Drone Strikes and Due Process
You know that something is very wrong with the world when Lars Larson, a local right wing talk radio host agrees with the actions of President Obama.
At issue is the drone strikes that Obama has been launching against American citizens overseas, and the killings of Anwar al-Alwaki, his son and Samhir Khan, all three American citizens.
There are those who will call me a terrorist apologist, but whatever. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me.
I have grave concerns about what I consider to be murder on the part of the American government. Had these men committed treason? Most likely. However, the Bill of Rights guarantees their right to due process, to a trial, and evidence being presented before them. They were denied that by this government.
None of these people, one of whom was only 16 years old, had been indicted, nor charges filed against them.
In a memo leaked from the Department of Justice, this administration maintains that the killing of American citizens is Constitutional if they are “believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” — even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S”.
While I have included a link to the memo, it is a scan, and is kind of hard to read in places because of NBC News watermarks all over it.
According to this memo, in the very first paragraph it states that there are three conditions in which it would be lawful to kill an American citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qaida or an associated force without due process:
- an informed, high level official of the US government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States
- capture is infeasible (sic), and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible
- the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles
The first thing that pops into my mind is when do applicable law of war principles mean you can kill your own citizens without Due Process? Even the Rosenberg’s got a trial.
Let’s say for a moment that the Rosenberg’s fled to a country that does not have an extradition treaty with the US. Since capture would have been unfeasible, does that mean that the US could just drop a bomb on them?
Of course not!
So why is it different here?
Congress has granted the president the authority to use all necessary and appropriate force against these organizations.
Now Congress is becoming uncomfortable with it.
Having read the memo, I can see that they actually present a well presented and thought out case. I happen to disagree with their conclusions. I’m not saying he wasn’t a member of al-Qaida, or that he wasn’t recruiting or plotting against us. I for one am glad he’s dead. I personally think we should send as many of these radicals to meet Allah as we can.
My concern is as NBC News puts it: an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of a violent attack and “there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.”
Instead of presenting evidence before a judge, a “well informed” high level government official gets to decide if capture would pose undue risk to US personnel. It really makes you wonder why they sent SEALs in to kill Bin Laden when they could have just fired a missile from a drone.
Would’ve saved a helicopter.
How long before the leap is taken from killing an American citizen abroad, to American citizens here?
If the technology had existed 20 years ago, would the government have fired on the compound in Waco? How about at Ruby Ridge?
I understand they are trying to walk a fine line, but Due Process for American citizens should trump everything. I do not believe that these rights should extend to non-citizens. Nothing gives the Congress or the President the authority to be judge, jury and executioner.
The ACLU is merely suing the government to get copies of all related memos to this, not to try to put a stop to it.
Top Democrats in Congress want to have a serious look at current policies regarding this. More serious than the budget. These Include Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senator Chris Coombs (D-Del), and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The last could prove entertaining as Menendez is under fire for allegations that he likes underage Dominican prostitutes. Did he work for the Secret Service once?
Why should we care? It is other countries that are being devastated, other, innocent people who are being killed in the process. We cry for the innocent children who were murdered in December in Connecticut. Why don’t we cry for the children our government murders overseas?
I have to disagree with you here, Lars. We must protect our rights for fear that precedent will lead someone else, somewhere in the future to interpret that if they can kill citizens overseas just because they are suspected of something, they can do it here on our own shores.