Saturday, February 9, 2013


Listen up peeps. What I’m about ready to say leans toward the profound.

A couple of years ago when the DoD flew a Hell Fire missile up Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki’s exhaust pipe blowing him and his 16 year old son to bits I didn’t really give the topic of killing an American citizen without any due process much thought. He deserved what he got, and the fact that he exposed his son to the hell of warfare at such a young age is unfortunate, but it was his choice. I was wrong not to have given it more thought. Not the killing itself, (I still think he got what he had coming) but the lack of process.

I oppose capital punishment. I don’t think the possibility of being put to death twenty years in the future works as much of a deterrent to criminals and psychotics so inclined and I have serious problems with the ability of our criminal justice system to administer such a punishment. Not “justly”, or “fairly”, but accurately. There are simply too many cases of wrongful execution and near misses on the books to allow such a program to continue. Over zealous, lazy, or corrupt prosecutors or law enforcement personnel and, or bad luck and circumstance can conspire against a person who then finds him or herself at the end of a rope…… so to speak. “Well”, I’m asked, “how often does that really happen”? to which I reply “how often does it have to happen”? How often are we willing to murder innocent men and women in order to maintain our self image of fairness?

That is not to say that I don’t think the perpetrators of capital crimes don’t deserve to die. They do. Horribly. But the laws are not made to apply only to the guilty. They have to apply equally to us all. We can’t honestly say to ourselves that we only execute those whose guilt we’re certain of….. because it’s a prosecutors job to be certain of the guilt of the accused. How could he, in good faith, try any case if he weren’t convinced of the guilt of the accused? A prosecutor’s job is not to look for the truth. A prosecutor’s job is to convince a jury (at any cost sometimes) of the correctness of his accusations. We are human. Humans make mistakes. I feel that it is unjust for human failings to result in the deliberate taking of a life.

Back to the drone strikes.

I am also not opposed (in general) to the use of drones in circumstances where it’s nearly impossible or too risky to engage an enemy operative, but I believe that this administration has another motivation that influences them in the direction of drone use. The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay was (famously) to be closed one year from president Obama taking office. The prisoners were to be moved to US soil and tried in US civilian criminal courts. This movement and civilizing of (men who are in effect) prisoners of war was widely, and wisely resisted. But the administration’s desire to close Guantanamo has not lessened. So they have simply decided to close it by attrition. By trying the few prisoners that they must and repatriating the rest to the battlefields where they can THEN simply kill them with missiles. They are taking no new prisoners. No new prisoners…. no need for interrogation…. no need for a prison. One of the trade offs, of course, is that we receive no new human intelligence of the type which led to the detection of and operation against Osama bin Laden.

So to further its own plans to close the detention facility at Guantanamo bay and to reduce the size of the military, the administration has hired lawyers to tell them that it’s legal and wise to kill American citizens without any due process at all. With no paper trail of responsibility. No lawyer to make a defense… no judge to make a decision and a decree. Only a nameless, faceless, unelected bureaucrat with no legal responsibility sitting in some “Star Chamber” making decisions of life and death. A mortal man…. or woman reading a report, making a check mark in a box and passing a form on to the DoD for targeting…. much the same way the president does now.

A power given is a power used. This power WILL be used, and as witnessed by the resent usurpation of congressional prerogative by the administration it will be expanded. If the administration can make the claim, straight faced, that it’s “legal and wise” to kill American citizens abroad without any due process what’s the barrier to them claiming that it’s legal and wise to kill Americans in remote areas of Mexico, or Canada, or Arizona?

The killing of American citizens with drones makes a mockery of the Miranda decision and helps to push us off on the bobsled run to hell.

But that’s just what an average guy thinks.

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