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View Diary: Dabbling in terror and targeting Americans a bad career move under this President... (99 comments)

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  •  Why would a Hellfire missile be any different... (3+ / 0-)
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    k9disc, elmo, SilentBrook

    ...if fired from a manned jet rather than a drone?

    The issue seems to me to be how the decision is made when and where to fire the missile—not what kind of vehicle happens to be carrying the missile when it is fired.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 04:49:34 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  It's not that simple... (1+ / 0-)
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      There is already micro-drone technology that is capable of release from a larger drone, flying through a window, and taking out designated targets within multiple rooms, while leaving the structure and other survivors alive. Real James Bond stuff. They could target terrorists and leave no trace behind except the dead bodies.

      The final call must be the commander in chief's in an emergency situation. If not his, who else would you suggest?

      •  In a true emergency situation, sure. (1+ / 0-)
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        The final call must be the commander in chief's in an emergency situation. If not his, who else would you suggest?
        If the situation is a true emergency, such that immediate action is needed in order to preserve American lives, the President is already empowered to do a whole lot... but after the emergency passes, the President (and whatever other people were involved) does have to account for his/her actions to Congress and to the American people. My concern there would be that the administration would need to be transparent about exactly how decisions were reached, and on the basis of what—a transparency that has unfortunately not been the hallmark of the presidency for at least the past century.

        But my other, more significant concern is that "emergency" isn't being very well-defined here, and the protocols by which decisions are made—whether in true emergencies or simply time-sensitive situations—do not seem to me to be very well laid-out, with little accountability for decisions before or after the fact. There needs to be a process in place for making these decisions that involves due process, accountability, and respect for basic human rights—and, in my opinion, unless it's a true emergency situation, this process needs to involve at least the judicial branch in addition to the executive branch, if it involves American citizens abroad.

        Unless it is a true emergency situation in which immediate action is absolutely crucial—in which case there must be accountability after the fact—any situation involving persons on American soil must go through ordinary due process. So long as "combat" as used in AG Holder's letter to Sen. Paul is defined elsewhere in more detail and significantly more stringency, that seems like a decent enough definition of an emergent situation in which lethal force is justified; if that isn't defined elsewhere, it's a recipe for putting far too much faith in one person, as the President would be empowered to define "combat" as loosely as possible and bring lethal force against anyone fulfilling his/her definition.

        As a rule, any unilateral presidential power I would not entrust to someone completely evil, like Dick Cheney, should not be entrusted to any president. This isn't about President Obama; it's about how our 200-year-old legal system, instituted during a time when it took weeks to even get a message across the country, hasn't caught up to the present realities of global awareness and near-instantaneous communication and strike capability. That is a shortcoming we need to address as a nation, lest we entrust too much power to an office that has, at times, been occupied by people who have proven eminently unworthy of such power.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 06:38:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We have entrusted our President with full control (1+ / 0-)
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          ...over our nuclear arsenal for decades and there has been little debate about that. I think we can entrust him with the drone program. In fact, if we're going to have these weapons, we almost have to.

          It's impossible to run national security with required judicial approval. My God, what if a future court simply decided nothing justified a nuclear strike and prohibited their use in any situation? Do we just ignore the court if missiles are heading our way? If so, what's the point of the court?
          Are you really prepared to gamble our security on a decision from an unelected court that answers to no one?  

          Same with the drone program. What if the court prohibited their use anywhere on US soil? Can we just use conventional fighters to accomplish the same objective, albeit with more collateral damage?
          If so, what's the point?
          If not, would we just sit by and allow future planes to run into future towers?

          Have you really thought all this through?

    •  You are correct, JGG... It's about due process and (1+ / 0-)
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      habeas corpus.

      The tech is irrelevant.

      Here's another one.

      So you're a suspected terrorist, JGG, because you are organizing a general strike because of poor wages that will cripple shipping of vital material goods to hospitals.

      Bluestrike here thinks the President should be able to send out a drone and kill you. Or perhaps he could send out a real nice black sedan with tinted windows and take you away, he might want to use a hellfire missile if you're not going to be too close to 'civilians'.

      It's a terrible argument.

      Section 802 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Pub. L. No. 107-52) expanded the definition of terrorism to cover ""domestic,"" as opposed to international, terrorism.   A person engages in domestic terrorism if they do an act ""dangerous to human life"" that is a violation of the criminal laws of a state or the United States, if the act appears to be intended to:  (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.  Additionally, the acts have to occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States and if they do not, may be regarded as international terrorism.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 05:23:05 AM PST

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      •  That's just ridiculous... (2+ / 0-)
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        elmo, SilentBrook

        Like I said, one can imagine all sorts of threats with paranoid hypotheticals.

        Democracy, you are so messed up here you now appear to be claiming anyone on a terror list of any kind will be bombed by this President.

        Frankly, that's pathetic. That's nothing remotely close to the constitutional authority this administration is asserting.

        Again, it's something Rand Paul or Sarah Palin would say...

    •  I think the difference is a practical one (3+ / 0-)
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      marina, SilentBrook, JamesGG

      A manned airplane involves risk to the pilot. A drone involves risk to no American. I think this means that drone missions go forward much more easily than manned missions...which may mean that we "pull the trigger" with drones when maybe we shouldn't.

      •  I don't find that argument very compelling... (2+ / 0-)
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        marina, elmo a reason for being more concerned about drones than about the decision-making process overall.

        None of the drone strikes that come to my mind took place in a territory where there is any question that America has complete control over air power.

        While there is definitely more human risk involved in sending in a manned jet bomber rather than a drone, since there's a person in there instead of not, the risk of the plane being shot down (as opposed to an accidental crash) doesn't seem very high to me.

        Additionally, it seems to me that the risk of the drones' technology—particularly whatever encryption protocols, etc. it uses to send and receive signals—falling into the hands of the enemy should the drone go down is in itself a pretty substantial risk.

        I may be wrong, but I don't think that the risk differential between manned and unmanned aircraft is sufficient enough in the situations in which drones are being used that it makes an impact on the overall go/no-go decision, such that the decision becomes "we wouldn't send in a piloted plane, but we'll send in a drone."

        It seems to me that what needs more oversight and accountability is the decision to send in any kind of lethal force, more than which kind of lethal force to send in.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 09:06:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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