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Debunking the Ridiculous Rhetoric that Obama is an Assassin Who Targets Innocent Americans
If Americans were queried about their vision of ideal government in a dangerous world where America was not adored by all, there would be as many different responses as there are people depending on their worldview and political ideology, but reasonably they would break down into a few groups. Conservatives would relish oligarchy with the masses toiling to fund global military conquest to impose corporate dominance over the entire world, and religious fundamentalists would imagine a population bound by biblical edict and enslaved to fund an onward Christian army to exterminate Islam in preparation for Christ’s Second Coming. Pragmatic liberals might dream of economic opportunity and civil rights for all with a powerful military to defend the homeland and, as a last resort, protect their interests from aggression abroad. Within the latter group is segment envisioning a world with no animosity toward America and no need for proactive military intervention to protect the homeland from enemies devoted to destroying Americans, and their rhetoric informs their naïveté.
Unfortunately, America does have enemies and although there is no need for corporate or religious imperialism and conquest, expecting this government to ignore imminent threats from abroad informs a worldview unattached from reality. The world is not, and will never be, inhabited by peace-loving people with adoration for all things American, and one would think the terrorist attacks on 911 and subsequent attempts by al-Qaeda affiliates would afford the government leeway to protect America and its people before known terrorists carry out attacks on America. The recent furor over the use of unmanned drones to kill known terrorists abroad is understandable on many levels, but the rhetoric being used by the President’s critics to portray him as an assassin is ridiculous on its face, and assumes a devious Presidential plot to kill innocent American citizens as if for sport, or as one malcontent claimed, “a person with a killing technology fetish.”
First and foremost, no reasonable American condones killing innocent civilians, Americans or foreigners, and there are no reasonable Americans driven by a killing fetish to deprive Americans of their due process; even murderers deserve a trial by a jury of the peers. However, to assume it is even possible to capture an al-Qaeda mastermind such as al-Awlaki in a country like Yemen, and give him due process with a jury of his peers, is absurd. Al-Awlaki was American born, but when he inspired the Fort Hood shooter and underwear bomber to kill innocent Americans, his civil liberties as an American citizen were forfeited, including “due process.” Even if al-Awlaki was captured in a foreign nation, would a jury of his peers be 12 Americans he vowed to kill, or 12 al-Qaeda operatives from Yemen where he took up residence, planned and directed the killings of innocent American citizens?
The legalities of targeted drone killings aside, it is the critics’ rhetoric that bears scrutiny. The people who conflate targeting killing of al-Qaida terrorists in foreign countries with “targeting American citizens” is tantamount to the NRA falsely claiming the President is coming to “take your guns,” or the religious right claiming mandatory contraception coverage is “trampling their religious freedoms.” Most reasonable Americans with a shred of humanity agree that any killing is bad, but there is a marked difference between “targeting American citizens” and killing al-Qaeda operatives posing an imminent threat to innocent Americans. Except for neo-conservatives and religious fundamentalists, no American condones indiscriminate killing of Muslims whether they are born in America or not, and yet the drone strikes have become President Obama’s unwarranted assassination of American citizens according to ideologues stuck in liberal purity-land.
It is a credit to America that there is even the possibility of having a discourse about using lethal force against al-Qaeda terrorists without due process, and Americans should be concerned about government engaging in targeted killing, but they should also be concerned that terrorist leaders can plan attacks on America and the President being powerless to take action against them because of due process, or their country of origin. Attorney General Eric Holder said, “We say that we only take these kinds of actions when there’s an imminent threat, when capture is not feasible and when we are confident we’re doing so in a way that’s consistent with the law,” and the fact the White House released legal arguments for using the drones to kill terrorists belies that the President is on an American citizen killing spree.
Americans, and especially those questioning the ethics of drone attacks, must be aware that the people planning to carry out attacks on America are bad people. The extremists who plan to kill innocent Americans have shown their penchant for creating as much death and destruction as possible out of religious fervor, and they are hell bent on killing Americans in great numbers. In 2009 there were three witnesses reporting that a nuclear mushroom cloud became Hezbollah’s banner symbol as they warned Israel “The mushroom cloud is on its way! The real Holocaust is on its way,” and regardless if they possess a nuclear device or not — yet, their goal is detonating one over Israel, or Manhattan. These are not reasonable people, and one hopes this government is monitoring them and seriously considering the use of lethal force to stop them at the first sign of an imminent attack regardless they are born in Lebanon, Yemen, or upstate New York.
This is a complex, emotional issue for all Americans, and yet there can be no reasonable debate on any level when a term like “targeting American citizens” is the primary talking point. One would hope that when intelligence about an impending attack reaches the highest levels of government, the last thing the men deciding to use lethal force take into account is whether or not the al-Qaida planner, or underwear bomber, is an American-born or Yemeni citizen. It is doubtful that the families of the three-thousand victims of 911 would be torn over President Bush ordering a drone strike on an American-born terrorist piloting one of the planes that flew into the Trade Towers, or President Obama ordering the killing of al-Awlaki before directing the Fort Hood shooter or underwear bomber over Detroit to commit acts of terror. No American knows what goes into the decision-making process leading to a targeted drone strike, except that it is not President Obama deliberately targeting American citizens for death, and it is pure folly to think terrorists will stop to reflect on whether their attack will kill innocent Muslims or Christians; they just kill Americans.
There is one other aspect those concerned about the so-called “killing of American citizens” seriously need to consider. When a terrorist who was fortunate enough to be born in America brings his son along and joins an extremist group and plans, directs, or intends to carry out a mass killing of American civilians, it is reasonable to assume they are no longer Americans, they are an imminent danger. Maybe in an idealistic Utopia they would surrender to law enforcement to receive their Constitutional right to due process, but this is the real world, and they pose a real threat, and one hopes the President takes real steps to stop them before they kill real Americans.