Just days before President Obama is scheduled to make a major policy speech announcing his legal justification for his use of drones as a means of summary execution, the U.S. has ramped up the remote control war in the Yemeni theater.

In a pre-dawn strike Friday night, May 17, drones piloted by U.S. officials (military or CIA) launched several missiles at a truck traveling on a road north of Ja’ar in the Abyan province of Yemen. At least four and as many as seven people were killed with many others wounded.

An AFP story reports that “the truck was carrying grenades and explosive belts” and that all the ordnance was destroyed by the missiles.

The AFP and other major media accounts of the story also reported that all those killed in the attack were “suspected militants” associated with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the local branch of the global terrorist network.

For President Obama and those pulling the triggers on the joysticks guiding the missiles toward their human targets, “suspected militants” are officially defined as “all military-age males in a strike zone.”

For those of us concerned with the Constitution, due process, and the rule of law, however, “suspected militant” is just a euphemism for a person not charged with any crime, not afforded even the most perfunctory due process protections, but executed by presidential decree anyway. In this way, we are no better than those we kill in the name of safety.

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