(PROTONIUS, 09 March 2013, Updated 16 October 2013) — What happens to every American’s Constitutionally established freedoms, rights, and protections, which are supposed to insulate everyone in America (and indeed every American anywhere on Planet Earth) from EXTRAJUDICIAL SUMMARY EXECUTION by any element of the U.S. Government, when a U.S. President unilaterally GIVES HIMSELF — with or without Congressional backing and oversight — the alleged authority to send a Hellfire-missile-equipped unmanned aerial drone to hunt down and explode any person he wishes, American citizens included, anywhere in this world?
That’s the core-subject of my analysis below. Yet it’s it’s just a tiny fraction of, in my view, the increasingly vast panoply of freedom-destructive threats that are now coming into public view, right here at home, in the U.S., in our proverbial own back yard.
But even looking at this one component of those potential threats, what actually are we being faced with?
Drones. Drones that surveill. Drones that search. Drones that hunt. Drones that destroy. Drones that kill. And — thanks to all the reportedly massive data-tracking (including of GPS position-related data) of, seemingly, just about everybody, by certain Government agencies — drones that, whatever their mission, may well have the ability to go after their targets with hitherto uncanny precision.
In a battlefield scenario, drones can be essential to one side’s survival, the other side’s demise. Yet as of early 2011, thanks to the signing-into-law, by the man in the White House, of the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — plus his signing-into-law of similar versions of the NDAA in 2012 and 2013 –, the United States itself has also been officially, legislatively, categorized as a “battlefield“.
And So how are drones — which this Government has been pushing to be deployed in U.S. skies by the tens of thousands as soon as possible — to be used in this scenario?
And what are we, the public, to do about these developments?
Perhaps an important starting-point, from which to be able to generate practical answers, would be to explore exactly what the “drones situation” is and what, as it evolves, it may actually soon come to be.
And that’s my focus here.
Who am I? Well, I am not a military expert. nor am I affiliated with any political or economic sides of this issue, pro or con — but I do have something of a strong research-background, a strong interest in science/technology and politics, and I do, as well, have a strong commitment to the positive principles of freedom and rights as espoused in, among others, this nation’s most honored founding documents.
I’m a concerned American, my chosen “handle” is “Protonius”, and this “drones” issue is one that I believe should be of concern to us all. And I hope, with this blog, to be able to at least present — as accurately and objectively as I can — a solid informational basis upon which readers can build their own views of these issues.
Note: As with all my commentaries that I post here on my blog, the following is my statement of opinion and, to the best of my ability, of issues, facts and other such information that reputable sources also say are in play. I also have no affiliation, pro or con, with any person or agency referenced in this commentary.
And now, as a very different-minded U.S. President declared from the East Front of the Capitol on a snowy January 20, 1961 over a half-century ago, in proposing what he predicted could be a long and hard journey to a hopefully brighter future for us all, “Let us begin”:
DEATH FROM THE SKIES, FROM A CURRENT WHITE HOUSE OCCUPANT WHO SEEMS TO LIKE THE IDEA:
So now, under “extraordinary circumstances”, this Executive Branch — i.e., this President (and any future such President) — allegedly has the authority to authorize a “military” weaponized drone-strike — i.e., an “execution”, a “murder” some might say — of anyone anywhere on the planet, also including within the United States itself?
That seems to be the news that’s now coming out of the Obama Justice Department, as reported by much of news media at the moment. For example, see this HuffingtonPost item at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/05/us-drone-strike_n_2813857.html?utm_hp_ref=politics
That news, and more, regarding what some critics claim is really behind these developments – an actual, fast-emerging, and frighteningly-progressing danger to our Constitutional freedoms, they say – is also laid out in a hard-hitting analysis by NaturalNews.com’s Mike Adams at this URL: http://www.naturalnews.com/039391_drone_strikes_President_Obama_journalists.html
The underlying issue of the nexus between drones and our Constitutional rights was also the prime focus of U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s extensive March 6th filibuster on the floor of the United States Senate.
