Eric Holder Downplays Possibility of Domestic Terror Killings

Attorney General gets aggressive questions, defense from opposite sides of GOP.
5:08 | 03/06/13

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Transcript for Eric Holder Downplays Possibility of Domestic Terror Killings
In your response to senator Paul yesterday. You suggested there may well be circumstances in which it is permissible. To use drones to target a US citizen on US soil. I'd like to explore those are those circumstances and protector you pointed to the appointed to Pearl Harbor. And nine elevenths both of which were extreme military attacks on the homeland. I want to ask a more specific question if an individual. Is sitting quietly at a cafe. In the United States. In your legal judgment as the constitution allow a US citizen on US soil to be killed by -- -- We're sitting in the -- and having a cup of coffee if that individual is not. Posing an imminent and immediate threat of death or bodily -- Does the constitutional Allen drowned -- killed added that. On the basis of what you -- everything you -- arrest that it's back. The person is suspected to be a terrorist you have abundant evidence he's a terrorist teams involved in terrorist plots but at the moment OK yes he's not pointing a visit at the Pentagon he is sitting -- a cafe. Overseas. The United States government uses drones to take out individuals when their walking down a path when they're sitting at a cafe if there. If the it if a US citizen on US soil is not posing an immediate threat. To life or bodily harm does the constitution allow a drone to kill -- -- I would not think that that would be an appropriate use but any kind of lethal force we would deal with that in the way that we typically deal with the situation and yet it would expect well respected general -- my question wasn't about appropriate answers or prosecutorial discretion it was a simple legal question. Does the constitution. Allow a US citizen on US soil who doesn't pose an imminent threat. To be killed by the US government. I do not believe that again you have to -- all of the facts on the facts that you -- -- -- -- hypothetical. I would not think that in that situation the use of a drone or lethal force would be appropriate because. Hospital -- hold -- I have to tell you I find it remarkable. -- in that hypothetical which is deliberately very simple. You -- unable to give a simple one word one syllable lancer now. I think it is unequivocal. That if the US government -- using -- to take the life of the US citizen on US soil and that individual did not pose an imminent threat. That would be a deprivation of life without. Well let me -- -- not -- -- I said that the use of lethal force in amounting drones. Guns will or whatever else would not be appropriate in that -- you keep saying appropriate my question isn't about propriety. My question is about whether something is constitutional or not. As attorney general you're the chief. Legal officer of the United States. Do you have a legal judgment on whether it would be constitutional. To -- a US citizen on US soil in those circumstances a person who was not engage. As you describe -- this public hypotheticals but the as the -- of the way in which you have described this person sitting at the cafe not doing anything. Imminently. The use of lethal force would not be appropriate would not be something I find it remarkable that you still will not give an opinion on the constitutionality let me move on to the next topic this -- -- we have gone round and round let me be -- translate -- appropriate to know I thought I was saying no but right now -- -- -- that I am glad after after much. Gymnastics I am very glad to hear that it is the opinion of the Department of Justice that it would be unconstitutional. To kill a US citizen on US soil -- that individual did not pose an imminent threat. That statement has not been easily forthcoming I wish you had given that statement. In response to senator Paul's letter asking it and I will point out that this week -- will be introducing legislation in the senate. To make clear. That the US government cannot kill a US citizen on US soil -- and an imminent threat. And I hope based on that representation that the department will support that legislation well that's totally consistent. With the letter that I sent to senator Paul I talked about nine elevenths and Pearl Harbor. The -- are the instances where I said it might possibly be considered but that other than that we will look at we would use our normal law enforcement authorities. In order to resolve situations along those lines and in use the normal things that you do when you try to decide if. Cops can shoot somebody we've been talking about the war on terror ever since she's had this job right during confirmation -- absolutely and I really -- work. Congratulate you and depressed and I think he he thought long and hard about how to defend the homeland and very difficult. Circumstances -- Applaud your efforts with the drone program I think it is really helped us in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And I just believe this a tactical tool that this president should be using and I think he's using it responsibly.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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