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Thursday, September 29, 2016

In response to terrorist threats, President Obama has done what he promised he would do. He has used unmanned predator drones to attack and kill al-Qaida operatives wherever they hide. National borders have not deterred him, nor have the complaints of presidents and strongmen who cannot or will not go after the jihadists who use their lands as training grounds.

During his first campaign, Obama’s rivals castigated him for that pledge, claiming he was naive or uninformed or delusional to think he could strike inside other countries. The president deserves credit for sticking to his commitment to decimate al-Qaida, for taking the fight to the enemy.

But Obama’s “targeting killing” campaign has a glaring flaw: It has remained shrouded in semi-secrecy, a classified program that flouts the full disclosure and public debate that democracy demands. The president has protected the United States from the murderous impulses of Islamists, but he has not defended the constitutional principles he is sworn to uphold.

Few outside a small group of committed civil libertarians have challenged Obama on his drone war. Nor has there been much complaint about the Obama administration’s retention of several extra-constitutional policies and procedures introduced by President George Bush. As long as the threat is abated, as long as 9/11 keeps receding in the national memory, it’s only too easy for most Americans to turn a blind eye, to keep their mouths shut, to believe these uncertain times call for extraordinary measures.

One of the problems with the advance of robotic weaponry such as unmanned aircraft is that it is anesthetizing, reducing U.S. casualties (a good thing), but also numbing us to the inevitable human toll of war (not so good). People die in war, and there is no way to guarantee that all of those we kill are our enemies.

But Obama’s GOP rival, Mitt Romney, is quite unlikely to chastise Obama over his aerial war. Romney has hired much of Bush’s old neoconservative foreign policy team, a group mired in resentment and envy that Obama brought Osama bin Laden to justice, not Bush. In an irrational effort to paint Obama as a weak commander in chief, Romney makes up threats (Russia), pledges to increase spending on a bloated military and castigates the president over Iran. Don’t expect Romney to act as a voice of restraint.

  • jarheadgene

    So is it OK to go along with Willard’s(MITT’s) rhetoric of “I don’t really care about our poor when it comes to their aid or health care…let them die.” But are really supposed to worry about the rights of a declared jihadist? Their mere declaration says they have no concern for Life, or Liberty, much less the pursuit of happiness. GO FOR IT PRES…take down all the jihadists you can. You have my vote

    • You got a link to that rhetoric of ‘letting the poor die?’ Even if he said that (which I doubt)…it has nothing to do with is it right or not to engage in drone attacks in sovereign nations.

  • SaneJane

    Sure, lay everything out there. Our enemies need to know exactly what we are doing, when, where and to whom. What I see with a enormous number of Americans is an unimaginable immaturity and failure to grasp even the simplest facts and cannot see how telling them all the details would benefit anyone. Is the President doing anything illegal? Is what he is doing something we should stop and then send in thousands of humans to be killed and maimed. Terrorists do not adhere to any rules and that is why conventional warfare methods cannot stop them.

    • Ed

      Yes, the president IS doing something illegal. He is commiting an act of war inside a country we have not declared war on. The founding fathers had livedm under a tyrant who had started wars at a whim and they wrote the constitution to prevent that. What they had not anticipated is the use of treaties to drag us into war. Truman used the treaty with the UN to enter Korea. Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson used the SEATO treaty, negotiated by Ike’s Secretary of state Foster Dulles, to get us into Viet Nam. Having these excursions made without the congress declaring was led to a feeling that the president had the right to take us to war without getting a declaration of war from the congress. Having congress “approve whatever action is necessary”is NOT the same as a declaration of war. Bush 1 took us to war over Saddam invading another country. But we had no treaty to do so. That war was approved by BIG OIL. Bush 2 took us into war with Iraq,according to his own words, “because he tried to kill my daddy. In both cases congress sat on their hands. The war in Afghanastan, once again, was “approved ” by the congress waving their hand and saying “whatever”! The american people should be ashamed to send young men to die under these circumstances.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        Ed…This president, though middle aged white males in this country are loathed to admit it, has the same “executive privileges” and the same title “Commander-in-Chief. Therefore, contrary to your attempts to crucify every actions he takes, he does nothing illegal that Bush, Clinton, Bush ’41 or Reagan didn’t. At what point do you Obama haters realize no one is accepting that BS right wing hate?