The C-SPAN video of Senator Paul’s filibuster is currently viewable, in its 13-hours-plus-entirety, at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/311354-1. I urge all who are interested in these issues – and who have the time – to personally view as much as possible of the Senator’s filibuster: it is, IMO, an outstanding call for redress regarding an extremely important — and urgent — issue relating to drones, the White House, the Constitution, and freedom itself.
Hear his presentation, listen to his warnings about the dangers of allowing this President (or anyone in power) to utilize “drones” (or, in essence, any similarly impactful means) in a way – particularly in a potentially deadly way – that, in the Senator’s view, overrides and negates the requirements and protections stipulated by the Constitution.
If you scroll further down in this, my blog, you’ll see an extensive article that I composed not too long ago (and recently updated) — titled “OF DRONES, TERRORISM, FREEDOM — AND LAZARUS” (Link: http://wp.me/11O0b) — which I urge you to read. In part, it’s about developments in drone-technology — and about the potential dangers that, critics say, may be posed to our freedoms, our Constitutional rights, even our survival, not only by the design and use of these airborne “drones” but also by the design and use of what I would classify as their increasingly sophisticated robotic “brethren”, some constructions of which are already being deployed — and many of which, IMO, are certain to play a role in shaping what our future may come to be.
“Drones”, as you may be aware, come in a wide variety of sizes, designs, capabilities, ranging from huge modern versions of the “blimp” — such as the Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) — to the airplane-size Hellfire/Sidewinder-missiles-equipped “Predator” and “Reaper”, to board-game-size hand-launched “Quadricopters”, to bird-like “hummingbird” drones, all the way down to the recently-announced development of flíght-capable swarms of tiny flight-capable “insect” drones (MAV’s, or “Micro-Aerial Vehicles”) – with, reportedly, various of these types of craft capable of being equipped to spy, exert “crowd control” measures – and even to kill.If you thought that “1984” or “SKYNET“, or some of the people-subjugating or life-threatening technologies that you may have seen in the classic film “Dune” or in the “Stargate” television series, were to be eternally confined to the realms of fiction, my advice to you is this: think again.
Think that the idea of wholly autonomous, self-decisionmaking, killer-drones — drones that can independently decide upon and hunt down their own choice of targets, is also limited to the worlds of fiction? Wrong again! DARPA — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — and various major defense/weapons corporations, are reportedly already seeking to develop drones and other military-robotics that will possess those capabilities.
Think too of this: Who is developing these technologies and devices? For what purpose? And who should have – or does have, or will have – authority over, control over, the capabilities with which these technologies and devices will be imbued, and the choosing of the targets toward which these technologies and devices will be applied?
I.e., what are these things for? What, or who, will be be in control of their use? And what, or who, will be the controllers’ choice of targets?
And how might those factors impact upon our rights, on our freedoms, on our lives — on us?
Certainly various “drone” and “robot” technologies have their valid uses that, arguably, rather than hinder our freedoms, might help advance them, such as in the context of a war-zone military operation, or crime prevention and other legitimate law enforcement operations, wilderness and dangerous-areas exploration, medical emergencies and rescue scenarios, to name just a few potentially positive, societally acceptable, uses.
But, as with probably any technology, there is also a dark side. And currently, according to some observers of the political scene, that dark side is facing us here, in the heart of the USA, now.
Are “drones”, or “technological advances”, themselves the problem? Or is the core of the problem the issue not only of what these things can do but also of who is empowered to exert control over them, and of how those persons (or agencies, or even self-commanding computerized machines) choose to utilize those devices and technologies?
Thus, I submit the following analysis (see below) for your consideration. But first, please understand that the points therein are purely my personal opinion, I have no affiliation, pro or con, with any company, agency, organization, or politico connected with this topic, and that I present this analysis only in the sense of posing issues and questions that I think we all need to explore.
Regarding this current statement by the Obama Justice Department’s Eric Holder, that — as headlined in the above-mentioned HuffingtonPost article — “Drone Strike To Kill U.S. Citizen On American Soil Legal, Hypothetically” — what are we to think?
IMO, this is not just about “drones”. Rather, this is about one underlying, fundamental, Constitutional issue: the Constitutionally specified — and limited — authority and powers of the Chief Executive, i.e., the President.
