Social Question

flo's avatar

How should an American citizen abroad who is a terrorist be treated?

Asked by flo (7369 points ) February 6th, 2013

Here is the article, (it may not be the best article) If someone is about to commit a terrorist act, should he/she be differently because of the American citizenship? Something about that was in the news yesterday.

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29 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think they shoud be treated differently.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Our Constitution promises all of us a trial by jury of our peers. I don’t think that should be altered by location.

JLeslie's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake Are you fine with not giving noncitizens a trial?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@JLeslie A trial for acts of war? I do not believe one is necessary on the battlefield. A trial for those non-citizens residing in the country who shoplift a loaf of bread? Yes.

Pachy's avatar

Yes, @Hawaii_Jake, you’re right, the U.S. Constitution promises all of us a trial by jury of our peers. The “all of us” is American citizens, by and for whom the Constitution was written. Unfortunately, not even all of us get that here, so if it’s not recognized or valued in our country, how can we expect it to be by countries and groups who wish us ill?

flo's avatar

Have you all heard the news article I’m referring to by the way?

Adagio's avatar

Should we simply assume that once accused the person is actually guilty, not impossible for someone to be wrongly accused, to be wrongly accused in a foreign country cannot be much fun, to say the least.

JLeslie's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake The question is talking about terrorism. So, let me make sure I understand, an American who has acted as a terrorist against America has a right to a trial and should be treated differently than a noncitizen who commited the same terrorist acts? The noncitizen can be killed by our government no problem, or held indefinetly etc.

We are not talking about stealing bread in this Q.

Pandora's avatar

Terrorist is a terrorist! You forfeit your citizen rights when you plot against us. End of story. I don’t think the CIA will plan a drone attack on a regular Joe who is vacationing. If they wanted to do that they would just walk up to him and shoot him and make it look like a mugging. I’m sure that is way cheaper to do.
If you don’t want your country to try to kill you, than don’t join a terrorist group. It really is that simple.

dabbler's avatar

I find the specific consideration of the case of a U.S. citizen is an offensive aspect of the legal analysis around drone operations. But I suspect it’s is in there because there are civilian laws in the U.S. requiring the government to provide minimal legal support.
The appeal to wartime legal standards as a basis for day-to-day policy is sad and corrupt.

So many civilians are killed and bombed out of their homes by well-provisioned military operations. Would the outcomes be different if we spent a fraction of the defence budget instead on diplomacy training?

woodcutter's avatar

There is no diplomacy or bargaining with terror groups. That is the whole point. They are not interested.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I think we have to ask ourselves what terrorism is. It’s my thought it is a attack with the intent of instilling the most amount of panic in a society. Basically, it may seem to amount to mass murder.

If I am a US citizen and I’m accused of mass murder or plotting such or abetting such, then I think our Constitution allows me a fair trial by a jury of my peers. I don’t think location negates my rights as a US citizen.

rojo's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake can an individual, citizen or not, or even a small group or gang, commit an act of war? Or are wars only between nations?

rojo's avatar

@flo Yes, I have heard about, and am in complete disagreement with, the article you are referencing. Some arbitrary gov. official gets to decide whether someone is a terrorist and if so, whether that person gets to live or die whether or not they are a direct or immediate threat to “the country”. I say that is bullshit.
@JLeslie the same thing, Someone in the gov. not necessarily the prez, makes a judgement call and the wording of this memo is so vague, so ambiguous, that they can take you out for expressing dissatisfaction with the present regime. Hell, right now we are acting in a seditious manner even discussing whether or not this is legit. We, could be arbitrarily executed for our discussion because it could, possibly, in some universe, be detrimental to the monetary welfare of this country. This is not right.

ETpro's avatar

There are limits on the trial by jury even for US citizens here on our own streets. A US citizen, Jimmy Lee Dykes was just shot dead by an FBI SWAT team when, after days of negotiations to free his 5-year-old hostage, his mental attitude deteriorated and he was observed brandishing a gun as if he might shoot the boy. His actions made killing him reasonable to ensure the safety of an innocent child. Even if someone is a US Citizen, if they join a radical jihadist group and begin plotting mass attacks on innocent Americans, I believe they have given up the right of due process. It’s simply not possible to send US forces everywhere in the world and arrest terrorists in lawless lands where we are not welcome.

