Does Obama want to be remembered as “Barack, bringer of drones”?

I’ve been writing about Obama’s drone and national security speech lately, and also gathering takes on it from other commenters. I showed Jon Stewart’s commentary here. I’d like to look next at the commentary from Chris Hayes’ show and that of some of his guests.

I’ll say to start that this is an important speech, but not perhaps in the way that Obama intended it. And I’m still left with that Möbius strip aftertaste, the feeling that this speech folds back on itself in a “stop me before I kill again” but “here’s why I’m doing it” way. I’m frankly both fascinated and creeped out by it. (The “creeped out” aspect was mainly discussed here.)

Let’s look now at a few segments from a Chris Hayes show that was mostly devoted to this speech and the protester who interrupted it. (These are selections, and not in order of broadcast.)

First, this discussion with Spencer Ackerman, Howard Fineman (who makes some excellent points) and Rep. Keith Ellison. Watch first, then some thoughts:

Ackerman (at 1:46) catches the cognative dissonance in the speech, what I’ve been calling its Möbius strip aspect, (all emphasis mine):

“In some ways it’s two speeches. One was a fascinating speech where he outlines that the war has to end, and the other is a frustrating speech where he doesn’t quite take the implications of what he’s saying into the proposal stage.”

In other words, the fascinating part is the words, the self-declared aspiration; the frustrating part is the … deeds, which he’s rather vague about. Words and deeds, what we’ve always noticed about Obama as not matching up.

And Fineman adds at 4:02:

“On a functional level, clearing away some of the grand thematics here, he gave a pretty spirited defense of the drone program.”

Back to deeds, what he’s doing now. And it us a vigorous defense — click here for the transcript and start reading at the phrase “Moreover, America’s actions are legal.” Obama wraps himself in phrases like “a just war – a war waged proportionally” and “clear guidelines, oversight and accountability” — by which he means the executive branch establishing oversight over the executive branch. Not your daddy’s American Constitution — or your Founders’.

Fineman continues:

“I think he also defended, though not as fulsomely, domestic surveillance. … Within this sort of aspirational desire to get rid of this term about the “global war on terror” and maybe give back power, he used the term “ultimately.” He didn’t say immediately. Don’t expect to see a bill tomorrow to get rid of all that power he’s got.”

An interesting discussion.

Now Hayes in a brief segment on how the president defends the drone program while acknowledging that there are problems with it. He ends by asking the question — that’s what he says, but how will he act?

Note the mismatch in the president’s comparison of Al-Awlaki to a sniper with a gun (1:11). At most, Al-Awlaki was accused of actively conspiring. That’s a far cry in urgency and immediacy from actually shooting at people from a tower.

Mr. Obama, I’m going to call that one disingenuous — partly because it’s just a false comparison, and partly because the difference between the two cases is likely to be missed by most people (which is often the point of a disingenuous argument, if you want it to “fly”). Hayes appears to miss the distinction, for example.

Hayes ends by tying the drone program to Obama’s enduring legacy — an astute observation — and wonders, given Obama’s fine words (my phrase), how in the future Obama “actually acts.” As indicated above, the right question.

Finally, this conversation with Hina Shamsi of the ACLU and Joshua Foust (ex-DIA). The entire clip is here. I want to focus on just a brief segment, something Ms. Shamsi said and Froust agreed with. Listen:

Hina Shamsi (at 1:25) has a great answer to the question “Why is the drone solution not a good midway answer to either doing nothing or invading?” She makes two very concise points, one about capture as an alternative (it’s underused, or not used at all), and the other, that the drone program is “absolutely hated in the countries where it is being carried out.”

It’s hard to come to grips with that last point from the comfort of your chair — without putting yourself in the shoes of those who constantly watch the skies in fear of soulless, pilotless American planes. If a foreign nation sent a drone to kill someone in your neighbor’s house — in Albuquerque, say, or a Cleveland suburb — and your daughter were visiting at the time, and died … what would be the odds you’d immediately think of revenge?

I’d put those odds at just below 100%, assuming you still had a pulse and weren’t blown up yourself. After all, did not the invasion of Iraq ride a national tidal wave of revenge for piloted attacks against New York and Washington,  in other words, “9/11”?

