Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Missing The Point

Steven D at Booman's place misses an essential point of the drone program.  And I bet most of the commentators miss this essential point, too.

They are focusing on when someone may be determined to be planning attacks on the US.  What if they renounced - but quietly - their intents to attack the US and we go ahead and kill them anyway?   What - asks Steven D - about Timothy McVeigh or the Unibomber.

Allow me to interject:

Look... There is ex parte Milligan and posse comitatus.  The military may not be used when courts are open and functioning.

Full stop.

The use of drones is intended only for those situations where using police (US or otherwise) or special forces is not feasible.  Since most of these guys are out in the Hindu Kush or the wilds of Yemen, that seems pretty reasonable.

Now, I get the idea that having a non-adversarial panel or even a "well-informed senior governmental official" make a lethal decision is troubling.  And I agree that in a perfect world that is not something we would want.

But in no way shape or form does this apply to US citizens in the US.  Or Germany.  Or England.  Or India.

It applies to US citizens who are actively engaged in hostilities with the United States.  Determining the difference between some guy ranting on the Internet and someone actively plotting an attack is tricky.  And this memo isn't reassuring on that point.

But the people who think that this means drones are going to be used by future presidents against people in the US are only slightly different from the people who keep Bushmasters in their closets for when the gubmint comes.

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