Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter Tuesday that Obama administration believes it could “hypothetically” carry out drone strikes against Americans on U.S. soil, but “has no intention of doing so.”The letter — sent to Republican Senator Rand Paul in response to his question about the constitutionality of drone strikes on U.S. soil — has predictably ignited new debate over Obama’s drone policy.
But what is truly alarming about Holder’s letter is not his position, but his vague, almost supercilious, dismissal of the drone question itself.
Here’s the key passage:
The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorise the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the president could conceivably have no choice but to authorise the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances like a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.
The fact that Holder “supposes” anything about the constitutionality of using military force against U.S. citizens suggests that he hasn’t given the question much thought — an alarming admission for the government’s chief lawyer. Holder’s answer amounts to wishful thinking, indicating a lack of preparedness should these “catastrophic” circumstances arise.
Read the full text of Holder’s letter below (click to enlarge):
Photo: Sen. Rand Paul
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