The real “Imminent Threat”

In Opinion
Courtesy of MCT
Courtesy of MCT

A memo from the Obama administration was released Monday of last week containing alarming information that is a cause for concern for American citizens both here in the states and abroad.

In the document, there were details on the executive policy for the use of drones—also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs—to attack suspected al-Qaida members, as well as other terrorists, who are also citizens of the United States.

The conclusion of the memo stated, “The threat posed by al-Qaida and its associated forces demands a broader concept of imminence in judging when a person continually planning terror attacks presents an imminent threat.”

To put things in simpler terms, the White House is saying there should be more freedom in deciding when it is okay to send drones to kill suspected American terrorists whether the threat they pose is timely or not, also targeting those who are propagandists for terrorist groups.

This is a disturbing ideology that  should not be supported.

Namely, concept of “imminent danger” or “imminent threat” and the protection of the homeland is one that has been grappled with for hundreds of years in this country.

In the New York Times Co. v. United States, better known as the “Pentagon Papers” case, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of journalists to publish government plans to support military involvement in Vietnam. The U.S. argued that the publication of this information would pose an “imminent threat” on the lives of military personnel, but the Times’ actions were found to be lawful.

Of course this case dealt with the First Amendment, arguably the most important set of citizens’ rights outlined in our Constitution. The Supreme Court has historically upheld the right of free speech over other rights, including speech that was “against the norm” or considered to be radical or offensive.

Now today, the government seeks to attack and exterminate its own citizens, arguing that their behavior is justified to protect the nation. If free speech, our most valued right, is upheld Constitutionally even when an “imminent threat” was suspected, it’s hard to understand how the Obama administration fails to see the flaws in logic with this new policy.

The Associated Press reported that White House spokesman Jay Carney advocated the use of drone attacks by arguing that “it is a matter of fact that Congress authorized the use of military force against al-Qaida.”

Perhaps Mr. Carney finds the American public naive, but it is a well-known fact that just because Congress says it’s okay, it is not lawful or substantiated.

Many may feel it is important to prevent terrorist attacks by any means necessary, using any and all technology and power that we have at our disposal. However, they fail to understand the consequences brought on by the use of drones as a go-to option.

Georgetown University national security expert Christopher Swift said that although drones are effective, they also breed and broaden anti-U.S. sentiment.

“To the extent that our use of force in somebody else’s country creates political resentment … or to the extent that it reinforces this notion that the United States is at war with Islam, it is highly problematic for us,” said Swift in an interview with

While I’m not a national security expert by any means, I believe it’s feasible to say that if we were to take measures less drastic and less proven to increase anti-U.S. convictions, there would be a decrease in terrorist plans against us.

Regardless of one’s political ideology, we Americans value the lives of others highly, and that alone should be a reason to pause and evaluate exactly what this memo is suggesting.

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