Real-time U.S. Drone Surveillance
A U.S. MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft in an undated photograph Reuters

More than half of Americans support the United States’ use of drones in foreign countries against suspected terrorists, but oppose the use of those unmanned aerial vehicles on domestic soil and against Americans abroad, a recent poll shows.

A Gallup poll conducted between March 20 and 21 with a random sample of 1,020 adults nationwide found that:

-- Almost two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) think the government should launch drone strikes in foreign countries against terror suspects;

-- 52 percent of respondents think those strikes should not be used against Americans abroad, even if they are suspected of terrorism. This and the previous results were based on a sample of 502 adults;

-- 66 percent think drone strikes should not be used against terror suspects living in America;

-- 79 percent of respondents think the government should not launch drone strikes on domestic territory against Americans suspected of terrorism. This and the previous results were based on a sample of 518 adults;

-- More Republicans support the use of such strikes than do Democrats of Independents.

The issue of drone warfare returned to the spotlight earlier this month when Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., held a 13-hour-long filibuster against CIA veteran John Brennan, whom President Barack Obama nominated as the agency’s director.

Paul was seeking clarification from the Obama administration on whether the president has the authority to order drone strikes against Americans on U.S. soil. In response to a letter from the senator, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote that such strikes could occur in the case of “extraordinary circumstances.” But that response didn’t sit well with Paul, who mounted the confirmation roadblock, not over Brennan himself, but over everyone’s right to due process.

“I rise today for the principle,” Paul said. “The principle is one that as Americans we have fought long and hard for and to give up on that principle, to give up on the Bill of Rights, to give up on the Fifth Amendment protection … this is a precious American tradition and something we should not give up on easily.”

Ultimately, Holder wrote in another letter that those strikes cannot be used against noncombatant citizens on U.S. soil.