Rand Paul gave up his latest attempt at a drone-themed delay of senatorial business on Monday, clearing the way for James Comey to become the new FBI director. Ninety-three senators voted for Comey, with Rand Paul voting all by himself against him. Two senators voted "present."
Paul released his hold on Comey's nomination after receiving a letter from the FBI in response to his query on the domestic use of drones. The reply, describing the FBI's use of drones under "very limited circumstances," read:
Since 2006, the FBI has only used UAVs in 10 cases for surveillance to support missions related to kidnappings, search and rescue operations, drug interdictions, and fugitive investigations, including earlier this year in Alabama in the successful rescue of a 5-year-old child being held hostage in an underground bunker by Jimmy Lee Dykes. Further, the FBI does not, and has no plans to use UAVs to conduct general surveillance not related to a specific investigation or assessment.
However, the letter also detailed why UAVs don't necessarily need a warrant to conduct surveillance in areas deemed to be in public view. Paul took issue with that argument while agreeing to lift the hold:
The FBI today responded to my questions on domestic use of surveillance drones by saying that they don’t necessarily need a warrant to deploy this technology. I disagree with this interpretation. However, given the fact that they did respond to my concerns over drone use on U.S. soil, I have decided to release my hold on the pending FBI director nominee."
Comey will succeed Robert Mueller, who is stepping down as FBI Director in September. The Republican is known as a key figure in a Bush Administration tussle over warrantless wiretapping.