National Commentary

Drone Disregard For Due Process

No matter what the political intent of this week’s leak of a Justice Department white paper that spells out the U.S. policy for killing Americans suspected of associations with al Qaeda, it was an important public service.

The leak comes on the eve of confirmation hearings for John O. Brennan as Obama’s nominee for director of the CIA. Brennan has been a top counterterrorism adviser to Obama who, according to one lawmaker, is the “architect of counterterrorism policy” for Obama.

The 16-page white paper, first reported by NBC News Tuesday, condones the targeting of drone attacks against U.S. citizens believed to be involved in al Qaeda operations, even when the citizen is not engaged in a specific terrorist operation directed against the U.S.

This confirms the worst fears of all those who hold that adherence to “due process” in our justice system is vital to protecting the national interest.

Secret documents that condone the murder of U.S. citizens without at least establishing legal grounds under U.S. law represent the ultimate “slippery slope” toward lawless tyranny in this land.

The ultimate weapon for the U.S. in a complicated world is by far the good relations and mutual respect the U.S. can establish, beginning with its allies but extending as far as possible to subsume every political entity on the planet.

Good will is a much more potent tool for maintaining peace and the security of American citizens that a blind robot with no respect for anyone’s national sovereignty indiscriminately raining down death on its targets, many of which include civilian populations.

The George W. Bush administration did more to annihilate positive U.S. relations in the world in eight short years than at any time since the U.S. became a global player in the 19th century. It did it by embracing the policies of the so-called Project for a New American Century, a coven of neo-conservatives including Bush’s brother Jeb, that has espoused “American exceptionalism” and was the mastermind of the genocidal, unprovoked U.S. invasion of Iraq a decade ago.

It set in motion the conditions for a perpetual state of war for the U.S., which is what we now have.

In conjunction with this policy, acting on the self-interests of the nation’s “military and industrial complex,” there has been a steady slide away from public transparency in military matters that dates back to the Vietnam War.

As MSNBC TV news anchor Rachel Maddow documented well in her recent book, Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, the scions of the nation’s war making machine have sought consistently to separate their murderous adventures from the eyes of the American people, first, and their elected officials, second.

The Vietnam War marked the first time in the nation’s history that a mass American civilian population forced the outcome of a war. The anti-war movement became so pronounced by the early 1970s that an end to the conflict was veritably imposed on the military establishment.

Working to figure out how that would never happen again, the military establishment and its allies decided that the first big step was to end the universal draft.

In fact, one of the biggest inflection points in that war came in late June 1969, when Life magazine ignored the pleas of the U.S. military and dedicated its cover and 12 pages inside to high school yearbook-like portraits of 242 mostly 18-to-20 year old rosy cheeked boys who had been killed in just one week in the jungles of Vietnam. Something like that had never been done before, and it really drove home the horror of that war in the lives of average American households.

As a young graduate student, my opposition to the war was solidified by that magazine. Historians called it “a significant factor in reducing pro-war sentiment.”

Post-Vietnam U.S. military operations, including Grenada and the Iran-Contra affair, not only removed average households from the action, but were aimed at keeping Congress increasingly in the dark, as well.

As a result, this policy has created an ever-more hostile world for everyone, with a guaranteed perpetual war, thus including the threat of drone counterattacks against American citizens, unless U.S. policy is swiftly reversed.