Holder on Drone Legality: 'Let Me Be Clear. I've Not Been Clear.'

Holder on Drone Legality: 'Let Me Be Clear. I've Not Been Clear.'

On Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) forced Attorney General Eric Holder to concede that it was unconstitutional for the United States government to use a drone to kill a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil if the citizen does not pose an “imminent and immediate threat of death or bodily harm.”

Cruz repeatedly asked Holder if a U.S. drone could strike an American citizen at an American cafe without due process. 

“If an individual is sitting quietly at a café in the United States, in your legal judgment, does the Constitution allow a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil to be killed by a drone?” Cruz asked. “If that individual is not posing an imminent and immediate threat of death or bodily harm, does the U.S. Constitution allow a drone to kill that individual?” 

Cruz asked Holder a variation of these questions on more than six straight occasions, and Holder kept punting, qualifying his answers by saying he did not think lethal force like that was “appropriate.” At one point, Holder even said, “Let me be clear. I’ve not been clear.”

“I find it remarkable that in that hypothetical, which is deliberately very simple, you are unable to give a simple, one-word, one-syllable answer ‘no’,” Cruz said.

Finally, Holder replied with such a one-syllable answer. 

“Let me be clear. Translate my appropriate to no. I thought I was saying no. Alright? No,” Holder finally said.

Cruz said he would introduce legislation to make it clear that the U.S. government cannot kill a citizen who do not pose an imminent threat at home and hoped the Justice Department would support it. 

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