Sunday, November 25, 2012

How Does Obama Really Feel About His Drone 'Kill List'? And Will It Pass To The Next President?

Kevin Gosztola of FDL's The Dissenter reveals that "an unnamed official with the Obama administration" told Scott Shane of the New York Times that in seeking to answer that question, the Obama administration contemplated the very real possibility that the levers of power might pass from Obama's to Rmoney's hands, and sought to codify and restrict the targeted assassination powers. From Shane's article:

... With a continuing debate about the proper limits of drone strikes, Mr. Obama did not want to leave an “amorphous” program to his successor, the official said. The effort, which would have been rushed to completion by January had Mr. Romney won, will now be finished at a more leisurely pace, the official said.

Gosztola's concerns are much like my own:

The revelation is remarkable in that it shows GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney—not the fact that the power to extrajudicially kill people suspected of committing or having ties to terrorism was being claimed—was why the administration began to have increased concerns over drone warfare.

Clearly there needs to be a formal policy in place regarding targeted assassinations using drones: they are sloppy weapons liable to kill far more people than the intended target, and in those few cases where the targeted person has been an American citizen, that citizen had no opportunity for a trial, a proof of his/her guilt before a court of law, and a formal sentence by such a court. In other words, if drone use were not bad enough on the grounds that America is murdering babies, it is still worse because it is used unapologetically to violate the Fourth Amendment. All of this needs to be thought out, debated and decided by a team of advisors not given to thinking in lock-step with the president.

That said, drone warfare is liable to continue and even increase into the indefinite future, including, yes, into a Republican presidency, if indeed that would be any worse. (I always said Obama is the lesser evil, not that he is not capable of evil.) If this haphazard, cowboy-shoot-first attitude continues, it will not be long before America has no friends among the nations and leaders of the world... and who can blame them. We need three things: real rules in place and implemented in the field, clear accountability for every drone strike, and... most of all... transparency. These acts are being committed in my name, and in yours if you're an American citizen: you deserve to know as specifically as possible who is being killed and why, what their nationality is, if they are noncombatants, whether their due process rights were preserved, and who dies as "collateral damage" from this most indiscriminate of weapons.

And Mr. Obama... well, he needs to pull out the book from which he used to teach Review of Constitutional Law (or whatever it's called), and spend some time with his nose in it. Apparently he's forgotten some things. Apparently, many of the rest of us have forgotten those same things. It's time for a serious review of the rightful limits on presidential power.


  1. I cannot except or ever will accept State sanctioned public assassinations. The most informed and eloquent voice on this matter is Aurthur Silber:

    1. karmanot, targeted extrajudicial assassinations are contrary to US law and to international law. America should not be doing such things for any reason whatsoever. We made our way through all the bloody days of W.W.II without resorting to extrajudicial killings off the battlefield; there's no reason we can't make it through these trying times with our values intact and our heads held high. It is altogether too possible for a once honorable state to become that which it once rightly deplored; we have an example in the Middle East and I fear we are developing an example right here at home. I grieve for my country, the country that used to give a damn not only what it did but what means it resorted to in doing it.



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