THIS IS about transparency, not the drone policy itself. There is real concern and objections on the secrecy of President Obama’s drone and targeted assassination policies, which are also diametrically opposed to what he pledged before he became part of the Presidents Club.
Armed drones were created because of Osama bin Laden, long before 9/11 happened. Drones are accurate, lethal and cost effective. But who are we killing and why? Drones are still primarily used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance [ISR], which is one of the biggest reasons it’s coming to a city near you.
The Atlantic features neocon quotes defending the Obama policies, while offering screen shots from Huffington Post, as well as liberal criticism on them.
As Human Rights First put it, “Only complete public disclosure of the legal justifications behind the U.S. targeted killing program can assure Americans that the United States is complying with the law and established rules. The United States targeted killing program is setting a precedent for the rest of the world. We have to get this right.” – As Neocons Defend Obama, Allies Doubt Him on Drones as Never Before
That President Obama believes he doesn’t have to brief Congress, beginning with the Senate Intelligence Committee, is a direct ramification of Bush-Cheney expansion of the Executive Branch, but also the war mentality when dealing with terrorists, which now includes assassinated American citizens, because of Obama’s policies.
Barack Obama is a very practical politician, so availing himself of the latest technological weaponry that doesn’t cost as many American military their lives is an obvious tool for him to utilize. There is no president of either party who would not avail him- or herself of armed drones or strategically placed drones for ISR, as it’s called. Does anyone think Hillary Rodham Clinton would not utilize drones if she were president?
Establishment Republicans support Obama’s policy for the most part and Democrats won’t challenge President Obama directly on it or demand he rethink his foreign policy prerogatives as commander in chief.
The PR damage it is doing in countries like Pakistan, and whether it’s creating more terrorists, is an ethical issue and an important debate. But a president has to be proactive, so Obama is right to utilize armed drones. He just is very wrong to do so without letting the Senate Intelligence Committee know who is being targeted and why.
But this hearing is about John Brennan, who must openly discuss what he will do as C.I.A. director, which is different from his position during the Bush-Cheney years. We are likely to hear questions on Brennan’s role in enhanced interrogations, which he knew was going on at the time.
It’s very unlikely the public will be disturbed about what President Obama is doing with drones. If people believe drones save American lives there will be no widespread objection to it. In fact, Americans approve of the policy.
What is required is full transparency so all presidents, Obama included, inform Congress of who is being targeted for assassination and why, because other nations are catching up with us on armed drones and we’re putting Americans in danger, with no moral high ground for us to stand on, the way the Obama administration is currently conducting its drone policy.
The U.S. reportedly has 7,500 drones today, according to the Pentagon.
Over the past decade, there have been some 300 drone strikes outside the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Of these attacks, 95 percent occurred in Pakistan, with the rest in Yemen and Somalia; cumulatively, they have killed more than 2,000 suspected militants and an unknown number of civilians. Although U.S. President Barack Obama recently acknowledged that “a lot of these strikes” have been in Pakistan’s tribal areas, who can be targeted and under what authority can only be guessed from a few speeches and statements by anonymous U.S. officials. There are believed to be multiple drone-target “kill lists” among government agencies. [Foreign Policy]