Drone Strikes On Americans Deserves Public Debate
February 6, 2013 2 Comments
The Justice Department has declared that drone strikes on American citizens is legal. The Federal government must believe that such Americans are going to engage in an imminent attack on the United States. Unfortunately the government hasn’t defined imminent and they don’t have to have clear evidence that a specific attack will happen in the immediate future in order to launch a drone strike on an American citizen. Jay Carney calls this “ethical and wise” but we really need to take a second look at these drone strikes. Perhaps it’s time to take a second look at drone strikes. Not just against American citizens but against all targets.
Drone strikes have increased dramatically under the Obama administration. Bush started the practice, though his use of drones was largely limited to using them in declared war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama has extended the practice, allegedly to attack al Qaeda all over the world. All of these attacks and all of the arguments the government is making regarding the attacks are centered around al Qaeda. For obvious reasons we’re at war with al Qaeda and perhaps more importantly they’re at war with us. It isn’t per se a bad thing that we’re attacking al Qaeda via drone strike.
The problem is that we cannot view drone strikes in a vacuum. It’s impossible to limit their use and the arguments for their use only to al Qaeda. Eventually al Qaeda will no longer exist yet we will have set a precedent for the use of drones which can then be extended to other situations. The precedent isn’t just set for the United States, it’s set for the whole world. Don’t think Iran wouldn’t love to get hold of a drone to chase around Israeli’s or our President with. If the President of the United States can play judge, jury and executioner with drones, you can bet that other nations will want similar power.
The President playing judge, jury and executioner is even worse when we’re talking about American citizens. We all understand when the police shoot a suspect who points a gun or even something that looks like a gun in their general direction. The police are in immediate danger and their shooting is generally justifiable. But when government shoots missiles from a drone at an American citizen in a foreign country because they think that maybe, perhaps they could be involved in some sort of crime against the country. That’s something else entirely. We’re too quick to give a pass to the government because of what al Qaeda has done. With the precedent the Obama administration is setting, what American is safe?
The government could very easily act on bad information. The government could target political opponents they don’t particularly care for. It would be easy to take the precedent being set for al Qaeda abroad and apply it here in the United States to other groups. Left, right, religious, secular, no group is safe if these drone strikes can be extended beyond al Qaeda. With our Federal government, they very rarely give back power. Our government almost always extends their power. That’s what makes these drone strikes so dangerous. We ought not have our vision clouded by the name al Qaeda. This is a serious issue that requires serious debate. The Obama administration is making a massive power grab argument, we the people need to have a say in this.