The US attorney general has refused to rule out the possibility that drone strikes may be used inside the United States to kill an American citizen.
Eric Holder said a drone strike within the borders of the US and against an American citizen may be carried out in what he called an extraordinary circumstance.
He made the remarks in a statement in a response to an inquiry by Republican Senator Rand Paul, who had questioned the Justice Department on Tuesday if it believed that President Barack Obama had the legal authority to order an assassination drone strike on an American while present on US soil.
Paul said the administration’s "refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening -- it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans."
At least three Americans have been reportedly killed by US drone strikes in Yemen, including Anwar al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old son Abdul-Rahman and Samir Khan.
Washington uses assassination drones in several countries, claiming that they target “terrorists.” According to witnesses, however, the attacks have mostly led to massive civilian casualties.
In September 2012, a report by the Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law gave an alarming account of the effect that assassination drone strikes have on ordinary people in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The report noted, “The number of ‘high-level’ targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low - estimated at just two percent.”