More disclosure needed on U.S. drones
The Kansas City Star
The old-style “talking filibuster” is rarely used these days, but Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky revived it last week to delay the Senate’s vote to confirm CIA nominee John Brennan.
Paul had asked the White House whether the president had the authority “to order lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without a trial.”
Attorney General Eric Holder’s reply said the administration has no intention of doing any such thing, but in “an extraordinary circumstance” it might be “necessary and appropriate.”
Holder is correct: An American who joins up with a force at war with the U.S. becomes a legitimate target, even within our borders. Under the Constitution, the president has a duty to defend the nation from serious threats, and if necessary — say, in the case of airliners seized by terrorists — can order military action on U.S. soil.
That said, the administration must shed more light on how the drone program operates. Justice Department memos authorizing drone strikes should be reviewed by all key members of congressional intelligence committees along with the still-secret process by which names are added to the target list.
Holder has acknowledged to a Senate panel “there is a greater need for transparency.” Yes, and the sooner, the better.