A special forces officer notes the change, and is worried about the malignant effect.
Perceiving yourself as an operator plasters over the difference between a law enforcement officer serving a warrant and a commando in a war zone. The former Mirandizes, the latter vaporizes, as the saying goes — and as the recent Osama bin Laden raid vividly illustrated.
Targeted killing is legal in a war zone but not on the streets of Anytown, USA. The war on drugs has done incalculable damage to the character of law enforcement by encouraging police officers to forget they are civilians.
True, they are civilians charged with enforcing the law and are empowered to use force to do so — but they are civilians nonetheless. When police officers refer to their fellow citizens as civilians and mean to exclude themselves from that category, they’ve mentally leapt from enforcing the law to destroying the enemies of the state. That’s incompatible with a free society.