The 3 Real Problems With Drone Strikes
It's frustrating to see how muddled the debate over drones has become. Some people are wondering why we're all so concerned over a new vehicle that delivers bombs, as opposed to planes. No, no, that's not it at all. Drones don't kill people, the U.S. government kills people. It's just a tool. The problem isn't the tool; the problem is how we are using it.
So, in order to clear up the confusion let me just state the three biggest problems with how we are using the drone program.
1. We have used drones to execute U.S. civilians without a trial. In the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, the government seems to be indicating he was a really important operational leader for al-Qaeda. Their evidence for that -- nothing. At least nothing they have presented to the public or any other branch of government. The old saying is that you could indict a ham sandwich, but apparently they couldn't indict Awlaki.
Does that mean our government couldn't produce any evidence at all on this supposed terrorist mastermind, or has such disdain for any other branch of government that they think it's beneath them to show a shred of evidence to a court before they order the execution of a U.S. citizen?
In the case of the other two U.S. citizens who were killed, including Awlaki's 16 year-old son who was struck in another bombing, the government refuses to say whether they meant to kill those citizens or if it was an accident. Shouldn't we at least know if assassinations of U.S. citizens are done on purpose or accidentally (by the all-knowing, all-wise executive branch)?
Finally, on this note, what a lot of the senators are frustrated by is that even the legal memos outlining why they think they have the right to do these extra-judicial killings are secret. Great, we're using secret law that justifies why the executive gets to execute citizens without any due process (and yes, due process is judicial process Eric Holder).
If you're not bothered by any of this, you should retake your civics class from high school because apparently you missed the whole point of this country, and really, all of western civilization.
2. Most of the drone strikes are signature strikes where we have no idea who we're killing. Really, you're in favor of this? This is so outlandishly immoral that it seems unbelievable. But the New York Times, among many other outlets, has confirmed that in fact we are dropping bombs from drones based on signature activity down below without having any idea who we are killing specifically.
This is why we sometimes bomb weddings. People in Afghanistan and Pakistan often bring weapons to weddings and they fire the guns in the air to celebrate. We see the "signature" of terrorists because there are many guns in the area and obliterate the entire wedding party. If you're comfortable with this, there's some chance you're a monster.
3. We often do double taps where we kill first-responders and the people trying to help the wounded. If you weren't a monster for agreeing with the above strategy, you certainly are if you agree with this one. Plus, a war criminal. This is one of the biggest war crimes there is. The other people who use this strategy often: al-Qaeda.
So, now do you really support these policies? Of course not, the great majority of Americans have no idea what we're doing with these drones. They think we're only targeting high level terrorists. In reality, only 2 percent of the strikes have hit high level al-Qaeda figures. That's why it's so important to shine a light on this issue.
Of course, there is one other thing, which is that most Democrats cannot get themselves to believe that the beloved Barack Obama would authorize things like this, so they just turn a deaf ear to it or try to make some sort of comical excuse for it. The reality is that he does do these things and that's why progressives who are paying attention have been so disgruntled with him. It's not like we didn't like the guy or vote for the guy; we're not like the conservatives who have Obama Derangement Syndrome and think he's a Muslim from another planet and oppose everything he does. No, we oppose him on this because it is clearly and unequivocally wrong.
Now you know. What you do with this information going forward is your own moral choice. If you can live with yourself by agreeing to these policies, then that's who you are. But if how we use these drones bothers you, then you have a moral responsibility to oppose these policies and let the president know, no matter who's team he's on.
© 2013 Cenk Uygur