The Free Press, Mankato, MN


February 23, 2013

Our View: Drone policy needs stricter oversight


The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that “No person shall be … deprived of life … without due process of law.” Proponents of the administration’s policy argue that the “war on terror” is unique and demands different rules in order to keep America safe. This is a slippery slope at best and at worst is morally inconsistent with our values as a democracy.

Pressure rose to end the Vietnam War grew when America learned of the ever-rising body count. The profound sadness of seeing flag-draped coffins arrive back home sparked outrage and demands for accountability. Today, with the use of drones, there are no such images — at least not at home. It has made it much easier to wage war on faceless people and even ignore the collateral damage to foreign civilians that inevitably occurs.

Drones allow the administration to wage a shadow war with casualty numbers hidden and now even bypassing our own rules and laws of due process in the killing of some of our own citizens. This is too much power in the hands of any president.

Any policy that authorizes the administration to kill anyone — even in war — should require accountability. Congress passed the War Powers Resolution following the Vietnam War to establish procedures by which the president and Congress would follow before introducing troops abroad to armed conflicts.

The intention was to ensure there were safeguards and oversight in place before committing ourselves to war. Lawmakers must honor that intent — even if troops are not involved. We are a nation of laws. Transparency and shared approval of America’s commitment needs tremendous vetting before initiating policy, especially now that we have video game-like technology that “sanitizes” the ability to wage war.

We have made killing much too easy and that requires significantly more accountability.

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