On Friday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Maine independent Sen. Angus King made the case that the use of drone warfare actually is not as evil as some of the detractors have suggested.
According to King, drones are less likely to inflict casualties upon civilians than other military operations undertaken in the last 1,000 years of warfare.
“To be honest, I believe that drones are a lot more civilized than what we used to do, you know, when [William Tecumseh] Sherman shelled Atlanta or when the Allies firebombed Dresden in World War II, it was all collateral damage. It was virtually all civilians. And that’s the way — that was the way of war until very recently,” he said. “The drones, although there is some collateral damage, basically is a very smart artillery shell. And we’ve been shooting artillery shells over miles and miles for many years and hoping they hit the right target. I think there’s just something creepy about drones that they can be controlled and people are uneasy about it. But if you put it in a context of 1,000 years of war, I think it’s actually a more humane weapon because it can be targeted to specific enemies and specific people.”
But King did protest the use of drones to sidestep the Fifth Amendment and attack American citizens without due process.
“Now, I do think there’s a problem — and you saw that little clip at the beginning that I raised with Mr. [John] Brennan yesterday — about targeting Americans,” King said. “There is this little item of the Fifth Amendment that says, ‘No person shall be denied life, liberty or property without due process of law.’ Now, if an American joined the Wehrmacht in World War II, I don’t think anybody would say Patton had to get a warrant in order to shoot them. But on the other hand, the difference in this case is time. By and large, as I understand it, these strikes don’t happen in a matter of minutes. They happen over — they’re planned over a matter of days and weeks.”
“In the case of an American, which I agree with Mr. Robinson is pretty rare,” he continued. “But in the case of targeting an American, I don’t see why they can’t go to a secret court like the intelligence court that’s already been set up and get what amounts to a warrant. This is why we’re targeting this person. This is the evidence that they’re a member of al-Qaida. This is the evidence that they’re planning some kind of imminent attack. Then I think we could feel more comfortable about the protections of the Fifth Amendment. But the bottom line is I don’t think we should also fully say — whatever the executive decides is OK. I think that’s a problem.”