America’s drone policy makes everyone uncomfortable. The alternatives are worse. Attacking enemy combatants from the air is part of warfare. Combatants who wear civilian clothing or who operate from sanctuaries are not excused from risk. Compare drone strikes to the feckless 1998 cruise missile attack on bin Laden. Drone strikes work; that is why our opponents object to them. If the host governments are cognizant and accepting (even if this is not public), if the laws of armed conflict limiting egregious attacks on civilians are observed, drone strikes are an acceptable use of force.
The more difficult issue involves targeting belligerents who also hold American citizenship. If you think about it, every confederate killed by U.S. forces in the Civil War was an American citizen. Germans with dual citizenship, both civilians and soldiers, were killed in combat or in aerial bombings during World War II. There were probably a few citizens among Chinese forces in Korea. Killing Americans participating in hostilities in an armed conflict against the United States, while disturbing, is not automatically precluded.
Arrest and trial is the preferred approach for dealing with Americans who threaten to kill their fellow citizens. What do we do if arrest is not an option? We could wait for a moment when they can be caught, but that runs the risk that while we wait, there will be another 9/11 or a successful airline bomber. The struggles against global jihad do not fit neatly with existing rules for conflict, and a pragmatic approach that puts public safety first faces difficult choices in balancing risk and rights.
The most difficult choice involves setting bounds for the use of lethal force against Americans. The administration has three rules: A senior U.S. official must determine there is an “imminent” threat of violent attack; capture is not possible; and attacks must be consistent with the laws of war (meaning an effort to avoid collateral damage and innocent causalities). The rules could be clearer in saying targets must be combatants engaged in armed struggle, and the administration uses an elastic definition of “imminent,” but these rules are sufficient for what should be a rare and infrequent event—if drone attacks on U.S. citizens are not rare and infrequent, something is dangerously wrong. It would be better if we did not have to do this and there will be a time when these rules can be abolished, but that time is not now.
By: James Lewis, U. S. News and World Report, February 6, 2013
Protect the Second Amendment, screw the First!
Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for British CNN host Piers Morgan to be deported from the United States over his gun control views. And sadly, I’m not surprised.
Morgan has taken an aggressive stand for tighter U.S. gun laws in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. Last week, he called a gun advocate appearing on his Piers Morgan Tonight show an “unbelievably stupid man.” And that is Mr. Morgan’s opinion, which he is entitled to, whether you like his accent or not. Entitled to, you ask? Is he a citizen of this country?! Well, there are a few folks, namely our founding forefathers, and more currently constitutional legal experts, who were pretty clear with regard to whose speech is protected by the First Amendment. Noncitizens and permanent residents are also protected under the First Amendment–that is unless, like those of us who are citizens, we’re yelling fire in a crowded theatre.
But that doesn’t seem to faze the gun rights activists. They are fighting back, creating a petition on December 21 on the White House E-petition website. This was done by a user in Texas accusing Morgan of engaging in a “hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution” by targeting the Second Amendment. It demands he be deported immediately for “exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens.” The petition has already hit the 25,000 signature threshold to get a White House response.
Unfortunately for Tex and those who signed this petition, they shouldn’t hold their breath. Noncitizens, and especially permanent residents, have statutory rights to remain in the country unless they’ve done (or there’s sufficient reason to think they’ve done) certain bad things—at least until Congress revises the statutes to broaden the grounds for deportation. Even if the Executive Branch decides to deport someone, it has to have statutorily authorized grounds, and it has to provide hearings at which an immigration judge decides whether the conditions for deportation are met. The government may not criminally punish noncitizens—or presumably impose civil liability on them—based on speech that would be protected if said by a citizen. See Bridges v. Wixon (1945).
And how has Piers Morgan responded? Actually, he seemed unfazed, perhaps even amused by all of this. On Twitter he urged his followers to sign the petition, and in response to one article about the petition he said “bring it on” as he appeared to track the petition’s progress. “If I do get deported from America for wanting fewer gun murders, are there any other countries that will have me?” he wrote.
What bothers me about this is the blatant hypocrisy of those gun rights proponents. As a liberal, I push for stricter gun control measures; I always have, even before Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tuscon, Aurora, Portland, and Newtown, and I have been attacked by the right for wanting to take away their Second Amendment right to bear arms. I and other liberals have been clear we don’t want to take their rights away, we just want to protect other Americans, especially our children by restricting military-style weapons with high volume magazine clips. Yet when someone voices their opinion and it is completely contrary to what a gun proponent believes, they have no trouble tramping on their rights…namely the First Amendment.
