Eric Holder’s reply [pdf] to Rand Paul’s question of whether the President can order a drone strike in the US is getting some play from sober conservatives (Obama White House Thinks It Can Kill Americans in America is Doug Mataconis’ restrained take on it). Here’s the nut of what Holder said:
The question you have posed is entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no President will ever have to confront,’ Holder wrote. ‘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 of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.
I don’t understand why using drones to kill an American is any different from using a helicopter, tank, fighter jet, humvee or some other conveyance to deliver deadly force. If Congress doesn’t like the way the President could use force on Americans within our borders, I believe there’s something called the “war power” that can be used to limit it. But instead we get a green eggs and ham discussion (from a drone? on a plane? in a train? from a car? on a bike? from a trike?) and intimations of a grim meathook future “where Predator drones are roaming American skies looking for American citizens to strike at, regardless of the reason” from serious conservatives like Mataconis, just because a new killing machine has been invented. We’ve got plenty of killing machines, so how about we concentrate on regulating the killing?