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Print 62 comment(s) - last by Schadenfroh.. on Feb 27 at 9:32 PM

Top White House official comes clean about covert drone strikes

In recent weeks, controversy has been boiling over the targeted killings of American citizens with drones.  While most would agree that Americans who join hostile overseas terrorist groups like al Qaeda may be difficult to capture and may necessitate strikes with deadly force, most also take issue with the way the administration handled the information.

At a time when drones are deployed over U.S. airspace to "monitor the homeland" and discussions of arming such drones are ongoing, the issue is a sensitive one for Americans who fear what could happen under a system with such a lack of transparency.

I. Down the Rabbit Hole

Robert Gibbs, a former White House press secretary who recently joined MSNBC -- a network owned by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) and General Electric Comp. (GE) -- gave an exclusive interview with his new employer on the politics talk segment "Up".

In the interview clips are played in which he and the new press secretary -- Jay Carney -- are shown dodging questions about targeted drone killings.  In the interview, he confirms, "When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the things, one of the first things they told me was, ‘You’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists.'"


When reporters started asking questions about drones, Mr. Gibbs recalls, "I realized I'm not supposed to talk about it."

The case is drawing fictional comparisons, such as "The Wizard of Oz" (in which a normal man hides behind an animated curtain to hide his lack of magic powers) or "Alice in Wonderland" (due to questions of how many layers of obfuscation are wrapping the reality of the covert actions -- i.e. how far down the rabbit hole, we must go to find the truth).

Reaper drones
Reaper drones are currently being used over U.S. airspace. [Image Source: The Real Revo]

Mr. Gibbs used The Wizard of Oz analogy in his own interview.  The former official, who says he never talked to President Obama about the issue, complains that "when [drone strikes on Americans are] obviously happening, undermines people’s confidence overall in the decisions that their government makes."

II. Drone Medal Awarded, Brennan Nomination Jeopardized

The White House has finally agreed to release some documents to the Senate and House, but much about the reportedly highly codified death strikes program is unknown.  Reportedly the only people with fully details are the Obama administration and high ranking military and intelligence officials.

President Obama
President Obama says sometimes U.S. citizens must be killed, although it may be too sensitive to say when that time is. [Image Source: AFP/Getty Images]

U.S. use of drones overseas has exploded in recent years.  The autonomous surveillance-cum-killing machines offer a way to project U.S. hegemony without risking the lives of servicemen.  Reportedly one in three U.S. warplanes is today a drone.

The Pentagon recently announced a new medal of honor -- the Distinguished Warfare Medal -- for drone operators and cyberwarfare experts.  The medal ranks above the prestigious Purple Heart (which is awarded to servicemen wounded or killed in battle), raising criticism.  Critics dub the award "the Geek's Cross".

The controversy over drone killings of American citizens and the secrecy surrounding the administrations' rules on the topic has impacted the nomination of John Brennan to become director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

John Brennan
John Brennan helped mastermind the drone killings. [Image Source: Reuters]

John Brennan has also been criticized for supporting "enhanced interrogation" (torture), warrantless wiretaps, and the Iraq invasion/war.  Much of these policies were his work during his time with the previous Bush Administration.  Salon has a nice piece on these issues.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Tenn.) says the strikes raise serious Constitutional issues, due to the administration's secrecy and ambiguous language.  He says unless he gets answers he plans to do "whatever it takes" to block Mr. Brennan's nomination.  


That in turn, could create chaos in U.S. intelligence ranks and compromise America's ability to monitor enemies and defend itself overseas.

Source: MSNBC News



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I can see clearly now...
By ppardee on 2/25/2013 2:09:11 PM , Rating: 0
I mean, really, not telling people that you're killing citizens without trial isn't that big of a deal... Yeah, sure, Hitler did it and it turned out bad, but he was just a socialist freak, unlike our pure capitalist friend in the White House (he would never use a 'socialist mop')

Ok, so Obama ordered the assassination of a few Americans. At least he wasn't responsible for the pictures that came out of Abu Ghraib.. that was appalling!




RE: I can see clearly now...
By tng on 2/25/2013 3:04:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Ok, so Obama ordered the assassination of a few Americans. At least he wasn't responsible for the pictures that came out of Abu Ghraib.. that was appalling!
The fact that Obama ordered some drone strikes overseas on Americans, it is when it happens or will happen on AMERICAN SOIL!

As to Abu Ghraib, I am pretty sure that Bush did not personally order that the guards to do what they did there, however for a drone strike on an US citizen Obama has to give his approval, at least as far as I know.


RE: I can see clearly now...
By ppardee on 2/25/2013 6:39:40 PM , Rating: 2
Did I miss my /sarcasm tag at the end there? My bad.


