Article was published in the Treasure Coast Journal newspapers from Vero beach to Stuart on April 18, 2013.
Let’s assume, for a moment, that a Russian terrorist fled to the United States. Russian investigators locate him in Miami, and instead of arresting and bringing the man to trial, they deploy armed drones from Cuba and kill the suspect as he’s driving on I-95 with three civilian friends in the car. All of them, plus three other Americans including two kids, are killed in the raid. C’est la vie. Collateral damage.
Is this all right?
The question is rhetorical. The assassination of anyone in the United States by an agent of another nation is unequivocally murder, regardless the egregious nature of the target. Our country would certainly take swift action.
But wait. It’s okay if we do it. The United States assumes the right to enter into the borders of any country it chooses with high-tech weaponry to assassinate anyone we deem a “terrorist.” No due process, no trial, no conviction, just execution.
How does that not equate to murder?
Since 2002, when President G.W. Bush authorized a drone killing of a terrorist in Yemen, the United States has deployed hundreds of drone strikes, mostly in Pakistan and Yemen and a handful in Somalia. The number of drone attacks has increased substantially under President Obama. Death tallies, to date, vary according to the source. Seemingly, the most reliable comes from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism which cites some 422 drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, 373 of which were under Obama. Total kills are as many as 3,308, two-thirds of which were deemed “militants.” The others were civilians. Up to nine strikes took place in Somalia. At least two-hundred children have been killed.
We all realize there is a so-called “war on terror” that transcends the entire planet. Then again, has anyone truly defined that term, or is it a convenient catch-all to give license to our government to kill anyone we want anywhere we want, without due process? After all, there is really no such enemy as “terror,” our enemy are men and women espousing a radical ideology of conquest, and they number in the millions.
We well remember this administration castigating the evil President G.W. Bush for approving waterboard interrogations of three terrorists, some of which resulted in saved lives and untold intelligence. The Obama team has the media and the American people lulled into thinking it’s inhumane to waterboard three people, but not inhumane to assassinate some three thousand human beings.
Even the ACLU, with whom I often disagree, has filed a lawsuit charging that the Yemeni drone killing of Anwar Al-Aulaqi, and two others in 2011, violated the constitution’s guarantee against deprivation of life without due process of law.
Of greater concern are the precedents being set. How far will future government leaders define “danger” and stretch the legitimacy of assassinating anyone for alleged intentions to commit crimes against our country? How many other nations will we use as a base for killing? Is this a prelude to assassinations on American soil to avoid interrogations and trials?
It appears the mighty dam that has held our constitution sturdy is forming huge cracks that may never be repaired. Many of the founding fathers should be stirring in their graves.