In an otherwise OK report on the attorney general’s assassination address, Adam Serwer of Mother Jones quips, “There won’t be any drone strikes in Denver anytime soon.” I say, “Wanna bet?”
I mean it. I assume that “Denver” is a synecdoche, so Serwer just needs to clarify “soon” and we can start haggling over the extent to which his wealth will be redistributed.
Let’s run down what we know: The current administration has asserted the legal authority to assassinate U.S. citizens without any external oversight. Non-citizens might as well be insects; they can be obliterated at the whim of a lowly joystick operator. Even if you trust Barack the Benevolent to draw some bright line at drone use within the borders of the United States, he may not be president 10 and a half months from now, and he certainly won’t be five years from now. Drones are proliferating among domestic law-enforcement agencies at all levels. So far, these craft are unarmed, but how long before some smart manufacturer or deranged authoritarian suggests using armed drones to preserve the sanctity of the Rio Grande? Wouldn’t that save the lives of our brave ICE officers? And so on, with the DEA, the FBI, and the rest.
The first drone assassination on American soil may not happen on Obama’s watch, but it will undeniably be part of his legacy.