While there are several high-profile conflicts going on that the public is very aware of, namely Libya, Egypt and Syria, it is the covert and invisible conflicts that the United States are involved in that are the most damaging and concerning. While it seems that we are on an irreversible path to conflict with Iran over their nuclear facilities and the risk their program poses to Israel, many don’t know that we have been actively involved in Iran for years now. Over the past few years, the United States along with Israel have conspired to murder countless Iranian scientists who are suspected to be working on the nuclear program. This is a scary precedent that we’ve set. Essentially, we are using covert operations and drone attacks to murder those who we label as enemy combatants without due process.
In my opinion, the crossing of the Rubicon happened Sept. 30, 2011. Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who was placed on a CIA “kill list” last year, died in a targeted strike in Yemen on Sept. 30 that also killed Samir Khan, an alleged propagandist for al-Qaida, in the Arabian Pensinsula. Al-Awlaki’s teenage son, Abdulrahman, was killed in a separate strike 200 miles away in which six others died two weeks later. While many argue that drone strikes violate the sovereignty of other nations, the most concerning part about this specific example is the fact that all three were U.S. citizens. Why is this troubling? The fifth amendment of the United States Constitution affords all citizens of the United States due process by stating, “No person… be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.”
While it is indisputable that radicals who are part of a terrorist organization that is focused solely on pushing back against U.S. influence in Middle Eastern affairs through violence shouldn’t be treated lightly, the situation changes significantly when it comes to dealing with U.S. citizens. This is the invisible war. While the emotion of the argument can and usually does get in the way of our decision-making, we should step back and think of the logic behind this policy. In effect, the Obama administration is saying that it has the right to assassinate any enemy combatants abroad regardless of their nationality or rights to due process.
When you look at this development in the context of the Patriot Act and other developments, it’s evident that many constitutional rights are being trampled in the name of homeland security. This is the reality of the conflict we are in today; a lot of these drone strikes and assassinations are out of the public eye and the eroding of respect for the declaration of rights afforded to U.S. citizens by the constitution is largely kept out of the public eye. I encourage everyone to research and look into this issue as the warrantless phone tappings, secret searches and now assassinations of U.S. citizens without due process all set a worrying precedent for the future.