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On the War Over the Drone War

February 08, 2013|Stephen Markley

use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

That’s the legal justification that Obama’s DOJ used in targeting American citizens. In other words, there are no limits to presidential power when it comes to pursuing “organizations or persons he determines” could potentially plan a future attack. Could Obama or a President Rubio order a drone strike on me? Sure. Could they order one on a political opponent? According to two successive White House readings of this law, yes.

That’s why the problem is not the drones, nor is it killing people who are plotting to blow up airliners over Detroit. The global order as we know it will continue to produce zealots, madmen, and desperate revolutionaries until we start thinking about why this order is broken and how we might fix it. For now, however, it’s a problem of a complete lack of transparency and accountability, an abrogation of the fundamental democratic right of due process. The drone program must somehow be reigned in and brought under the rule of law, and until then it will live on as a glaring mark on every president—including those I like—who keeps a kill list in his desk drawer.

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