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Is There a Threat-Level That Justifies Drone Use Against Citizens on American Soil?

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) talks with reporters as Senate Republicans and Democrats head to their weekly policy luncheon on March 19, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Senate is expected to pass a revised continuing resolution and send their edits back to the House in order to prevent a government shutdown next week, but any action in the Senate may be delayed until later in the week. Credit: Getty Images

Libertarian favorite and Kentucky Republican Sen.Rand Paul has been known for carrying on the mantle put forth by his father in Congress; fighting veraciously against both parties for preserving civil liberties and consolidating government. After conducting an epic 13 hour filibuster less than two months ago on the constitutional concerns surrounding the use of drone strikes on Americans on U.S. soil, Paul has now raised some eyebrows after comments that he would not decry the use of drones to kill a U.S. citizen such as Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as he was on the run in Watertown, Massachusetts last Friday.

“If there is a killer on the loose in a neighborhood, I’m not against drones being used to search them,” Paul said to Neil Cavuto on Fox News Business Monday. 

The comments were immediately questioned by libertarians and Paul fans across the web, as noted by the Drudge Report headline:

Paul released a statement on his website Tuesday following the criticism, clearing up that his position on drones had not changed.

They may only be considered in extraordinary, lethal situations where there is an ongoing, imminent threat. I described that scenario previously during my Senate filibuster.

Additionally, surveillance drones should only be used with warrants and specific targets.

Fighting terrorism and capturing terrorists must be done while preserving our constitutional protections. This was demonstrated last week in Boston. As we all seek to prevent future tragedies, we must continue to bear this in mind.

What classifies as an "imminent threat" or an "immediate threat" as Paul has said before? How can we compare this to real world scenarios? Also, does Paul's explanation hold water and are his opinions on drones unchanged? Will Cain and the 'Real News' panel debates Thursday:

One last thing…
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