  • waukkuan

    I believe the “Bush Doctrine” states that any nation that harbors terrorists shall be treated as a terrorist nations. Drone strikes kill far fewer innocent civilians than a boots-on-the-ground incursion–not to mention the loss of life for American soldiers and our allies. War involves killing. We didn’t start it, but we damn sure will fight back to the finish.

  • This country is not a Democracy, this county is a Republic. People seem to forget that at their convenience This ongoing “WAR” saga, the last “war”as defined in the Constitution, was WWII. Look it up.
    They’re crying he was a citizen and should have been full protection guaranteed by the constitution. What about all the “anti-terrorist” laws.

    The Constitution?
    The 4th Amendment Search warrant,
    The 5th Amendment
    The 6th Amendment, the right to a fair trial
    The 8th Amendment “nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”.
    Take your pick, throw it out the window, or into a fire.

    USA Patriot Act of 2001.
    TITLE I–ENHANCING DOMESTIC SECURITY AGAINST TERRORISM
    Sec. 101. Counterterrorism fund.
    Sec. 102. Sense of Congress condemning discrimination against Arab and Muslim Americans.
    Sec. 103. Increased funding for the technical support center at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
    Sec. 104. Requests for military assistance to enforce prohibition in certain emergencies.
    Sec. 105. Expansion of National Electronic Crime Task Force Initiative.
    Sec. 106. Presidential authority.
    Title II
    Selected,
    Sec. 201. Authority to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to terrorism.
    Sec. 202. Authority to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to computer fraud and abuse offenses.

    Sec. 213. Authority for delaying notice of the execution of a warrant.
    Sec. 215. Access to records and other items under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
    Sec. 217. Interception of computer trespasser communications.
    Sec. 219. Single-jurisdiction search warrants for terrorism.
    Sec. 220. Nationwide service of search warrants for electronic evidence.
    Sec. 225. Immunity for compliance with FISA wiretap.
    TITLE V–REMOVING OBSTACLES TO INVESTIGATING TERRORISM
    It doesn’t stop.

  • EZED24

    War is hell. In March 1945, I was in Dresden, when Allied bombing in two days and nights killed 110,000 civilians (Germans and refugees from the east). Pres. Roosevelt was not chastized.

  • howa4x

    The problem for the left has always been to get all wrapped up in the way we are conducting the war. Of course we want to have a moral compass and not torture people, but we have few options on dealing with this threat. 1st is what we have done which is flood the area with troops and fight a ground war. This is very messy and usually has a lot of innocent victums getting killed and maimed plus our own deaths and casulities. The 2nd is to strike our enemies from the air and try to surgically kill them with limited colatteral damage. We can always ask “why can’t we all just get along”, but some people are driven by religious ferver and don’t want to see your point of view, and just want to see you dead.

    US citizens are killed routinely by police in shootouts and other events. Why are we not outraged? Al Awlaki sent suicide bomers to kill innocents and only their incompetence saved us. It would be nice to bring him up on charges in a court room, give him due process, but how do we get him? He would be tried for treason which caries the death penality, but we would need to send in troops to find him. We could risk the lives of more special forces ala Bin Ladin, but we may not be as successful and then what?

    Drones are the future of warfare. Yes it removes us all from the battle but who wants to go to a mother and say: we could have removed the threat by a drone but we decided it was too impersonal so today we sent your son instead and we are sorry to inform you he died for his country.

    • Ed

      Then we should change the constitution to give the president the power to take us to war without consulting the congress! Let us be honest about this!

      • howa4x

        Not really. We need congressional input, and actually the case for war should be presented to the American people 1st.
        So let’s be clear on this point, I’m just talking about drones vs boots on the ground. We are already in Afganistan thanks to Bush, but we are in a situation where another country is giving safe harbor to those forces who want to kill our troops. Our choice is to declare war against Pakistan and invade or use drone strikes for the same objective. I don’t think a president should have to go to congress and play politics every time he wants to use one.

