It seems to me that Cruz is hitting on the key distinction that separates acceptable lethal force on American soil from nonacceptable lethal force: is there an imminent threat?
What is eye-opening about this exchange is that Eric Holder seems to think the words “appropriate” and “constitutional” have the same meaning. It is a common failing of leftists, to be sure, but I expect more from the head of the Department of Justice:
As I noted this morning, Dick Cheney gave the direct order (which he says ultimately came from the President) to shoot down Flight 93 if necessary. That’s an imminent threat. It isn’t necesary to imagine a situation where something like that would be necessary. We’ve already experienced it.
That said, in a world where LAPD officers think they need to shoot at what turns out to be a delivery truck; in a world where criminals “SWAT” people they don’t like; in a world where “intelligence” is often imperfect . . . you had better be damned sure you’re right in such a circumstance.
The President already has authority to launch nuclear warheads. Like it or not (and with this guy, I don’t), we already entrust the holder of that office with a tremendous amount of responsibility and authority.
All that said, in a situation where there is no such imminent danger, the Constitution — not just prudence — prevents such unilateral action. It is troubling that, even when the distinction is carefully explained to him more than once, Eric Holder doesn’t seem to understand the difference.