Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said on Wednesday that any suggestion of drone strikes in America “detracts attention from the real threats facing the country.” Rogers, who serves as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was responding to statements made by the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday regarding the killing of American Islamists overseas and stateside
Holder claimed on Wednesday that using lethal force, such as an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) strike against an American citizen within the borders of the United States is legal and justifiable in "extraordinary circumstances" comparable to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"The president could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland," Holder said to lawmakers during hearings aired on C-Span TV.
Holder's testimony was described as "more than frightening" by Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, who had demanded to know the Obama administration's position on the subject targeting American citizens without due process.
"It is an affront the constitutional due process rights of all Americans," said Paul, a staunch supporter of the Tea Party movement and a self-avowed Constitution originalist.
Prior to his testifying before lawmakers, Holder had written to Sen. Paul after he threatened to block the appointment of John Brennan as the director of the CIA unless he received answers to a series of questions on Obama national security activities.
“Any suggestion that the United States would use drone strikes against U.S. citizens in the United States is irresponsible. Suggesting that such a thing is being contemplated provokes needless fear and detracts attention from the real threats facing the country," said Rep. Rogers, after hearing Holder's testimony.
“It would be unconstitutional for the U.S. military or intelligence services to conduct lethal counterterrorism operations in the United States against U.S. citizens. And as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I would never allow such operations to occur on my watch. I urge the Administration to clarify this point immediately so Congress can return to its pressing oversight responsibilities,” Rogers stated bluntly.
Former Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely told Law Enforcement Examiner that Obama's past condemnation of President George W. Bush's stance on waterboarding and aggressive interrogations is “hypocritical,” given that the president has now approved the assassination of Americans.
“First of all, again, it’s just a tool of war,” he said. “It’s an intelligence aircraft with missiles put on it to take out certain targets. In addition, using the drones constitutes a dichotomy,” Vallely said.