If the President could have given a drone-strike order to take out Timothy McVeigh prior to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, would it have been justified? In hindsight many of us would be tempted to say, “Yes,” simply because it would save 168 lives and prevent over 800 injuries. HINDSIGHT is a beautiful talent but unfortunately does not exist as FORESIGHT. If then-President Clinton had ordered a drone strike on McVeigh, the attack SHOULD have been deemed unlawful and unConstitutional and the orders should have been refused. Would they have been? How would anyone even know?
What if, pre nine-eleven, President Bush could have ordered a drone strike on a given house where a number of the terrorists were living as they waited for the date of the attack to arrive? In ordering a drone strike on that residence the President could have avoided at least one hijacking and saved any number of lives. Would such an order have been justified? In this case we’re not even talking about American citizens; there’s a legal argument as to whether or not Posse Comitatus or the Constitution even applies to them. I ask again, would it have been justified? Hindsight says yes.
I have come to the conclusion that, short of the invasion of the United States by a foreign military, there can be no good reason for the President to order a drone strike on a domestic target. Further, if the target holds ANY American citizen – even a convicted criminal – the Fifth Amendment protections granted by deity and delineated by our forefathers in the Constitution of the United States prohibits such an action.
No President should have the power to order an assassination without first observing every Constitutional protection an American citizen has. No government employee should have the authority to order an execution or assassination without first observing every Constitutional protection an American citizen has. No Attorney General should believe that it’s lawful and legal for a President to order the assassination of an American citizen, without due process, under ANY circumstances.