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Will The U.S. Use Drones to Kill Another American Overseas?

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

The above video is embedded from

According to top U.S. officials, the White House is debating whether or not to launch a lethal drone strike against another American citizen suspected of terrorist ties overseas. The name of the suspect has not been released, nor the country U.S. intelligence says he is located, but what has been confirmed is that it is a country where U.S. troops are not allowed on the ground.

It would seem one of the main reasons for using drones to take out targets in Middle Eastern countries is because U.S. troops and agents are not allowed on the ground or have not been given permission to be on the ground.

Will the U.S. use drones to assassinate another U.S. citizen even after political pressure forced President Obama to change counter-terrorism guidelines? Public sentiment against drone strikes overseas and domestic drone use is growing, so one has to wonder what further political implications this will have if the Obama administration decides to move forward with the strike.

The new rules for targeted drone strikes include:

  • Drone strikes will be carried out by the military, not the CIA.
  • The target must pose a "continuing imminent threat to U.S. persons."

The key focus may be that second point. How do you define a continuing threat to U.S. persons and what evidence has the U.S. Department of Justice gathered against the unnamed suspect? The person in question is suspected of carrying out attacks against Americans overseas so while he may not be a threat to U.S. persons at home, he could be a threat to U.S. persons abroad.

Still, the guilt of this man will not be decided in a courtroom -- not by a judge nor a jury of his peers. The DOJ will build a case and the president will make the final call.

The U.S. government has an obligation to guarantee the civil rights of Americans living overseas, but it should also do all it can to ensure their protection against anyone who would threaten their most fundamental rights, even if that threat is another American citizen. So, how does one weigh the situation?

Another important question is why do we risk further escalation of terrorist activities in the Middle East and damaging our relationship with allies in the region by conducting military strikes that often result in heavy collateral damage in these countries? The U.S. conducts targeted drone strikes on a single person or a small group of suspected militants and dozens of civilians whose only crime is that they were at the wrong place at the wrong time end up getting killed.

Did you know: Drone strikes are 10 times more likely to cause innocent casualties than bombs or missiles from U.S. jets. Read the fascinating and revealing report from Lawrence Lewis, a researcher at the Center for Naval Analyses, who has top-secret clearance.

As I have mentioned before, collateral damage is a natural part of war, but it should not be an accepted part of our foreign policy. Current counter-terrorism policy doesn't seem to make any real distinction between radical militants and innocent civilians in the region who have been victimized by militant groups like the Taliban and al-Qaeda. It hurts our relationship with these countries and does nothing to win the hearts and minds of locals.

So, the question remains: How do we effectively weigh the situation?

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

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