News / USA

    US Lawmakers Seek Answers on Legality of Domestic Drone Strikes

    U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testifies on Capitol Hill before the Senate Judiciary Committee, March 6, 2013.
    U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testifies on Capitol Hill before the Senate Judiciary Committee, March 6, 2013.
    Michael Bowman
    For years, the United States has used drone aircraft to attack suspected terrorists in other nations.  Now, America’s top law enforcement official has not entirely ruled out a president ordering drone strikes on U.S. soil.  

    Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee amid a firestorm on Capitol Hill over presidential authority in times of crisis. 

    Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy posed this question:

    “Can you agree there is no scenario where it would be appropriate to use an armed drone on U.S. soil to strike an American citizen?”

    Holder’s response was less than definitive.

    “The government has no intention to carry out any drone strikes in the United States,"he said. "It is hard for me to imagine a situation in which that would occur.  We have within the United States the ability to use our law enforcement capacity.”

    The “no intention” assertion does not satisfy Republican Rand Paul, who took to the Senate floor moments later.  Paul noted that Holder speaks for President Barack Obama on legal matters.

    “The president says, ‘I have not killed anyone yet,'" said Paul. "He goes on to say, ‘I have no intention of killing Americans, but I might.’  Is that enough?  Are we satisfied by that?”

    In a letter to Senator Paul made public Tuesday, Holder said the only conceivable scenario where a president might order a military strike on U.S. soil would be an extraordinary circumstance like the 2001 al-Qaida terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. 

    At the hearing, the attorney general repeatedly said it would not be “appropriate” to order a strike on a terror suspect spotted eating in a café or walking down a street.  Holder said regular law enforcement can be used to apprehend suspects in non-emergency situations.

    Lawmakers urged the Obama administration to fully disclose its thinking on this issue. 

    “American citizens have a right to understand when their life can be taken by their government, absent due process," said Republican Senator Chuck Grassley.

    That sentiment was echoed by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who serves on the Judiciary Committee and is chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

    “Our job is vigorous oversight of the intelligence community," she said. "We cannot do this unless we see the legal underpinnings for certain kinds of activities, particularly clandestine activities.”

    Holder said he expects President Obama to personally address the topic in coming months. Administration officials are already on record defending drone strikes outside the United States, including the killing of U.S. citizens believed to be plotting attacks from afar.

    Concern over the drone program has delayed Senate confirmation of President Obama’s pick to head the CIA, former counterterrorism advisor John Brennan.

    You May Like

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora