Grace Weissman

2/25/15
Period 1
Cold-hearted killers:
How one extension of executive power leads to deadly drone strikes
In the past six years, under Obama’s presidency, almost 2,500
people have been killed by drone strikes from the U.S., according to
Jack Serle of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. At least 314 of
these victims were civilians. As to the reasonable justification for such
violence? It’s hard to tell, with heads of the executive branch deciding
who to kill without any congressional oversight.
The history of armed American drones in the Middle East goes
back to the early 2000s. They were first sent to Afghanistan after 9/11
and now are used in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia as well. The first CIA
strike occurred in early 2002, when three civilian men, who were
supposedly legitimate targets, were killed. Since then, the government
has executed thousands more of these targeted killings, claiming fuzzy
justification for determining their victims.
It is clearly outrageous that deadly military technology is being
used under the president’s command with such frequency, even
though it lacks widespread approval. Not only is the executive branch
reaching itself beyond the system of checks and balances, its “secrecy
has defeated public candor and accountability,” as New Yorker writer
Steve Coll puts it. The American Civil Liberties Union, which works to
protect due process and equal protection under the law, further
explains that the killings are organized “with virtually no oversight

Grace Weissman
2/25/15
Period 1
outside the executive branch, and essential details about the program
remain secret, including what criteria are used to put people on CIA
and military kill lists or how much evidence is required.” The three
civilian men in 2002 were killed as a result of such practices; officials
stated that they were sure the men were appropriate targets-yet they
did not know who they were. The Fifth Amendment requires due
process of law, yet it seems impossible for unknown men to have been
appropriately tried and convicted.
While these actions are undoubtedly questionable, it is important
to note the responsibility that our nation has to fight terrorism, and
that the president’s role in doing so is complicated. Back in 2001,
Congress issued a joint resolution, stating, “the President is authorized
to use all necessary and appropriate force against those [involved in
the September 11 attacks.]” In this sense, Obama is within his rights to
command drone attacks. However, the problem then arises in the
criteria used to determine who was involved in 9/11 and if, therefore,
the force used against them is appropriate.
This is also where questions of constitutionality come into play.
As judge Rosemary M. Collyer said about a recent related case, “The
executive is not an effective check on the executive when it comes to
individual constitutional rights.” The American government was not
created to act unilaterally, yet these drone strikes are being executed
without the checks and balances from the other branches the

Grace Weissman
2/25/15
Period 1
Constitution was written to require. When lives are being taken as
result of a secretive killing program, it is an inappropriate
overextension of executive branch authority.
If you ask me, it’s time to take power away from trigger-happy
members of the executive branch and start demanding constitutional
government action that takes all necessary precautions to prevent loss
of innocent lives. Mr. Obama, take note.

Grace Weissman
2/25/15
Period 1

Bibliography
Act of 2001. Pub. L. 107-40. Stat. 18 Sept. 2001. U.S. Government
Publishing Office. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.
<http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ40/pdf/PLAW107publ40.pdf>.
Coll, Steve. "The Unblinking Stare." New Yorker 24 Nov. 2014: n. pag.
The New Yorker. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.
<http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/24/unblinkingstare>.
"Drones." American Civil Liberties Union. ACLU Foundation, n.d. Web.
17 Feb. 2015. <https://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/drones>.
Peralta, Eyder. "Federal Judge Dismisses Suit Challenging Drone Strikes
That Killed Americans." npr. npr, 4 Apr. 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.
<http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwoway/2014/04/04/299201799/federal-judge-dismisses-suitchallenging-drone-strikes-that-killed-americans>.
Serle, Jack. "Almost 2,500 Now Killed by Covert US Drone Strikes Since
Obama Inauguration Six Years Ago." Common Dreams. Common

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Dreams, 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.
<http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/02/02/almost-2500now-killed-covert-us-drone-strikes-obama-inauguration-six-yearsago>.