February 9, 2013 By Jack Jodell.
“Every American has the right to know when their government believes that it is allowed to kill them.”
- Oregon Senator Ron Wyden -
THANK GOD for Ron Wyden! He is perhaps the only American in Congress to clearly grasp the horrible implications of the recently released secret “white paper” the Obama administration has used to “justify” its use of deadly drones to attack and kill not only suspected al Qaeda members, but hundreds of innocent civilians as well. It is a sad and sorry indictment on my country to see that it has devolved to the point where it wantonly and carelessly dismisses these tragic deaths as mere “collateral damage” supposedly justified by the obsessive need to promote and defend ”liberty.” We have been obsessed with our security ever since the tragic 9/11 attacks which occurred more than 11 years ago! Rather than merely making us become more cautiously watchful, this unhealthy and overboard obsession has led us into two very costly and draining wars, one of them completely unnecessary and the other becoming a long quagmire. I apologize to the rest of the world and especially to the victims’ friends and families for the murderous callousness as well as the condescending arrogance of my countrymen and their government.
I fully recognize that my country remains engaged in a war against terrorism that it never asked for, and that, in war, there are inherent and often necessary negative side effects. I recognize that al Qaeda is a savage and brutal lot which has little to do with honest practitioners of Islam. Yet I am filled with sorrow and regret at the thought of my President regularly sitting with his security staff to decide whom they will kill in the next drone attack, and that those invariably killed in the crossfire will callously be dismissed as mere collateral damage. It gnaws at my very soul that my countrymen are accepting this as a normal and necessary occurrence when in fact it is often indiscriminate murder. It bothers me even more that this is being conducted not only against foreigners but that the right to do this is supposedly reserved for the President to use even against American citizens like you or I, whom he may believe are helping the terrorists! This smacks of old wild west vigilante-ism. The only real difference I see is that, in the old west, it was considered unmanly and even cowardly to shoot your opponent in the back while he wasn’t looking.
Whatever became of the writ of habeas corpus – the right of a supposedly free person to notified of a specific charge and be given a fair trial before a jury of his or her peers before he or she is to be meted out justice for their supposed crime? Who gave the President the moral right to act as judge, jury, and executioner in the complete absence of such a trial? Who gave the President the authority to exact this “justice” on an unknowing, unsuspecting, and possibly even innocent person? Both Hitler and Stalin held at least show trials before passing sentence on their victims! We justifiably accused each of them of committing war crimes for the mass murders they caused. Is what we are engaged in today all that different?
In this writer’s humble opinion, there is no justification whatsoever in the President assuming such power. Such an extra-constitutional action would have been unthinkable in previous times. We as a nation have often faced danger from abroad. Hitler, Tojo, and Stalin were all committed to our destruction, and they had the armies and possible wherewithal to achieve their aim. Yet never once, in our attempt to defend ourselves against them, did we ever stoop to such depravity as that which we are engaged in during this current threat. We never tortured our prisoners of war as DICK Cheney was so fond of doing, nor did we suspend our civil liberties for so long or as gravely as we have done during our current post-9/11 war on terror. Of course, in previous times there were no neocons running the defense and intelligence efforts; saner, cooler heads were at the helm. What we are engaged in today is a neocon’s pre-emptive dream come true, and it is disgraceful. In our current attempt to defend liberty and democracy we are destroying both and have become, in a very real sense, terrorists ourselves. It was Osama bin Laden’s avowed ambition to destroy western democracy, and he has succeeded, unbelievably, with our help!
Our Founding Fathers – literally ALL of them – are undoubtedly spinning in their graves in absolute shock and horror at this wicked development. It us high time for us to return to sanity, honor, and democracy. Our security must NOT trump our liberty!