By ETHAN SMITH
Information obtained for this article was procured via nbc and cnn online.
Any student reading this has grown up in a different era. Past generations grew up in the turmoil of WWII, Vietnam and the Cold War; we’ve been raised amidst The War On Terror. War is nothing new, but what we face is not the traditional warfare we have grown accustomed to.
Somewhere, out in the world, wicked men scheme against our country and its citizens. There are people trained to give up their lives if it means Americans die, regardless of age or gender. It’s frightening. In the past years we have faced combatants who possess a set of ideals and values that we generally cannot negotiate or reason with. How do we fight this, and what are we willing to sacrifice to defeat them?
The Obama administration recently released a chilling memo which concluded that the United States can order the killing of American citizens believed to be affiliated with Al-Qaida. The memo also specifically states that the government will not be required to provide “clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.” Essentially, this allows the President to order the execution of American citizens outside of warzones, who have not stood trial or been allowed due process. We can talk all we want about “special circumstances,” but I believe we have ventured into dangerous territory in our fervor for victory.
My problem does not merely stop at the fact that innocent people may be killed if this memo is enacted. Even if the chances of killing an innocent person were miniscule (which they aren’t, as there is strong evidence that suggests many civilians die in these attacks as well), we would sacrifice part of America’s ideology. Al-Qaida combatants fight America because they are opposed to the things we stand for, our values and way of life. Before this War on Terror, many Americans would have agreed that all U.S. citizens have inalienable rights, and that one of those is a right to due process and a trial when charged with a crime. According to Obama’s memo, we are on the brink of forfeiting this right. When we do that, we will have relinquished a value as old as this nation, one of the things that makes America “American.”
The enemy wants to destroy America, and in a sense they will have succeeded if they make America stop being American. If we have to sacrifice the identity and integrity of our ideology, we will have lost this war.