The US Justice Department and the Obama administration say there is an American citizen with ties to Al-Qaeda who is planning attacks on the US from overseas. And they badly want to kill him with a drone strike. But current laws are making that a little tricky.
The suspected terrorist is in a country that is both unwilling to allow American military action within its borders and unable to capture the suspect. Obama’s new targeting policies dictate that American terrorism suspects overseas are allowed to be taken out by only the military, not the CIA. Drone strikes currently fall under the purview of the CIA apparently, so as of right now, killing this terrorism suspect with a drone strike is mostly out of the question. The Obama administration has been pushing to transfer the drone program over to the military (perhaps because of this prohibition on the CIA), but the military has its own set of rules to limit military engagements in unwilling countries.
Whether or not this suspect is actually a terrorist, this case should give you pause. The situation we find ourselves in is crazy. Our administration is currently deciding on the death penalty for an American citizen without a trial. This is known as a summary execution. It’s when the executive department decides someone is guilty and pretty much kills them on the spot. The executives of America have already killed many people overseas without trials, based on purported intelligence that no average American has access to. This in itself is troubling, especially given the fact that many innocent people have been killed in the process—including a few Americans. But explicitly targeting and killing American citizens without a trial opens the floodgates for even more widespread and terrifying tyranny and abuse.
And let’s not forget who put us in this mess in the first place. The PATRIOT Act and a slew of other acts following 9/11 have basically destroyed American liberty. Altogether. Whether it is our widespread surveillance state, the removal of individual protections from judicial abuse, TSA molestations, or the rise of drone warfare, we are in a pickle because we sold our freedom for a sense of security. Not actual security, mind you. Just a false sense of it.
We are being told to merely trust our civil government. We are not being asked. We are being told. And all along, they have done nothing to garner trust. It would be better for us to increase the possibility of a terrorist attack and secure our liberty than allow our civil government to run roughshod over the rule of law.
We cannot be at war with the world. We must do our best to control and secure our borders and protect this country as best we can. But setting precendents like this is dangerous to the highest degree. If this administration ends up authorizing the execution of an American citizen with a drone strike, it will be another major blow to the foundation of American freedom. What are we protecting from terror if we destroy our country’s rule of law in the process of cutting down its purported enemies?