Debate Club

Obama's Drone Problem Is Its Convoluted Semantics

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Does it matter how far President Obama has gone with his drone policy? No. The problem is the government keeps shifting the legal boundaries one word at a time due to the convoluted semantics now used to justify these actions. I am a guy who is still trying to figure out why extraordinary rendition is more ordinary than kidnapping, enhanced interrogation techniques are better than torture, and extralegal is more legal than just legal.

The confusion occurs when the government replaces a term whose definition is commonly understood with a word or phrase that has no normal relevant meaning to the concept. It continues when they mix and match the rules of war with the requirements the police have in enforcing criminal laws.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

An enemy leader who is credible and plans attacks against you is a legitimate military target. American military leaders learn Benedict Arnold has agreed to surrender West Point to the British. They post a sniper across the river to observe, while the Americans prepare to arrest him. Can the sniper kill Arnold on sight or does he have to wait until Arnold hands over the keys to the British or attempts to slip into the night?

The decision has little to do with the nationality of the target. What would the sniper think if he was told to terminate Arnold with extreme prejudice? It is just not that complicated unless you want it to be.

William F. Daddio

About William F. Daddio Professor at Georgetown University

Tags
terrorism
drones
Obama, Barack
national security

Other Arguments

#1
70 Pts
Brennan and Obama's Drone Playbook Must Be Debated Publicly

Yes – Brennan and Obama's Drone Playbook Must Be Debated Publicly

Dixon Osburn Director of Human Rights First’s Law and Security Program

#2
30 Pts
Obama's Drone Policy Has No Safeguards Against Abuse

Yes – Obama's Drone Policy Has No Safeguards Against Abuse

Rosa Brooks Fellow at the New America Foundation

#3
24 Pts
Department of Justice 'White Paper' Full of Contradictions

Yes – Department of Justice 'White Paper' Full of Contradictions

Alexa Koenig Executive Director of University of California-Berkeley's Human Rights Center.

#6
-15 Pts
Obama's Drone Policy Is Necessary to Keep the U.S. Safe

No – Obama's Drone Policy Is Necessary to Keep the U.S. Safe

Daniel J. Gallington Senior Policy and Program Adviser at the George C. Marshall Institute i

#7
-16 Pts
The Alternatives to Drone Strikes Are Worse

No – The Alternatives to Drone Strikes Are Worse

James Lewis Director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

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