United States Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter that was disclosed on Tuesday that the Obama Administration believes it is allowed to kill an American on U.S. soil in an “extraordinary circumstance” but has “no intention of doing so.”
The letter was sent to Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who asked if the Justice Department believed Obama has legal authority to order targeted strikes against an American citizen in the United States.
“The US Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening,” Paul said. “It is an affront the constitutional due process rights of all Americans.”
Holder wrote the following, according to Mother Jones:
“As members of this administration have previously indicated, the US government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so. As a policy matter moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat. We have a long history of using the criminal justice system to incapacitate individuals located in our country who pose a threat to the United States and its interests abroad. Hundreds of individuals have been arrested and convicted of terrorism-related offenses in our federal courts.”
“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 authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”
“For example, the president could conceivably have no choice but to authorize 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,” Holder continued.
The letter concluded with the following: “Were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the president of the scope of his authority.”