Opinion: Drone strikes target God-given freedoms

Ava Gallagher

The federal government possesses no right assassinate its own citizens without due process.

A documented leaked to NBC last Tuesday shows that the executive branch has been granted full control to issue drone strikes against U.S. citizens who are suspected of having affiliations with al-Qaeda. The 16-page memo states that “in the department’s view, a lethal operation conducted against a US citizen whose conduct poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States would be a legitimate act of national self-defense that would not violate the assassination ban.” That is to say, any U.S. citizen (either domestic or living abroad) who is thought to be a terrorist can now be assassinated without a due process in court and without repercussions to the federal government. According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, “These strikes are legal, ethical, and wise.”

The United States has been using drones as an effective counter-terrorism plan since the days of George W. Bush. During President Obama’s tenure, the number of drones employed by the military and secret service agencies has risen by nearly 700%. And up until this point, these drones have done a good job protecting American interests and supporting freedom and democracy throughout the world. But drones are now beginning to see use domestically and against U.S. citizens, violating freedoms and rights formerly guaranteed by the government. What gives the executive branch the authority to issue a drone strike on an unsuspecting, legal U.S. citizen living in Yemen? If there is plausible enough cause to warrant a drone strike, why not simply detain the subject, bring them back to America, and give them a court hearing and sentence?

If the perpetrators are truly linked to al-Qaeda or other militant terrorist groups, why spend the money and military time to take them out when they could be brought back to the States, questioned, and given a proper sentence and a stay in the American prison system? Since the targets are U.S. citizens, they deserve to be tried as U.S. citizens.

A domestic criminal would not simply be shot by the police and laid to rest, but would instead go to court and receive the proper justice. This is the same situation, albeit with a different type of crime. Drone strikes foster enough resentment among non-Americans as it is, so there is no need to create even more anti-American sentiment throughout the world by using drone strikes on our own citizens. In fact, the act of assassinating a U.S. citizen without due process is purely unconstitutional and violates the rights which the Founding Fathers fought for in the 18th century. Many issues facing this country should be looked upon through the lens of Revolutionary ideals, and this situation is no different. The judicial and legislative branches are giving too much freedom and power to the executive branch, and that power is beginning to be exploited in ways that are unsafe to the general populace. The government needs to step back from this and return to protecting its citizens, not murdering them with drones.