Drones Policy Of Barack Obama A Very Troubling Issue For Civil Libertarians

The government memorandum obtained by NBC that justifies the use of predatory drones against American citizens overseas presents a real quandary for civil libertarians.

Since September 11, 2001, in the name of national security, we have seen the administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney justify the use of “enhanced interrogation” and torture to gain information from suspects believe to be allied with Al Qaeda, and these suspects imprisoned in some cases now for a decade without any legal representation. Civil libertarians have condemned this violation as accomplishing little, except to besmirch the American image, and creating future generations out to attack America in revenge for such harsh treatment.

But now the administration of Barack Obama, led by John Brennan, who has been Chief Counter Terrorism adviser to the President, and is the nominee to be head of the Central Intelligence Agency.,has been engaged in the use of predatory drones to kill Americans overseas believed to be working with Al Qaeda, including Anwar Al Awlaki in Yemen, alleged to be involved in plots against the United States, and his son, killed in Yemen in a drone strike a couple of weeks after his father was killed in September 2011.

Critics would say that Awlaki should have been apprehended, brought to trial, and evidence presented publicly of his involvement in conspiracies, and that basic American values under the Bill of Rights were denied, and that his son was killed because of guilt by association, an even more egregious abuse of civil liberties.

The condemnation of Bush and Cheney has not been matched by condemnation of Obama, which makes it seem like pure politics.

This is, of course, not the first time Presidents have been engaged in violations of civil liberties, but with politics often determining the response.

Other Presidents who became involved in civil liberties violations include Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War; Woodrow Wilson in World War I; Franklin D. Roosevelt in World War II; and probably every President since in the Cold War period; and Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama in the Age of Terrorism.

It is a complex issue, as certainly, the national security is at stake in wartime, and we could define what we are in now as an age of war, even though most Americans do not think of it that way, since there is no draft, as in other war periods until 1973.

One could also say that there could be trust of Barack Obama for some, while no such trust existed for George W. Bush. But the danger of such trust is that once policy is justified, how does one have the ability to retract that trust and implied right to be involved in such civil liberties abuses, for future Presidents, who we may not trust?

Therefore, this policy of using drones against American citizens is a very disturbing and troubling issue, which will expand the ability of the government to be judge, jury, and executioner of its own citizens overseas, and who knows, maybe one day in American territory itself!

Sadly, it turns out that Osama Bin Laden has triumphed in undermining America’s Constitution and Bill or Rights by what he wrought on September 11, 2001, and all Americans are the losers in this tragedy!

11 comments on “Drones Policy Of Barack Obama A Very Troubling Issue For Civil Libertarians

  1. A White Southern Christian Progressive February 6, 2013 8:40 am

    On the Progressive blog, Commondreams.org, I often see the civil libertarians there talking about the drone issue.

  2. Juan Domingo Peron February 6, 2013 10:33 am

    I would suggest that it is troubling for anyone who believes that the US Constitution and that its founding principles should be respected. Why limit it only to civil libertarians? I really don’t recall that ever before in the history of US law and politics a President ever abrogated for himself the power to execute and assassinate targeted American citizens. I mean the President, as the New York Times reported, according to the White House literally has a hit list. This is not even killing an American citizen who is in actual combat fighting for another power in the battlefield. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, the confederate soldiers were technically no US citizens and the concept of US citizenship was only constitutionally well established after the Civil War with the 14th amendment. Before people we first citizens of their states. Thus the phrase “these” United States instead of “the” United States was used. Wilson controlled the press and jailed anti-war activist. FDR summarily executed German spies caught within the US, and no – constitutional rights applied to them because they were foreigners and the enemy. During the Bush years the entire push back on Gitmo and water-boarding was based on the premise that foreigners have the same constitutional rights when within US territory, granted Gitmo could be considered US territory. Furthermore in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld the SCOTUS ruled that because Hamdi was a US citizen and even though he was detained in Afghanistan, the US Constitution protected him as US citizen, thus the due process clause applied. But in this case, President Obama abrogates for the Executive Office the power to make judgment and execute without oversight whatsoever the life of any American citizens “he” considers is a threat. This is so wrong on many levels, constitutional, moral and ethical.
    As I heard yesterday on MSNBC Joe Scarborough say, and his liberal panel agree, if this was happening under Bush everything that would be going on today in Washington D.C. would stop. There would be Congressional hearings, article of impeachment drawn up and all of Washington D.C., Manhattan and the entire press corp would stop and focus its attention on this unprecedented constitutional overreach. Also, Presidential historian and former Newsweek editor Jon Meacham criticizes President Obama for ignoring the “rule of law” and describes him as acting like “an American King.” See: http://www.mrctv.org/videos/meacham-drone-kills-obama-acting-american-king . Also Mika Brzezinski admits there would have been a “huge controversy” had the Obama administration memo authorizing drone strikes against U.S. citizens abroad surfaced during the Bush administration and Harold Ford, Jr. says Democrats need to consider how they conducted themselves and what questions they asked during the Bush years.