Look, I’m no Piers Morgan fan. As a broadcaster, I get tired of radio programmers and networks hiring people with pretty British accents. I’m a fan of not only buying American, but “hiring American,” since I know so many people out there who are unemployed in the field of broadcasting and, quite frankly many of whom I feel are much more talented and qualified interviewers and broadcasters than Mr. Morgan. I don’t make the decisions as to who they put on the air at CNN, but I do have a choice what network or program I tune into. And I can assure you, Mr. Morgan’s show is not on my list of favorites programmed on my television.
If the gun enthusiasts really want to hurt Mr. Morgan for his opinions, they should realize it’s his ratings, not his residence address they should be attacking. Because if Mr. Morgan’s ratings plummet, CNN will hand him his walking papers and as Mitt Romney once proposed, Mr. Morgan will deport himself–perhaps back over the pond for a better cup of tea.
By: Leslie Marshall, U. S. News and World Report, December 26, 2012
You thought the healthcare case created a storm. Well you haven’t seen anything yet. Next week the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the constitutionality of SB 1070, the Arizona immigration law. Any case that involves race creates political fireworks.
The Arizona law is a constitutional nightmare.
One part of the law allows the police to hold people arrested indefinitely until their immigration status is verified. What it means is that American citizens who look like illegal immigrants because they have brown skin and who are suspected of a crime can be held indefinitely without trial. This part of the law violates the due process clause in the Fifth Amendment and the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment. SB 1070 flushes fundamental American civil liberties down the toilet.
The Arizona law states that “the intent of the law is attrition through enforcement to deter the unlawful entry and presence of illegal aliens.” Well, you have a constitutional problem right there. Article I, Section 8 the Constitution clearly gives Congress, not the states the power “to establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization.”
The state says it had to act since the feds haven’t acted. There are several problems with this argument.
The reason that the founders gave Congress the power to regulate immigration is that there would be chaos if each of the 50 states did the same thing and created their own immigration policies.
For another thing, the logic of the Arizona argument is the same thing as saying that it or any other state could declare war against another country if Congress didn’t. Article 1, Section 8 not only gives Congress the power to set rules of naturalization, it also gives it the power to declare war. And why not let the states instead of Congress have the Article I power to coin money. Of course that would lead to economic disaster. I don’t know about you but I don’t have the math skills to figure out the exchange rate for financial transactions between Maryland and Virginia.
Finally, the state’s argument that the feds are not acting is just wrong. Illegal immigration has slowed steadily in the last few years. There has been a large increase in the number of Border Patrol agents stationed on the Mexican border. And the Obama administration has deported record numbers of illegal immigrants convicted of crimes. But supporters of SB 1070 just want to overlook the facts so they can sustain their prejudices.
George W. Bush and Barack Obama proposed a solution to the problem that doesn’t even violate the Constitution. These presidential proposals would intensify enforcement of immigration efforts at the Mexican border, penalize employers who hire undocumented workers, and create a path to citizenship for people in the U.S illegally. Congress failed to act on either of the proposed laws. Even though the two presidential proposals are similar, several GOP senators who supported the Bush proposal now oppose the Obama bill. Go figure.
After the court issues rules on the Arizona law in June, the justices should disperse as quickly as possible because whatever they do, there will be a lot of very unhappy people out there.
By: Brad Bannon, Washington Whispers, U. s. News and World Report, April 19, 2012
The Senate GOP seems to be banking on the assumption that Latino voters are stupid, don’t read the fine print — or are not paying any attention at all.
Panicking from a series of polls that show their years of bashing Latinos haven’t been endearing them to Latino voters, prominent Republicans are scrambling for a solution. They seem to have found one, at least for now, in a new attempt by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to rewrite the DREAM Act, the widely popular bill that the Senate GOP derailed in late 2010.
Rubio has come up with a “non-citizen-for-life” concept as he rejiggers the DREAM Act to make it pretty much dream-free. It’s a tough trick: How do you create the illusion of a law that looks like it’s giving something to Latinos, but which the Tea Party knows means nothing?
The authentic DREAM Act offers a path to citizenship for children who were brought to the country without documentation, who graduate from high school and go on to college or the military, allowing them to create a stable life and give back to the country that they call home. Rubio’s dream-free proposal gives these young people a nebulous legalized status, so that rather than become American citizens, they will have permanent second-class status — allowed to live, work and pay taxes in the only country they have ever known, but never permitted the ability to vote or exercise any of the rights of full citizenship.
The real cruelty of this Republican proposal is that it seeks to take advantage of the desperation of some DREAM Act-eligible youth to avoid deportation. The Republican proposal offers them that in the short term, but at the price of second-class status for the rest of their lives. They deserve better. Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way: Not long ago, before the Tea Party drove the GOP’s agenda, the authentic DREAM Act enjoyed the support of many Republicans in the Senate. The GOP has paid the price for abandoning the authentic DREAM Act and promoting numerous anti-immigrant policies. Senate Republicans are living in a fantasy land if they believe they can win back Latino voters by inventing a new second-class status for these young people.
