Saturday, April 27, 2013

Drones, Revisited

Rand Paul, my junior Senator from Kentucky, was in the news again this week; apparently for advocating drone strikes inside the USA, on American citizens.

Well, that's what the media was saying anyway. All the while managing to squeeze in the word hypocrite as many times as they could. Senator Paul has a slightly different position, as you can imagine. After all; this is the man who filibustered for 13 hours against the Obama Administration on that same topic.

Senator Paul said on a show on Fox that: "If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and $50 in cash, I don't care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him".

Here is the detail that makes this a non-news, non-event; detail that the folks wanting you to believe Senator Paul is a hypocrite hope you don't hear about.

Rand Paul used that exact same phrase in his filibuster. He has drawn a very bright line between the use of a drone as a law enforcement tool and its use as an assassination tool. The liquor store scenario shows that a drone, much like the bomb squad robots, can be used as a law enforcement tool to keep cops out of harm's way. A technology that, to the best of my knowledge, doesn't yet exist.

Small wonder- I agree with the Senator.

If someone is leaving a liquor store- or any place- they have just robbed, guns blazing and stolen cash in hand, law enforcement has a duty to protect the rest of us from this menace. Whether the cops protect me with their sidearm, their shotgun or the yet-to-be-developed urban drone, I don't care. This is a 'hot' situation, requiring instant reaction.

Let's say our bad guy gets away somehow, although the police have a description of him. 6 months later this same yet-to-be-developed urban drone spots our unindicted, but known, felon eating lunch at a patio table at your local Rally's.

And pumps 3 slugs into him; making him a former unindicted, but known, felon, now known as the recently deceased.

Do you see the difference in these two scenarios?

I would have no problem with eh Administration flying a few armed drones into a situation- like say the Benghazi Embassy attack- and dropping a few combatants.

But I would have a problem with them dropping those same combatants a few weeks later while they sitting at a cafe enjoying some spring sunshine.

The difference is all about when we can allow the use of lethal force as a substitute for a trial by jury and a legal- and possibly non-lethal- punishment.

Take for example the recent Boston bombing. The cops had a gun fight with the two bombers, and killed one. They searched for and found the second bomber, and now know where he is. Can the Boston PD walk into his prison hospital room and shoot him? Would that have been justified in shooting him instead of arresting him when they found his bullet-riddled carcass hiding in a Watertown backyard?

Of course not. It's the difference between an active situation requiring an equal reaction and a simple arrest.

So why should the use of drone technology be considered differently? Technology makes us more able to control a situation; it doesn't remove our moral or legal restraints from the action.

Rand Paul is once again on the right side of the issue, leaving the Democrats sitting on the wrong side, and being forced to defend their poor position as best they can.

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