Attorney General Eric Holder has responded to questions on the President’s authority to use drone strikes on U.S. soil in response to concerns about an overreach against civil liberties.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Thursday announced that Holder had written to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to clarify the administration’s stance on the use of armed drones to kill U.S. citizens on American soil. In the letter, Holder acceded to Paul’s request that he place in writing of what he told the Senate Judiciary Committee in a meeting before the panel on Wednesday, that a drone strike against an American citizen who is not an imminent threat would be unconstitutional:
CARNEY: Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil? The answer is no. The answer to that question is no.
Paul spent the majority of Wednesday filibustering John Brennan’s nomination as CIA Director to obtain Holder’s answer. A previous letter sent from Holder to Paul had not done enough to clarify the administration’s stance in Paul’s eyes.
Holder’s response to Paul was direct and to the point:
Dear Senator Paul:
It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?” The answer to that question is no.
Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Fox News’ Megyn Kelly read Holder’s letter to Sen. Paul on-air, as the Senator had yet to receive it. “Hooray,” Paul responded. “For 13 hours yesterday we asked him that question and so there is a result and a victory under duress, and under public humiliation, the White House will respond and do the right thing.” He then told CNN’s Dana Bash that he was “happy” with the answer and would be dropping his hold on Brennan’s nomination.