Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The topic of drones has hi-jacked the conversation we should be having

In response to 9/11, the Bush administration declared a war on terror. Many people - including the Obama administration - pointed out both the danger and the error of that response by suggesting that it was ridiculous to declare war on a tactic. President Obama refocused it as a war on the people who attacked us on 9/11 - al Qaeda.

What has been disheartening is to watch too many on the left make exactly the same mistake by focusing on drones as the tactic used in the war on al Qaeda. I believe that if we had focused instead on ending the war - and repealing the 2001 AUMF that authorized it - we'd be having a completely different conversation today.

As an example, there was a fair amount of discussion yesterday about the recent Gallup poll with regards to the use of drones.

As Adam Serwer points out, however:
Although most of the debate over targeted killing has focused on drones, the survey is of limited usefulness because it focuses on the method of killing rather than the authority to kill.
Exactly! The debate has focused on drones because that's what too many on the left have wrongly made the issue. It's what allowed Sen. Rand Paul to hi-jack it into the ridiculous question of whether or not the President thought he was authorized to use drones on American citizens in the U.S. who were "not engaged in combat." As if that wasn't bad enough, some of these very same people jumped on the #StandwithRand bandwagon and further distorted the conversation. Enter Gallup with this stupid question to further distract us from the question at hand.

Let me break it down for you one more time. The 2001 AUMF is what gave the President the authority to kill.
...the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
As long as that law stands, the authority will continue - regardless of the tactic. That is the argument made by both Attorney General Eric Holder and the white paper on the topic released by the White House. We can disagree with the case they've made, but what we can't do is either suggest they haven't made one or try to change the subject to talk about tactics - at least not if we have any interest in actually ending the authority for targeted killing.

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