It’s telling of our current political stalemate that the Irish beat American liberals to the punch:
President Obama’s visit to the Group of Eight summit has created a political row in Ireland after an outspoken liberal lawmaker on Wednesday denounced the U.S. president as a “war criminal” for his drone use and his decision to arm the Syrian rebels.
If only the liberal left here in America would attack Obama in the same way they attacked Bush for the same crimes.
Drones are here to stay. You can go to Amazon and get your own for about $300. And then, when it comes in the mail, you can do this:
Back in October, Alexis wrote a piece asking what rights do we have with regard to the air above our property. Walk onto someone’s lawn and you’re trespassing; fly over it in a helicopter and you’re in the clear — “the air is a public highway,” the Supreme Court declared in 1946. But what about the in-between space? Does the availability of unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones, aka UAVs) throw a wrench in the old legal understandings?
Well, here’s where the rubber meets the road for this abstract line of questioning. The Capitol Hill Seattle Blog is reporting a complaint it received from a resident in the Miller Park neighborhood. She writes:
This afternoon, a stranger set an aerial drone into flight over my yard and beside my house near Miller Playfield. I initially mistook its noisy buzzing for a weed-whacker on this warm spring day. After several minutes, I looked out my third-story window to see a drone hovering a few feet away. My husband went to talk to the man on the sidewalk outside our home who was operating the drone with a remote control, to ask him to not fly his drone near our home. The man insisted that it is legal for him to fly an aerial drone over our yard and adjacent to our windows. He noted that the drone has a camera, which transmits images he viewed through a set of glasses. He purported to be doing “research”. We are extremely concerned, as he could very easily be a criminal who plans to break into our house or a peeping-tom.
The site adds, “The woman tells us she called police but they decided not to show up when the man left.”
We aren’t going to get the government to move on the drone thing until we start seeing private citizens begin to fly over private homes like this.
A funny aside?
As for the privacy concerns, one of the most important questions is what was being photographed. “If the camera on the drone was always aimed at the public street,” Villasenor writes, “then that’s very different than if it was capturing images into the home through the window.”
That’s illegal. But this is art:
Residents in a multimillion-dollar Tribeca building are upset after learning a photographer who lives across the street has secretly been snapping pictures of them through their windows for a Chelsea art exhibit.
Photographer Arne Svenson, who lives in a second-floor apartment on Watt Street, told The New York Post his behavior does not violate his neighbors’ privacy. He compared himself to a birdwatcher.
“They are performing behind a transparent scrim on a stage of their own creation with the curtain raised high,” Svenson, 60, told the Post. “The neighbors don’t know they are being photographed; I carefully shoot from the shadows of my home into theirs.”
Svenson’s photos, which do not show his subjects’ faces, are being sold for thousands of dollars each at a new exhibition called “The Neighbors” at Julie Saul Gallery.
For the record, I’m a hawk on enhanced interrogation techniques and am supportive of drone strikes in the prosecution of terrorist abroad. So I certainly CAN imagine a time when the President could authorize a drone attack on American soil used against Americans.
For example, if Timothy McVeigh had left a note on the kitchen table describing what he was planning to do and we had him en route to the target; take him out. Same for the scenario that Senator Feinstein described:
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who is the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, said one such situation would be the shooting down of a plane hijacked by terrorists.
Clearly where traditional methods would be allowed, a drone ought be allowed. In fact, often time preferred.
But for the life of me I don’t understand why Obama, Holder and the whole of the administration won’t admit that the United States can’t use drones to strike American citizens “sitting in a cafe”:
Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, suggested a hypothetical situation in which a terrorism suspect was not presenting an immediate threat — like “sitting in a cafe” rather than “pointing a bazooka at the Pentagon” — and asked whether it would be unconstitutional for the military to simply kill that citizen.
How can the answer to that question not be an immediate “no”?
The politics are baffling to me. This isn’t a President who would have to worry about his base being upset with the answer. The reaction from the opposition wouldn’t be any worse than it currently is by hedging.
The answer and the “play” are so obvious that it’s mind blowing watching this play out.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a relative new comer to following politics. And certainly, this is the first time that I’ve followed and paid attention to politics real time. So I’ve never been in the circumstance of having to critique a republican president.
To be sure, at the end of Dubya’s term, I was aware and didn’t appreciate the lack of end-game concerning the two wars, I didn’t like the fact that we were detaining suspects with no real intention of trying them and I didn’t like the stimulus.
However, now we’re into Obama’s 2nd term and I’ve noticed a definite lack of prosecution regarding the subject of drones, drone strikes and the use of such as it concerns targets; foreign and domestic.
I would have guessed at such silence. After all, politics is, in many ways, a zero-sum game; the other guy wins when you lose. So liberal to take Obama to task for such abuse of power is counter-productive to their “cause”. I get that.
“We trust the president,” former Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan said on Current TV. “And if this was Bush, I think that we would all be more up in arms because we wouldn’t trust that he would strike in a very targeted way and try to minimize damage rather than contain collateral damage.”
This isn’t a critique of policy where one side “attacks” the other guy and silently disagrees with our guy. This is a case where the policy is okay in the hands of our guy but wrong in the hands of the other.
In other words, the act of killing Americans, foreign suspects and innocent civilians isn’t wrong a priori, it’s only wrong in the hands of President Bush.
The only thing more surprising than thinking this?