Americans On Killing Americans

According to a new poll, a plurality of Americans think killing American citizens abroad is illegal. The poll’s main finding charted:

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Adam Serwer notes that the poll did find “majority approval for the use of drone attacks against ‘people and other targets deemed to be a threat to the US’ whether carried out by the CIA or the military, as long as those targets are not American citizens.” But:

The poll’s findings seem to be at odds with another survey published last year by the Washington Postwhich found that an overwhelming majority of Americans, 89 percent, approve of the use of drones to kill terror suspects abroad, and of those who approve 79 percent also believe it is legal to kill those terror suspects if they are American citizens.

He admits that question phrasing may explain at least part of the disparity. Drum thinks the distinction between Americans and non-Americans is beside the point:

If we’re at war, and if targeted killings of enemy combatants are legal, then U.S. citizenship is irrelevant. If you’ve joined up with enemy forces, you’re fair game. Conversely, if the justification in the memo is inadequate, that means the justification for targeted killings in general is inadequate. Either the entire program is justified, or none of it is.