78 percent of respondents to a poll on MSNBC’s The Ed Show said they agreed with the “policy of targeted killing of American citizens,” despite host Ed Schultz arguing that the policy “doesn’t meet the moral or the constitutional standard that we expect of any administration…We’re losing the moral high ground by doing this…”
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything one way or the other on kill drones. My reluctance to write much is that I feel much of the outrage has hinged on two less significant details.
First, we have a plethora of ways we kill people. What makes drones so special? Dead is dead—whether it’s a sniper rifle, a police pistol, or a drone missile. I don’t see the moral distinction.
Second, I don’t see why it’s less acceptable to kill “American citizens” than it is to kill citizens of other countries. Is the implicit argument that American citizens are somehow better? That they should be afforded protections other people have? People are people.
That guy in Alabama who took that kid hostage in the bunker and was then shot by the FBI was also a U.S. citizen killed without judicial process. Of course, already killed a guy and was holding a child hostage in an explosive-rigged bunker. Would adding drones have changed the moral calculation?
I am, however, concerned about the reluctance to release the drone memos. I’m not certain that drone warfare is anything new or that it’s somehow worse than other kinds of warfare. But I don’t buy that something like a legal policy memorandum has the type of operational detail that would require withholding it from public scrutiny. I don’t like writing blank checks.