Presidents Have Lots of Options for Killing People


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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