Eric Holder On Domestic Drone Strikes: Eh, Could Happen
from the i-just-pooped-myself dept
The questions about drones keep coming. Much of the focus has been on the legality of their use overseas, or else the manner in which domestic law enforcement uses them here at home. Glyn Moody even recently wrote about how the World Wildlife Fund wants to use them to tackle those who would poach endangered species throughout the world. Some folks in government have a problem with all this, in particular the coupling of the President’s power to kill Americans if the government deems them as terrorists with the use of flying metal death machines raining carnage from the sky.
Like Rand Paul, for instance, who recently sent a letter to John Brennan, nominated as director of the CIA, asking him to clarify how the administration would view their power to authorize lethal force. Eric Holder, Attorney General, took the time to respond to Paul, and included this gem.
Holder said it was possible, “I suppose,” to imagine an “extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate” under U.S. law for the president to authorize the military to “use lethal force” within the United States. However, Holder said the question was “entirely hypothetical” and “unlikely to occur.”
You know, I’m typically one of those people who hates placing issues into absolute stances. For any situation, there are almost always outliers that need to be considered, so using words like “never”, “impossible”, and so on are usually the wrong approach…except when it comes to fire-bombing domestic targets from the sky in a country filled with law enforcement. This is one of those easy situations where we need to be able to get together as Americans and say, no, we don’t think it’s a great idea for our own military drones to be used domestically. The potential for collateral damage has previously been documented and should make this question easy on its face.
The study by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law calls for a re-evaluation of the practice, saying the number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low — about 2%.
And that doesn’t even begin to broach the subject of the constitutionality question. The rules for using lethal force in American domestic law enforcement are extremely specific and they’re designed to protect LEOs and civilians in immediate harm that cannot otherwise be contained. To suggest that drones could strike domestically is to suggest that due process can be thrown completely out the window. As Senator Paul noted in his response to Holder:
“The U.S. attorney general’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening. It is an affront to the constitutional due process rights of all Americans,” Paul said.
Brennan, for his part, managed to, himself, say that the administration has “no intention” of using drone strikes on Americans in the United States…when there’s a full moon or on weekends or something. Okay, so I added that last part, but why are we qualifying this at all? While Brennan also said that the CIA wouldn’t have the authority to use drones domestically, it’s not like there aren’t those clamoring for more and more use of drones by the domestic alphabet agencies. Are we really okay with this?