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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RE: Sad to see
By KCjoker on 2/25/2013 6:58:25 PM , Rating: 4
The difference is when those things happend under Bush most of the media went absolutely crazy. Yet obama pulls all the crap he has and they say damn near nothing about it. Also there isn't any waterbording going on under Obama because he just kills them.

RE: Sad to see
By Nfarce on 2/25/2013 7:36:51 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. If Bush were president and tapping into Gmail accounts without warrants, or flying drones over back yards of Americans, or any other thing Obama is doing currently that we don't hear a PEEP from the liberal left about, including the liberal DNC water-carrying main stream media, all HELL would be breaking loose and they'd all be frothing at the mouth! But now that Obama is doing it, NARY A PEEP... from ANY left winger.

RE: Sad to see
By room200 on 2/25/13, Rating: 0
RE: Sad to see
By Reclaimer77 on 2/26/2013 8:01:18 AM , Rating: 2
Wow three examples, one from a comedy show, NOT news. There you have it, the "Liberal media bias" is just made up. The proof is right there folks!

Room, like most Liberals, you wouldn't know Liberal bias if it smacked you in the head. Because you think that's the normal viewpoint on everything.

liberals don't agree with Obama about everything, and we do what we can to hold his feet to the fire.


The scary thing about you Liberals is, the only time you don't agree with Obama is when you think he hasn't gone far ENOUGH!

RE: Sad to see
By room200 on 2/26/2013 10:38:06 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Sad to see
By room200 on 2/26/2013 10:41:09 PM , Rating: 1
Oh, so you criticize the examples I give and you give none (yet you trumpet the bullshit claim of "liberal media" in damn near every post with no evidence and everyone should just accept it at face value). LOL just like a republiCON.

RE: Sad to see
By room200 on 2/26/2013 10:44:08 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Most of the media went so crazy asking about weapons of mass destruction and all the evidence/intelligence before going into a war that killed 5000 Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqi's........oh wait. No they didn't.

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