Citing a new letter from Attorney General Eric Holder, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Thursday responded to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s question regarding the White House and its stance on the use of drones on U.S. citizens.
“Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on an American soil,” said Carney, reading Holder’s letter. “The answer is no.’”
Here’s Holder’s letter:
However, Carney added that “if the United States were under attack, there were an imminent threat [emphasis added],” then the president would have the authority to order military action to repel said threat.
So, although Holder’s response to Sen. Paul’s is a flat “No,” it sounds like we still haven’t escaped “imminent threat vs. immediate threat” purgatory.
Still, regardless of the letter’s brevity and the fact that Sens. Lindsay Graham and John McCain characterized Sen. Paul’s question as “ridiculous,” the fact that his filibuster pushed the White House into issuing an official response means one thing: The freshman senator gets results.
UPDATE: Following the release of Holder’s letter, Sen. Paul said that he is satisfied with the White House’s response and that he will end his objection to the nomination of John Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
“We’ll hold a vote as soon as people want to,” he said, adding that he was “quite happy with the answer.”
“I’m disappointed it took a month and a half and a root canal to get it,” he added, “but we did get the answer.”
Later, on the Senate floor, Sen. Paul addressed Holder’s letter: “So it has taken a while, but we got an explicit answer. I am pleased that we did and I think the entire battle was worth while.”
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Featured image Getty Images. This post has been updated.