Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
Just so we’re all clear — and mainly just so Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will stand down on his threat to block John Brennan’s confirmation — Attorney General Eric Holder has confirmed in writing that the president can kill U.S. citizens in a drone strike on U.S. soil, in “an extraordinary circumstance.”
In a Google+ Hangout last month, President Obama refused to answer whether or not he had the authority to use lethal force on Americans inside the borders. And John Brennan has said that the CIA does not “have any authority” to carry out lethal strikes on U.S. soil. But Paul had threatened to block Brennan’s nomination “until he answers the question of whether or not the President can kill American citizens through the drone strike program on U.S. soil.”
Holder thus wrote to the senator with a more expansive answer Tuesday (h/t Mother Jones):
As members of this administration have previously indicated, the US government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so. As a policy matter moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat. We have a long history of using the criminal justice system to incapacitate individuals located in our country who pose a threat to the United States and its interests abroad. Hundreds of individuals have been arrested and convicted of terrorism-related offenses in our federal courts.
The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the president could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances like a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.
So let’s quickly parse out this logic: It is inscribed within our current legal structures that the president can hypothetically use lethal force on U.S. soil. But this hypothetical has already been deemed acceptable under certain circumstances — so it’s not “entirely hypothetical,” because it’s actually already legally permitted according to the attorney general. All that is up for grabs is what counts as “catastrophic” circumstances — something, of course, that executive powers decide.
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email email@example.com.More Natasha Lennard.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.