Saturday, August 13, 2011

Non-judicial Killing

I will not condone non-judicial killing.  Executing persons without a fair trial.  I ask my government to stop this sort of activity, by whatever agency is using it, whether it be the CIA or the military or anyone else.

The existence of the remote controlled airplane to enact “targeted killing” is a specific example of this sort of action which I am compelled to speak against.  I can conceive of no way in which the use of an armed robot plane could be used in the world at present without the intent of executing someone without a fair and just hearing, without due process, without perhaps even knowing the name of the victim.  Of course there are other means by which non-judicial killing can be done:  a multitude of means are at the disposal of the modern killer.  But in all of those other methods, one could conceive that at least some effort might be made on the part of those involved to avoid killing:  the policeman could try to bring the criminal in but need to fire in self-defense.  The sniper can see the pirate ready to kill a hostage and must put an end to him.  But the robot-plane takes a convenient and chilling step back:  there is not even the attempt to hide the reality that what is happening here is murder.  Premeditated, calculated, the victim is selected and then by remote control, he or she is snuffed out.  No evidence presented.  No possibility that the person could defend himself or herself.

What is the basis for this my concern?  It is very simply the belief that human life is given by God.  God the creator has made the people of the earth, His children.  To take the life of even one of them is a horrible thing, an act of unbelief that says to God:  you do not know what kind of horrible creature you have made!  I (or my government) must set this problem right by removing his or her life. 

Now of course in this world there are times and seasons where the ending of life must take place.  War and self-defense are instances of this.  And to prevent the misuse of “exceptions” to the rules against murder, we must take great care.  For in the law forbidding murder as in all commandments given by God to us, our failure to obey attracts swarms of justifications that cloud the light required to see the law.  In this darkness, failure to obey is typically and usually simply that:  failure.

Our laws in the US have many safeguards to prevent our government from treading on persons’ right to life.  We will lose those safeguards and thus risk all of our lives if we continue to support and justify these non-judicial killings, these drone attacks.  Even worse, we risk the displeasure of Almighty God.


Sarah said...

Whoa-I wasn't aware that drones have become so common. Scary.

Paul Bunge said...

From a doctor friend serving in the US Army in Afganistan currently. UAV= unmanned aerial vehicle, he is talking about Army-controlled drones:

Hi Paul, That is a very well written and compelling argument against the use of UAVs. However, there is not an indiscriminate use of UAVs to kill folks over here. As I witness almost daily, we have armed UAVs flying overhead. Only one the rarest of occasions do they actual fire their weapons. The process for "clearing" a target is extraordinary. Many times individuals are observed and filmed digging holes in the road, implanting what is almost assuredly IEDs, and they're let go because sufficient certainty doesn't exist that their activities are illegal. Often on patrols Soldiers risk their lives to find and then disarm these IEDs. Due to the "Karzai 12" rules which severely restrict US movements, often the individuals observed digging the holes escape capture by simply disappearing into a building and never does the opportunity to bring them to justice exist. Due process in a martial law environment is an impossibility and can only be reserved for a civilized society which has respect for the government and the judiciary.

Case in point ... During this deployment we have literally watched people on live video launch rockets and mortars at our base. Imagine a call over the radio "He's putting the launcher on his shoulder, he's firing, round in the air, prepare for impact ... " BOOM! I have had rounds land within 15 meters of our aid station and smelled the cordite. And the truly amazing thing was we didn't shoot back. We respected Karzai's rules for engaging the enemy. Ultimately, hopefully we gained trust and respect from the local populace. Unfortunately Americans are wounded in these types of encounters everyday in Afghanistan. Some of them are our patients at your hospital as I write this. It would be wonderful if it this country (or Pakistan or Yemen or Libya) had a developed police force and judicial system and it was practical to bring the insurgents to justice. But in a war justice is often achieved with a weapon and it is rarely blind.

Paul Bunge said...

Thank you so much for the comments. They carry much more weight than my theories in many ways, born and said in the midst of the crucible as they are. And yet, I remain unconvinced, especially in light of the shear numbers of drone attacks, specifically by the CIA. From your comments I see the point made by the Economist writer who points out the differences between the CIA and the military's use of the drones for attacks:

" To improve accountability, control of armed drones flying over Pakistan and Yemen should be transferred from the CIA to the armed forces (which operate them in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya). The CIA can use drones to spy, but when it comes to warfare, it is less accountable than the military chain of command, less used to applying the rules of war and less inclined to pay compensation to the families of innocent civilians who have been killed. The operation of America’s new killing machines must be brought clearly within the law."​ode/21524876