“Drones” (and the rapidly-advancing panoply of their robotic brethren) are just another set of tools in what may well be a seemingly unlimited array of tools, methodologies, and valid or invalid “justifications”, capable of being utilized — legitimately or otherwise — by “the powers-that-be”, for purposes of their choosing.
1. Where and how, specifically, does the U.S. Constitution state that the President has the authority to authorize and order the summary execution of anyone — citizen or otherwise — within the borders of the United States?
2. If the Constitution does provide such authority, what does the Constitution specify as to the conditions under which that authorization applies and the limitations within which that authority must operate?
3. Where and how, specifically, does the U.S. Constitution authorize the President — or even a duly-passed (and Constitutional) Federal law — to authorize any branch of the U.S. military, or even any branch of a foreign military power or agency, to conduct aggressive and even deadly actions against anyone — U.S. citizen or otherwise — within the borders of the United States?
4. If such authority, as per Item #3 above — and despite “Posse Comitatus” (Look it up!) — is Constitutionally authorized, what are the conditions and limitations that the Constitution specifies as when and how such authorization may be permitted to operate — and under which conditions such authorization must end?
5. Expanding on #4 above:
If — and that’s a conditional “if” –, according to the Constitution, the U.S. military can only be permitted to act in such fashion in a Constitutionally-defined time of “war”, and if there is currently no duly-passed currently-active Congressionally-enacted “Declaration of War“, then by what specific Constitutional authority can the President (or even a Federal law) authorize the U.S. military (or the military from any foreign source) to currently take aggressive and even potentially deadly actions against anyone — U.S. citizen or otherwise — within U.S. borders?
6. Similar questions to all the above, as to where and how and under what conditions the Constitution specifically authorizes the President (i.e., the Executive Branch) to authorize and order the summary execution of anyone (U.S. citizen or otherwise) within the U.S. borders?
7. As to each of the above six questions, under what circumstances, and under what limitations, does (or doesn’t) the Constitution authorize the nation’s President to command any (or every) of the individual states’ National Guard units to take such actions — including actions aimed at taking, on Presidential order, the life of an American on American soil?
8. Now, a “HOWEVER”:
What if, hypothetically, and without a “Declaration of War” having been duly issued, the Executive Branch becomes aware of — or claims that it has become aware of — say, some plot within the U.S. to “soon” or “imminently” activate some sort of “weapon of mass destruction” within a populated region — or in any region — of the U.S..
Suppose too that, in this hypothetical example, the purported existence of this alleged plot may no more than an erroneous misinterpretation of the facts, may be a fabrication – or that it may indeed be real.
Suppose too that, as per what is claimed to be the available information at the time, it would appear that the situation is extremely urgent and that the best way — maybe the only way — to shut it down is to have the military, and/or the affected state’s National Guard, and/or local law enforcement, and/or fighter-jets, helicopter-gunships, ground-assault teams, commandos, tanks, howitzers, “drones” — potential “assassins” all — immediately “go in for the kill”, in order to save that locality and its populace (or whatever is there) from destruction.
But what of the importance of first ascertaining on-site evidence of, and “situationally actionable information” about, both the existence of and elements of the plot, such as the identification and location of the perpetrators and their alleged WMD?
Might an immediate launch of spy-drones – maybe along with any of a whole panoply of law enforcement and military personnel, machines, devices, equipped with top-of-the-line spy-devices all – and with weapons at the ready, “just in case” – not only help generate that needed information but also, if necessary, help “neutralize” the situation?
And wouldn’t we – shouldn’t we – want to know, and to know as immediately as possible, whether the alleged plot is as real as we may have been told it is? And what its parameters are?
And wouldn’t we want to know — that thanks to this fast and appropriate set of actions by our Government, our nation’s law enforcement agencies, our military, and so on — and their exceptionally well-managed use of these drones — that the plot and its evil perpetrators now no longer exist?
Or, at least, shouldn’t we want our Government, which we would hope is doing its best to protect our rights and to “provide for the general welfare”, to be able to immediately and comprehensively assess and eliminate the danger?
Against that backdrop, what should we then say as to whether or not we should require that a President (or the Executive Branch) be “hamstrung” by, or be permitted to take “whatever action the President deems necessary” by, what the Constitution says as to what a President (and the Executive Branch) can or cannot do?
