Drone Strikes are Like Cigarettes

drone strikesEvery now and again, a topic comes up that even liberals can’t agree on. For example: Seth McFarlane hosting the “Oscars”. I found him to be true to form and a refreshing change to the stuffy Oscars of years past… but some of my Liberal cohorts found him to be disgusting and offensive. There’s another much more serious topic that Liberals can’t seem to agree on… Drone Strikes on U.S. Citizens. It’s an understandable debate, killing Americans without a trial is a disturbing concept. But Liberals don’t like terrorists either, so it’s understandable as well that some of us “lefties” think these drone strikes are fine.

First of all, I don’t understand the fixation on drones killing people. Drones are not A.I. robots sent from the future. They’re just another tool of the military that are controlled by real life people. It’s no different than launching a missile, pulling the trigger, or flying the plane yourself. This debate should be about the government’s ability to kill you by any means, but for some reason it has fixated on drones, so I’ll go with that…

Let’s first talk about drone strikes abroad. Ever since 3 Americans were killed in Yemen by targeted drone strikes, Liberals have been outraged over the concept of killing a U.S. citizen without a trial. That’s an understandable reaction to have, even if you discount the “patriot act” and other steps the government took after 9-11 to declare “war” on terrorists and strip you of your rights. After all, these “Americans” weren’t just attending an Al Qaeda social mixer; they were deeply involved in recent terrorist attacks against the US. So you & I will never be attacked by a drone while we’re back packing in Europe, unless you go to a known “hot spot” and join a terrorist group. At that point, you’ve gone out of your way to put yourself in the line of fire and the blame for whatever happens next lies solely with you. This is where drone strikes are like cigarettes… The U.S. government has made it very clear that smoking can lead to death or serious injury. They print a warning about that on every package of smokes, but they don’t ban cigarettes. Why? Because this is America and you have the right to be stupid. If you ignore those warnings, you could make the case the government killed you since they knew the consequences and let you do it anyway. Same thing with Drones… the government has made it very clear that leaving American soil and joining up with a terrorist group can lead to death or serious injury. But if you want to do that, despite the warnings, you’re more than welcome too. This is where “personal responsibility” trumps your rights because YOU chose to put yourself in harm’s way. So if you don’t want to get lung cancer, don’t smoke. If you don’t want to end up a smoking pile of ash yourself, don’t become an enemy combatant on foreign soil.

This bring us to part 2 of the drone debate… killing U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. Recently, Attorney General Eric Holder said that there could theoretically be a scenario where an American could be killed by a drone while still in the country. This caused all sorts of people to freak out and seek shelter. Most notably was tea party favorite Rand Paul and his 13 hour filibuster to block the nomination of John Brennan to be C.I.A. Director because of Holder’s drone comments. While I give Senator Paul credit for the old school filibuster, he loses a ton of points for completely overreacting and using this to steal the spotlight for those 13 hours and beyond. The question was actually raised as to whether or not Obama could order a drone strike on a citizen while sitting at a café. This “sky is falling” mentality is wrong and embarrassing. Ironically, if the situation ever came up where we needed to use a drone to kill U.S. citizens, most people would end up cheering for it. That’s because it would probably be used in a “24” or “mission impossible” style scenario where we have to kill a bad guy to save innocent lives. Allow me to try my hand at writing for Hollywood… Picture a fictitious scenario where a bad guy (a U.S. Citizen) is driving a truck full of explosives to a remote nuclear storage facility. If he makes it there and detonates the bomb, the nuclear fallout would kill thousands and destroy part of our country for generations. We have to stop him before he gets close enough and a drone is the only thing that could get there in time (based on intel from a Jack Bauer-type). So do we blow him up even though we haven’t read him his rights? Of course we do and you’d cheer for it! This scenario might make for a good ending to a movie, but there is another scenario that is much more plausible and nothing to cheer about… think about September 11th 2001. Planes full of U.S. citizens headed to kill large numbers of people in major metropolitan areas. The Bush White House ordered those planes to be shot down, even though it would be killing the Americans onboard. They didn’t end up having to do that, but the order was given. They had to pursue that option as sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (yes, that was a Spock quote). It’s a terrible scenario, but one that has to be considered. We don’t want to think about that, but this is the type of nightmare scenario Eric Holder was referring too and he was right to say it’s possible. Of course, Rand Paul didn’t want to think about it logically, he just saw an opportunity to advance himself and add to the “boogie man” mythology of President Obama. The proof came 24 hours after his filibuster when he received a letter from the Attorney General explaining that no U.S. citizen could ever be killed at the order of the President, unless they’re a military combatant at the time. In that scenario, the President can use whatever means necessary to protect innocent lives. To which Rand Paul responded: “I’m quite happy with that answer”. And he should be, it’s a reasonable answer. Plus, if he was correct in the first place, surely Obama would have taken him out with a Drone. But he didn’t and Rand Paul ended up voting to confirm Brennan.

So feel free to go about your daily routine without the fear that Obama will send a drone to kill you while you’re waiting for your latte. This program will always be closely watched and any President caught abusing it would be held accountable. This is not an example of government overreach, simply the continuation of our country using the latest and greatest t gadgets to keep us safe. You can cheer for it later.

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