How would we feel if police had the authority to shoot people dead on our streets if they were engaged in what the police perceived to be “suspicious activity” but were otherwise completely unknown? Not stopped and questioned, not arrested and not persons whose faces had appeared on wanted posters. Someone is “dressed funny” and looks “furtive” as he approaches a bank; shot dead. Turns out he was avoiding his wife.
That is precisely what Barack Obama just authorized our forces to do in Yemen, a nation with which we are not at war; to employ Hellfire missiles from drones against unknown persons based on “suspicious activity” such as “carrying rifles and walking toward Afghanistan.”
Virtually every adult male in Yemen carries a rifle, and when I go to the barbershop I am “going toward” the state of Georgia. That does not mean that I am going to Georgia, and in fact I am never going to get within a couple thousand miles of Georgia, but if going there was illegal then under Obama’s policy I could be killed on sight for taking a rifle with me when I go to get a haircut.
I cannot imagine living in a nation that calls itself a democracy, talks about human rights and the rule of law, and does this sort of thing, but I do live in that nation. More and more I am coming to believe that nothing we say actually means anything. Nothing.