In Episode 98 of Don’t Worry About The Government, I had my first split with President Obama. Recently, he suggested longer school days to improve the standing of America’s students.
Longer school days/hours are a pointless idea without:
a) the money to back it up
b) quality programs to make it worthwhile
Stupid ideas are one thing. Anti-American ones are another.
My second split is due to the Obama administration’s continuation (and perhaps furthering) of the George W. Bush administration policy of overseas assassination of Americans.
Assassinating people undermines the American idea of due process, but I’m willing to give a bit of leeway when dealing with foreign terrorists. What I’m not comfortable with is the President (or someone under the auspices of the Executive branch or intelligence services) being able to order assassinations of American citizens overseas.
I’m not a slippery sloper. But here, there is no slope. When you have the power to kill Americans without consulting any judicial system, there’s really no line. Anything can be argued as “national security”.
It’s something that’s being said by columnist after columnist, politician after politician: this isn’t a normal war. There’s no end in sight, the rules have changed. We need to be very cautious as to how much we let those rules change in the face of the U.S. constitution.
Unlike Guantanamo, this isn’t something that takes political finessing to figure out how to rearrange prisoner puzzle pieces. I accept that despite Obama promising to close Guantanamo, it has proven to be a much more difficult prospect than originally thought. But changing a policy that undermines what Obama ran for, and hopefully stands for, seems to be a much easier fix. That is, unless my anti-conspiracy theory policy is wrong and the U.S. president really doesn’t have as much power as we would all think and hope.
In recent DWATG episodes, we’ve talked about how various governments around the world want more ability to monitor internet communication for purposes of national security. I am OK with this, as I believe it’s the responsibility of a government to protect its people. If governmental agencies get judicial approval to monitor communication, that’s fine. It’s outdated to assume that people wanting to do harm will only do so over landlines and cell phones. As long as there is a paper trail and approval from an outside source, I see no difference between monitoring specific, agreed-upon targets online and an old-school wiretap.
That’s the problem with the assassination policy. No outside approval is necessary. That’s what separates this from questions about the Guantanamo prisoners, as well. This isn’t a semantic argument of prisoner of war vs. enemy combatant. These are Americans and their basic constitutional rights are being ignored.
Obama accused Bush of overstepping. Obama needs to remember where he drew the line and step back behind it.
(Thanks to “Friend of DWATG”, Dan Carlin for bringing the issue to my attention in his “False Advertising” episode.)