According to a Department of Justice memo obtained by NBC News on Monday, the U.S. government concluded that it has the power to kill American citizens if they are thought to be a “senior operational leader” of al-Qaeda or one of its affiliates, even if there is no evidence that suggests they plan to attack the country.
Let that sink in for a moment.
The Obama administration has decided that “informed, high-level” officials have the legal authority to launch strikes intended to kill Americans if they are thought to be high-ranking terrorists, due process be damned.
This, along with President Barack Obama’s embrace of unilateral drone strikes, warrant-less wiretapping and keeping “kill list” of enemy combatants, is very disappointing and has huge implications when it comes to civil liberties and the national security state.
Have we forgotten about warrant-less wiretapping after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks? Sure, it sounds good from a security standpoint: the government is able to monitor and track those bad guys so they don’t harm us again. But once we sober up, we realize that by allowing the government to take these extra steps to ensure our safety only gives them the ability to do more than just that.
A common grudge held by those disenchanted with the political process is that both parties, or at least the leaders in both parties, hold the same views. While that cannot be fairly said for every issue, it certainly seems to be the case when it comes to executive power. Obama has embraced, and even expanded, many of the national security powers President George W. Bush was granted while he was in office.
And while presidents of both parties, dating back to the Ronald Reagan administration, seem to value the expansion of national security, it comes with a legitimate price. Aside from the obvious billions spent each year on defense, our right to privacy remains in jeopardy.
Since when do we as a nation take the stance that we can harm, or even kill, those believed to be against us? Our country was built on due process and giving the people the right to explain themselves. This goes against everything we as a country stand for.