Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, condensed yesterday’s talking filibuster into legislative text that would ban the president from killing Americans if they don’t represent an “imminent threat” to the country.
“The Federal Government may not use a drone to kill a citizen of the United States who is located in the United States<’ the bill says. “The prohibition under this subsection shall not apply to an individual who poses an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to another individual. Nothing in this section shall be construed to suggest that the Constitution would otherwise allow the killing of a citizen of the United States in the United States without due process of law.”
Attorney General Eric Holder responded to the filibuster in a letter to Paul today. “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?” Holder wrote to Paul. “The answer to that question is no.”
The filibuster was sparked by another letter from Holder this week. “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,” he wrote to Paul on Monday.
The Justice Department white paper that was recently leaked suggested that the president could order such a strike against an “imminent threat,” but the white paper said that a threat doesn’t have to be “immediate” to be imminent.
“What does imminence mean if it does not have to involve something immediate?” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said in response yesterday, per the Salt Lake Tribune.