Killing Americans with drones sets bad precedent

A drone killing strategy that includes American citizens sets precedent that defies our principles of freedom and due process. Photo: www.washingtontimes.com

WASHINGTON, DC, February 8, 2013 – According to the Obama Administration, killing anyone believed to be an imminent threat to national security, including American citizens, with unmanned drones is legal, ethical and wise. Protecting the country from terrorists and other threats is noble and right. Setting precedents that defy our principles of freedom and due process is bad. 

One of the unique things about this country is that equal treatment is promised to all American citizens. The authors of the U.S. Constitution understood that the only way equality could be assured, without trampling individual liberties, is through established law that is administered equally. 

President Obama has a great deal of confidence in our legal system. For example, Obama wanted to hold the trial for five 911 conspirators and terrorists in a New York City court of law. A military tribunal at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base is carrying out the trial. The defendants, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, are enjoying the due process rights guaranteed to Americans. It seems reasonable that Obama’s Administration can figure out how to employ that same due process for the American threats targeted by the drone program. 

A policy to kill American’s with drones, tap their phones without a warrant or any other breach of the due process established in the U.S. Constitution should immediately alarm every American adult. That alarm should induce us to contact elected representatives, the media and anyone who will listen. 

Why? 

You have three elemental God-given rights. Only America has a government initially set-up for the express purpose of acknowledging and protecting these rights. This had never occurred before in all of history. 

1.  personal security (life)

2.  personal liberty

3.  pursuit of happiness (this includes private property and the ability to keep anything you create or purchase as a result of your labor)

The natural tendency of people and governments, even when they mean well, is to mistreat those they don’t like by taking away or harming one or more of those God-given rights. A common scenario, even today throughout much of the world, involves someone being accused of a crime, picked up by some official of the government and then disappearing. 

While certainly our American President would never desire power at the level of Syria’s dictator, the death toll in that country is now reportedly 60,000. The death of many innocent people is always the outcome when the people do not hold due process rights and the rule of law tight. 

Syria is not alone in this indiscriminate violation of human rights. Look to North Korea, Sudan, Cuba, Iran and other countries for similar examples. 

The people, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, fought the War of Independence and wrote the U.S. Constitution wanted to make it very difficult for the free people in America to be mistreated. This is why our overarching, written law of the land - the U.S. Constitution – includes the following: 

1.  Everyone is assumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law (Amendment V).

2.  No one can be subjected to cruel or unusual punishment (Amendment VIII).

3.  When someone is accused of wrongdoing they must be given a speedy trial, overseen by a jury made up of their peers, i.e. other citizens like them (Amendment VI and VII).

4.  All people accused of a crime are protected by a writ of habeas corpus - Latin for “have the body.” After an arrest, the individual must be promptly brought before a judge or court for a hearing. This prevents governments from throwing people in prison or killing them without a very good reason (Article 1, Section 9).

5.  The government cannot create “ex post facto laws or bills of attainder.” This means new laws can’t be made up to fit the circumstance and avoid a trial (Article 1, Section 9).

6.   The government cannot issue an unreasonable search and seizure of your property (Amendment IV).

7.  People are entitled to a grand jury hearing before being indicted of capital crimes (Amendment V). 

“Every word of the Constitution decides a question of power and liberty,” wrote James Madison, the “father” of the Constitution. 

It is much easier to take freedoms than give them. Our system of government will only work for people willing to do the hard things, ask the hard questions. Our justice system is rigorous. It has allowed some guilty people to go free, but it has also prevented many, many innocents from death. 

In a report posted on www.foxnews.com regarding the confirmation hearings for John Brennan to the CIA Director post, the Obama administration refused to release the legal opinions they were relying on to validate the killing of Americans with drones. They were finally released on a limited basis after a bipartisan group of 11 senators demanded the documents before moving ahead with the hearings. 

We all need to read those briefs. Is a suspension of due process, not worthy of public debate between the president and the people, or at least his security advisors? 

Ironically, only Code Pink, a known leftwing “women-initiated grassroots peace and anti-war” group protested the drone killings at the confirmation hearing of John Brennan for job as Director of the CIA. Brennan is reportedly a designer of the drone program. 

Carla Garrison follows current events with one eye on history and the other on the future.  Her goal is to encourage people to know the truth and use it as a call to personal action. Read more Truth be Told.

 

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Carla Garrison

Carla writes about current issues and events with an aim toward telling the truth, using the writings of great thinkers, dead and living, as well as common sense.

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