Columns / Discourse / May 29, 2013

Challenging drone wars: A presidency above the law

There are many troubling developments from the Obama administration. Some recent scandals include the IRS applying extra scrutiny on conservative groups that sought tax-exempt status. Another is the administration omitting any mention of terrorism in the September 11, 2011, Benghazi talking points. The Obama administration additionally denied that the U.S. Embassy in Libya failed to ask for additional security personnel. Last, but not least, is the wiretapping of phones from reporters and editors of The Associated Press. This is in addition to Fox News reporter, James Rosen, whose parents’ and personal phones were wiretapped.

Add another controversy: the killings of four American citizens.

The Department of Justice released a report that announced the use of drone strikes on four Americans. As Attorney General Eric Holder stated, the U.S. government only uses drone strikes on individuals that pose an “imminent threat” to the U.S.

When it comes to the killing of American citizens, a terrorist needs to be a “senior operational leader of al-Qaeda or its associated forces, who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans.” Holder contends that the government can only carry out drone strikes on individuals that cannot be captured.

Anwar al-Awlaki, Samir Khan, Jude Kenan Mohammad and Abdlrahman al-Awlaki were all alleged terrorists. And, there is no doubt in my mind, that these individuals did pose an imminent threat. Some were involved in promoting bomb-making propaganda, assisting in al-Qaeda’s leadership or engaging in combat.

We are engaged in war, after all. The government has a right to eliminate threats to the U.S. As Article II of the U.S. Constitution delegates, all power lies within the executive power. I do not believe that the U.S. is in the business of killing innocent people. That would be far too cynical, even ludicrous. However, there needs to be more clarity behind drone strikes. There needs to be a clear step-by-step report of how drone strikes are conducted.

For example, who delivers the order? Is the president involved at all? How long does it take for the White House to send a report to Congress telling legislators who died and why? Is any evidence presented to other branches of government?

Does a judge or jury give the White House permission? These are legitimate questions.

President Obama shows that his administration is above the law. Killing American citizens paints the illusion that the government bypassed the law to condemn a terrorist to death. The killing of four terrorists is far from a scandal, but it can be seen as an abuse of power. That’s why about 31 percent of the American people question the legality of conducting drone strikes and 51 percent oppose the use of drone strikes against American citizens.

The issue lies in the lack of transparency from this administration. As legitimate as their intentions may be, the American people are growing more and more weary of this White House. When you have journalist and Watergate pioneer Bob Woodward claiming that the Obama administration has some “Nixonian” characteristics, that’s a problem.

All the scandals, along with drone strikes, as unrelated as they may be, force the American people to think twice about the White House and further government skepticism.

As the Founders believed, we need a strong, energetic executive, one that respects the limits and fosters trust with the people. That’s a healthy government, and that’s the kind we are missing today.

Alex Uzarowicz
Alex Uzarowicz has been a weekly conservative political columnist for The Knox Student for three years. He also writes for The College Conservative. Alex will graduate in June 2013 with a degree in political science, after which he will head abroad to begin his Peace Corps service.

Tags:  cabinet commander in chief drone grant of power legislation Military Force Act obama

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