Some will say that writing letters to senators and congressmen is a waste of time. As far as stopping state violence goes, I can’t say I have any evidence to the contrary. And yet, for some reason, I keep doing it. A big reason is that it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort; the time and cost of writing an email are relatively low (especially when using a service like DownsizeDC.org). Another reason is that I want them to know that I am aware of what they’re doing (and not doing). Their iniquities are not a secret. Thirdly, I suppose if enough people do it they might start to change their behavior. I don’t really depend on this as a primary method for change, but I don’t want to leave any stone unturned. And unlike voting, which many will argue is an aggressive act or endorsement of the regime, letter writing has no such stigma.
Within the past few days, I have written a bit about the drone war and how upsetting it is to me. If you have the time, I would highly encourage skimming through some of the sections of the Living Under Drones paper, which states the following:
- Those who order the drone strikes often don’t know who they are killing. The government reports very few civilian casualties partially because they count any male of military age as a “combatant” unless proven otherwise.
- The US government uses a “double-striking” tactic, where they will bomb one spot and bomb that same spot again later. This has led to the deaths of rescue workers trying to save people who were bombed in the first attack.
- The number of high-level targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low—estimated at just 2%.
- Many families have pulled their children out of school, fearing for their safety. As well, Pakistanis are afraid to attend funerals because they have been targeted by drone strikes in the past. Able to hear the drones overhead, they live in a constant state of fear.
If you are American, how does it make you feel that you are forced to fund such horrible things? I tried appealing to my “representatives,” telling them I do not consent to such actions. Here is what one of them wrote back.
Dear Mr. Fegley:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the targeted killing of al-Qaida terrorists with drone strikes. I appreciate hearing from you.
Al-Qaida still poses one of the most significant threats to the security of the United States. They operate in and plan attacks on U.S. interests from Yemen, Pakistan, Algeria and elsewhere to include the U.S. homeland. In order to effectively prosecute the war on terror and destroy al-Qaida cells, the president must make full use of all the weapons of war at his disposal, including intelligence gathering assets and drones.
I recognize the concern some have over President Obama’s legal justification for the use of lethal drone strikes against terrorists operating inside a nation with whom we are not at war. However, once the government identifies a target as a member of al-Qaida, an entity with whom we are at war, the president’s legal authority to eliminate that target comes from the 2001 Congressional Authorization for the Use of Force Against Terrorists.
I can understand why this would make many Idahoans uneasy, but it’s absolutely appropriate and necessary. As a member of the Intelligence Committee, I can assure you we conduct thorough oversight of these attacks.
I really value your effort to get in touch with me to share your thoughts, as many Idahoans do. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future on this or other issues.
Very Truly Yours
James E. Risch
United States Senator
Well, this should tell you a few things about Risch.
- He doesn’t care about the Constitution if he thinks the “2001 Congressional Authorization for the Use of Force Against Terrorists” allows the president to kill anyone at will. He doesn’t even acknowledge the possibility that someone killed in a drone strike might not have been al-Qaeda or that some of them have been Americans.
- He is either a liar or a sociopath or both. I seriously doubt he conducts thorough oversight of these attacks, meaning he’s a liar (and criminally negligent at his job) if he doesn’t. If he actually does, he should know over a hundred children have been killed in them since 2004. It would seem that he simply doesn’t care, compromising his ethical capacity.
- He is ready to give the president just about any power the president wants. Powers don’t get much greater than deciding who lives and who dies.
Please tell me if you think I’ve been unfair in this analysis of Risch. If not, please help me make this post of the top results when searching “Senator James Risch” so people can know what he really is.