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"Drones: The Power to Kill"—Alberto Gonzales—December 2013

In his recent treatise former Attorney General Gonzales defends the government practice of executing American and foreign militant suspects without judicial oversight. Perhaps Mr. Gonzales has forgotten that due process is the heart of the U.S. Constitution.

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Papers No. 84, quotes jurist William Blackstone to illustrate the importance of due process in a democracy:

To bereave a man of life (says he), or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more DANGEROUS ENGINE of arbitrary government.
Mr. Hamilton reaffirms Blackstone:
And as a remedy for this fatal evil he is everywhere peculiarly emphatical in his encomiums on the habeas-corpus act, which in one place he calls "the BULWARK of the British Constitution."
Unmanned U. S. surveillance aircraft were converted into lethal weapons shortly after September 11, 2001.

Josh Begley's new Apple metadata+ application bears witness to the 2002-2014 history of U.S. drone assassinations. Mr. Begley's @ dronestream project confirms that U.S. policy makers have been targeting first responders. These strikes, known as double tap manoeuvers, are war crimes.

On government orders airborne predators, aka drones, have killed four Americans, an untold number of innocents and many suspected militants, some with no connection to 9/11. Casualty statistics are clouded because all military-age males in the strike area are considered belligerents. American killing fields are Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan. Armed drones have also been deployed in Libya and Iraq.

Without due process protections drone executions should be ruled illegal exercises but because of War on Terror/Countering Violent Extremism declarations the president and his counselors may put any militant suspect on the Disposition Matrix. How the government's kill list operates is explained by The Atlantic. This power was provided by Congress on September 14, 2001 under the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists. The law states:

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
February 4, 2002 marks the date of the first known CIA lethal drone operation outside the military theatre and it was a fatal error. The Paktia province Afghanistan strike killed three men. It has been verified that the targeted villagers were civilians. The kill order was given simply because one of the three men, Daraz Khan, was 5 feet 11 inches. Osama bin Laden was tall so thus it came to be that three men died for no legitimate reason. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's explanation, “A decision was made to fire the Hellfire missile. It was fired.”

Drone pilots rarely verbalize the morality of eradicating people via a push button but Brandon Bryant, a six-year Air Force veteran, says he has witnessed so many tragedies that he wishes his eyes would rot.

Heather Linebaugh, a former U.S. drone analyst, provides heartbreaking descriptions of men, women and children gravely injured or incinerated by Hellfire missiles and asks American and British leaders to reconsider the consequences of their actions.

Attorney General Holder's May 2013 letter to Senator Leahy confirmed that four Americans have been subjected to lethal U. S. counterterrorism measures. The deceased are Samir Khan, Anwar al-Awlaki, Jude Kenan Mohammad and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. There are rumors that a fifth American is on the Disposition Matrix list.

Alberto Gonzales, President Bush's attorney general, is of the opinion that the Supreme Court may not look favorably on President Obama's kill list initiative because of due process transgressions. The court determined in the Hamdi, Rasul, Hamdan and Boumediene complaints that both citizen and foreign detainees have the right to challenge the rationales for their incarcerations. These decisions invalidated the administration's position that alleged enemy combatants do not have the right to habeas review.

President Obama and his predecessor say that we the people should trust their judgments whereas executive actions since September 11, 2001 prove otherwise. Since that horrific date U.S. government policies have included foreign county invasions, kidnapping, torture, indefinite detentions, military tribunals, NSA privacy violations and deadly drone strikes.

The Iraqi attack was premised on weapons of mass destruction and the presence of Al Qaeda. Neither of which could be found in the country. It is past time for the government to prove the validity of their costly actions by declassifying the Iraqi war rationale papers.

In 1961 President Eisenhower warned citizens to be wary of state necessity claims and the adverse influence of the military/industrial complex on government affairs. President Eisenhower's prescience has been remarkable.

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