Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Holder to Rand Paul: Yes We Can (Target Americans on American Soil)

Rand Paul finally received a response from the Obama administration on the question of whether they can target Americans on American soil.  It boils down to, we haven't, we don't want to but yes we can:

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.

Notice the wording of the last sentence.  He could use such force to protect the homeland in circumstances like a catastrophic attack.  Does that mean to protect us from a catastrophic attack before it happens or protect us in the aftermath of one?   Thinking about it, both possibilities give me heartburn.  Could anyone who is planning a mass casualty attack be targeting by a drone in the US even without the threat being imminent?  Could the US military be sent in to restore "order" after a 9/11 style attack with authorization for the use of force against American civilians?  How long before they start using this belief in the lack of limitation on executive power against Tea Party groups?

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