WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Attorney General Eric Holder and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, got into a heated discussion during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about the use of drones against American citizens.
Questioning Holder about a letter he sent to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in which the attorney general said it would take an “extraordinary circumstance” to use a drone to kill an American on U.S. soil, Cruz asked if such lethal force would be constitutional.
“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 Holder.
Holder responded tongue-in-cheek: “For sitting in the café and having a cup of coffee?”
Cruz continued pressing, asking again, “If that individual is not posing an imminent threat of death or bodily harm, does the Constitution allow the drone to kill that individual.”
Holder said that he does “not think that would be an appropriate use of lethal force.”
Cruz was left unsatisfied with Holder’s answers.
“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. I think it is unequivocal that if the U.S. government were to use a drone to take the life of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil and that individual did not pose an imminent threat that would be a depravation of life without due process,” Cruz stated.
The Tea Party favorite announced during the hearing that he will be introducing legislation this week makes sure the federal government can’t kill an American on U.S. soil if that person is not an imminent threat to the nation’s safety.
Holder said in his letter to Paul that “circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001″ would be the only use of lethal force against Americans on U.S. soil.
Holder pledged during the hearing that the Obama administration will share more information with Congress and the public about national security policy.
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