9. Yet, there’s an additional parameter — a critically important one — that comes into play at this juncture:
It’s the issue of the potential ease of intentionally manipulating, for political purposes, public fear and panic.
As has happened many times in our recent past, are we, as a people, to again allow ourselves to become so panicked with fear, that we become more than eager to permit, even urge, a President, or any branch of our Government, to ignore the Constitution and to just “pull out all the stops” to, allegedly, “save us from destruction”?
What’s that, you ask? Which “destruction”? The destruction that might result from an alleged “terrorist plot”? Or the destruction that might accrue to our freedoms and rights if we allow our Government to bypass Constitutional limitations on that Government’s power?
10. Now, add the following qualifier:
If, in such an exigent, WMD-related circumstance as described above, the Constitution does not authorize the President (etc.) to take such action, then to what extent, if any, should We the People be willing to allow the President (etc.) to take any unConstitutional, dictatorial, power unto himself?
And if we decide that it’s okay, in this specific instance, for him to take such power unto himself, what guarantee — if any — do we have that he will relinquish that power at a time when we feel he should relinquish it? Or that he won’t choose to keep and expand that power even further?
11. Next , we ride our proverbial “drone” into the realm of “conspiracies” – some of whose alleged facts, historically, have proven to be all too real:
On the one hand, if, hypothetically, a perceived “terrorist threat” on American soil turns out to be real, wouldn’t we want, and expect, our Government, and the leadership in that Government, to be able to effectively neutralize that threat a.s.a.p.?
But, on the other hand, what if the alleged plot, in this hypothetical example — even if the plot may be real — is a “False Flag” operation, created or promulgated “from the inside”?
Could that happen?
“False Flag” events, according to various political observers and historians, have certainly happened in the past. For example, as per various accounts: “Remember the Maine!”; the “Gulf of Tonkin Incident”; and, more controversially, but in the opinion of various critics, “9/11”.
If such a situation (i.e., real or “false flag”) might again be possible — meaning that a President then might not even hesitate to unleash a death-delivering attack-drone in your direction — what should then we say as to the wisdom – or lack of wisdom – of either requiring, or not requiring, that the President (and the Executive Branch) inescapably adhere to the Constitution’s strictures?
In which such scenario – particularly if the choice of scenario might determine the President’s (and the Executive Branch’s) authority to use drones and to spy on, or even more determinedly go after, YOU – would you feel safest?
12. Nice set of quandaries, aren’t they? Drones, robots, Constitution, politics, truths, falsehoods, misinterpretations, errors, privacy, rights, freedoms, wars, “battlefields”, “terrorism”, security, life, death – they’re all in the mix.
Maybe what it all comes down to, in addition to the complex of political, corporate, military, financial, cultural, and other, forces, is people — and particularly the quality of We, the People, on whose watch (but are we watching?) these developments are taking place — and particularly and especially the quality of those persons who, by whatever the process, have gained the desire, ability, and power, to control, focus, direct, utilize, and profit from, these increasingly sophisticated, technological developments such as spy-devices, weapons-systems – and drones — in ways of their own choosing, whether we might like it or not.
13. So, where do we go from here?
Is the nation (not to mention this entire planet) now officially — as declared by some of our political “leaders” and by certain Federal laws of questionable constitutionality such as the NDAA — a “battlefield“ in a war that, as Senator Rand Paul asked in his March 6th filibuster, is never to end?
Should that qualification automatically give a President, the Executive Branch, the military, or the Government as a whole, the authority to apprehend, detain, hold incommunicado, deny access to a lawyer or trial by jury or any part of thecivil judicial system, “interrogate”, and possibly summarily execute, anyone — citizen or otherwise — within U.S. borders or anywhere in the world?
In a traditional “shooting-war”, out on a real, traditional, battlefield, some mutually-accepted “rules of war usually apply, but basically it’s a case of “kill or be killed”. “Miranda Rights”? Access to a lawyer? Trial by a jury of one’s peers? “Right of Appeal”? Not quite.
