Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Killing With Near Certainty

Posted by M. C. on October 13, 2022

Abraham Lincoln was the first head of state in world history to target civilians militarily and the first to kill civilians of his own country. Franklin D. Roosevelt slaughtered thousands of innocent helpless German civilians at the end of World War II by carpet-bombing German cities, rather than targeting the German military.

By Andrew P. Napolitano

Last week, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. secretly reaffirmed his own self-willed authority to kill persons in other countries, so long as the CIA and its military counterparts have “near certainty” that the target of the homicide is a member of a terrorist organization. That standard was concocted by the Biden administration.

There is no “near certainty” standard in the law, as the phrase is oxymoronic and defies a rational definition; like nearly pregnant. One is either pregnant or not. One is either certain or not. There is no “near” there.

Yet, the creation of this standard underscores the lamentable absence of the rule of law in the Biden administration, and in the administrations of its three immediate predecessors, each of which deployed drones to kill persons who were not engaged in acts of violence at the time of their killing, irrespective of the near certainty of their membership in any organizations.

“Terrorist” cannot be a standard for murder because it is subjective. To King George III, George Washington was a terrorist. To the poor folks in Libya and Syria, to the popularly elected governments toppled by CIA-inspired violence, to the innocents tortured at black sites around the world, the CIA is a terrorist organization.

The presidential use of drones to kill persons overseas began in 2002 with targeted killings ordered by President George W. Bush. It continued under President Barack Obama — who even killed Americans overseas. The rules for killing were made up by each president. They were relaxed under President Donald Trump, who gave CIA senior personnel and military commanders the authority to kill without his express approval for each killing.

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