The United States of America: now sporting more drones than the Gallente Federation from “EVE Online.”
Since we’ve got them, we may as well use them. One way they’re
being used these days is in the elimination of U.S. citizens on foreign soil—without a trial. The Patriot Act. Guantanamo Bay. And now this. Slowly, the things separating America from our former perceived oppressors are being chipped away.
According to a Feb. 5 Reuters article, a Department of Justice memo stating the legal framework for U.S. drone strikes on its citizens was defended by the White House, despite some criticism from civil liberties groups.
Uh-huh. The memo states such targeting—U.S. citizen or not—will occur if the potential target is a high ranking al-Qaeda member, capture isn’t possible and the individual “poses an imminent threat
of violent attack against the United States.”
Sounds OK so far, but after that, things get patchy. The memo also reads, “the condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the U.S. does not require the U.S. to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”
Remember the thing that made us morally superior to the despots of the world? That just took a big hit. Due process just went out the window as far as drone strikes on U.S. citizens are concerned. It was probably sent to Gitmo for indefinite internment.
Of course, the memo applies to a specific set of circumstances.
There aren’t a lot of U.S. citizens joining foreign terrorist groups. No, most militant U.S. citizens are too busy stockpiling assault rifles for the “War on Guns.”
Here’s the thing about civil liberties though: They’re never taken all at once. They are taken away piece by piece.
Fortunately, it can be stopped. The American people have a right to declare to their government when they’ve gone too far. We can just never agree when that is.
Sooner or later, though, we will. The fall of liberty takes time and is far from inevitable. Preventing it requires diligence and a willingness to do what is right, even when it isn’t easy.
You can say these drone strikes are a necessary part of the War on
Terror. You can argue they are for the benefit of the greater good.
You can even claim it doesn’t matter if some U.S. citizen terrorist isn’t getting due process. He or she tossed that out the window when he or she shacked up with the enemy.
Maybe. Maybe there are those who would be willing to give up civil liberties so they can sleep safely at night. But those people need to be smacked upside the head with the words of Benjamin Franklin, who once declared, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
So ask yourself, America, what we citizens deserve. You still have a say in the matter.
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