Paul had sent a letter to President Barack Obama's CIA director nominee, John Brennan, asking for the administration's views on the president's "power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial." Paul had threatened to block Brennan's confirmation until he got an answer to his question.
Holder responded in a letter Monday that Paul made public Tuesday. Brennan, who awaits full Senate confirmation after being cleared for the post by the Senate Intelligence Committee 12-3 Tuesday, said in a separate Monday letter to Paul the CIA had no authority to use lethal force against Americans on U.S. soil.
Paul said after receiving Holder's letter he would still filibuster Brennan's nomination. Holder's "refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening -- it is an affront [to] the constitutional due process rights of all Americans," Paul said in a statement.
The attorney general's letter said, "The U.S. government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so. "As a policy matter, moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat," it said.
In explaining a hypothetical example, he said, "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 Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept. 11, 2001," Holder said, referring to the World War II attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington. Read more