Rand Paul stands by Obama over drone attack

05:05 - Source: CNN
Sen. Paul protests nominee over drones
CNN  — 

Sen. Rand Paul defended President Barack Obama over the accidental killing of two hostages in a U.S. drone attack in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

The Kentucky Republican and presidential candidate, who’s become known for his opposition to the use of drones on American soil, said he sees value in drone warfare overseas and argued that this was a difficult situation.

“The world is so partisan, I tend not to want to blame the President for the loss of life here. I think he was trying to do the right thing,” he said Monday morning on Fox and Friends.

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Paul said he’s not opposed to the use of drones in combat, saying that the holding of hostages constitutes an act of combat and there’s not “due process if you’re in a war zone.”

“These people were in a war zone and probably got what was coming to them – the captors. Unfortunately some innocent people also died,” he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a potential presidential rival for Paul who’s been sharply critical of the senator’s views on foreign policy, took to Twitter to welcome Paul’s comments.

“Glad to see your new position on drones/targeting Americans who join al-Qaeda & affiliated groups. They do so at their own peril,” the tweet stated.

While Paul has gained a reputation for being anti-drone – he told CNN that he’d shoot down any drones that fly over his house, and his campaign website sells “Don’t drone me, bro” t-shirts – his comments Monday weren’t inconsistent with what he has said in the past.

One of Paul’s hallmark moments in the Senate was when he took to the floor for a 13-hour filibuster opposing the President’s choice of John Brennan to head the CIA, given that Brennan was known as one of the main architect’s of the country’s drone program.

He questioned the administration’s policies for targeting American citizens, both at home and abroad. But, much like he said Monday, he acknowledged at the time that due process doesn’t apply to combat zones.

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“But when people say, ‘Oh, the battlefield’s come to America’ and ‘the battlefield’s everywhere,’ ‘the war is limitless in time and scope,’ be worried, because your rights will not exist if you call America a battlefield for all time,” the senator said at the time.

However, he’s also expressed skepticism of the killing of al Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, who was targeted and killed in a U.S. attack in Yeman.

“In our country, even if you are a terrible person, if you are murderer or a rapist, you are accused, but then you’re given a chance to confront tour accusers. The burden is on the government. There has to be a burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt,” Paul said in an interview with CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”