?Is The Current Administration’s Policy on Drone Strikes Constitutional? On September 11, 2001, everything changed. Terrorism had never been seen on such a massive scale. As a result of the massive attacks on U. S. soil, changes had to be enacted. The fight against terror was now a global war effort. The War on Terror was not a popular choice, but it no one expected it to go on for this long. It is now being fought by technology, which led to the drones being used against U. S. citizens suspected of terrorism.
The president can authorize these strikes with the claim that these citizens pose an imminent danger to the security of the United States. However, the Obama administration’s definition of imminent threat is vague and without oversight or any checks and balances. There are various military, governmental, and ethical concerns regarding the use of drone strikes ordered by the president. The use of drones is valid, but the administration has not presented any valid defense of their tactics, which paints a poor picture of Oval Office tactical policy.
First of all, there is no judicial oversight regarding the actions taken by the president and his executive branch. The amount of information available to the public is determined entirely by the current administration and its intelligence agencies. When it comes to making decisions on who lives and who dies, the president is basically judge, jury and executioner. The president should not, and indeed, does not, have this authority under the Constitution. Under the Bill of Rights, U. S. citizens have the right to due process.
While a full-fledged trial for a militant in the Mideast may not be realistic, a U. S. citizen should at least have the right to judicial review, rather than the right to prove their innocence post-mortem. The increase in the number of strikes has resulted in more civilian deaths and the alienation of many potential allies overseas. Pakistan has withdrawn their support for the U. S. drone program. The current president ordered over forty drone strikes in Yemen during 2012, while the previous president only ever ordered one. In addition to possibly creating an international incident, these reckless strikes alienate many of the few people who might have actually wanted to help the United States defeat terrorism.
The increase in drone attacks is wrong, unconstitutional, and detrimental to foreign relations. The additional strikes in recent years is caused in part by the recent shift in paradigms to focus on the cessation of terrorist hostilities in general via unmanned drone strike, whereas the focus in the previous administration was on the strategic elimination of key terrorist leaders. This has resulted in an increased number of deaths, most importantly from the local civilian population. The administration claims that the civilian casualty rate is near or at zero, though there is much evidence that seems to point to a much darker reality.
From a military perspective, the operations being carried out are not only unethical, but often contrary to military decorum and law. The current officials behind the executions have engaged in practices which to any normal citizen should seem exceptionally shady. Any men of military age killed in a strike are assumed to be militants. Not to fear, however, as those targeted may still prove their innocence, or rather, their remaining family can. The military states that the number of civilians killed cannot be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated.
In addition, many drone executions have intentionally targeted rescuers and the wounded, a violation of international humanitarian law. Republican senator John McCain stated that the intelligence agency is not an air force. The intelligence agency has not so much gathered intelligence as it has splattered people’s intelligence out of their heads and onto the desert sands. The shift from reserving the use of drones for assassination attempts on terrorist leaders to one of obliterating common foot soldiers from the sky has placed innocents in danger. The use of drone strikes has grown overzealous and thus more dangerous.
Make no mistake, terrorism is unacceptable and deserves to be punished with extreme prejudice. Disturbingly, however, these executions are often carried out without concrete evidence. There is really no way to know how many civilians are killed in these strikes, especially since the administration defends itself with the catch-22 that everyone killed in the strike was a militant, therefore there are no civilian casualties because if they were killed in the strike, then they must have been militants. Besides, it is often difficult to gather concrete evidence from a crater on an Afghan mountainside.
Aside from the more practical consequences of the drone program, many ethical quandaries continue to appear. Several have been previously mentioned. The first problem is that the public has no information. When the majority of information that reaches the public is given to them by the same people responsible for the strikes, bias can be expected. This is an issue which should concern all Americans, especially since it is U. S. citizens who are often being targeted. There has never been a drone strike on a U. S. citizen on American soil, and President Obama stated that he does not intend to make use of domestic strikes.
His use of the word “intend” is very concerning. In another disturbing turn, the Pakistani parliament voted to not authorize further U. S. strikes. The government has ignored this vote entirely, continuing strikes. Many Middle-Eastern civilians feel threatened and alienated by these attacks. The military claims that civilian casualties are zero. However, over four times the number of people killed by drones in the previous administration had been killed in such a manner during the current one. This is due in part to the practice of “signature strikes”.
These are basically strikes which are performed on people who exhibit possible signs of involvement in terrorist activity without actual evidence. The White House continues to defend its drone program as “legal, ethical, and wise”. Drones are a valuable weapon, and in the right hands can, and have proven to be, effective weapons of modern warfare. Combatting terrorism is a worthy cause, and we should be thankful for the men and women who defend our freedom every day. However, the current leaders of the United States of America have failed to make a proper argument in favor of the use of drones.
Instead, they have attempted to explain away their actions through deceit and have attempted to conceal their agenda underneath a veil of secrecy. They have not made a case for their position. Unless they do this, the American people must take a stand against this administration’s assault on human rights. They simply do not have the authority to order unmanned strikes against unarmed fighters, who are off of the battlefield, with little to no evidence of their actions, especially when the target in question is a citizen of the United States.
This is a dangerous and reckless attack on the rights of every American, and infringes on the basic tenets of natural law. The people of the United States must not allow the government to get away with its blatant disregard for basic freedoms. Terrorists do not deserve to be treated softly, and must be dealt with, but to attack people with only circumstantial evidence, if even that, is wrong, illegal, and foolish. It reflects poorly on the United States and its armed forces. It destroys countless innocent lives and homes. Most importantly, it tramples upon the rights of every American citizen.
Works Cited Bachman, Jeff. “Growing Opposition to US Drones Program. ” Thehill. com. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. Bergen, Peter. “Drone is Obama’s Weapon of Choice. ” CNN. com. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. Crabtree, Susan. “Congress Gets Obama Data on Use of Drones. ” Washingtontimes. com. 6 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. Elliot, Philip. “Gates Backs Lawmakers’ Oversight of Drone Program. ” USNews. com. 11 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. “Graham-Paul Split On Us Drone Strikes Impact. ” Foxnews. com. 17 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. Gur, Haviv Rettig. “US Drone Program Needs More Transparency. ” Timesofisrael. com. 11 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 Sept. 2012.