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SOTU: Will Obama Take Responsibility for Drone War Outrage?

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Tonight President Obama wants to promote his legislative agenda in his State of the Union Address. He wants to talk about the union as he wishes it were instead of as it really is. But will Americans stand for more platitudes when we live in a union where our lives and our rights are under threat every day from a government whose draconian policies are increasingly outrageous?

The President certainly does not want to make it the focus of his speech, but when your White House spokesman has stated on your behalf that it is “legal, ethical and wise” to kill American citizens without due process on nothing more than suspicion of terrorism, some sort of explanation of that position by the President should be the first imperative of the State of the Union address. If President Obama does not have enough respect for the people or the rule of law to issue a repudiation and an apology, then at the very least a detailed explanation and defense of such an unamerican policy would seem essential.

This State of the Union Address should not be an opportunity for a failed president to promote more fiscally irresponsible policies. It ought to be a humbling moment in which he is called before Congress to be held to account for his actions, especially his attack on the rule of law and the liberty and safety of our citizens. If Congress had a spine to share between the lot of them this would be a trial, not a speech.

There is no justification for even listening to anything the President has to say until he explains why he believes that American citizens can be murdered for nothing more than the convenience of government bureaucrats,. Apparently with the army of lawyers and investigators in the Department of Homeland Security, it is too much of a challenge to assemble evidence, file charges and hold a hearing even when the lives of US citizens are at stake. Perhaps they are too busy shredding copies of the Bill of Rights to take the time to do their jobs properly.

There is no threat to the safety of the nation and its people which justifies a broad policy of sanctioning assassination. Beginning with President Ford in 1976 every president has issued an executive order banning the use of assassination. President Obama has not issued an order reversing this long tradition. Even if you accept the dubious claim that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force that started the War on Terror is still valid, US military law specifically limits killing to situations of military necessity or to protect lives, and forbids the targeting of civilians. Further, under Article 1, Section 8.11 of the Constitution the authority to order an assassination or similar action is clearly reserved to Congress and not among the powers of the president. These restrictions apply to foreign citizens and should be observed even more strictly when US citizens are involved, as they should also be protected by the right of habeas corpus and the guarantees of the Bill of Rights.

The union is imperiled for many reasons and the tragedy of our age is that most of those threats now seem to originate in our own government and President Obama is the one of the chief authors of the policies which have put our nation in peril. He needs to be held accountable for the gross malfeasance of his administration and his own betrayal of his oath of office. The drone issue is just the latest of a long series of civil liberties abuses by this administration, but it must be addressed and repudiated or there should be serious talk of impeachment.

Tonight President Obama probably will not even speak the word “drone” hours after issuing the first authority for the assassination of a US citizen by drone within our borders. He will stick to fantasy plans and proposals and happy talk about his next union bailout or pet project to satisfy special interests.

I wish we had a Congress which demanded a dialog rather than passively accepting another empty speech. We’re past the point of politeness. I wish our representatives were like the British Parliament where members stand up and challenge their leaders. It would be refreshing and reassuring if one of our representatives – a Rand Paul or a Steve Stockmnan – were to stand up and look Obama in the eye and shout “shame” to demand an accounting for his abuses of power.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Dr Dreadful

    William Saletan in Slate this morning has an interesting and germane take on last night’s SOTU address.

  • Igor

    This is a dumb rhetorical question that accomplishes nothing.

  • Cindy

    Good question, Dave. Something we can never get enough reminding about. Give us something to ponder in between despising the guests on Maury or waiting for the commercial to end before ‘Housewives of Hoboken’ comes back on.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena?r= Irene Athena

    Obama taking responsibility? Heck no, then the DoD would have to give him one of those brand new “Distinguished Warfare” medals that Leon Panetta recently announced. The medal was specifically created for Drone Warriors, the Wizards of Os” (bones) behind their computer screen curtains. Not since the Bronze Star of 1944 has a new combat-related award been created. Well! About dang time.

  • Cindy

    Dave,

    I hope you will write an article on this:

    FAA seeks drone test sites as popularity increases

    Drones used to be for wars far from the United States, but they’re popping up closer to home.
    The Federal Aviation Administration forecasts some 10,000 civilian drones will be in use in the U.S. within five years, possibly used by police to fight crime and by oil companies to keep an eye on pipelines.
    Friday’s announcement from the FAA seeking proposals from cities, states and universities to create six test sites for unmanned aircraft systems is a step in that direction.
    The sites will help officials develop safety standards that will allow the government to fully integrate drones into national airspace by 2015.

