A few years ago I was working on a floor where a man who had suffered from a stroke a few weeks prior, was found breathing at a slower rate than normal. He didn’t immediately respond to the nurse that was taking care of him. Quickly, she called the emergency department and began situation the individual to move him to the front door. In the middle of her quick actions she made a mistake and the man fell out of his bed. Now there was a real emergency. It turns out, the man’s baseline respiratory rate was below normal and had been documented that way. He had no reason to go to the ER…that is until he fell out of his bed. Sometimes our reaction to perceived emergencies turns what is within normal limits into extreme situations.
Now, I always get a bit nervous when I find out that I agree with the ACLU, Juan Williams, or Dennis Kucinich on any given issue. When I agree with all three, I start second guessing myself. I’m further unnerved when I see the majority of conservative talking heads and politicians defending the President on the same given subject. Still, that is where I find myself in regards to the execution authority of Anwar Al-Aulaqi.
Look, I get the argument from some on the right. These are enemy combatants that we have declared war on… Only, we haven’t declared war have we? The next slant in the defense is that we can’t really declare war on an entity that isn’t a country – this is a war on terrorism. It is when we reach this point that I become a bit concerned. You see, there isn’t a standard out there now that qualifies or quantifies who our enemies are because we don’t know how to define them. Since we cannot define them, they are both everybody and nobody – two distinct groups that I find myself a part of depending on my surroundings.
This is an issue of great concern. We have the most powerful nation in the world carrying out covert attacks via missile strike on American citizens (albeit outside of the U.S. for now) and one elected man gets to say who is or isn’t the enemy. Are there some confusing double-negatives in the 5th Amendment that I’m not aware of? Where is the due process and Grand Jury? They aren’t to be found. Do you know why they aren’t to be found? Because our federal government deems the assassination of these enemies (and I think we’d all agree that these people are enemies of the nation) an emergency situation.
Apparently “emergency” is the new trump card for federal encroachments. “Emergency” was the hot word when we passed our bailouts that gave private businesses trillions of dollars to save them from their own failures. Where is the authority in the Constitution to perform such actions with our money? It’s not there! But…it’s an emergency. Over the past decade, it seems that our federal government has been doing its business to the tune of Foreigners “Urgent”. It was urgent that we bailout Wall Street, urgent that we pass Obamacare, urgent that we extend the debt ceiling, urgent urgent urgent…*cue sax solo*
The fact that our government has the ability to do such things under the guise of “emergent response” shows us something deeper than just their unhinged power, it is that we depend on them too much. Whenever crises occur (or even threaten to occur) we turn directly to our government systems for their care and comfort. Did you lose your house to a hurricane? Turn to FEMA. Did you lose your job? Turn to the extended unemployment funds. Did you become chronically ill? Turn to Obamacare. We’ve got a government program for every possible emergency situation out there. The problem is, we can’t afford them and the evidence of that is in our debt and the quality of the programs.
More importantly, when you depend so deeply on the government in emergency situations it becomes very easy for governments to take power – it requires nothing more than an emergency…or at least the fear of a possible emergency. That is exactly where we are today. Our elected officials simply conjure up an emergency situation and then legislate your worries away in a façade of safety. If you question their programs then they just remind you of the doom that could befall you if they weren’t there to save you in your time of need.
So now we’re killing U.S. citizens in the middle of the night under the banner of urgency. It’s too urgent to use the court of law or legal system. It’s too urgent to create legislation that defines our enemies so that we can, according to the Constitution, declare war on them. It is too urgent to follow the rule of law, to operate under the hindering measures outlined in our founding document, to abide by the true safety net of Americans – their Constitution. Our situation is too dire, too damning, too consequential, and too urgent to consider these obstacles and barriers. We must give one man the power to make the decision on who lives and dies for the safety of us all…
The same man whose administration has called the Tea Party terrorists? Racists? Un-American? I know, it’s quite a stretch to believe that American citizens that gather together could be attacked by the federal government *Waco*. It’s insane to believe that the federal government could set citizens up to be enemies of the state *Ruby Ridge*. It’s crazy to consider the federal government capable of rounding up innocent citizens under the banner of “emergency safety” *WWI Japanese internment camps*. I’m just saying, when we give the President unilateral power to start making this call, no matter who sits in that Oval Office seat, it is dangerous and contrary to who we are as a nation and our underlying philosophy. If we remove our solid foundation and replace it with a safety net, we will fall through the holes and lose all that we are.
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