In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder reveals counterterrorism drone strikes have killed four Americans overseas since 2009. This is the first time the administration has acknowledged that the United States specifically targeted and killed an American citizen.
Al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in 2011 in Yemen, when it was alleged he was plotting attacks against the U.S. Holder also said the Obama administration knew of three other Americans who had been killed in overseas counterterrorism operations, but that they had not been specifically targeted.
Also on Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced a bill to protect against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of drones.
The Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act is meant to protect a citizen’s right to personal privacy as the use of drones continues to expand throughout the government.
“The use of drone surveillance may work on the battlefields overseas, but it isn’t well-suited for unrestrained use on the streets in the United States,” Paul said in a statement. “Congress must be vigilant in providing oversight to the use of this technology and protection for rights of the American people. I will continue the fight to protect and uphold our Fourth Amendment.”
The measure will prohibit the use of government drones for evidence collection unless a warrant has been obtained, and rules evidence as inadmissible if this requirement is violated. Exceptions listed are use in patrolling national borders, when there is imminent danger to life, or in the case of a high risk of a terrorist attack.
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