From my friends at the ACLU: Help the ACLU of Minnesota protect civil liberties
Ask the hard questions about the government’s secret killing program.
On Tuesday, April 23, the Senate will hold its first-ever hearing on drones and the targeted killing program in which an estimated 4,700 people across two continents have been killed, including four American citizens. Please send Senator Franken a clear, strong message that you are watching and are expecting him to ask the hard questions about the government’s secret killing program. And, on Tuesday at 10 am, you can tune in to the hearing here.
Here’s the letter I sent to Senator Franken; part of it is form letter that the ACLU provided. The parallel drawn between viewing bin laden’s 9/11 airplanes as manned aerial vehicles and viewing drones as unmanned aerial vehicles is my own.
Dear Senator Franken,
I am thrilled that the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee is about to hold its first-ever hearing on drones and the killing program that has killed an estimated 4,700 people across two continents, including four American citizens. I am grateful to the many Senators who have been calling on the Obama administration to release its legal memos on when it believes any president can order the Pentagon and the CIA to kill people far from any battlefield.
Terrorists are supposed to be the ones who execute people they determine to be criminals without the charging of the accused with a crime, without affording them a jury trial, and without obtaining a guilty verdict first. Not the United States.Whether terrorists orchestrate flying manned aerial vehicles (airplanes) into buildings in order to execute people they believe to be guilty or our government orchestrates flying unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) into sovereign airspace in order to execute people it believes to be guilty, the result is the same: the violation of the longstanding principles of the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof, and due process via jury trials in courtrooms where evidence of premeditation and guilt are presented. When bin laden’s attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 led to the onset of the War on Terror, he was attempting to achieve the eventual financial destruction of our country. He didn’t succeed. Let his legacy not be the destruction of our 5th Amendment and due process in a court of law. Let bin laden’s legacy not be the destruction of what President Obama called in 2009 our strongest currency in the world, our moral authority.
Ordering the execution of human beings without charge or trial is what bin laden would have done — and did do. Targeted killing via the usage of drones is not only unconstitutional, immoral and unjust, it’s what terrorists would do.
While some senators have seen a handful of the eleven legal memos, it is imperative that all of the memos be available to all members of Congress and that minimally redacted copies be made public. And it is paramount that the Senate Judiciary Committee, the committee charged with enforcing the rule of law, conduct robust oversight of the killing program. I will be watching the hearing on Tuesday, and I want to hear you ask hard questions and demand clear answers about when the administration claims broad authority to kill people, including American citizens, far from any battlefield.
The Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden tells Esquire that he was thanked by the Federal Government for his 16 years of service and has now essentially been informed that, to paraphrase the President in an ironic way, “You’re on your own.”
If this is really true, it’s really horrifying and makes me sad. Let’s remember to extend the benefit of the doubt here (remember, the benefit of the doubt — the doubt of someone’s guilt until there’s proof of it beyond a shadow of a doubt — along with the presumption of their innocence are two of the most patriotic ideals we could ever uphold as Americans and as American Millennials who will eventually be predominant representative generation of our country to the world). And, if this degree of injustice really happened, which we can only know for certain once the evidence is out and available for full examination, let’s remember to request that the government make amends and do the right thing, a.k.a., petition it/them/ourselves for a redress of grievances (see the First Amendment).