay temporarily action on President Obama’s nomination of John Brennan as the new CIA director. It also cemented Paul’s credentials as a libertarian and isolationist highly suspicious of the way the U.S. projects its military might at home and abroad.

Related: The Biggest Obstacle to Rand Paul’s 2016 Campaign

Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a prominent defense hawk and staunch supporter of the administration’s use of drones against terrorist groups in the Middle East, dismissed Paul and a few of his Tea Party allies as “wackos,” but Paul adamantly stood his ground

That was then and this is now. 

Paul, one of three Republican senators to have formally launched a campaign for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination in the past few weeks, has been trying for months to convince the foreign policy defense hawks who dominate his party that he really isn’t an isolationist after all and is worthy of consideration as a potential commander-in-chief.

Late last week, Republicans rallied round the President after he somberly announced that a U.S. drone strike in January had inadvertently and tragically killed two hostages being held by al Qaeda in Pakistan, including Warren Weinstein, an American USAID contractor. The same strike unintentionally killed another American, Ahmed Farouq, who was said to be a “deputy emir” for al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent.

Related: Will the Real Rand Paul Finally Stand Up

Suddenly, Paul was on board with the rest of his party – and many Democrats as well -- in defending the President’s use of drones as an effective tool in global counterterrorism

“I do think there’s a valuable use for drones,”   Paul told Fox and Friends” on Monday morning, according to Defense One. “And as much as I’m seen as this opponent of drones, I think in military and warfare they do have some value.”

“I’ve been an opponent of using drones about people not involved in combat,” Paul went on to say, “[but]…if you’re holding hostages, you kind of are involved in combat…. You really don’t get due process or anything like that in a war zone.”

Related: Several U.S. probes likely of drone strikes that killed hostages

Paul said the al-Qaeda terrorists killed in the drone attack that resulted in the death of Weinstein “were in a war zone and probably got what was coming to them….” Unfortunately, some innocent people lost their lives.”

“The world is so partisan, I guess I tend to not want to blame the President for the loss of life here,” Paul said. “I think he was trying to do the right thing.”

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