On last night’s episode of The Daily Show, Stewart broke down President Barack Obama’s infatuation with drone strikes, and their often-questionable legality.
It’s no secret that the United States frequently uses unmanned drones when carrying out targeted military strikes. America, as Jon Stewart said in a segment titled "Romancing the Drone," “has long been at the forefront of explode-able technology,” and drones are no different. What’s more is that drone strikes have flourished under Obama.
“President Barack Obama is our country’s all-time leader in outside-battlefield sky killing,” Stewart said. “He’s like Barry Bombs of drone strikes.” Obama has carried out some 350-plus drone strikes during his presidency. In fact, the U.S. carries out a strike so frequently that the current 55-day pause of strikes in Pakistan is the longest of Obama’s tenure.
Of course, Obama just can’t kill whomever he pleases. As the president said in May, “it would [not] be constitutional for the government to target and kill and U.S. citizen with a drone … without due process.” See, there are constitutional limits to these sorts of things.
But wait! Now, Obama is finding those constitutional rules to be quite pesky. In February, it was reported that his administration wants to target a U.S. citizen that is working with al-Qaeda, and is trying to figure out how it can do so legally.
Stewart explains the dilemma: “It’s not constitutional to kill an American without due process, but there’s this American that [the administration would] really like to kill.”
So what's Obama to do? Take a page out of the Bush administration's book, it seems, and play loose with vague definitions for terms like "imminent threat" and "near certainty" – which in the case of Obama's drone attacks, amounts to 66 percent "certainty" that a strike won't kill a civilian.
Because when you define the terms yourself, there is no one you can't sort-of legally kill.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.