They should take a lesson from history. I went to South Africa over 30 years ago, where the government created many different levels of citizenship as a means to keep an unjust system going in a modern world. In addition to “Whites,” different categories of “Blacks,” “Coloureds,” and “Asians” for South Asians, South Africa had to create the category of “Honorary Whites” to accommodate the Japanese and Chinese. We should learn from the lessons of apartheid and the dangers of creating different levels of citizenship for different people.
That system, thankfully, has fallen, and it has been rightfully judged an historical disgrace, but if today’s Republican Party has considered history at all, they’re not learning the right lessons. Instead of pushing towards more equality for all people, they’ve perfected a method of legalizing discrimination by inventing new classes of citizenship for those on whom they don’t want to bestow full rights, creating a unique and disturbing American apartheid.
Add these new immigrant ersatz citizens to a growing list. Republicans want gay people to have a form of citizenship that doesn’t include marriage rights — and if they had their way gay Americans wouldn’t be allowed to serve their country in in the military either. Muslims can be citizens, but must fight legal and PR battles just to exercise their First Amendment right to the freedom of religion. People who have served their time in jail for felonies are citizens — but in many states, they aren’t allowed to participate in our democracy by voting. And Republican-controlled state legislatures pass laws that make it harder for young people, the elderly, and low-income people to vote – again, all citizens, legislated out of one of their fundamental constitutional rights.
For a party that claims to be interested in limiting government, today’s GOP is surprisingly eager to create new levels of bureaucracy for the sole purpose of depriving some Americans of their rights. Whatever happened to simple? How about an America with equal rights and equal justice for all and a fair path to citizenship for hard-working people who play by the rules?
With the new dream-free DREAM Act, Republicans are trying to create one of their patented new levels of citizenship while pulling a fast one on Latinos and others who care about the fate of immigrants. The problem is, American voters are smarter than they give us credit for — and we know when they’re trying to fool us.
By: Michael B. Keegan, The Huffington Post, March 29, 2012
Syndicated talk radio host Rush Limbaugh got so upset over the able articulation of an opposing view by Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University Law School student who testified before members of Congress in order to highlight concerns about limits on access to contraception, that he attacked her as a “slut” and a “prostitute.”
This was no slip of the conservative commentator’s tongue. This was an elite media personality with a national media platform seeking to silence a citizen.
When concerns were raised about his vile language, Limbaugh doubled down and restated his attacks on Fluke.
Fluke has ably defended herself in interviews on national news programs. She’s a strong young woman who has proven herself more than equal to the task of responding to a shocking assault on her as an individual—and on her right to speak as an American citizen.
It is the second assault that should concern everyone—no matter what their partisanship, no matter what their ideological bent.
While Limbaugh certainly owes Fluke an apology, the fact is that the radio host owes a broader apology.
Limbaugh attacked fluke for speaking up before Congress on an issue of national concern.
Fluke stepped into the limelight not as an entertainer or a political player. She did not seek fame or fortune. She spoke up as a citizen.
And that’s what is so unsettling about Limbaugh’s crude language and cruder stance as this controversial incident has exploded.
Prominent political players and media personalities can get pretty rough with one another. No one is objecting to the give and take that characterizes electioneering and governing. This is not about constraining the discourse, nor even about promoting civility.
What is at stake here is something that does far deeper, and matters far more.
When political and media figures with national prominence use their positions to attack individual citizens who dare to speak up about controversial concerns, they do not just attack the citizens.
They attack the basic premises of a representative democracy in which citizens do not just have a right to freedom of speech. If the American experiment is to work, citizens have a responsibility to speak truth to power. It is not easy to do that. But it is necessary if we are to keep alive the founding principle, as articulated by Thomas Jefferson: “Whenever our affairs go obviously wrong, the good sense of the people will interpose and set them to rights.”
At a point when political players, most of them men, were going obviously wrong with regard to policies affecting women, Sandra Fluke spoke up.
She performed a necessary duty of citizenship.
Citizens need to challenge their political leaders—and the media echo chamber that amplifies the self-serving messages of those leaders. We have enough of a problem in this country with the media’s casual dismissal of the voices of the poor, of working people, of people of color, of trade unionists, of rural Americans and of the young. When the dismissals turn aggressive and unforgiving, as was the case with Limbaugh’s attack of Fluke, the promise of citizenship is assaulted.
And when elitists so powerful as Rush Limbaugh seeks to silence citizens so sincere and appropriately engaged as Sandra Fluke, with personal attacks, crude language and constant criticism, those elitists attack democracy itself.
By: John Nichols, The Nation, March 2, 2011