Extraordinary Means For Extraordinary Times?

The White House released the Justice Department’s justification for drone assassination strikes.  Protecting Americans against asymmetrical terrorism tactics, the argument for drone strikes at seems reasonable.  But is this all there is to it?

Assassination is a tricky word in democratic countries.  How can a state which claims to be civilized and guided by the rule of law, undertake public executions without trial or conviction?  So most countries have a check and balance system where the executive provides evidence (normally in secret) and courts pass judgement (often secretly) allowing the operation to move forward.  Checks and balances may not get it right ever time, but they produce far fewer mistakes than what results from the absence of any review.

This is, however, precisely the problem with the Justice Department’s defense of drone assassinations.  The review process lies within the Executive branch.  Hmmm. The foxes watching the foxes.

I feel comfortable that the Obama Administration means well.  I’m sure they see drones as endangering fewer Americans and potential preventing some horrendous terrorist acts.  But President Obama and his extended executive branch colleagues are just humans like the rest of us.  Ends do not justify means.

The George W Bush administration brought us national disgrace by abrogating the Geneva Convention and employing indefinite detention and water boarding as a well regarded interrogation methods.  Detention without charges and  water boarding were wrong then and drone assassinations without specific and detailed standards confirmed by judicial review is wrong now.

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