If there has ever been a "THEM" in history, it's the radical Islamists. Acid throwers into school girls faces, baking a 10 year old boy and serving him to tribal elders to terrorize them into compliance? Think they need Miranda protection if they happen to be Americans? Fuck em.
"No one ever sees you coming; do they Bob?"
If you can face shoot them on a raid, you can Hellfire them from 5K feet.
"No one ever sees you coming; do they Bob?"
You pull some guy's charred AK-clutchin' remains out of some smoking van wreckage filled with Taliban corpses in the Hindu Kush somewhere, and I'm not going to shed any tears if you find a blackened passport with a blue cover in his pocket; I wouldn't expect Patton's Third Army to stop the drive on Bastogne and call out the lawyers if one of the Jerries in front of them yelled "Hey, Mac, I'm an American!" either.
Too far down this path, however, and I could win the argument in this thread by calling 1-800-RAT-FINK and tell them I had some rock-solid information that JHC was a... what was the term he used? a "radical Islamist"? ...and I'd win the thread by default, since he wouldn't be able to respond due to the JDAM through his roof.
If all it takes to sign a death warrant for somebody is to hang a label on them, you want to be very careful about how hard you make it to hang that label.
My point is that there is a slippery slope between taking a casual stance on drone strikes on US citizens and the criminalizing of political dissent. If labeling someone, anyone, as terrorist, opens them up to liability to drone strikes, then such a label needs intense scrutiny before actions are carried out on US citizens. Your country shouldn't be able to kill you just because you are labeled a terrorist and stepped a few feet into Canada.
Ok...so is there a risk argument to be made here? What is the risk (probability times consequence) that an aggressive anti-terrorism policy, even on US citizens, will be mis applied with tragic consequences?
My answer is that whether it is 1 incident per decade or 1 incident per day is irrelevant.
The principle here is that the US government and the US citizen have a unique relationship described in the Constitution. This makes the whole "lets drone strike all these mother effers" argument clumsy and dangerous.
Aside from the initial revulsion that the gov't lead by a Nobel Prize winner willfully (and sneakily) engages in such activity, the problem is (at least academically) very interesting.
Drones are a wonderful way to engage targets where you only risk the done - say in Pakistan/et al. But really, just how difficult is it for a gov't/cartel/gang/etc to kill someone?
Tis a very dangerous world out there. And the motives for your murder may be as little as a few bucks in your pocket up to political/terrorism based. And you don't need a JDAM to carry it out. The reason to have multiple political parties at odds fundamentally, is to serve as a another system of checks and balances. The problem is, as the "Drone Strikes" are set up, it is without oversight. On the surface, since these are operated by the US Military, you would think you could rely on the conscience of the "Officer and Gentleman/Lady" commanding, but I can tell you with no uncertainty, that they are few and far between. Many have been reduced to wage slaves here at WPAFB, who will do whatever to stay below the radar/on someone's good side/keep their job. That is not to imply any derogatory implication on the US military in any way, rather a statement of the times. Furthermore, there is often someone right next to them that will carry out a dubious order without question.
In some ways, this, at least in my mind, is related to some of the mass murder/violence/etc issues we are currently seeing. We have whole generations of people growing up that do not understand the finality of their actions when it comes to killing. I was 6 when I killed my first animal - rabbit hunting with my dad. Watching the life run out of someones/somethings eyes because you acted is a sobering experience. Detaching oneself from a situation - like sitting in a simulator piloting a drone - is a very different thing than doing so in person.
In some respects, this is much the same argument as "how can you be a Commander in Chief if you've never been commanded?"
Using a more close to home analogy: "Its only fully automatic weapons." "Its only a background check." "Its only transferring across state lines." "Its only restricting cary outside your home." "Its only assault weapons." "Its only hi cap magazines."
Individually the argument can be (agreed or not) "common sense" but without the rule of law we are subject to the changing whims and personal gain of the man.
Martin Niemoller was a statist / borderline authoritarian. He even recognized the folly of this:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.
I know Jon Stewart isn't the most balanced, but he's really good when he's on point:
Fairness leads to extinction much faster than harsh parameters.
I think that some of these guys need whacked and I dont weep over it but I am uncomfortable with a mechanism existing for it. That is something that can be abused later. If the president wants to authorize it as the commander in chief, well that is why he is paid the big bucks and I will back his play. Leaders exist to navigate the ambiguous situations where regulation breaks down. If the leader misbehaves he can be removed (say impeached) and if he misbehaves too much he can be prosecuted. But no set of rules will ever cover all situations, if there was there would be no need of leaders, just flowcharts. So I think in this case POTUS should take responsibility for authorizing it rather than come up with some convoluted mechanism that can be used by unsrupulous people later to justify whatever they want (think RICO).