Krauthammer’s article: Drones Usage Comes With Questions, Vague Answers
I like Charles Krauthammer. In fact, I think he’s brilliant – but he’s wrong on this topic.
First, he talks about Awlaki, who was a US citizen specifically targeted by the White House for assassination via drone strike. Now, whether you think the President was justified in that or not, what would you say to the killing of Awlaki’s 16 year old son (also a US citizen) being specifically targeted and killed?
Second, CK says that once you take up arms against your own country, you forfeit your rights.
I must be reading a different Constitution than him. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say anything remotely close to that. In fact, there is a specific set of guidelines for dealing with accused traitors in the Constitution in Article III, Section 3: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.” You cannot be sentenced if there is no conviction and there is no conviction without two witnesses and/or a confession in open court.
So, this forfeiture argument doesn’t hold water.
Second, CK uses the bombing of Germans and Japanese barracks as an example of precedent. Once again, this argument holds no water because neither of these were US citizens and it took place during a constitutionally declared war – the War on Terror was never declared (authorization of force is not a declaration of war). CK also uses the War of Secession as an example. He states that Lincoln never recognized the Confederacy as its own separate nation. Uh, so what? Does that mean that Obama or any other president can deem us citizens or not citizens – and decide that our rights are no longer valid? Furthermore, whatever you think about the ambiguity of citizenship when you take up arms against your homeland, Lincoln did not order the assassination of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, or any other specific person.
Lastly, the most disturbing thing is this: Senator Rand Paul is threatening to filibuster the confirmation of John Brennan to be the head of the CIA. This is what he (Paul) said: “The question which I and many others have asked is not whether the administration has or intends to carry out drone strikes inside the United States, but whether it believes it has the authority to do so. This is an important distinction.” So far, the administration has not answered this question. This should scare the crap out of you. This should have been an easy answer, “No! The US government will not (nor has the authority to) carry out drone strikes on US soil.” But, they haven’t said that.
Whether you like Obama or not, you have to remember that he won’t be president forever. Someone else will come along with different ideas about how to use this power. Likewise, I was against the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. While I was more favorable of Bush than Obama, I knew he wouldn’t always be president and that someone else would come along and abuse that power. This is the problem with Washington. No one thinks long-term. The more power that is consolidated in one place, the less others (the people) have. It’s the only true zero-sum game.