Does Boston Prove We Need To Allow Targeted Drone Strikes On Americans?

People are funny when it comes to principles. We’ll say that we’re opposed to something on principle, but then when something bad happens, we want instant gratification and abandonment of any principles we thought we held.

We might say that we’re opposed to the Obama administration using drones to strike those that the government has labeled domestic terrorists or “enemy combatants,” because we know that the government’s definition of terrorist is so vague that anyone can fall into that category. When the Tsarnaev brothers were on the loose, most people just wanted them both dead instantly. Forget about a jury trial or evidence. Don’t even worry about detaining them. Just kill them. So, wouldn’t it have been nice to have a drone searching for them, and once the drone operator located them, taken them out with a hellfire missile? They’re the terrorists, and everyone knows it.

Well, we don’t know it. We have some grainy surveillance footage bits and some pictures, but other than that, there isn’t much else that ties these two to the Boston bombings. All we know is what we’re fed by the media, and all they know is what they’re fed by the FBI. At a press conference, the FBI head pointed to some pictures of the suspects, and said that those were the only pictures that people needed to pay attention to, and nothing else. And it was also at that press conference that the FBI head flat out refused to answer a question about the training exercise that some eyewitnesses reported going on prior to the race.

I’m not saying the Tsarnaev brothers weren’t the ones that did it. We just need more than circumstantial evidence to prove it. Was there a “training exercise” going on? Did the feds receive a tip about the bombing? Were the two brothers acting by themselves or with others? Was this an FBI sting operation that went awry to the point that they couldn’t stop it? Were the Tsarnaev brothers double agents that “turned?” These are important questions that need to be answered, but neither the media nor law enforcement are interested in answering them. They just want us to shut up and accept whatever it is they’re telling us.

And yet, after all this uncertainty, people wish that these two “suspects” had been taken out with a predator drone? A Constitutional “expert” said as much when testifying a couple days ago before a Senate committee that was considering the implications of targeting Americans with assassination:

 “I think it’s not inherently illegal to target American citizens so long as American citizens are also combatants in a relevant war. Sometimes U.S. citizens can be classified as enemy combatants… It’s not important [what technology we’re using], what matters is we’re choosing the right target. If we’re choosing the right target then we should use the appropriate weapons, we’d be wrong to ban specific technology.”

 Would you be in favor of that if you were the one being targeted by the FBI for allegedly committing a terrorist attack? Wouldn’t you at least want to see the evidence against you first and have a jury trial before you became a “bug splat?”

But see, the problem is, we’re fighting a war on terror, so anything goes. Once they declare something to be “terrorism,” they pull out all the stops to hunt you, the “enemy combatant” down and kill you if possible. And if they ended up using a predator drone and killing many other innocent bystanders in the process, well that’s “collateral damage.” They’ll even kill innocent people in order to keep innocent people safe from terrorism.

Even Rand “drone filibuster” Paul got himself in hot water for suggesting that he’s changed his opinion on drones since the Boston bombings. His concern during his 13-hour filibuster was that Americans could be targeted on U.S. soil for assassination by drones, and he wanted a straight answer from the administration as to whether or not that’s going to happen.

Well, now here we are. We’re no longer talking about targeting foreign suspects halfway around the globe. Nor are we talking about American citizens halfway around the globe. Now, we have two Americans that allegedly detonated explosives on U.S. soil, which constitutes a terrorist attack, making those involved “enemy combatants.” Does that mean we can just kill who we think are the suspects with drones?

On Tuesday, Senator Paul told Neil Cavuto:

“I’ve never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an active crime going on. If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and fifty dollars in cash … I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.”

That statement caused a backlash among his supporters, and Paul had to issue a statement clearing things up, stating that his position on drones has not changed:

 “Armed drones should not be used in normal crime situations. They may only be considered in extraordinary, lethal situations where there is an ongoing, imminent threat. I described that scenario previously during my Senate filibuster. Additionally, surveillance drones should only be used with warrants and specific targets. Fighting terrorism and capturing terrorists must be done while preserving our constitutional protections. This was demonstrated last week in Boston. As we all seek to prevent future tragedies, we must continue to bear this in mind.”

 The Boston bombing is going to be used to justify all sorts of things, and with the proper scare tactics we find in the media, American viewers will likely come to justify targeted killings in America. For now, they’re using easy targets:  Muslim terrorists.

But what if the next terrorist attack is committed by some white guy with “ties” to the Tea Party movement? Then would these more conservative drone strike apologists still support targeted assassinations with no regard to eyewitnesses, evidence, charges and trial by jury? People are funny when it comes to principles.