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It's a Gray Area: Drone attacks are undermining U.S. security worldwide

March 09, 2013|By James P. Gray

The soul of the United States of America is our freedoms and liberties, and our soul is now under attack by our own government. I understand that the pressure on any president to keep us safe during his watch must be crushing. So for that reason, I don't get upset with a president who attempts to increase his power to keep us secure, frequently at the cost of our precious civil liberties and freedoms. Instead I get upset with Congress and the courts for allowing this to happen.

One of the examples of this attack on our freedoms is the increasing use by our government of drones or unmanned airplanes in the skies over our country to surveil our people. In fact, the Saturday before the Republican National Convention in Tampa, the local newspaper contained a front-page story saying that the Obama administration had announced that it would not fly drones over that city during the convention.

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In other words, it is safe to assume that this has become a standard practice, which is another large step toward us becoming a police state. Yes, if someone is in public that implies that person's consent to be seen and even to be surveilled, but to have this done on a programmed and regular basis by the government is simply inconsistent with our freedoms of travel and association. As such, no one should be surveilled by a drone without a judicial warrant.

Similarly, for several years, our government has been increasing the use of drones in the skies of Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan to shoot at and kill "enemy combatants," even including American citizens. There is certainly a strong argument that, since there is no indictment against them, much less a trial and jury, we are depriving those citizens of their lives without the due process of law under the Fifth Amendment.

Regardless of how our actions are affecting our citizens, let's also conduct a practical analysis of the effects our actions have had worldwide. The estimates are that our drone-strike assassinations have already killed more than 2,000 people in those three countries.

Without a doubt, some of those killed were at least planning in some fashion to attack America and Americans. But many were also people who simply happened to be close by. Our government refers to those deaths as "collateral damage."

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