An Avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he a establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
—Thomas Paine (via hipsterlibertarian)
A 2011 FOIA request from the ACLU revealed that just in the 18-month period beginning October 1, 2008, more than 6,600 people — roughly half of whom were American citizens — were subjected to electronic device searches at the border by DHS, all without a search warrant. Typifying the target of these invasive searches is Pascal Abidor, a 26-year-old dual French-American citizen and an Islamic Studies Ph.D. student who was traveling from Montreal to New York on an Amtrak train in 2011 when he was stopped at the border, questioned by DHS agents, handcuffed, taken off the train and kept in a holding cell for several hours before being released without charges; those DHS agents seized his laptop and returned it 11 days later when, the ACLU explains, “there was evidence that many of his personal files, including research, photos and chats with his girlfriend, had been searched.” That’s just one case of thousands, all without any oversight, transparency, legal checks, or any demonstration of wrongdoing.
The executive branch is claiming the authority to target and kill any individual anywhere in the world - including American citizens - without any judicial process or oversight and without any transparency or accountability, it is subverting the Constitution and international law in assuming the role of judge, jury and executioner.
Under the Obama administration, drone strikes have escalated and expanded in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. In Pakistan alone, the Obama administration has launched six times as many drone strikes as the Bush administration, in fewer years in office, killing hundreds of innocent people and devastating families.
Ultimately, efforts to end the expansion of US drone strikes and covert wars are not only a legal matter, but a political and ethical one on which the viability of a livable future and meaningful democracy is based.