Presidents Have Lots of Options for Killing People

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I know this is pretty obvious, but I just want to ask a question—or maybe make a point—very clearly: when it comes to the authority of the president to assassinate American citizens on American soil, drones are just a sideshow, right?

What I mean is that if the president wants to kill someone on American soil, he already has loads of options. This is because, unlike Yemen or Pakistan, we control our own territory. If Obama wants to kill someone at no risk to U.S. troops, he can scramble jets; use a sniper; order a helicopter strike; lob some mortars from a safe distance; or fire off a missile from a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher.

Right? There’s really nothing new here. Presidents have always had the physical means to kill people safely, and the availability of drones doesn’t really change anything. It’s just one more weapon in their arsenal.

Or am I missing something? Is there something truly special and different about drones that I’m not getting?

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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