US – Glenn Greenwald Is Wrong About Drones At Home, Too – 18 February 2013

I continue to struggle with finding some way to reach absolute pacifist emo progressives who oppose Obama’s drone policies. Perhaps one way to reach them is to draw everyone’s attention to this Glenn Greenwald article.

A few days back, a former LAPD policeman was in the news because he decided to go on a killing rampage in Southern California. People were at a loss to figure out how to apprehend the guy, and he was killing a lot of people. One of the ideas advanced on how to catch him was to use armed drone helicopters.

Cue Glenn Greenwald. The minute that suggestion came to light, he was all ready to write an article making the typical Firebagger claims about how drones are a threat to the rule of law and everyone’s civil liberties. I mean, look at what’s being suggested here! Instead of apprehending the suspect and bringing him to trial, the drone serves as judge, jury and executioner! Alert the Founders, the Republic is in jeopardy!

In this article for the Guardian, Greenwald’s highly predictable argument is laid out with the usual due regard for the values of humourlessness and moralism. He makes the case that not drones, but actual police officers, should be sent to apprehend the assailant.

The thing is, Greenwald should have probably had a backup plan for how he was going to explain things if actual police officers _were_ sent and they shot the assailant in a gun battle. Because, as luck would have it, that’s exactly what happened.

Egg, meet Greenwald’s face.

This particular assailant had a good deal of firepower at his disposal, no particular desire to be taken captive, and a certain willingness to die like a martyr. (In those respects, the shooter was certainly a lot like the average high-ranking Taliban or al-Qaeda operative.)

The police could not apprehend the suspect, and the suspect was shooting an arsenal at them. One policeman died in the shootout, as it turned out, and another was wounded. If the drone had been sent, that might not have happened.

In other words, instead of being the example that makes it clear that drones are threats to a society of law, this case was an example of exactly why Obama is doing what he’s doing.

The rules Obama has claimed he follows are: (1) A target needs to be authorised by US laws; (2) A target has to be a serious and not speculative threat; (3) Capture has to be infeasible before threats will be credibly understood to be carried out; (4) All reasonable steps are taken to avoid outside casualties; (5) If individuals can be apprehended before they carry out a plot, they are to receive all the legal protections to which they are entitled.

In this Southern California scenario, the first four criteria were demonstrably met. The fifth would have been had the shooter surrendered in the first place.

Yeah, yeah, I know…I’m not staying on script and reacting to all talk of police drone helicopters as the beginning of our enslavement to Big Brother, and all talk of air force drones as unbearable threats to world peace. Sorry.

All I’m saying is, maybe it would be more helpful for Glenn Greenwald to have told the shooter to surrender instead of attempting to continue his killing spree.

And frankly, maybe he should say that to the Taliban and al-Qaeda while he’s at it. You know, a group linked to both the Taliban and al-Qaeda killed 81 people in a bombing in Pakistan on Saturday. They weren’t attacking Americans, either. They blew up a crowded vegetable market full of people. On purpose.

The Taliban and al-Qaeda, and their religious reactionary allies, continue their killing spree, and probably will not consent to be taken alive. We have a choice. We can let their killing spree go on, or we can bring them down.

If there truly is no other way – and there probably won’t be – let’s not sell down the river those who act to stop the criminals.

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