Gaining insightful information about politicians is one of the best things to happen in recent times, thanks to the proliferation of the internet. The politicians get to engage in the same type of stuff that “normal” people do (Twitter, Facebook), but their jobs force them to be somewhat more transparent. So I stumbled across this exchange today:
So that Dana guy is a member of the House of Representatives. He’s clearly a big fan of drones, which apparently minimize civilian death. But what’s really cool is that now we can see who’s been contributing to his campaign. After all, someone will to speak out in favor of drones is probably being handsomely rewarded, right?
Well, yes. In 2012, General Atomics, makes of two of the most famous types of drones (the Predator and the Reaper) made a contribution of $10K to Mr. Rohrabacher’s campaign.
Anyway, there’s no bigger story here. Just a short blog post on transparency. If you want to know more, Open Secrets makes it really easy to draw connections between politicians and private companies.
In general, I try to avoid hearing about news when an interest of mine becomes enmeshed with some part of the political process. But it’s difficult to avoid the recent controversy surrounding John Brennan’s nomination to lead the CIA. (Also, I wish he had a different last name because I keep thinking about how Justice William Brennan would make a fine CIA director)
The entire “drone-killing” issue has many interesting moral wrinkles (as does the topic of drone surveillance generally speaking but that ship has sailed), such as nation-state sovereignty, the estimated accuracy of targeting information, whether anyone still has a right to trial, acceptability of collateral damage, etc. I hope most people would agree that the thought of the United States government ordering a drone strike against its own citizens because it’s too difficult to go trial is absolutely sickening. The United States is already willing to perform extrajudicial assassinations in Pakistan, so I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch for the government to consider using them domestically.
Also, consider what exactly a drone can do. A drone cannot arrest a suspect. A drone cannot command someone to stop. A drone cannot die. When a cop shoots someone, it’s generally either to protect himself, or to protect those in the area, and that killing is justified. Obviously a drone COULD be equipped with less-than-lethal force, but this hasn’t been a very high priority in the world of drones.
The removal of due process from our legal system is the real issue here, and it’s always amusing when I find myself aligning with a representative whose name ends with Paul…something about a broken clock being right twice a day?