With the release of the government’s memo laying out the case for the extra-judicial assassination by drones of US citizens, the media have finally begun to take a closer look at the whole drone war. Greg Mitchell has a useful summary with links.
Tom Junod’s piece is must-read:
The white paper offers a legal opinion, not a moral one, but the questions that it tries to answer are moral indeed:
Do “informed, high-level officials” have the power to kill their own citizens?
Are “informed, high-level officials” acting in the interests of the state ever liable to the accusation that they have committed murder?
These are the moral questions that the Constitution was written to address by means of a legal framework. The leaked white paper seems to address them in a different way, in a kingly way, in an almost pre-constitutional or perhaps post-constitutional way. And so when we read it, we recognize it for what it is: the kind of document that has always been proferred to power. The kind of document that always ends with somebody dead.
But there’s silence among progressive Christians. Not a word yet on Huffington Post Religion. Not a word yet on Religion Dispatches. Not a word yet from Episcopal Cafe.
My questions for all those outlets and for the people who write regularly for them: Where’s your moral and religious outrage at this raw use of unconstitutional power? Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize (remember that?). He’s been hailed as a close follower of Niebuhr. His Second Inaugural the manifesto for a new progressive American Civil Religion.
Obama has refused us as a nation the necessary conversation and come to terms with our use of torture. He has refused to make those who permitted, advocated and conducted accountable for their actions. Three days after he was inaugurated in 2009, he began using drones to kill people he and his administration claimed were enemy combatants.
Christians need to challenge his claims and his administration’s actions. We need to hold him account just as many of us want to hold the previous administration to account for all of the evil it perpetrated. We need to remind him–he is a Christian, after all–of the moral and ethical obligations of following Jesus Christ and we need to offer a clear, consistent, and loud prophetic voice against this evil program.
The Washington Post does have a piece from a Roman Catholic exploring the memo’s use of Just War Theory.
And there’s this from Lawrence Garcia (who is currently attending Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University):
We, as the followers of the unjustly-crucified Terrorist, should, of all people, be vocally against this inhumane use of military might. After all, our King was also the victim of such imperial tactics and realpolitik, and he calls his disciples to sympathize with his fellow sufferers-under-empire. Remember, the cross is not only where sin was dealt with and where Satan was defeated, but also where empire revealed itself for what it truly was, dispenser of injustice; no matter how much Pilate continues to wash his hands