We know that a lot of libertarian and progressive critics of a hawkish foreign policy believe that the only real threat to peace and security in this world is the United States, but if anyone thinks that al-Qaida is some kind of dissident political club — rather than a “terrorist organization engaged in constant plotting against the United States” — we’d like to see the research.
And if anyone thinks that this organization’s commitment to “engage in such attacks regularly to the extent it were able to do so” does not pose “an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States” and her just interests, we’d like to know why.
And if anyone thinks that apprehension and trial of these combatants in a “host nation [that] is unable or unwilling to suppress the threat posed by the individual” is feasible, we’d like to understand how.
And if anyone thinks that committing treason by being in a foreign country — as a member of the armed wing of an organization that Congress “has authorized the use of force” against — is a constitutionally-protected place to be, we’d like to get an explanation.
And if anyone thinks that being “a senior operational leader of the enemy forces who is actively engaged in planning operations to kill Americans” is too broad, we’d like entertain a more workable definition.
And if anyone think that the president does not have a constitutional duty to defend the citizens of the United States from attack, we’d like to hear that thought process.
And if anyone has a better solution, we’d like to hear that out too.
Additionally, while right-minded people are loath to trust the government on matters as dear as life and death, the necessities of a chaotic world force right-minded people to place that trust in their leaders in dire scenarios. Whether it’s the police officer on the beat in Chicago or the commander in the field in Afghanistan, the decision to return fire on an imminent threat to the United States or its people is taken on a daily basis. And while all those decisions — especially those regarding the lives of Americans — must be open to question, on-the-ground factors must be weighed and taken into account: This is why justice is represented with a scale, and not simply a thumb to point up or down. To subject the important — and, thankfully, rare — decision to kill an American traitor in a foreign land during wartime to the same constraints a common criminal enjoys when captured in the States is so unreasonable it is dangerous.
The reality is that what the paper outlines is neither crazy, nor the next step toward tyranny: “The United States,” the paper states, “retains its authority to use force against al-Qaida and associated forces outside the area of active hostilities when it targets a senior operational leader of the enemy forces who is actively engaged in planning operations to kill Americans.”
The leaders of al-Qaida, whether born in Egypt or the United States, harp on incessantly about hellfire, judgement from above, and the commandment to martyrdom. Our humble answer to all three: an AGM-114 Hellfire missile launched from 5,000 feet above, commanded from the Pentagon.
What greater liberation from the fears and uncertainties of waging war against the Western world than the sweet release of death?