How would I, as President, deal with an American alleged to be a senior official of a militant organization? Easy peasy: I’d meet with my Security Council, first and foremost. After briefing with them and getting my ducks in order, I’d then bring in the Senate Intelligence Committee in order to sift the intelligence and see if it is genuine or not. Why? Well, call me crazy, but I believe in this old, dog-eared document that was written in 1787 that begins with “We the people.” It’s a pretty important document which contains this thing called “checks and balances.” You see, going through the well-established process of justice should be the easy part; deciding guilt or innocence is, well, the difficult part. But that’s the point! It is supposed to be laborious and mitigated, as lives are at stake. But unfortunately this process, a bedrock, unequivocal process guaranteed by said 1878 document, has been circumvented by our Executive.
I wonder if the current Executive has read this document recently, or has it been too busy collecting baseball cards of alleged bad guys, ordering hits based primarily on intelligence reports (and we all know how accurate those can be — see Iraq War). And while I understand that, to a degree, some level of cloak-and-dagger is allotted initially, in the end full and utter transparency of what goes on in the Oval Office — cloaks, daggers, and all — must be checked and balanced by the Legislative Branch. Ya know, ’cause we ain’t the mafia. Right fellas? Actually, the latter may have the moral high ground on the Executive. Both The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and New York Times have reported we are engaging in “double taps.” What are those? We strike the target once with a drone, then wait for the funeral to commence with loved ones and friends in attendance, and then strike the funeral with another, second drone attack. The mafia, on the other hand, has a code of honor which restricts them from hitting up their enemies’ funerals. Where did we learn this strategy? From Hamas, a known terrorist organization according to us. Well, if we are engaging in terrorist techniques ourselves, then what does that make us? If it walks like a duck…
Fact: the Executive Branch does not enjoy the opportunity of equating accusations of guilt with guilt itself. We live in America; not Oceania. Dealing judgment based on thought crime is equivalent to tyranny. That’s simple. Just because an American cleric badmouths America doesn’t mean we put a hit out on them and their sixteen-year-old son. If they’ve committed what seem to be seditious acts, then we obtain a warrant to arrest them. We then arraign them and have a trial with all the bells and whistles: defense and prosecution arguments, judge presiding over said arguments to interpret and guide law, and the jury to decide a verdict based on the facts presented by both sides. That’s how we do justice in America — not by unilateral execution.
Currently, the Executive fashions itself prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, all in one, with nobody to check that power. Indiscretions, conscious or not, will surely abound in such a top-down system, precisely because the blank check of impunity will hasten and disregard what out to be treated with prudence: pronouncing final and irreversible judgment on peoples lives (see the Gardez Massacre; see the Nisser Square Massacre; see the al-Majala Massacre). There must, at all times, be a rigorous, transparent process undergone by all branches of the government in order to ensure due justice has been served, otherwise Lady Liberty’s blindfold is cast off and the scales of justice are tilted in favor of bias and prejudice. A truly benevolent autocrat is few and far between; grandfathering in a precedence which will be enjoyed by successors to said autocrat is sure to be abused in the worst ways. (Note: there are international rules in place which grant nations the right to execute those who are plotting attacks which are harmful to national security. But recent executions of Americans by the Executive in nations abroad have not gone through these legal avenues; further, nor did the Executive include the Senate Intelligence Committee to check and balance its decision to execute Americans. I am not saying said Americans weren’t dangerous and a real threat to our national security; what I am saying is that we will never know just how dangerous they were, and that is a serious problem.)
I implore the Executive and its Security Council to shake the scales from their eyes and return the blindfold to its rightful place, lest our leader of the so-called free world be confused with a mafioso.
There is this thing that we like to say here in America, which goes something like “you are presumed innocent, until proven guilty in a court of law.” I think that was written somewhere… right? Sadly, this Executive has flipped the script: you are presumed guilty, until proven innocent.
Deep down, I really do think the current holder of the Executive Branch wants to do good; thing is, intentions aren’t good enough — not even close — as even the best of intentions pave the way to a hellish tyranny, a tyranny in direct opposition to We, the People.