Interestingly, Joshua Foust, the second guest, adds that the program Obama is describing as his future path is what’s actually happening now in Yemen, and he adds that this program is “generating these failures that Hina is talking about.” In other words, what he says he wants to do, he’s already doing, and it’s already failing.

Bottom line

We’ve now presented a number of takes on this speech — my own, where I doubt the president’s sincerity and see a pivot back to his base as the Republican scandal machine gears up (shades of Clinton, whose plan to privatize Social Security was short-circuited by a certain blue dress); Jon Stewart’s, who also seems to doubt Obama’s sincerity; and Chris Hayes and his guests, above, who more politely but consistently point to the differences between Obama’s words and his deeds.

What drove this speech? I point to Obama’s need to re-please his base during scandal season. Hayes points to the legacy issue, that drone kills are coming to define him in a lasting and major way. Does Obama want to be remembered as “Barack, Bringer of Drones”? Apparently not, though he has sometimes seemed to revel in it, as below:

See what I mean? “Boys, I have two words for you — predator drones.” Incipient second thoughts? A touch of conscience? Or reveling in the power to kill? I hear only one of those three in that “joke” — and am appalled at the “you and me, bro” laughter in the room. Some days I hope there’s a hell.

Is this speech a scandal pivot, a bit of legacy spin, or something more sincere? All three could be correct; or none of them. I’ve brought a fair amount of data in the last few days; feel free to decide for yourself. And happy Memorial Day. Is there better time to course-correct on national security overreach? Not if a course correction is needed.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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  • Sweetie

    “he attributes that to ‘US’ or ‘WE.'”

    the royal we.

  • Sweetie

    “Drones are good, murder is good, censorship is good and raw militarism is good. Human rights? All bad. Very, very bad.”

    Sounds like a summation of the Wilson administration, with drones as an update on the package.

  • Very like+++++++++ Military families and the wounded are being grievously treated by the Obama administration. The waiting list for thousands is already well over a year now. 250,000 cases of rape and sexual abuse have been reported and are being ignored.It’s scandalous and a national disgrace.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Do you have any pictures of them in their fascist uniforms, or giving a fascist salute, or ….

    You’re confusing fascism with right centrist politics. Both parties are right centrist and one is as bad as the other. You call the Republicans fascists and at some point you’re going to say that Democrats, or some Democrats, are better. If anything, they’re worse, as least as long as they’re in power.

    If they lose the Senate they’ll still be right centrist, they’ll just whine more.

    Democrats don’t kowtow to Republicans – they have the same program. Two gangs of criminals, one program of wars, austerity and union busting.

  • JayRandal

    About ALL of Congressional Republicans are fascists. Unfortunately many of
    the DC Dems kowtow to GOPers. Those who help Wall Street are DINOs. My comment about Vermont being one of few remaining liberal bastions.

  • Kim_Kaufman

    Here’s Glenn Greenwald’s take: “Obama’s terrorism speech: seeing what you want to see” and for fun: Tavis Smiley and Cornel West on the other two speeches he gave:
    The only real scandal is the one against journalists. If Obama is trying to get “his base” to support him now, this is a good time to get something — more than just a freaking speech. When Obama said, as Medea was being taken out of the room, “she’s not listening to me” it was the perfect narcissistic viewpoint. The fact is, we’re sick of listening to him because his actions have failed to correspond to his pretty speeches.

  • ronbo

    Blowback. One word CAN destroy the illusions of a clouded and morally confused mind.

  • ronbo

    Now THAT drone strike might be noticed!

  • Bill_Perdue

    Another unhappy Memorial Day for working class GIs.

    Obama’s wars of aggression continue to take a huge toll on working class people in the military.

    As of today 2228 GI’s have been murdered by his policies and tens of thousands more wounded. GI and veteran suicides, as of the most recent count, have been almost one an hour, or 22 a day. If they continue at that pace 8,000 or so will take their own lives themselves this year. We can only imagine what they went through, what they saw and what they did to cause such overwhelming, fatal despair.

    The wars of aggression of the Bushes, the Clintons and Obama are nothing short of criminal. Count on the Republicans declining to impeach or convict Obama for being a war criminal and a mass murderer. Just as he didn’t prosecute Bush and Bush didn’t prosecute Clinton. And so on and so on.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Excellent article.

