By: Jessie Markell
We all know how Rand Paul feels about drones after his 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor. Now the junior Senator from Kentucky is putting those feelings into a bill called the “Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act.”
Senator Paul now-famously said during his filibuster, “You say this is a battlefield? The H*** it is. This is our country,” and the newly reintroduced bill echoes those same sentiments. In a press release from his office, Senator Paul says, “Congress must be vigilant in providing oversight to the use of this technology and protection for rights of the American people. I will continue the fight to protect and uphold our Fourth Amendment."
This year’s bill also includes a measure that would prohibit the use of evidence gathered by unwarranted drone surveillance in criminal, civil, or regulatory action. While this bill only covers the use of federally owned and operated drones in American airspace, it is a step in the right direction. A House companion bill of the same name was introduced back in March by Representative Austin Scott (R-GA 8).
The announcement comes after the White House released a report confirming that at least four American citizens had been killed in drone strikes abroad, including the 16 year old Denver boy, Anwar Al-Awlaki. In the release, Attorney General Eric Holder called the execution of Al-Awlaki “a mistake.”
Additionally, a memo from the U.S. Department of Justice earlier this year had even shown the legal framework for drone use in the United States. The Virginia legislature had been the first to pre-empt this by legislation banning the use of unmanned aircraft, until Governor Bob McDonnell announced he would amend the bill to allow for law enforcement use.