US President Barack Obama has the constitutional authority to order the use of “lethal force” against American citizens within the United States, Attorney General Eric Holder says.
“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,” Holder said.
The former judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia made the remarks in response to Republican Senator Rand Paul, who questioned the Justice Department on Tuesday over the issue of possible drone strikes on American citizens.
“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, adding that it was disrespectful to the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
Holder said the Obama administration’s use of drones on American soil would take place under “extraordinary circumstances” whose conditions were “entirely hypothetical” and not in instances where “well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat.”
On Wednesday, Holder told a US Senate committee that he expected Obama to explain the legal rationale supporting the use of drones to target and kill suspected American citizens overseas.
Obama has also been criticized for the secrecy surrounding the targeted-killing campaign of the US killer drone strikes overseas.
The United States uses its terror drones overseas, claiming that they target “terrorists.” According to witnesses, however, the attacks mainly lead to massive civilian casualties.
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