Drone warfare campaign strikes at heart of Constitution

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Let there be no mistake – American citizens who are engaged in terrorist activities against the United States must be brought to justice. But President Obama’s decision to use drone warfare to target and kill these American citizens without any attempt at due process is a disgrace and an assault on our Constitution.

This drone assassination campaign is a frightening expansion of unchecked Presidential power. And it parallels arguments I made when I was first sworn into Congress in 2005 about the lack of oversight about some of the most troubling provisions of the Patriot Act. Then, as now, the White House invoked words and ideals like national security in an attempt to justify this troubling unilateral expansion of Presidential powers.

President Bush was wrong then. President Obama is wrong now.

Drone warfare against U.S. citizens (now matter how despicable their actions) does not make us safer. It weakens the very fabric of our nation. It represents an incredibly dangerous path that conjures up an authoritarian government.

President Obama’s drone warfare policy – and its acceptance by the public and Congress – undermines everything that this nation fought for and achieved in the Cold War. It took us nearly 50 years to defeat Soviet tyranny. We now stand to become a nation no better that the enemy we once vanquished – and a generation that is all too willing to reject fundamental tenets of our Constitution and American ideals.

Rarely has an issue so clearly demanded that our leaders and our people unite to defend and promote our most fundamental American values -- our constitutionally enshrined rights that have made America a beacon of freedom around the world. But if we can’t now unite to defend the most fundamental of American ideals and rights than we must ask ourselves if we will ever again be that beacon.

I harbor no support for Americans who embrace terrorism. But neither do I support government actions and policies that undermine the fundamental values of our nation. The use of drone warfare against Americans is dangerously un-American.

We can, we have and we will hunt down and punish terrorists. But we must do so in a way that protects the sanctity of our Constitution and our way of life.