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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 MrBlastman on 2/25/2013 4:23:59 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
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.


Well just throw out the entire rule of law then if you want to think like that. Doctrine and the Constitution are two different things.

They did not have all their facts straight prior to the drone strike. They also did not as I understand it imminent need to strike the citizen and his relatives to prevent mass casualties of American citizens. Only weeks or months afterwards did they have legitimate evidence to indict the individual.

That is scary. That is very scary. That is also NOT how the rule of law works. You have to first gather sufficient evidence for a Judge to not only issue a warrant for an individual's arrest but also enough for a Judge / Grand Jury to issue a formal indictment of an individual.

Due process was /not/ followed here. This is the problem. It is a horrifying problem when you start to imagine just how far our Government can go with it.

quote:
Declaring yourself an enemy of the state leaves you a fair target for being treated as one.


The problem is, as the administration in Washington sees it, is that you don't even have to declare yourself an enemy of the state formally. The state (sorry, Federal Thugs) only have to consider you an enemy of the state to take action.

This, this is a huge issue! Assassination is illegal but in their eyes, they've found a way to circumvent it against our own citizens?

Oh, you might argue... don't do anything and you have nothing to worry about. Well, the problem with that is just what is "something" that you have to do wrong to cross the line. The line is blurred. In fact, it dissolves when you throw out the rule of law. When that line is not finite and is only what "the powers that be" deem as crossing it, then you have a serious violation of our Constitution and the jeopardy of all of our well beings at stake.


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