Thursday, February 7, 2013

Drones: Is Technology Overtaking Moral Imperative? Who Defines What An Imminent Threat Is? Is Panetta Telling The Truth About Benghazi?; Those Defense Budget Cuts; Those On Long Term Unemployment Fell

Obama Blanks On What He;s Ineffectually Urging Congress To Take Action On Now...The Onion 

  • When the news broke last week (via a leaked Justice Department report) that we target al-Qaeda and terrorist linked American citizens, it was too early for me to decide if these strikes were appropriate and legal. Quite frankly, even legal scholars are all over the map when it comes to the legality of this White House policy. So allow me to offer my own opinion (and I don't even play an attorney on TV). In short, I believe when American citizens associate with terrorists and turn their gun on Americans, they should be taken out. I sincerely believe it's the duty of our country to protect its citizens before a terrorist does harm to us even if it's an American citizen. In fact, an American citizen, in my opinion, who turns his guns, bombs, etc. against Americans,  immediately loses the shield citizenship. The principle of self-defense applies. If a criminal points his weapon at a police officer or a civilian and refuses to drop the weapon, police have the right and duty to shoot him to protect others. So, as long as a terrorist, even an American affiliated with a terrorist organization like al-Qaeda, poses an imminent threat to us---it's the duty of the government to kill him.
  • Having said all that, I still have some major concerns about this policy. My position above might seem a tad simplistic to many. I recognize that.  It's why I entitled this piece, "Drones: Is Technology Overtaking Moral Imperative?" One concern is specific to the definition of imminent threat. Who decides who is an imminent threat? What kind of evidence is the government relying upon to take an alleged American terrorist out? The fact that there was very little transparency with this policy (after all, it was leaked), as Americans, we have to be concerned about how much power we grant the executive branch of government. In other words, who will oversee the executive authority associated with a this policy? Since it was a secret policy, right now, it appears the executive branch was acting on its own. For these questions and more, it's important this debate continue. It's important our judicial and legislative arms review it. If not, would the executive branch violating the very rights it's supposed to safeguard? And what does this policy mean for future warfare?

  • Today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is testifying to Congress about the attack on Benghazi. He said something that has me scratching my head right now. Regarding sending assets to Benghazi during the attack, Panetta said, "This was, pure and simple, a problem of distance and time." He added it would have taken up to 12 hours to even provide air cover. That's hard for me to swallow. We currently have Air Force bases in Italy, Germany and the Middle East. Even from Germany, the distance to Libya is less than 1300 miles. Fighter jets can fly at about 1500 mph at full throttle. We have squadrons on alert in many of our bases. Is it too unreasonable for me to expect the Benghazi consulate to have had air cover in less than 90 minutes?

  • Unless the White House and Congress reaches a deal about defense budget cuts, we can expect the following: Military members will only receive a 1% pay raise instead of their "whopping" 1.7% raise. There will be a 30% reduction in Air Force aircraft maintenance. And the Navy will be forced to cut by half the number of flying hours for its aircraft on carriers in the Middle East. They face a cut of $46 billion. Defense is 18% of our budget while entitlements ---the area congress and Obama are to feckless to tackle---make up 60% of the budget. Interest in the debt is 7% of the budget and rising quickly.
  • One bit of good news on the jobless front: The number out of work at least 6 months fell. Today, they represent 38% of all those unemployed. Last year, it was 43%. Bureau of Labor Statistics