Does The Executive Branch Have A License to Kill?
Editors Note: The expansion of executive power has been an ever growing threat to the individual. The killing of United States citizens by our government is completely foreign to everything our bill of rights was written to protect. Obama has presided over the expansion of drone warfare around the globe. This type of warfare only exacerbates animosity toward our country. Presidents can't declare war on there own but the legislative branch has been reluctant to officially check this over reach.
Sometime in 2004 my cousin and I were having lunch in Tulsa with some of his friends. My cousin was a relatively conservative Christian gentleman, and that would also describe most of his buddies. That was also the same time frame when radical Islamic groups first started posting the beheadings of captured hostages on the internet for the world to see. As a nation, we were also just waking up to our countries use of “enhanced interrogation” techniques by the CIA at military holding facilities.
Our lunch conversation gravitated to comparing both evil acts and in good faith; they began attempting to justify our government’s use of an evil act to combat a greater evil. It was at this time I just began to listen which may have sparked my cousin to ask me for my view as a career military member. My answer at first surprised everyone at the table, but, after consideration, they all seemed to agree with me. My answer was simply, “that’s not who we are, or who we want our children to become.” I could tell I had their full attention.
From an early age, I understood that US fighting forces never, ever, engaged in torture of any kind, and our fighting men were often the targets of this evil interrogation practice in past wars. I was educated in these matters first by my veteran father, then by a large USMC DI known as Gunny Davis. To that generation, torture was a sign of an evil mind, and evil never provides more benefits than it cost in the long run.
This same generation wrote the US Code of Conduct, which while it does not actually forbid the use of torture, it certainly prepares us for that possibility if captured ourselves. It gets you to thinking… what if you were captured and your interrogator just found out that his brother was just captured and tortured to death by your outfit? You see, we are the good guys, we don’t do that sort of thing, and we fight against that sort of thing. Anyway, that gave my favorite cousin and his friends a different perspective than was being favored by the 24/7 network news at that time.
Since then we have seen additional signs that would point to our moral stagnation as a nation. We have allowed the executive branch of our government to enable a clandestine intelligence agency to go from using torture techniques to killing anyone who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time in a foreign land with drone-fired missiles. This is called a signature strike in drone speak and is responsible for killing many innocent people, women, and children. We should not engage in evil acts in an attempt to destroy evil, it only creates a new crop of enemies.
Our national principles, our government, is in a state of moral decline where the US executive branch is now maintaining secret lists that range from those who can’t fly to those who must die. Yes, our nation’s executive branch currently maintains a secret “kill” list which has contained the name of a US Citizen, who was summarily killed by US CIA drone strike. Yes he was a bad guy, yes he was inciting others to violence, and yes he should have been charged, captured, tried, and punished; instead, he was just killed. There are a lot of US Citizens and non-citizens that fit that profile.
What kind of nation do we want to leave for our children, a nation of due process and self-defense, or an empire on a treadmill of perpetual war?
Marven Goodman is the Chair of the Oklahoma Republican Liberty Caucus. The OKRLC is a liberty focused grassroots organization that champions individual rights, limited government, and free enterprise. He's a Retired Army LTC, and the County Commissioner in Logan County OK.