After four years of the Obama administration’s increasing use of remote-controlled, unmanned drones to kill our enemies, there are suddenly a few more in the media feeling obligated to report on the policy.
A new set of ethical issues is being discussed. The FAA is looking into how to regulate what some call ‘the drone age.’ When liberals say things like ‘Bush would have been impeached if he did what Obama is doing,” rest assured it’s newsworthy and conservatives should jump on the story.
Tina Brown, editor for the Daily Beast/Newsweek basically admitted to media hypocrisy saying:
“He’d be impeached by now for drones if he was George W. Bush… a Republican president; the outcry about drones would be far greater.”
Recently, memos on the president’s drone-use policy were released, perhaps to make Obama look stronger in fighting terror. Ironically, when first elected, Obama used the word “terror” only once in his 2009 inaugural address. Times have changed. The Obama administration has openly carried out more than six times the drone attacks approved by the Bush White House; and the main reason most Americans are unaware is the media looks the other way.
Obama made closing the Guantanamo Bay prison a campaign issue and has been unable to follow up on his promise. Instead, he now seems to favor a policy of killing to avoid prisoner detention. With few exceptions, the media has apparently been fine with openly using drones – that have killed many innocent bystanders – when they feverishly protested the use of enhanced interrogation techniques under Bush. They and Obama considered waterboarding prisoners to be ‘torture’; but they justify this policy of bombing suspects with no judicial review or trial.
The drone controversy has been brewing for months now. Judge Andrew Napolitano recently emphasized that the government’s legal memos on Obama’s policy to kill people overseas includes American citizens. Memos were released after a year of stonewalling federal judges who were seeking legal justification on drone use. What is this administration’s legal basis for claiming the right to kill without due process, thus suspending guaranteed constitutional protections?
The undated and unsigned 16-page document leaked to NBC refers to itself as a Department of Justice white paper. Its logic is flawed, its premises are bereft of any appreciation for the values of the Declaration of Independence and the supremacy of the Constitution, and its rationale could be used to justify any breaking of any law by any “informed, high-level official of the U.S. government.”
Under the Constitution, the president can only order killing using the military when the United States has been attacked, or when an attack is imminent. Obama and his advisers have used the word “surgical” to defend the use of drones as humane and necessary; but the fact is that out of the 2,300 drone-caused deaths, approximately 14 percent have been innocent civilians.
Such gravitas caused PBS’s Bill Moyers to question those who gave Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, implying it has become tarnished. Moyers now feels the president is indifferent to collateral damage and even called Obama’s drone use “cold-blooded.”
Ultra-liberal Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill even admitted the media refuses to hold Obama accountable, saying “I think the problem is we [Democrats] have convinced ourselves that Obama’s drones are somehow softer and kinder and gentler than Bush’s drones.”
Eric Holder’s Justice Department provided justification for killing the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, born in New Mexico, in an American drone strike in September 2011. Note that Obama and Holder had the audacity to denounce the legal method of interrogating terrorists by waterboarding, decrying former VP Dick Cheney’s defense of the policy. The double standards are astounding.
For once, I give the ACLU credit for calling the new memo a disturbing document, saying it’s a “stunning overreach of executive authority.” In his confirmation hearing for the CIA, John Brennan defended Obama’s counterterrorism program; and despite evidence, he stated that drone attacks are carried out “as a last resort, to save lives when there is no other alternative.”
Where is the line drawn? It should alarm us that our government also has the authority to use drones against its own people. During the Obama administration, conservatives, Tea Party participants, and even our veterans can be scrutinized by as dangerous or suspicious.
Referring to a 2012 DHS report, retired Army lieutenant colonel Robert Maginnis writes:
Is this a slippery slope whereby the government might turn drone technology on Americans at home it labels “terrorists”? That’s an alarming thought, but so are past statements made by this government… [The 2012 report advocates] warning police to be suspicious of anyone that feels their way of life is endangered, anyone that is religious, and anyone that might be interested in “personal liberty” and/or firearms.
The domestic drone market is now expected to grow quickly. Congress must debate this controversial policy and set clear boundaries before it gets out of hand. I’m all for defending America, but not at the expense of increased government power and authority over the very citizens they’ve pledged to protect and serve.
Evangelist Ray Comfort produced a documentary (180 movie) in which he gets people thinking about ethical dilemmas involving life. Comfort asks: “It’s 1939, you have a high-powered rifle, and you have Hitler in your sights. Would you pull the trigger?” After most respond “yes,” he then asks: “If it was 30 years earlier, would you have killed Hitler’s pregnant mother knowing what you know now?”
If drone killing isn’t controversial enough for the media to report on, either they don’t value all life – including life in the womb – or they prioritize protecting the president they voted for over telling American citizens the truth. Maybe it’s both.
*To catch up on the first three articles in this media malpractice series, click here.
Photo credit: axeman3d (Creative Commons)