Is the dialogue on domestic weaponized drones over? A few questions remain that need to be answered.
On March 7, Holder stated he recognized the president does not have the legal authority to assassinate non-combatant US citizens on domestic soil.
Here's the full text of his note to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.):
Dear Senator Paul:
It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: "Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" The answer to that question is no.
Is Holder's curt statement really the clear-cut, exhaustive outline Paul seemed to be looking for?
Three questions continue to haunt me that must be answered before we can stop worrying about the possibility of being killed without judicial review by the president on domestic soil.
Question 1: Will the standard for assassinating American citizens domestically be the same as the standard for assassinating American citizens while they're in other countries?
Before delving into this question, it bears repeating that the president has already assassinated three American citizens using drones. One of them was a 16-year-old, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the son of purportedly radicalized al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
Anwar al-Awlaki was killed along with Samir Khan in Yemen after being placed on Pres. Obama's "secret kill list" in 2011. It was two weeks later Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was assassinated by a separate drone strike that also killed his second cousin he was visiting. At the time, he hadn't seen his father in two years, hadn't become a combatant and was reportedly not on Obama's kill list.
Why was he killed? According to former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was assassinated simply for having the wrong father.
Can American citizens, while in America, be killed for having relatives that the administration has deemed a combatant without the burden of proof or due process of law?
If that's the standard for killing Americans, that's troublesome. "Guilt by association" in its most literal interpretation, and it isn't just guilt, it's guilt with a unilateral verdict of death.
Question 2: Will the criteria for defining "combatant" US citizens be the same as the criteria used overseas for non-Americans?
Eric Holder's statement clearly left the door open for the use of lethal drone strikes to be used domestically on US citizens that are deemed combatants. As in any manner of public policy, clear definitions are requisite. How does the government define a "combatant?"
The current method of determining who is and isn't a combatant overseas leaves much to be desired.
Currently, in calculating fatalities after a drone strike, the government defines each male within "military age" near the immediate proximity of a drone target an "enemy combatant" without further documentation or proof needed that those individuals were actually armed or fighting against the US, because they're "probably up to no good" according to an official.
If the president authorizes a drone strike against a US combatant on US soil, will it be okay for any teenage boys within the strike zone to be deemed combatants and killed? Or will the domestic standard be different?
Furthermore, "double-striking" is a method used by the military to launch a second drone strike shortly after an initial one. The result is the killing of first responders. It is likely this is a tactic reserved for war, but since America has been declared a battlefield, could wartime standards apply?
Lethal drone strikes often result in collateral murders, or the killing of innocent bystanders such as women and children. A tally of 176 children have been killed in Pakistan drone strikes alone.
Will US combatants only be drone struck domestically if the possibility of casualties is zero, or will it be deemed acceptable for the president to kill American children?
Question 3: Are preemptive strikes permissible?
Perhaps before asking about double-tap drone strikes, it would make more sense to talk about the possibility of preemptive strikes.
According to the Justice Department memo leaked in February, it was revealed that overseas drone strikes are centrally preemptive, not occasionally.
In a CNN interview last year with Pres. Obama, he also indicated drone strikes are preemptive.
"It has to be a situation in which we can't capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States," Obama said.
Notice he said "before," not "after" or "during."
The government has made it clear they regard people with certain political beliefs at-risk for "radicalization" or the potential to become domestic enemy combatants or terrorists.
Could preemptive strikes against militia members, black bloc anarchists or hacktivists ever be justified by the president? Can they be killed before actually demonstrating they are armed, active combatants?
Also, what constitutes as "combat?" Could committing politically-motivated arson, hacking government websites or writing extreme anti-government posts on Facebook be considered acts of war against the US?
That may seem hyperbolic, but the labeling of such acts as "terrorism" comes from government officials, not myself.
We as US citizens must demand clear legal definitions for what might justify being killed by a remote controlled weapon.
Americans can't be pacified until the Obama Administration puts forward a thorough policy with clear legal parameters and justifications on how it can murder its own citizenry: the people who put them into office and put food on their tables.