Thursday, April 08, 2010

Policy of Assassination, Part 2

The hue and cry over the policy of assassination, such as it is, seems to be addressing it in the context of its application to an American citizen. Many seem to take the attitude that the President should not be ordering the killing of an American citizen without a trial, but that it’s perfectly okay for him to order the killing of someone who is not so privileged as to hold citizenship in this nation. Really?

Where in our constitution does it say that our administration of justice is limited to citizens of our own country? The way I read that document is that it is a statement of the way that justice will be administered by this nation, period. I do not see any limitation as to who, or when, or where. It simply says, “this is the way we will do things when it is us doing them, because this is who we are.”

I find myself profoundly uncomfortable at the idea that my country uses assassination as an instrument of “national security.” I am baffled that the leaders of my country are so cowardly that they must kill individuals to, in their fearful minds, prevent the nation from being destroyed. I want to know how we can talk about “leadership among nations” and roam the world with pilotless drones, killing at will without regard to borders or national sovereignty, and without “due process.”

It has been claimed that “during war the enemy can be killed anywhere,” but there are problems with that. We are not at war. It is not a semantic game, Congress has not declared war which must, in any case, be declared against a state. So justification of something by citing the “laws of war” can only work when those laws are in effect, and they are not.

As with the “torture debate,” this is not about the targets of assassination, this is about us, about our character as a nation, about who we have become in the aftermath of 9/11. It is not about “them,” it is about who we are. It is about a nation becoming less and less about freedom and civil rights and more and more about "self defense" and killing.

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