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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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RE: Gibbs always pissed me off.
By JasonMick (blog) on 2/25/2013 4:10:49 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
I see your point but you seem to miss one of mine. Joining an anti-American terrorist group is, in my understanding, a renunciation of their status as an American citizen. At that point, they are no different than any other "high value" target in the opposition. Calling them "American Citizens" facilitates your argument but, by my understanding of the intent of our doctrine, it is a falsehood.

Drone attacks on our home soil against our own citizenry (those who are not actively seeking to destroy our government and our people) would be a different matter entirely. Declaring yourself an enemy of the state leaves you a fair target for being treated as one.

That said, I do agree with your concern if your example was more apropos.
Then formally codify that and make it public.

The biggest problem here is the administration hiding behind smoke and mirrors and saying "what drone strike documents?" when we all know what is happening. In this case the lack of transparency is what really gives an impression of dishonesty.

Put the facts out and let them speak for themselves.

Otherwise it's pointless to speculate on the policy, as we don't know when and where the President considers it legal to killing U.S. citizens, just that in some cases he is killing U.S. citizens.

Even if those killings follow some pattern you're comfortable with, the fact that killings are occurring with no formal acknowledgement of the policy should frighten you and any other American.


RE: Gibbs always pissed me off.
By Reclaimer77 on 2/25/2013 9:56:37 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Put the facts out and let them speak for themselves.


When has this Administration ever done that on ANYTHING?


RE: Gibbs always pissed me off.
By TSS on 2/26/2013 3:23:23 AM , Rating: 2
I'd say the administration is doing something far more insidious, using the communication error that just occured between you 2 to further their plans.

I'd think most Americans would agree that, once a american declares himself an enemy combatant which can simply be done by joining up with a group at war with the US, they lose their right to protection. Why on earth would you let somebody intent on causing harm back into the country?

The problem is how the administration words it, by using "american citizenship". As others pointed out you have to go through a prodcedure to renounce your citizenship, one which terrorists obviously won't go through as US citizenship would be very convenient for their plans.

At this point, it's simply dicatorship. How hard would it be for the government to produce documents "from the CIA" showing whoever they want to be part of whoever they want. There are terrorists in the real world as we've seen with multiple bombings in the past, and they are quite obsecure before they actually strike.

It makes it hard to find the real targets, but at the same time, it makes it real hard for people who are false targets to prove that they aren't. Dead men don't prove their innocence. Incase they don't die right away, with torture, you can make people say anything.

The fact that obama has, against his own campaign promises, not only not-closed but made it more difficult to close guantanamo bay, should tell you enough at this point.

If you want to talk facts, there are 2 very simple ones: 1. The US is broke beyond all repair. 2. The people will riot and overthrow the government as soon as it becomes public knowledge AKA no sane person can deny it anymore.

This would break the power of the foreign banks in control via the federal reserve, who don't want that. Thus a framework for supression needs to be in place before that moment comes. The past 2 years has seen the actual building of that framework, from FEMA camps, to new NSA datacenters, to drones, guantanamo, the high prison population, federal economic policies designed to destroy rather then create etc etc ad infinitum, all designed to either stop a public revolt or to condition the behaviour of the population into thinking it's normal, rather then suspect.

If any of you plan on revolting, you've got less then 2 years. Hyperinflation will start hitting somewhere in 2014, after which the currency controls come, the public riots because people can't get their money and then the plan of supression will be put into effect. Otherwise, get out of the US.

The 5 largest US banks have a derivatives exposure of +$212 trillion . You don't want to be anywhere near when that goes off.


RE: Gibbs always pissed me off.
By vortmax2 on 2/26/2013 12:07:26 PM , Rating: 2
As much as this sounds like a crazy conspiricy theory, it's probably much closer to reality than we'd want to believe. Scary.


RE: Gibbs always pissed me off.
By vortmax2 on 2/26/2013 12:08:17 PM , Rating: 2
*conspiracy*


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