        The problem with Al Qada is that it is broken into cells and not a standing army, and dispersed into far reaches of other countries.They have sworn to kill American citizens and regardless of why they want to, the fact is they do. Drones are the best way to cripple their infastructure. Pakistan is a failed state and so is Yemen. If they had a strong army and solid institutions we would not have to do this. The Pakistani ISI support the Taliban, and they actually created them, so do we depend on them?

        The reality is that the terrorist networks are a bigger threat to their home countries than us, and I guarantee that we are doing this with their secret blessing. All the yipping they are doing publically is for home consumption.

  • William Deutschlander

    Anyone who thinks that these drone strikes are just carried out willy nilly is a damn fool!

    You may be certain that a group of very involved, informed individuals, reveiws the information and quickly presents a valid case to the President, who reveiws same quickly, and either they grant a yea or a nay!

    To think that the President makes the decision without the counsel of qualified professionals is asinine!

    • When Obama wanted to get bin Laden, Obama’s generals advised him to just bomb bin Laden’s compound — Obama did not want to do that because he feared that there were women and children at the compound, which there were.

      No one said Obama does not have consultants & advisors, but Obama does have a big say in it. He greatly favors using drones over other options because they save American lives, they are effective & efficient. And Obama does give the final say on which operatives to target first. And I think he is doing a great job.

  • 1standlastword

    al Alwlaki’s assasination shouldn’t be politicized. He willingly made himself an enemy of the state creating plans and executing them towards to purpose of attacking the state. This concern of Libertarians is one that should be put permanently to bed: After all the state executed Timothy McVeigh

  • Landsende

    I’m sure the ones complaining the loudest about using drones to kill terrorists are the ones profiting off the war. You don’t need more expensive airplanes, tanks and other weapons of war. And we put fewer lives at risk with fewer injuries. And since the teapublicans want to slash the national debt using drones will help with that. Of course in Ryans budget they want to slash Social Security, Medicare, education, EPA, unemplyment benefits, etc., everything but defense spending and they might have to slash it too. The people being targeted are terrorists who don’t follow any rules and couldn’t care less about the loss of innocent lives. GWB made no big effort to get Bin Laden and we finally have a president that isn’t afraid to make the tough decisions.

  • I am a firm believer in our Constitution and all of the freedoms it affords us, but we are in a different era from that of our forefathers. Jihadist terrorists are a different breed, mentally unbalanced, as secretive plotters as they are sinister killers. I take my hat off to our president, he is a leader taking appropriate action to protect our country by secretly targeting and killing those who would harm us if they could. You do not advertise, in advance, your every move in combating these killers, our only concern should be to get them before they get us. I do not see President Obama’s brave actions as threatening to our rights, instead, he is protecting them.

  • ExPAVIC

    One More Thing

    Just in case you may have forgotten, we are at war with people who would like to destroy us, and this is a conflict to the death as 3,000 people found on that fateful day in September a few years ago.

    If we have the weapons, and we really do, to avert another occurrence of that time then we should be using it without hesitation. Let them back off their tack and not us.

  • I think Obama did a great job getting bin Laden killed & effectively using drones to maximum capacity. He is certainly NOT a weak President. Plus, when it comes to foreign affairs, Obama (as all our other presidents) has a lot more power to do what he wants. He does not have to deal with the deadlocks & endless filibusters that are going on in Congress that are blocking virtually everything he wants and needs to do to help the people of America.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    The President has already clearly addressed issue regarding these drones. Of course, blockheads who look for every reason to degrade, demean and destroy the president have cow dung in their ear and just don’t listen. Isn’t it odd? President Obama’s predecessor used an alien language to express himself and these dullards of DogPatch understood every word. Now, they have an intelligent, articulate president and they are unable to understand a word he speaks.

    The Obama Administration has clearly stated these drones would be used solely for national security and the DOD has outlined in detail in what instances these drones would be used.

    If you can use a keyboard, you can find the DOD’s drone policy….otherwise “DUH” yourselves into incoherence.