RE: I can see clearly now...
By tng on 2/25/2013 8:50:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Did I miss my /sarcasm tag at the end there? My bad.
I probably jumped the gun on that anyway... I had people bugging me and I screwed up my own post anyhow. Now that I read yours again, yeah... I see it.


RE: I can see clearly now...
By FaaR on 2/25/2013 5:51:49 PM , Rating: 1
Exept of course, Hitler wasn't ever a socialist (in reality, he and the Nazi party collaborated with all major private businesses and their owners to run the German war machine.)

If you ACTUALLY were a socialist in Nazi Germany - IE, a REAL socialist a la Marx etc - you would have ended up in jail or in a concentration camp, or possibly even dead, in rather short order.

Nazism is a right-wing political ideology. It's got nothing to do with socialism, or well, at least not any more than scientology has to do with science.


RE: I can see clearly now...
By ppardee on 2/25/13, Rating: 0
RE: I can see clearly now...
By Nfarce on 2/25/2013 7:34:22 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget that Hitler and his ilk mandated that neighbors and families rat each other out for speaking out against the Nazi party (similar to that website the Obama regime set up a couple years ago to tell on people speaking out against Obamacare). Further, they did everything to squash dissenting opinion and thought (very similar to what the liberal proggies do today, except they just label dissent as "hate speech" and being "Racist" against the president).


RE: I can see clearly now...
By room200 on 2/25/2013 10:08:20 PM , Rating: 1
ODS strikes again.


RE: I can see clearly now...
By JPForums on 2/26/2013 11:44:56 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Exept of course, Hitler wasn't ever a socialist
True. He was a Fascist.
quote:
Nazism is a right-wing political ideology. It's got nothing to do with socialism, or well, at least not any more than scientology has to do with science.
Not, quite. It is a variety of fascism that incorporates biological racism and antisemitism.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazism

Fascism was founded during World War I by Italian national syndicalists, who combined elements of left-wing politics with more typically right-wing positions, in opposition to socialism, communism, liberal democracy and, in some cases, traditional right-wing conservatism . Although fascism is usually placed on the far right on the traditional left-right spectrum, fascists themselves and some commentators have argued that the description is inadequate .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism

As a side note, this probably explains why hard-core right wing (American) conservatives are so against incorporating left wing (American) Liberal values. The results haven't historically worked out well.
quote:
he and the Nazi party collaborated with all major private businesses and their owners to run the German war machine.
Of course they did. They ended a depression the likes of which America has never seen and business owners were glad to help however they could. Besides, where else were they going to get the funding. But let's be clear, they were extreme nationalists (a trait of fascists). Collaboration was less about cooperation and more about compliance. Interestingly, as I see it, America's left wing party is far more likely to tax the money out of businesses (for any national purpose) than their right wing.


RE: I can see clearly now...
By Schadenfroh on 2/25/2013 9:57:56 PM , Rating: 2
If you are a US citizen and enlist in a foreign army (e.g. Al Qaeda) that is at de facto war against The West, you forfeit certain societal protections.

I do not recall the Americans that enlisted in the German army getting a trial before getting shot at / bombed during WW2.


RE: I can see clearly now...
By ppardee on 2/26/2013 7:20:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you are a US citizen and enlist in a foreign army (e.g. Al Qaeda) that is at de facto war against The West, you forfeit certain societal protections.


Where did you find that in the Constitution? The term 'enemy combatant' is bandied about quite a bit, but if you're sitting around a campfire eating couscous (the ultimate campfire food), how can you be considered an enemy combatant? If you're setting up an IED, or pointing a gun at our troops or citizens, sure, enemy combatant...

And, again, if we had proof they were actually planning acts against the country, why can't we get oversight? It's not like we all of a sudden decided these people were threats and decided to kill them on the spot. We decided a long time in advance. Why can't we present the evidence to the courts to get a yea or nay for a future strike when the opportunity presents itself? Only reason I can see is nefarious.


RE: I can see clearly now...
By SoCalBoomer on 2/27/2013 3:07:43 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you, ppardee, but there has to have been something that we did in WWII when US Citizens did, in fact, act against the US. Not just domestically, but fighting for the Axis in Europe or the Pacific.

This can't be the first time this question has come up. How did we answer it before?


RE: I can see clearly now...
By Schadenfroh on 2/27/2013 9:32:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How did we answer it before?

Current US law regarding enlisting in foreign armies hostile to the US:
http://travel.state.gov/law/citizenship/citizenshi...
quote:
voluntary service in the armed forces of a state engaged in hostilities against the United States could be viewed as indicative of an intention to relinquish U.S. citizenship

The question is, can a terrorist organization (e.g. Al Qaeda) be construed as a foreign state if they seek to back hostile governments (e.g. Taliban) or establish hostile governments (e.g. AQAP).


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