The White House won't say whether it thinks Barack Obama is so empowered.
Does President Obama think that he has the power to kill American citizens on U.S. soil? If he accuses a guy in the Arizona desert or rural Montana of being an Al Qaeda terrorist, is it ever kosher to send a drone over to blow him up, as was done to Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen killed in Yemen? Or is it never okay to drone strike an American citizen to death here in the United States?
It's an easy question.
Answering it wouldn't jeopardize national security in any way.
So why do Obama Administration officials keep dodging it?
Asked the question in a Google Plus interview Thursday, Obama himself said, "Well first of all, there has never been a drone used on an American citizen on American soil." Duh. But will there ever be? He went on to say that it's easier to capture accused terrorists in the United States than abroad.
But he still didn't give a straight answer.
Counterterrorism adviser John Brennan won't answer either, despite Senator Rand Paul's repeated inquiries and vow that he'll try to block Brennan's confirmation as CIA director until he gets a response. Here's how Paul phrased the question: "Do you believe that the president has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil?"