    The drone industry [shockingly] says they make good economic sense.

    Brackets are mine.

  • John Lake

    It is hypocritical for us on the one hand to say in a preamble to our constitution that We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…while in fact deeming these rights to be God given only to American Citizens in good standing. The long standing understanding that those captured in battle, fighting for our enemies for anti-American causes have no such rights was wrong at its inception, and is still wrong. They can be held uncharged, tortured, and here in the 21st century, we are leaning toward a belief they can be at some military man’s option, killed. In fact at that man’s option, innocent or less that innocent bystanders can also be killed. The simple reason for this allowance; drones don’t have the capacity to single out individuals, nor to take prisoners. We save millions of dollars, we save American lives, and we ignore the precepts on which we were founded. It’s an old and still unresolved issue: If the death of one innocent man could save countless lives, is that death warranted. Is it now true that the good of the masses takes precedent to the good of the individual? Some decisions should be made. A declaration that drones, as they now are, can kill arbitrarily is not in keeping with our belief that we are a free and democratic people.
    We stand and watch as our society deteriorates, and that’s wrong. Social media is about to go belly up, interest is declining daily. We need to reaffirm the positions started by the young in the short occupy movement. We still need to eliminate profit incentive from the motivation of politicians, and lawmakers.
    The simple solution would seem to be that the drones must show some improvement, and/or be supported on the ground. And my friend, the idea that a drone pilot in an air-conditioned location, sipping coffee, deserves a medal is insulting to every military man who ever served.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena?r= Irene Athena

    Which of your friends here said drone pilots deserved medals?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena?r= Irene Athena

    Drones are creepy.

  • John Lake

    I am responding not only to my colleagues (yourself included) here at BC, but also to the various breaking news stories that are so very relevant. I am taking interest in the highly technical writing of some of those here, and someday may even become “scholarly.”

  • John Lake

    The silver ones aren’t awfully creepy. Tanks are creepy. Submarines are a little bit creepy.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    No, not creepy – terrifying, sure, but not creepy.

  • Clav

    The silence emanating from the Left on the drone issue is telling.

    The Left delights in accusing the Right of opposing Obama irrationally, indiscriminately and solely for partisan reasons, and yet, as Dave points out, here we have an Obama program that truly calls into question our adherence to our own principles as expressed in the Constitution, and no one on the Left appears to be paying attention, much less calling Mr. Obama to account.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Telling? No, not really, just human nature. A policy you’re harshly critical of when the opposition party occupies the Big Mansion suddenly becomes less of a big deal when it’s your guy doing it – simply because you trust your guy more.

    It cuts both ways. A lot of those on the Right – Dave included – who are up in arms about drones now weren’t the slightest bit concerned when the Bush admin was pursuing similarly Orwellian schemes.

    And there has been some pushback from the Left anyway, notably from HuffPo and from Slate.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I’m more of a lefty than a righty, if only because those righties are such bossy little fucks , but outside of a formal war context, I think that killing anybody without due process is totally unacceptable.

    Obama’s administration is just as culpable as Bush’s in this regard and in many ways even more unacceptable.

  • roger nowosielski

    “Sen. Graham Reveals Toll of 4,700 in U.S. Drone War

    Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has revealed what he says is the death toll in the U.S. drone war overseas. At a speech in South Carolina Wednesday night, Graham said: “We’ve killed 4,700. Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of al-Qaeda.” Graham’s comments mark the first time a U.S. official has offered a figure for those killed in nearly a decade of U.S. drone strikes abroad. The 4,700 figure matches the high end of an estimate by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has extensively covered the strikes and faced a concerted U.S. government effort to discredit its work.”

    source – Democracy Now!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    Obama’s administration is just as culpable as Bush’s in this regard and in many ways even more unacceptable.

    If only because he’s an intelligent man who does know better. It’s said that rare is the person who, once given power, will willingly give up that power. And even if Obama were somehow perfectly reasonable in every use of this power, said power will be passed to the next president – who might be a right-wing whacko. Imagine Michelle Bachmann with the authority to kill Americans without trial! She’s an extremely unlikely scenario, but think back to Nixon.

    I defended his use of drones against the American jihadist in Yemen – but making this into a legal precedent is every bit as foolish and stupid as John Yoo’s excuses that Bush used to justify torture.