High School Student’s Letter To Obama On Drone Killing

A less than progressive alternative:

With drones suddenly a part of the conversation during the Brennan confirmation hearings, senators are said to be considering an idea to create a secret “assassination court” on the model of the FISA courts that rubber-stamp wiretapping, only this court would be charged with deciding if “suspects” can be assassinated by US drone strikes.

The idea has some support, though officials say it is unlikely any such proposals will be acted on any time soon. The notion of a secretive court deciding who gets killed by robots looming overhead anywhere on the planet strikes some as somewhat morbid.

On the other hand, the drones are already looming overhead and killing people by the thousands worldwide as it is, and the change would just be some nominal court oversight to the whole process of killing people en masse, which at present is entirely up to President Obama. That is a power he is unlikely to be willing to give up.

John Brennan expressed some skepticism about the idea, saying he would consider it but that it would have to be a different type of court from anything in existence. He argued that drone strikes aren’t about guilt for past actions but rather are aimed at preventing a future action, adding that this is an “inherently Executive Branch” function…


Where did we get these Nazis?


…I am not willing to trust unnamed “informed, high-level officials” with unchecked and unbalanced assassination decisions. Information is often wrong, and who knows how high “high” is. Who puts the hit list together and using what information? Both parties have their Ollie Norths. Ronald Reagan signed a paper authorizing Iran-Contra but couldn’t remember doing so. And what are the standards for determining an “imminent threat of violent attacks”? These are vague and subjective standards and there is no Congressional oversight or judicial review.

Where American citizens are targeted, as they have been, their Constitutional rights are unilaterally suspended by the anonymous “high level official.” That is not what Madison or Jefferson had in mind. Having drones available would not have altered their principles, as they seem to have done with those in power today. And, politically, Democrats have to be very careful on this issue to avoid adoption of a double standard. All hell would break loose if this were the W Bush administration.

Expediency is never a justification for unconstitutional and immoral actions. This is so even where self-defense and national security are concerned. It has proved incredibly easy to assassinate someone (and his family) half a world away. And that is what makes this new style of warfare so attractive… and so dangerous. The Obama administration is creating precedents it will live to regret and inviting retaliation, using both drones and computers, as they become available to most nations in the world.

We believe ourselves to be exceptional and when we live up to our Constitutional principles we are. But when we abandon those principles, simply because new technology makes it easy to do so, we become just like everyone else, lose our moral authority, and welcome our behavior to be used against us.


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