Two columnists have compared the Obama administration's expansive definition of "combatants" to the conduct of Trayvon Martin killer George Zimmerman.
Obama has come under criticism from some corners after the New York Times reported that he has deemed "all military-age males in a strike zone" to be "combatants," even if there is no hard evidence of their involvement in terrorist activities.
The Times further wrote that officials said the definition was logical, since "people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good." Some in government, the paper reported, felt that this was a deliberate effort to undercount civilian casualties resulting from drone strikes.
Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News and Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic both took aim at this broad definition, and both settled on the same disquieting analogy.
"The Obama administration considers any military-age male in the vicinity of a bombing to be a combatant," Coates wrote on Thursday. "That is an amazing standard that shares an ugly synergy with the sort of broad-swath logic that we see employed in Stop and Frisk, with NYPD national spy network, with the killer of Trayvon Martin."
Zimmerman, of course, followed Martin because he thought he was "up to no good."
"Righteous anger over the killing of civilians creates new terrorists faster than the killing of any old ones," Bunch wrote on Wednesday. "As for the morally indefensible position that any male killed in such an attack is 'probably up to no good,' isn't the Obama administration saying the EXACT same thing that George Zimmerman said about Trayvon Martin? Ponder that for a moment."
Bunch then wrote an update to his post: "Actually, the similarity with Zimmerman is even greater than I first thought. What he said to the Sanford police dispatcher was that Trayvon Martin 'looks like he's up to no good.' Thank God Zimmerman didn't have drones, huh?"
On Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney dodged questions about the policy.
Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most. Learn more