Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I Guess It's Still Legal to Criticize the President

But you might not want to go abroad afterwards, and visit one of those countries where there's nobody but a few brown people who don't speak English to witness the drone strike.

The Justice Department memo detailing when the U.S. can use drones to kill Americans.

The leaked document asserts that it's legal when:
• An informed, high-level official of the US government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the US

• Capture is infeasible and the US continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible

• The operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles
No judge, no jury, just the executioner. Sort of like Red Queen justice.

It's comforting to know that janitors in the State and Defense Department aren't authorized to launch drone strikes; I've pissed off at least one of those.  We've already seen that their version of the word "imminent" is not what we in most of the English speaking world mean.  They're announced that it means may plan attacks sometime in the future.  Fortunately, the functionaries are all possessed of omniscience, which makes such determinations oh so much simpler.

And capture is "infeasible", as determined by who?  The same omniscient committee?  Let a judge decide if it infeasible? Do they have to try it first, to determine whether it's feasible or not?

I'm not sure what the ramifications of the "law of war" clause is, but I suspect that allows them to bag a few nearby spectators in addition to the designated target.  Like Al Awlaki's 16 year old son.
He was a boy who hadn't seen his father in two years, since his father had gone into hiding. He was a boy who knew his father was on an American kill list and who snuck out of his family's home in the early morning hours of September 4, 2011, to try to find him. He was a boy who was still searching for his father when his father was killed, and who, on the night he himself was killed, was saying goodbye to the second cousin with whom he'd lived while on his search, and the friends he'd made. He was a boy among boys, then; a boy among boys eating dinner by an open fire along the side of a road when an American drone came out of the sky and fired the missiles that killed them all.
I'm not crying for the elder al Awlaki; he renounced his citizenship, and certainly had planned and likely was planning further attacks.  Still, it would have been better to capture and interrogate him rather than to blow him up.

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