Should the President make the call, or should it be a judge? That seems to me a subject for debate. But the notion that US Citizenship should make it perfectly OK to take up with terror groups in Yemen and launch repeated attacks on US citizens all around the world with no possibility of facing any real consequences for such action, I completely reject.

Pandora's avatar

Well said @ETpro. Only thing is I don’t think it matters who makes the call. In the end the evidence has to be provided by the CIA and I assume our military makes a call on how or why the target is a danger to our country. That just has more to do with barking.

What I mean is that the house or representatives just loves barking across the fence at the presidency. Nothing gets done and you just end up with a lot of annoying noise and shit all over the yard. My point is this is just smoke and mirrors. They really don’t care. They just want something else to bark at that doesn’t require any real results.

rojo's avatar

@Pandora “In the end the evidence has to be provided by the CIA…” You mean the same group that swore there were WMD’s in Iraq. Sorry, can’t trust their unverified judgement.

What about the new laws being past, called Ag-Gag Laws, that seek to label anyone who exposed animal cruelty in a slaughterhouse as a terrorist. As in the following:

“Model Legislation
The primary tool used by ALEC is model legislation. Corporations pay thousands of dollars to be members of the group, and in turn they draft model bills which are introduced across the country, all without other lawmakers and the public having any idea of their origins.
One of ALEC’s model bills is the “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act.” The bill is so broad that it classifies non-violent civil disobedience by environmental and animal rights activists as terrorism.” These models are the basis for laws already on the books in several states.
Full Article here. Would it be inconceivable that drones could be used both to spy on and take them out now that they are official “terrorists”?

At this time we have drones flying overhead around the borders, drones were used by the police in the hostage situation in Alabama last week. More and more domestic policing agencies are requesting their own drones ostensibly for surveillance (as if that isn’t bad enough) but we are aksed to take their word for it that they will never arm them or use them in a domestic situation. I believe them, sure, right up until they do it the first time and then every department decides it would by good to have that “option”. Then it all goes to hell.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not against taking out actual threats to other Americans but the way it is set up now there is just too many opportunities for abuse.

Pandora's avatar

Do I trust the CIA in everything. Hell no!! But I do trust that not everyone hired in the system are douche bags. I know people who want to be CIA who are decent people and I know people in the FBI who also are decent people.
When it comes to Iraq, I could’ve sworn that our intelligence said there was no weapons of mass destruction. The whole thing was smoke and mirrors.

Can we dissect everything that happens in our intelligence community. Sure, but then secrecy would be null in void. No one would want the job ever. It’s not a perfect solution but then what is?
If they intended to keep this a secret and deceive the public or the President, than they simply would’ve not even mention the death of an American citizen. Least, that is what I would do. Go, oops my bad, we didn’t know he was there.

Then he would’ve just been a casualty of war. Someone would’ve simply gotten a letter of reprimand for that. No, jail, not real penalty.
Like I said. They could’ve just shot the guy if he was some normal person. Cheaper and probably not have to even report it up the chain. Just doesn’t seem practical.
It would be like sending an armor truck to blow up my house instead of rigging up my gas to blow by replacing a valve or something on my gas line. Opps, I may have said too much!
Hey if you hear about this happening in va, check to see if I’m still alive. LOL

ETpro's avatar

@Pandora Thank you for backing all the hard-working CIA officers who keep people like @rojo safe from terrorism even thought the only thanks they get is being accused of being murderous maniacs. @rojo, the WMD claims were due to Cheney and the Bush Administration cooking the books on the intel, not the CIA going off on a tangent.

The fact that happened highlights my concern about who gets to make the kill call is one of separation of powers, and of politics. The kill orders are secret. Even the law they are carried out under is secret. I trust that President Obama takes each decision seriously, aware that a human life is in the balance. But we have pure partisan hacks enough now that if one of them got the power to science political opposition with a drone strike, I have no doubt but that they would do it.

rojo's avatar

@ETpro I agree with you 100% regarding the responsibility of Cheney on the cooking of the intel (Bush was such a flake that I do not believe he is anything but a patsy) but where you and I differ is on the ability of a single individual, in this case Obama to make the correct call. I do NOT trust Obama to make the correct call. No more than I trusted Bush to do it.

