Fatal drone strike on American citizen sparks controversy
US govt. needs to establish clear definitions as to what constitutes as justified drone attack
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 16:02
A recently leaked memo concerning the country’s use of drone warfare from the United States Justice Department has sparked a considerable amount of controversy within the American public sphere. Written in 2011, the memo reveals a past drone strike that successfully targeted and killed Anwar Al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen living in Yemen and who was allegedly associated with Al-Qaeda. Throughout the entire war on terror, the United States government has strongly advocated for and utilized drone technology in various counterterrorism measures. While the popular belief seemingly accepts the use of drones as a necessary evil in modern wardare, the fact that the U.S. government uses them to target known American citizens is a violation of basic our constitutional rights.
The leaked memo reminds people of the issues surrounding drone use. According to the constitution, all U.S. citizens are guaranteed the due process of law. If the U.S. government was so certain of Al-Awlaki’s affiliation with a terrorist organization, why did they kill him before subjecting him to the court system? We can assume the government’s justification for killing Al-Awlaki is because he was a terrorist, but does that strip him of his civil rights?
The underlying issue lies with the seemingly endless power of President Barack Obama’s administration concerning drone strikes. Many of the decisions to strike are left almost completely up to the discretion of Obama and high-ranking officials, often in classified operations, without the influence or approval of other parties. Also, the U.S. military is expanding loosely defined terms such as “clear and present” or “imminent danger,” in order to justify drone strikes. The public isn’t afforded any explanation about the continuously changing terminology and, therefore, is unable to know what standards are upheld concerning military warfare. In order to retain transparency as well as achieve ethical standards of military action abroad, the terms being used to decide on drone strikes should be clearly defined and explained to Obama’s constituents.