How to hold the president accountable for lethal decisions

President Obama during a terrorism threat meeting in 2010.
(Image credit: CC BY: The White House)

On the question of executive power and drone strikes, my mind splits. One the one hand, the government's position is not reassuring. It dismisses what it ought to take seriously, which is the question of due process. The government admits that it cannot really know for a fact whether its target is imminently intending to harm the United States, or even if the target is of sound mind and body to make the threats. Instead it asserts, basically, that any U.S. citizen who verbally associates with al Qaeda overseas deserves less due process than a confirmed enemy belligerent captured on the battlefield and detained. I have no idea who "informed senior officials" are.

The government also insists that the nature of the war against terrorism render elastic such notions as "imminence" and empirical evidence. But really, what the government is saying is that it has decided as a matter of policy to NOT devote the man-intensive resources necessary to capture these bad guys, and instead has decided as a matter of policy that it is more efficient and less costly to human life to simply kill them. In fact, every time a due process objection arises, the government slams a big Jeremy Bentham book on the subject: Everything, when weighed against the president's duty to protect American citizens, is sufficient to outweigh claims that justice requires at least some form of neutral and intelligible procedures to be achieved.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us