I’m pretty much “all-in” when it comes to obtaining information about people hell bent on killing others. Yes, I struggle a bit in accepting that Big Brother is probably dialed in to my emails and phone calls and how that affects my Right to Privacy, and just where the line should be drawn on protecting Constitutional personal freedoms and privacy. To me intense interrogations of captured terrorists is not only OK, they are necessary so as to stop terrorist killing sprees around the World. I’m even open to water boarding (which has been done in multiple societies for hundreds of years) under carefully crafted and monitored and documented procedures. The key reason for any of this para-military intelligence must be to stop indiscriminate killing of people and outright murders.
The “new” type of war in the World necessitates new strategies in fighting those wars. In World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam the U.S. had identifiable foes within geographical boundaries with Congressional Constitutional declared wars that came with a bounty of laws, rules, regulations, and procedures on how to conduct such actions. In the “new” war we face opponents not bound by geography, languages, cultures, and varying ideologies. That makes it impossible to declare war, operate military operations against a geographical region and/or government within specific laws, rules, and guidelines. ISIS is everywhere as are other radical terrorists whose terror has no boundaries or geographical limits. Be that as it may, we STILL need to protect American citizens against all foes, domestic and international from attacks on person and country. How do we make that adjustment?
I’m not a politician or a military or intelligence expert. But what I do know is we do not currently have a set of laws, military and intelligence guidelines or procedures that are sufficient to legally, morally, and ethically take on the international and domestic radical jihadist foes we are confronting today. And because of that void, our government has deferred to a patchwork of opinions, ideas, and philosophies from multiple sources that are being used, even still in the Trump Administration. They are NOT working and are not working for multiple reasons. It was obvious President Obama did not accept the advice of the Joint Chiefs and the then directors of the CIA and FBI. It is also obvious that not having a carefully crafted plan in place complete with analysis of the enemies, the danger those enemies present, the options available to counter, and a cohesive plan developed from these elements places the US in a very fragile and vulnerable position. In this environment, the Nation is a sitting duck for a major jihadist attack that could dwarf that of 9/11 and the recent attacks in London, Paris, Manchester, and elsewhere overseas.
None of what I have shared above is new – at least not to me. But what IS new are my growing concerns of the legality of tactics that have been and are being used by this government to randomly take on our enemies. No U.S. official – not even this president – has any authority to wage military attacks on U.S. foes – either covertly or overtly – without doing so within the law. Example: by what authority did President Obama authorize a drone attack that killed Anwar al-Awlaki — a United States citizen — in Yemen? Yes, he was a terrorist, a jihadist, a bad guy who had more than once initiated attacks through others against the U.S. But his death-by-drone was the first time since the Civil War that the U.S. government purposefully killed an American citizen that had not been charged, tried, and/or convicted of a crime, and had (as far as I know) not even broken a law. Don’t take this as my feeling that al-Awlaki should be alive today or that we should have coddled him or not pursued him or let him continue in terrorism. BUT THERE ARE NO LAWS WRITTEN THAT DEAL WITH SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES. And that’s just one example of how the U.S. government in the Obama Administration unilaterally made life and death decisions with no legal authority (in this case and others) and no consultation with the Peoples’ representatives. They did so without consideration of the Constitution, U.S. laws, or even with consideration of what repercussions may come from those actions. President Obama initiated dozens (if not hundreds) of similar drone strikes that have certainly killed bad guys, but in doing so have also killed dozens (if not hundreds) of innocent men, women, and children who happen to be “in the vicinity” of those drone strikes. By what legal authority have these people been killed? Many liberals cry about the violations of refugees’ rights afforded them by the Constitution, even though U.S. Constitutional rights are for American Citizens. I hear no cries about drone strikes that have killed many mostly foreign people without any charges against them. And one of them was an American killed as ordered by President Obama. To my knowledge no American has since Obama been killed by drone strikes overseas, but those strikes continue under this Administration and people have been killed in those strikes — hopefully jihadists and not innocent people. The problem is: we do not know if that is true.
Certainly the revelations recently about the illegal surveillance and unmasking of American citizens by the NSA and others in the Intelligence Community shines some new light on this critical issue for every American. But any justified furor over the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) erosion of the personal rights detailed in the Constitution that were empirical reasons for our forefathers to come to North America and establish the United States is lost in the political noise in Washington D.C. Political expedience and political correctness are overshadowing the sacred responsibility of our government: to protect Americans. Unilaterally monitoring a phone call, intercepting texts and/or emails, and sharing information derived with anyone is a vicious and unconstitutional violation of Americans’ rights. Congress MUST take action. George Orwell was not very far off when he penned 1984. Big Brother is here and is running amuck while trampling on American rights.
Regarding unilateral actions of the government in addition to those of privacy, the bottom line for me is this: even Bush 43 went to Congress for authority to attack Iraq. We could spend all day discussing whether we should have or should not have, but that’s not at issue in this discussion. Because international and domestic wars have changed so much, our leaders should as quickly as possible draft a strategic plan with detailed procedures on how to operate in the current jihadist environment, craft laws that pertain to this environment, pass those laws in a Congressional open forum, and put them in place. To not do so will continue the wanton killing of whoever is the “jihadist of the day” that U.S. officials (including the president) decide needs to be killed.
One more thing: to allow the current process to continue only gives credence to its continuing as a viable option. And as an American, I do not want any politician having the right to kill me without any criminal charges, trial, and verdict that legally gives them the right to do so. Nor do I want someone listening in to my telephone calls or reading my emails unless the authority to do so was obtained through a thorough and evidenced judicial process. Anything other than this is anti-American and must be stopped.