Murder by Drone
As I watched Barack Obama “take responsibility” for the death of Warren Weinstein, I momentarily left my body and inhabited that of his widow. I thought, what does it mean that you’re taking responsibility? How can you possibly compensate me for my loss? Will you go to jail for my husbands murder? If not, who will?
Weinstein, a USAID worker died in what can only be honestly called a Keystone Kops operation. What’s more shocking is that it is Keystone Kops by design. This was not a botched attempt to rescue Weinstein. It was not even an attempt to take out specific Al Qaeda personnel. This was a “signature strike”. A signature strike, as I understand it, is a drone attack on a target that shows terrorist activity, comings and goings. However the folks who are coming and going are not identified. The target simply meets the signature of bad guy activity. They didn’t know Weinstein was there. Two terrorists killed in this attack were killed entirely by accident. Again, not knowing was a feature of the operation, not a bug.
There is already controversy about the collateral damage done by drone attacks against known human targets. To expand this carnage to operations where we don’t know who we are killing seems a step too far. How did we get here? It’s the impersonal nature of the technology. It’s high stakes video gaming.
At the White House Correspondents Dinner, Saturday night, Obama promised to bring jailed Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian home from Iran. All I could think was, “if we don’t kill him first.”
The Legacy of a Myth
Michael Brown did not deserve to spark a movement. He was a juvenile delinquent destined to be a blight on society barring unlikely effective intervention. Yet the myth of Brown’s demise in Ferguson, Missouri (hands up, don’t shoot) has indeed been a game changer.
No matter how much the true facts of Ferguson were twisted, the Ferguson incident has laid down a new marker. There is a “mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore” mood on the streets of many urban neighborhoods right now. The war zone behavior of some police (justified or not) will no longer be tolerated.
Bottom line, “fair” or not, a white cop better have a good reason for killing a black suspect or there will be marches and in the cases of Ferguson and Baltimore, cities will burn. That is the new reality brought about by the undeserving standard-bearer, Michael Brown.
What do you think? The bar is open.