Asking the Wrong Question: Targeted Assassination of American Citizens

All of the noise about the “President’s kill list” and the freaking out about the assassination of Americans by our own government?  It strikes me as our uniquely American bent toward litigiousness – or at least the over-lawyering that pervades so much of our lives.  And not surprisingly, it completely misses the point.

You see, I don’t care whether the people we’re targeting in drone strikes are American citizens. 

Nobody should. That question – which is what has everyone wringing their hands – is completely irrelevant.  If someone is engaging in armed hostility against the US, their citizenship doesn’t matter.  It shouldn’t matter to troops in the field or government officials.  These citizens should be treated just like any other enemy combatant.  Shot at, captured, assassinated, whatever the dictates of combat require – and all without regard to citizenship.

Now, there are some more relevant questions raised by this whole exercise, like:

  • Should we be engaging in targeted executions at all?
  • What level of decision-making is required to do so?
  • How do we determine which entities we are “at war” with?

These are the things to be concerned with – and it’s a very fair question to ask whether we’ve gone too far, and ceded too much power to the executive, in pursuit of the “global war on terror.”  

But the type of passport held by the targets of our drone strikes?  We’re missing the forest for the trees if we’re worried about that.   

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