Oliver North
WASHINGTON -- In my New York Times best-seller "Heroes Proved," the president of the United States orders the execution of an American citizen in the United States by using precision munitions fired from a remotely piloted aircraft, or RPA -- incorrectly referred to by our media as a drone. When the book came out last year, some critics derided the idea of a U.S. president's issuing an executive order to kill Americans in our homeland as "over the top" and "unthinkable." One even said the idea was "unfathomable." But thanks to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., we now know the Obama administration already has contemplated such action. That ought to be troubling to every one of us.

On March 6, Paul took to the floor of the U.S. Senate in a 13-hour effort to block the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director until the administration handed over its "legal, procedural and constitutional justification" for such "extrajudicial executions." The filibuster failed, and the Senate confirmed Brennan the following day. But the issues of constitutional protections for American citizens and the limits of executive power aren't going away. Nor should they.

This isn't about whether it's proper to kill enemy combatants on the battlefield. I have a citation for leading my Marines in "the execution of more than seventy day and night ambushes," during which scores of enemy soldiers were killed and sometimes captured -- without warning. Using Hellfire missiles or other "precision munitions" fired from Predator or Reaper RPAs on the battlefield is simply a long-distance ambush -- a safer means of killing our nation's enemies and a way to never have to take a prisoner.

In 1968-69, our targets in northern South Vietnam were all armed invaders. There was no doubt they posed an imminent threat to our safety and that of our comrades. That's not the case with the Obama administration's so-called drone program. Now the targets include American citizens overseas. That raises the very troubling prospect that key phrases in the Fifth Amendment no longer have meaning:

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury ... nor shall any person ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

Oliver North

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.