I would have thought that yesterday’s House Intelligence Committee comments by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair would have provided an “I can’t believe it” moment, but apparently not. The ACLU might be preparing a position paper, but so far not a bleat out of anyone. Blair said that US citizens abroad might be killed by CIA or the Defense Department if they are “taking action that threatens Americans.” He added that in so doing the government would “follow a set of defined policy and legal procedures that are very carefully observed” and described the policy as designed to “protect most of the country.”
Well, I guess it’s tough luck if you’re not one of the “most” and I will definitely sleep better knowing that there is a “defined policy” being overseen by some dude at CIA or the Pentagon whose promotion prospects depend on killing terrorists.
I must admit to having a problem with extrajudicial killing unless someone is absolutely caught in flagrante because, as a former intelligence officer, I know full well how bad intelligence can be. Would we be killing someone without any due process just because someone else bearing a grudge manages to plant some false info, as has occurred all too often in Afghanistan? If it is true that something like 19 civilians die in drone strikes for every bad guy we manage to get, there is something seriously wrong with the intelligence and about the system in general. And who makes the judgment of what constitutes something that “threatens Americans”? Blair went on to explain that being targeted might be based on being “involved in a group that is trying to attack us.” Involved? What does that mean?