Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

White House Spokesman Jay Carney: Obama Won’t Use Drones Against Americans on US Soil

President Obama does not have the authority to order lethal drone strikes against Americans on US soil, the White House announced today in response to Sen. Rand Paul’s epic filibuster.

Politico reports that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced what appeared to be a reversal of Attorney General Eric Holder’s earlier assertion that the president could authorize the assassination of Americans within the United States in “an extraordinary circumstance.”

Speaking on Thursday, Carney assured reporters that “the president has not and would not use drone strikes against American citizens on American soil.”

“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,'” Carney continued, quoting a March 7 letter from Holder to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Sen. Paul followed through on a threat to stall the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director until the Obama administration clarified whether or not it asserted the power to kill Americans on US soil. Paul’s epic filibuster lasted nearly 13 hours, during which time the Tea Party favorite railed against what he called Obama’s unconstitutional drone policy.

The Huffington Post reports that Carney said Holder’s latest letter should end the “great deal of confusion” surrounding the president’s drone policy.

“The legal authorities that exist to use lethal force are bound by, constrained by, the law and the Constitution,” Carney said. “The issue here isn’t the technology… Whether it’s a drone strike or a gun shot, the law and the Constitution apply in the same way.”

Sen. Paul sounded a victorious tone in response to Carney’s clarification.

“Hooray!” he told Fox News. “For 13 hours yesterday, we asked him that question. So there is a result and a victory. Under duress, and under public humiliation, the White House will respond and do the right thing.”

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