Congress has little oversight over drones

Re: "Obama's executive death warrants," Feb. 12

The U.S. Justice Department recently released a 16-page memo outlining its justification for why President Obama can order drone killings of American citizens. This new power has no basis in federal law or the Constitution.

Anyone classified as a terrorist or anyone associating with people classified as terrorists can be killed in a drone strike either abroad or on American soil. The classification process is quite vague and could include journalists, political opponents, anti-government protesters, online activists and gun owners.

Similarly, the National Defense Authorization Actallows for the arrest and indefinite detention of American citizens without trial, legal representation or even charges.

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Sen. Ron Wyden, a senior member of the Intelligence Committee, has not been able to get a list of the countries where the U.S. military is already using drones to bomb and kill people. This came out during the recent Intelligence Committee hearing on the drone program, which is led by CIA Director-designate John Brennan.

Brennan was asked whether he would give his assurance that he would provide the committee with the full list of countries if he became CIA director, which indicates that the committee doesn't have this information at the present time.

If there is so little oversight within the Obama administration, how can anybody be sure about the true nature of this drone program?

-- Louis Shawcross

Hillsborough, County Down,

Northern Ireland

Prayer breakfast can't bridge political divides

Re: "Ben Carson owes Obama an apology," Feb. 11

Cal Thomas says the National Prayer Breakfast is supposed to "bridge divides" between people of different political viewpoints.

I don't see how it can. By bringing them into the same room, giving them a meal and letting them draw a connection, real or false, between their values and God? It seems to me that this event is for show and nothing else.

Some divides can't be "bridged." Sometimes, one side must persuade the other, or work around the differences.

-- Sharon Kass

Silver Spring

Tax exemptions for churches are not subsidies

Re: "Subsidized churches can't complain about regulation," From Readers, Feb. 10

Ed Doerr parrots the often repeated factual and logical distortions of hard-core statists. Nonprofits deemed to contribute to the greater good, including political activist organizations like Mr. Doerr's, are encouraged in a variety of ways by government law and policy because they are considered to be in the best interests of a vibrant and successful America. But the benefits accrued are neither subsidies nor extractions from taxes.

On the other hand, public schools are subsidized via compulsory and coercive taxes, even on parents who prefer to exercise their educational choice at parochial schools.

In any case, government "assistance" to any person or group is never an ethical or legal basis for quid pro quo denial of their constitutional rights. Do the statists not understand this or do they simply not care because they are moral relativists who consider the Constitution an impediment to their totalitarian endgame?

-- Angelo Mirabella

Silver Spring