The office of the presidency is usurping too much power from the Congress. Not that they are anything to brag about but they SHOULD be the ones to make that decision not the Imperialistic Presidency.

I am not saying that the CIA officers are not doing their duty but I am saying that they have a tendencey to bow to political pressure to give the answers that their masters want.

Hell, 12 years ago my son was charged with “Making Terroristic Threats” by a school board based on a non-violent confrontation with a teacher. Should he have been targeted for elimination without due process? This was later downgraded to public nuisance but WTF the original charge labeled him a terrorist.

If you read the white paper in question you will see that it grants too much authority to a single element of the government. If you actually read the memo in question it just says someone of authority IN the gov. it does not designate the Prez as the last word. We are supposed to have a government of checks and balances. Not even the Prez. let alone some assassination czar, should have the ability to kill another American without due process.

We have had due process from the time of the Magna Carta, some 800 years now and yet you are willing to throw this out just to make yourself feel safer? That is bull and you are a better person than that! Should we allow the assassination of an american citizen, or for that matter any citizen of the world, without due process? My response to this is no. Yours, evidently, is yes.

I so not believe we should circumvent the laws of the land regarding due process just to make ourselves feel better. To me that puts us on the same level as any other terroristic institution. This is morally indefensible and try as you might to make me feel guilty about my beliefs, you cannot. And you cannot make me believe that errors are not made and prejudices are not spotlighted in making these life and death calls.

flo's avatar

What if the American is in the crosshairs of the sniper?

Pandora's avatar

Any human caught in the cross hairs of a sniper is a sad thing. Death of a human being (whether an american citizen or from another country) is never anything to truly celebrate but there is no such thing as a war without casualties.

So long as terrorist have us in their cross hairs, we have no choice but to try to shoot them first. If we wait for them to finish all their shooting first, than we won’t have anyone left here. Lets face it. They don’t see ANY OF US as being innocent or needing to live or breathe. They see us all as less than human. Anyone against their way of life is a threat to them and must be killed. The last thing they think of is sitting down at a table and talking things out.

Just so you know by, they , I mean terrorist. Not the muslin community that truly follows their faith in a loving fashion, as it was meant to be. I don’t really believe terrorist are faithful followers to begin with. I see most of them as nut cases with mommy issues and looking for some meaning in their pathetic lives, who think glory is something that comes in an explosive bottle. Boom!

I will reserve my tears for their victims.

ETpro's avatar

@rojo If I said anything indicating trust in presidents to make the right call, it was very far from my actual beliefs. Cheney is a perfect example. This power fell into the hands of Presidents under Bush. Imagine if he had died or become unable to serve and Cheney had become president. It is highly likely that people Cheney considered a political threat would have been targeted for secret assassination. I don’t think that President Obama is likely to do that, but I do think some asshole will win the office in the future and see a golden opportunity to eliminate all political opposition and seize perpetual power. The call needs to be made by a special court that has no interest in politics, just justice and the safety of the American People, and the rest of the people of the world as well.

woodcutter's avatar

special court

dabbler's avatar

@rojo Especially good point about due process and its history since the Magna Carta.
That sort of principle is among those for which the U.S. has, at least in the past, been rightly admired.
And ever since George Washington mandated there would be no torture of captured British soldiers, and they’d be treated humanely, that was also something for which the U.S. has been admired.
The principles apply to all natural-born persons, not just U.S. citizens. And we could get the job done without violating those principles.

I know it’s a tired cliché, but if we throw that sort of moral standard out because of terrorists, then the terrorists have won.

rojo's avatar

@flo which American? Do you mean the one that has been labeled a terrorist and it is a case of a sniper as opposed to a drone or are you asking about taking someone out who has another American in his sights?

flo's avatar

@rojo I’m talking _about an American sniper who has another American (who is well known to him except defintely not as a terrorist) on his way to suicide bombing in his sights.

rojo's avatar

So you are asking is it ok to shoot someone instead of bombing them? Not ok, but acceptable? Am I understanding you right?

mattbrowne's avatar

The same as non-American terrorists. I find the debate very surprising and irritating. Killing a Pakistani without a court ruling is okay?

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