  3. Ronald February 6, 2013 11:06 am

    On this issue, I TOTALLY agree with you, Juan! Imagine that!

    Something must be done to stop this policy, although I doubt whatever is done will be effective. As I said on here, Osama Bin Laden has triumphed in the sense that not only has he created an insecurity for all Americans about their safety, but now, in addition, there is need to fear what our government is doing in our name in the cause of “national security”. We might, in the future, under a more extreme right wing President, see the justification for going ever further in the name of national security. I want to trust Obama, but would be terrified to have to trust a Rubio, a Rand Paul, a Paul Ryan, a Rick Santorum, or other such Republicans. I know, Juan, you will not like me saying what I have just said, but I think there would be more to be afraid of under a Dick Cheney type mentality. At the same time, I am very upset about Obama trying to justify this, as it becomes a very slippery slope. I am NOT a happy camper!

  4. Juan Domingo Peron February 6, 2013 11:52 am

    I personally do not trust any politician. That is why the Founders were right in establishing a Federal Republic with divided powers and not a Popular Democracy. As someone used to say, “trust and verify”. Objectively Obama has overstepped way more than even Bush or Cheney ever imagined. Also Bush and Cheney had one thing clear, and it was that the enemy was foreign not American. Obama on the other hand considers that conservatives are also the “enemy”. He has called us enemies various times. He is the President of the United States, not a talk show host. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeNoRqtDSeQ . Thus as a conservative I think I am the one that should be worried. Remember that according to the 2012 DHS study “Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, 1970 to 2008” conservatives and libertarians, people that believe in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, liberty and real freedom are now the terrorists in the eyes of our own government. Several of the characteristics the “study” lays out to define terrorists are:
    – Americans who believe their “way of life” is under attack;
    – Americans who are “fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”;
    – People who consider themselves “anti-global” (presumably those who are wary of the loss of American sovereignty);
    – Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority”;
    – Americans who are “reverent of individual liberty”;
    – People opposed to abortion
    I don’t recall conservatives or libertarians flying planes into buildings, bombing US naval ships, shooting soldiers coming back from war at Ft. Hood or any myriad of incidents that were performed by the one group this stupid bit of propaganda called a “study” barely referenced: Radical Islamists. See:http://start.umd.edu/start/publications/research_briefs/LaFree_Bersani_HotSpotsOfUSTerrorism.pdf I try not to prejudge, so objectively there is nothing that makes me believe a conservative would be worse. As a matter of fact if they are a true conservative they know the constitutional limits. It is better to judge a politician by their actions not just by their words. And in this field, the Obama administration has already acted way off bounds.

  5. Ronald February 6, 2013 12:01 pm

    I do not see Obama as threatening opponents in the way you seem to see it, but I can certainly understand your feelings and your fears, at the same time. Terrorism is now leading us to threats to all Americans, at least theoretically, simply by the insecurities and hate that it promotes by design.

  6. Hoopster February 6, 2013 9:24 pm

    Who gives a flying fuck about civil libertarians?

  7. Ronald February 6, 2013 9:27 pm

    Wait a minute, Hoopster! Do you NOT care about the civil liberties of all Americans under the Bill of Rights? And please do not use foul language on here! I would really appreciate it!

  8. Juan Domingo Peron February 6, 2013 10:17 pm

    I had to hear it to believe it. Chris Rock: “I am just here to support the President of the United States. The President of the United States is, you know, our boss. But he is also, you know, the president and the first lady are kinda like the Mom and Dad of the country,” Rock said. “And when your Dad says something, you listen. And when you don’t, it will usually bite you in the ass later on. So, I’m here to support the president.” Unbelievable!!!! Though not surprising. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCuRICh4IcU

  9. A White Southern Christian Progressive February 7, 2013 6:48 am

    sighs and rolls eyes

  10. Hoopster February 7, 2013 9:13 pm

    Ron – if the White House has good reason to believe somebody is a threat to national security, release the drones!

  11. Ronald February 7, 2013 9:44 pm

    I say that there needs to be irrefutable evidence to consider that, which often is not the case from what I gather, and the preference would be to apprehend the subject and try to gain intelligence from him. This is particularly so, when we are not at war with a government, and are actually attacking people in a nation that has not given approval for our action. And the threat of drones being used against us in the future, and against American population by foreign forces, must be understood to be a real threat, as the spread of nuclear weapons has made a world of mutual terror! We may, someday, have second thoughts about the wisdom of what we are doing.

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