2014.02.17 Categories: politics, law Keywords: extra-judicial kill list, drones, Obama

Welcome to Burning House Earth

It is a very sad when the president of the most militantly powerful nation uses an extra-judicial kill list. The fact that this list has included US citizens is virtually irrelevant, as these are all human beings with a right to life and due process. Obama has said that it "[t]urns out I am really good at killing people".

Yes, but why is that something for him to brag about? We live in a world in which such a person can be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Has our planet become such a burning house?

Yet, the people of the United States do not, as a whole, appear to be very concerned about this. Ignorant people echo what they have been told: "This is war". But, many of the armed drone killings are in places like Somalia, where the United States is not at war. Also, the victims are often the young, the old or infirm, women, grandmothers, people socializing at home, participants in a wedding party or funeral, and others who have nothing to do with any militaristic action. They were targeted merely because of their cell phone metadata. However, metadata are unreliable at best and the use of metadata in such a manner violates the rights of free association and freedom of speech. No one should be found guilty merely by association.

The United States constitutional order is based on a vision of fundamental human rights, including freedom of association, freedom of speech, and right to life (or to judicial due process if that life is to be taken). The current US administration endeavors to hide behind the shallow lie that these natural rights belong only to US citizens, but this was not the vision of our own founding fathers, who saw natural rights as residing in the nature of the human animal itself, rather than existing merely by virtue of citizenship. Cicero said that even the wild beasts yearn to be free. That idea, having origins even in the ancient world, was neither new nor unique. The executive branch has no authority to change the fundamental nature of our constitutional order, yet this is what is happening when persons residing far away are assassinated, without due process, essentially because they exercised their fundamental human right to associate with whomever they choose, attend wedding parties, render assistance to injured persons, and/or to express their opinions with candor.

We are bound by our constitutional principles in our actions as a nation. Our rights do not belong only to ourselves. We have no authority to chill the speech and association or political activity of people half a world away any more than we would have the right to do so here at home, especially not through cowardly assassination via automaton. Obama's assassinations by extra-judicial kill list are apparently lawless.