Monday, February 18, 2013

Drones, Drones, Drones

The subject of drones has been all over the news lately. Even in the liberal media. Finally there seems to be news in this country that everyone is willing to take a stake in. Both sides of the aisle seem to have the same question. What is the President thinking?

First of all, any guy will tell you, drones are cool. Hey, I’m old and I still want one. They are the ultimate big boy toy. Most of us realize that as cool as they are they are not for us. Too big. Too expensive. Too top secret. Those that really have the bug just go out and buy a little radio controlled helicopter. Way less cool but way more affordable. Now the President, because he is the President, has access to all the high price toys. 

Back in the old days there was a President named Nixon. He tended to be a little bit distrustful. He had an “enemies list”. He had people that watched those on his enemies list looking for efforts against Mr. Nixon’s Presidency. When the press found that out Nixon was excoriated. Then he lied about a break-in and was driven from office. It was a sad time in our countries history.

Then there were the George W. Bush years. The country had been attacked by terrorists. Three terrorists that were captured were “water-boarded”. The press went wild. Accused the administration of using torture. Remember, no blood was shed. No electric shocks were used. No teeth, fingers, or toes were lost. No bones were broken. No scars were left behind. But somehow water-boarding became the ultimate torture and Mr. Bush was excoriated.

Now we have a President that has an enemies list. But he doesn’t torture. He just kills them outright. He does this even if they are American citizens. Mr. Obama’s Justice Department issued a White Paper giving him permission to do so. Well, not him specifically, but a “high ranking government official”. Just put on those Groucho glasses and we’ll never guess who’s doing it. So the President can pick a name from his list. Unilaterally decide this person is a threat. Also decide that his capture wouldn’t be feasible. Then send out a drone with a couple of Sparrow Hawk missiles on board to kill that person and anyone in his immediate area. Thank God he’s not water-boarding them. 

So, let’s say that some government agency finds that a young American has joined Al Qaeda. Let’s say that he has gone to someplace way out in the boondocks of Canada to set up an Al Qaeda training camp. If I understand what is in this white paper, the President can authorize a drone strike against him. This behavior is wrong on so many levels. First, it is not a power that should be vested in any one man without checks and balances. Second, if there is no immediate danger, other alternatives should be used even if they are more difficult. Third, it is unconstitutional to take an American’s life without due process. Fourth, armed drones should be controlled by the military through their chain of command.

I have one more huge concern. That is co-lateral damage. If an innocent person is killed in one of these non-battlefield attacks it is murder as far as I am concerned. This might also be true under both domestic and international law. But even if there is no legal ramifications, it most certainly lowers the status and respect for the American Presidency.

I, like most Americans, want the terrorists destroyed. But I want it done in a manner in keeping with our country’s honor, traditions, and Constitution. Once again the President has taken unto himself power that is not his under law and the Constitution. These actions sorely damage our country and the American Presidency. 

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