Is it Ever Okay for the Government to Kill American Citizens?

Posted on March 6, 2013. Filed under: Miscellaneous, Politics | Tags: |

Almost a month ago, I posted about Obama’s drone strike strategy and the lack of due process given to American citizens overseas. the fact that erstwhile press secretary Robert Gibbs admitted that he was not to acknowledge such a program existed should be proof enough that it was shady to begin with. If you have to hide behind a wall of secrecy, then you probably aren’t doing the right thing.

George W. Bush allegedly authorized a drone strike on a known terrorist that killed an American who was known to be with him. The Bush Administration referred to him as collateral damage, since he was not the target of the strike. For the record, I have not been able to dig up any information on this allegation. It is known, however, that many innocents were killed under Bush’s watch, and many more under Obama.

We have become outraged over the thought of our own government targeting and killing Americans overseas without due process. We have forgotten about the innocents that our government has killed during the “war on terrorism”.

Our attention has turned to the possibility that our government could decide to turn loose the military, or use drone strikes on citizens in our own country. Eric Holder sent a letter to Rand Paul stating that the use of military force on American soil would be justified.

Obviously, I don’t agree that using drones to kill anyone in this country is justified, no matter what.

It got me to thinking, however. Is there ever a situation that killing an American citizen, on US soil would be justified? I’m not talking about killing those people who get into a shootout with police.

Consider this. Hijackers take control of an airliner, like they did in 2001. Their intentions are not clear. Are they going to fly it into a building, killing thousands?

Is it justifiable to down the airliner, killing hundreds of innocent American citizens (and probably some non-citizens and tourists as well) to potentially save thousands of lives? If you do nothing, then not only do people in the building die, but so do the people on the airplane. By downing the airplane, only the passengers die.

I’m not suggesting that it would be an easy decision, nor that there wouldn’t be some fallout over doing it.

It’s an incredible juxtaposition, the argument about not killing American citizens who may be guilty of committing a crime versus killing innocent people whose only crime was booking the wrong flight.

It may seem like a no-brainer to some, but for me it is incredibly gut wrenching, and fortunately, that decision isn’t up to me.

Of course you down the airliner, keep the number of innocent deaths to a minimum, but that doesn’t make it an easy decision. Of course, there is always the possibility that the hijackers were going to land at some airport and demand some sort of ransom, but we don’t know what their intentions are.

Unfortunately, nothing is ever black and white. Sometimes we have to make some unpleasant decisions.

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