A strange thing happened on Tuesday. Just a few hours after an airline pilot spotted an unidentified "drone" hovering a few miles from JFK airport, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that drones strikes on United States soil were not out of the question. Coincidence? We think so.
Let's cut through the sensationalism straight away. The Obama administration is not in favor of drone strikes on U.S. soil. In fact, it's downright opposed to the idea except in the event of "an extraordinary circumstance" like Pearl Harbor or September 11. Read Holder's letter to Senator Rand Paul explaining the administration's stance in full if you don't believe us. Sen. Paul responded accordingly and said that the administration's position on the matter was "more than frightening." From a sober point of view, though, can you imagine what the government wouldn't do to avoid the next 9/11? That contingency is just as frightening as the idea of another catastrophic attack.
So the drones are coming for you. Or rather, the drones could come for you if the Obama administration deems it necessary. Look at it this way: The U.S. government could do a lot of things if it deemed it necessary. It's actually out of the ordinary that the attorney general would even share details of disaster-level protocol with the American people, especially since the Obama administration's been so secretive about the drone strike program until recently.
To be entirely optimistic about Eric Holder's otherwise basically unsettling statements, it's a good sign that the president and friends are starting to speak frankly about drones. Around the same time that Holder's letter was made public, the Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed drone czar John Brennan as CIA director as the administration agreed to share more information from its memos detailing the legality of drone strikes. It's not exactly full disclosure, but it's better than nothing.
Think about it: Would you rather know more details about the drone program — unsettling as they may be — or less, leaving everyone to wonder just how far the government would go?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.