Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Friday that he is demanding the White House answer “serious constitutional questions” about whether the administration can order a drone strike on American soil.
“We’re talking about someone eating at a cafe in Boston, or New York, and a Hellfire missile comes raining in on them," Paul said during an appearance on Fox News. "There should be an easy answer from the administration on this. They should say, ‘Absolutely no, we will not kill Americans in America without an accusation, a trial and a jury.’ ”
The Kentucky senator said he had sent a letter to John Brennan, Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, but had not yet received a response.
“I’ve asked serious questions, serious constitutional questions,” Paul said. “I’ve gotten zero response. And that is sort of the way this administration is treating Congress. The Senate has the right to advise and consent and approve nominees. I’ve not got one word of response from the administration on this.”
Paul has pledged to attempt to delay Brennan’s nomination until the White House responds to his inquiry.
"It’s inexcusable that the administration will not answer ‘absolutely no, we will not do this,’ " Paul said.
Earlier this month, NBC News obtained a Department of Justice white paper outlining the specific circumstances under which the United States can conduct a lethal drone strike against an American citizen abroad. In the document, the Justice Department concludes that a lethal strike against a senior operational leader of al Qaeda — or an affiliated terrorist group — can occur if a three-part test is met: that a high-level American intelligence official has determined the individual poses an imminent threat, that capture is infeasible and that the strike is conducted according to the laws of war governing use of force.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the strikes were “necessary to mitigate ongoing attacks” and argued “they are legal, they are ethical, and they are wise.”