But here, at home, in America, in our cities and towns, prairies and farmlands, mountains and valleys, anywhere “from sea to shining sea”, are we now to expect those same “rules of war” to apply here at home — and that our freedoms and rights, as guaranteed by a proud historical document that once made this country a “shining beacon on a hill”, are to just be allowed to evaporate into nothingness?
Has it now become Constitutional, and fully in line with American tradition in what used to be known as “the Land of the Free”, that, henceforth, any person – even a completely innocent person – anywhere in the U.S. (or the world) – can now suddenly, and without having been even notified that he or she might be a “suspect” of anything whatsoever, be blasted into a plume of blood and gore, from a Hellfire missile launched from a high-flying Predator-class drone?
Or that that a similarly unsuspecting, and possibly completely innocent, person – anywhere in the U.S. (or the world) – may, in the not too distant future, suddenly realize that that little “mosquito” on his or her arm was actually a micro-drone, and that it has just now implanted a debilitating or mind-altering drug or microchip — or a poison — into the person’s bloodstream?
And that the mission-orders directing these life-altering events perhaps came from a Governmental agency, administrative bureaucrat — or even possibly from the office of a President? Or that the kill-order was intentional — or was a mistake?
Is this what our nation, our rights, our freedoms, our standards of justice, and of right and wrong, are to come to?
What can we do to turn the tide for the better?
13. Now, here’s an extra conundrum “to add some icing to this cake”:
According to various news reports – and as also discussed by Senator Rand Paul in his 03/06/2013 filibuster on the floor of the U.S. Senate – the U.S. may not be quite alone with these issues. Nor may the nation be able to remain insulated from the potential intrusion of drones — drones under the control of masters who may well harbor hostile intent — flying into American skies from other shores:
According to those reports, it would appear that various other nations, other foreign agencies and organizations, some with far less scruples than are part of the American tradition, are also getting into the “drones” act, and it may not be long before what those foreign entities choose to do with their drones may well become of direct concern to every American, whether here at home or – just as noted above – anywhere on Planet Earth.
How are we to develop an effective, workable, plan – one that hopefully safeguards and assures our Constitutional rights and freedoms – not only for our current situation but also as that future eventuality takes greater hold on our lives?
The ball, it would seem — or the “drone” — is “in our court”.
P.S. — One last thing: you’re wondering, maybe, “What of Lazarus”?
Consider this: Our nation did had imperfect beginnings; the legalized enforcement of slavery, of captured and imported “negroes” being forced into a life of subservience and servitude, was an accepted — but already under debate — aspect of the young nation’s life. But even so, and even with that flaw, the fledgling nation was primarily established in the belief that the inherent freedom, dignity, and rights of Man — well, except, reprehensibly, for “slaves” — were all inalienable and of such preciousness, that the strengthening, protecting, and the defending of those qualities must always be of the highest of priorities for the nation to uphold.
Thus — and especially thanks to various major civil rights protections being enacted into law over the years, and even despite the rocks and ruts in the nation’s time-traveled road — at least the goal of seeking to protect and strengthen those freedoms and rights has been paramount in the desires of the nation’s people.
And that intense desire for these inalienable rights and freedoms: from where did it come? From, perhaps, the personal experiences of the original American colonists, who knew only too well what it was like to live a life of suffering under any of the oft-brutal, repressive monarchies and dictatorships that they had been only too thankful to escape?
Yet now, in this same — but also somewhat different — American nation just over two centuries later, here come the drones, along with a person with the title of President who, with Congressional backing, has now authorized himself to unilaterally issue any number of orders to summarily execute anyone — including any American anywhere on this planet. And so, ask critics, what is being resurrected here? Is it merely a reformulated, high-tech, form of “freedom and justice for all”? Or is it, they ask, more as though one of the most frighteningly oppressive forces of yesteryear, but with incredibly greater powers for evil, is now being resurrected from the dead, right here in the heart of the nation that used to be known as “The Land of the Free”?
And so, in that sense, may I then ask you:
Are we witnessing, in effect, a resurrection of a kind of a benign “Lazarus” who only wants to “do good”? Or are we naively standing silently by as another kind of resurrection takes place — of an extremely dangerous version of “Frankenstein’s Monster”, from whom there may ultimately be no escape?
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