The Rand Paul filibuster about drones boiled down to a simple question…whether the White House believed it had the authority to kill Americans on U.S. soil using an unmanned drone.
Drones are a hot topic for Libertarians, as well as for conservatives whose goal is to make Obama look bad, no matter the cost. To that end Rand Paul spent 12 hours pandering to that libertarian itch. The paranoia that, if we are using armed drones against targets in Pakistan against terrorists, we must certainly be thinking about using them on US soil against terrorists…or maybe Jane Fonda. Logic leaping should be an Olympic sport.
But let’s look at what the subject really is in its most simple form…drone attacks on US soil [Paul’s phrase]. Since the “targets” of such an attack are somewhat nebulous…are they terrorists, protesters, militia, Jane Fonda…let’s look at the hypothetical by looking at the process and see where Rand Paul’s question fails simple critical thinking.
Just how would this attack happen? Bad guy identified, located and target acquired. From this point a policy would trigger an attack by the unmanned, armed drone and – done. That’s pretty simple on the surface but let’s look deeper.
First, the drone weapons’ system is not “unmanned”, though the drone itself is. The personnel flying the drone are certainly alive…and the decision making is certainly human. BUT…why would anyone chose a drone to task against bad guys in the United States? We use drones in places where we don’t want to put boots on the ground, where we don’t want to overfly. We use drones because we don’t want to risk our troops or other personnel. Those conditions do not exist on the soil of the United States. We have civilian law enforcement, we have due process, we have scores of ways to ARREST bad guys here in the US…there is no logic to stand-off attack with a military weapon.
Today I looked up while going to lunch to see a pair of Apache helicopters flying from Bluegrass Airport to Lexington Bluegrass Army Depot for electronics and toy installation. Hmmm… armed Apaches, with 30mm depleted uranium chain guns and pods for multiple air-to-surface missiles such as the AGM-114 Hellfire missile.
Then I thought about the thousands of F14, F15, F16, F18, A10, F22, B2 and B52 that fly over US skies each and every day, for the last sixty years…and most are fully armed as they have to be ready to go to hot conditions at any moment. We have platforms, on both aircraft and ships that can launch a tomahawk cruise missile from up to 1300 miles away.
Then I look a bit back in history, during the cold war. We had nuclear armed B52, B58, B1 flying at each and every moment, ready to air-fuel and go to the Soviet Union or China or where ever the threat was. We even have permanently deposited nuclear bombs on the soil of America thanks to accidents in the 1960s involving B52s and B58s and their nuclear payloads.
The point…there is absolutely zero difference in POLICY in use of a drone than use of any one of the other, many military assets from the past 100 years. The reason it is not done is because it is against the Constitution, against every military doctrine in US military history, and against the many laws in place that keep military assets from civilian use.
Each and every president has had a “theoretical opportunity” to use military assets against civilians. And Paul should know that. But he doesn’t…or just wants to expose his paranoia to the world that drones are somehow different, or that he doesn’t trust the system of government which he spent $8,000,000 joining.
The assertions made by Paul that we would suddenly use drones against US citizens is based on the partisan premise that somehow THIS president is different than all other presidents who have had the same set of powers, the same options. Yet nothing Obama has done has even remotely proven that premise.
Put simply…Rand Paul tried to raise an argument for which there is not a reality. The concepts about which he worries have been present for decades, just not the shiny bauble of a drone that is currently so upsetting to many of his followers.
So the question was asked and the question was answered…all without the fundamental reality that the policies of drones, or any other military asset, and killing of US citizens on US soil have been around for years…decades. It is really simple but it does require critical thinking skills. Pandering to your base – not so much.
Rand Paul at 2010 Kentucky Gun Rights Rally with the Ohio Valley Freedom Fighters Militia
McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.
You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.
March 12th, 2013 at 4:01 am
Very well written. I agree with your point about the availability and transparency of the weapon systems throughout history and the absence of “fear” prior to the Obama presidency. It truly seems, from a left leaning “middle grounder”, that whatever Obama does, will get unmatched criticism. It’s unfair for him, yet at the same time, whenever we have a “first” among things, they are always compared with extra effort for some reason.