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Should an armed drone be dispatched to kill Christopher Dorner?

Published: February 12, 2013
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Source: Guardian, Glenn Greenwald

Now obviously, if attempts are made to apprehend Dorner and he uses lethal force to resist, then shooting or killing him would be justified, uncontroversially so. The FBI just killed a kidnapper in Alabama when he began shooting at the agents who tried to arrest him, and nobody objected. Law enforcement agents always have the right to defend themselves against people they're trying to arrest if lethal force is used to resist. That's an easy case, and not what I'm asking.

Instead, suppose the LAPD locates Dorner in a cabin in a remote area of the California wilderness, just sitting alone watching television. Why should they possibly risk the lives of police officers to apprehend him? Why would anyone care if this terrorist's rights are protected? What's the argument for not simply killing him the moment he's located? Given that everyone seems certain of his guilt, that he's threatened further killings of innocents, that he declared himself at "war", and that the risk from capturing him would be high, what danger is created by simply shooting a Hellfire missile wherever he's found?

Or suppose that, as feared, he makes his way into Mexico. What's the objection to sending an armed drone to killing him there?

The impetus for my asking is obviously the widespread support for killing US citizen Anwar Awlaki without a trial or charges based on suspicions of guilt: it's far from clear that apprehending Awlaki would have been infeasible, and Dorner poses at least as much risk to Americans as Awlaki did, almost certainly more so. But leave that aside: independent of comparisons to any other case, including Awlaki, what would be wrong or dangerous, if anything, about simply droning this domestic Terrorist to death even in the absence of lethal resistance? What would be the harm from doing that? What are the reasons not to, if any?

Question posed on CNN

As Cenk Uygur notes in the video clip below, this question - why not send an armed drone to kill Dorner? - was posed with obvious sincerity by CNN's Erin Burnett late last week. Given how trained the citizenry has become to think this way, this sort of approach is inevitable and therefore deserves serious discussion:

This doesn't pertain to any of the substantive points raised here, but while some media reports (including the one linked above) have stated that surveillance drones are being used in the hunt for Dorner, other accounts call that claim into question.


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