February 6, 2013

Obama’s Drone Dystopia and Liberal Hypocrisy

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For whatever reason, President Barack Obama receives a nearly unprecedented amount of leeway from the American left. He was forgiven for caving on the debt ceiling,pandering to the health insurance cartel in the Affordable Care Act and not prosecuting Wall Street criminals.

Due either to his charisma and oratory ability or the understanding that a right-wing candidate would be far worse in virtually every conceivable manner, liberals willfully turn a blind eye to his numerous failures, and embrace Obama as their leader. Yet when they absolve him for his unprecedented use of drones, they are guilty of the highest order of hypocrisy and largely play into the right’s caricature of them as a herd of sheep.

A recent report by NBC News details the administration’s procedure on targeted strikes. According to the report, personnel are authorized to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen if “an informed, high-level official” believes him or her to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or an “associated force” – even if there is no intelligence indicating they are actively plotting to attack the U.S.

This is patently unconstitutional as we are denying these citizens their right to trial. Furthermore, the opaque nature and ambiguity of the memo’s diction portrays a process reminiscent of the movie “Minority Report.’ In that movie, potential criminals are prosecuted before they have chance to commit the alleged act.

The memo does not define what qualifications are needed to be recognized as “informed” or “high-level.” Thus, it potentially extends the power of extrajudicial execution to hundreds of people. Furthermore, the memo states that an individual need only pose a threat to America, without the need to hand over evidence or rationale or to even acknowledge of the killing to either the courts or the American people.

Clearly, this is a violation of the system of checks and balances and an overreach of presidential authority. I view the continued use of targeted killings in their current form as an impeachable offense.

Regardless of whatever heinous acts these alleged American terrorists may be poised to commit, we must abide by constitutional procedures and try them in criminal court. Doing otherwise undermines America’s international prestige and leadership role, and deeply compromises our position for when (and not if) enemy states such as Iran obtain this powerful technology.

How will we be able to criticize their use of targeted, extrajudicial strikes in other countries when we were the ones who pioneered this tactic?

Furthermore, this expansion of presidential power is setting an indelible precedent for future administrations. Although the left may love Obama and view him as a relatively amenable figure, the ramifications of this policy should a Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Chris Christie, or even Sarah Palin ascend to the Oval Office will surely be disastrous. A centrist such as Obama will look like a saint in comparison to a right-wing hawk.

In addition, drones frequently kill innocent bystanders or even children – a gross violation of human rights. Enemy combatants have been deemed to be any adult males within a strike zone, a definition which indisputably leads to cruel and needless slaughter. Anger in the countries we have targeted will surely manifest itself in the form of Jihadism or terrorism, and the United States Public will face substantial blowback.

The example of the sixteen year old son of Anwar Al-Awaki readily exposes progressive cognitive dissonance. Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a native of Denver, was assassinated despite no evidence of any intended criminal behavior. When pressed by reporters, Robert Gibbs stated that Abdulraham “should have had a far more responsible father.”  Why is it acceptable to murder a mere child who had committed no crime simply because of who his father was? Although this case is largely comparable to that of Trayvon Martin’s, in which an African-American teenager was murdered based upon his skin colors, the outcry from the left was almost unnoticeable in the former despite the deafening outcry after the latter.

I do believe that drones are valuable tools and can be utilized effectively. They allow for precise targeting, they are highly efficient, and do not endanger the lives of American soldiers. Yet we need to reform this process to make it compatible with American ideals.

Rather than the CIA launching these strikes in a clandestine manner, we should transfer this power to the military and require them to publicly disclose the details behind each strike. We should try American citizens prior to attacks and at the very least strip them of their citizenship before killing them. We should clarify the verbiage in the policy and ensure that no innocent civilians are killed, either intentionally or accidentally. We should institute judicial oversight to prevent abuse. And finally, Obama should revoke his CIA-Director nomination of Bush mainstay John Brennan, the architect of this destructive approach to counterterrorism.

Until these actions are taken, Obama is truly channelling his inner-Cheney.

Original Author: Michael Sun