Toward Murder

by Joe Burton

published January 13th 2012 by the News & Observer

It is extremely troubling that all of the GOP presidential candidates, except Ron Paul, believe that U.S. presidents can authorize the killing of people, even U.S. citizens, they “deem threats” (“Use lethal force on citizens? OK,” Jan. 1 article), thus continuing a practice begun in the Bush administration and now frequently used by President Obama. Are we so fearful as a nation that we will kill people because of what we think they might do?

There are two good words in the English language to name this practice: assassination and murder. But neither is used. Instead, we see terms like “lethal force,” “extraordinary action,” “taking out” and “targeted killing.” Currently, drone-launched missiles are used to assassinate suspects. Those missiles often kill or maim persons who happen to be with the suspect – his family or perhaps his neighbor. And that is “collateral damage,” not murder.

The unwillingness to honestly name drone attacks suggests that deep down, our political leaders know that it is wrong to use them. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, before voting against a war in Afghanistan, said “Let us not become the evil that we deplore.” A policy of deliberate murder and assassination suggests that we are now sliding down that slope.

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