    Count on the Republicans declining to impeach or convict Obama for being a war criminal and a mass murderer. Just as he didn’t prosecute Bush and Bush didn’t prosecute Clinton. And so on and so on.

    They want some of that action themselves so if they move it’ll be over some non-issue like the IRS ‘scandal’.

  • Bill_Perdue

    What could be more reckless than murdering tens of thousands of civilians, including can civilians and wasting the lives of tens of thousands of working class GIs? Suicide Rate Among Vets and Active Duty Military Jumps – Now 22 A Day Almost once an hour – every 65 minutes to be precise – a military veteran commits suicide, says a new investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    What could be more reckless than arming the terrorist thugs of the IDF with terror weapons like white phosphorus artillery shells and bombs. It’s an invitation to retaliation by islamist terrorists.

    What could be more reckless than cutting Medicare and Medicaid and sentencing people to death.

    What could be more reckless than driving down wages, busting unions and doing nothing substantial about tens of millions of unemployed and the poverty and homelessness they face.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Which members of the GOP congressional caucus are fascists.

    Which members of the Democrat congressional caucus are fascists.

    Do you pretend that Republicans are fascists to try to mask the fact that the Democrats are a rightist party and that both congressional caucuses and the WH (no matter who’s running it) are composed entirely of lapdogs for the rich?

  • JayRandal

    Vermont in my opinion is summed up by Sen. Bernie Sanders the only openly socialist
    politician in Congress. If Vermont was not so cold in winter I would probably move from
    Georgia to live there. Has some liberal similarities to San Francisco in some ways but
    not as openly Gay as SF. Having been born and raised in California I know SF better
    than Vermont. San Francisco has an enigma side to it in that Gays live openly there,
    but at same time Rep. Pelosi represents wealthy Elite of SF more than supporting Gays there. If our country breaks apart due to GOP fascism then Vermont might be last bastion of left wing liberalism.

  • Perhaps. I suspect we haven’t seen the last of him though. He seems obsessed always with getting the last word, no matter how illogically, heartlessly, or artlessly expressed.

  • Ford Prefect

    Nicely said. You’re right “Orwellian” comes too easy. But it’s also easy for a reason. The data are ubiquitous.

    I long for the day when using that term is a stretch. It probably won’t happen in my lifetime though.

  • dave3137

    And we are either oblivious to, or outraged at the idea of “blowback.” Our actions never have “consequences,” because we are always right. The President asks, about Guantanamo, “Is that who we are?” Exactly who does he think WE are? Did WE do that? Did WE authorize forced feeding? Did WE have much of a say at all? Do we ever? Shouldn’t he have said “Is that who I am?” (Since it could stop if he ordered it. And he could release half of those folks today, under current law, but doesn’t.I Don’t say WE, Mr. President. Take some responsibility. What ISN’T “terrorism” these days? What “leaks” aren’t “supporting the enemy”? What journalists who stray from being administration stenographers are permitted to do their jobs in a so-called “free” society without being accused of criminal behavior? We use the word “Orwellian” too easily, because a lot of people who use it don’t appreciate what it really means, but we have become “1984.” Perpetual war justifies anything. Period.

  • Sadly, it’s already tradition.

  • Ford Prefect

    Thanks. And perhaps for the first time, it seems to have actually worked!

  • Ford Prefect

    This is spot on and has always been the problem with this administration:

    …because he argued both sides of the case then declared he will keep on doing the same as before.

    The argument about “having troops in harm’s way” is interesting only in the sense that it essentially means our elites think the entire world is theirs to stomp the living shit out of. In the end, killing is killing and war is war. For the ruling elites, drones give them some moral distance in their own blinkered eyes. The obvious problem is they think drones make it easy to murder without using boots on the ground. But if boots aren’t the answer, then why are we killing people anyway? They’re basically admitting the bloodshed isn’t legitimate, since putting troops in there would n’t be acceptable.

    But in the real world, killing is still killing and blowing people up for no good reason is still blowing people up for no good reason. There is no technical “out” for the bloodletting. Only shortcuts.

    I don’t think others getting drones is a concern for them. They’re slow, low and easy to shoot down for our advanced, technological abattoir-culture. Drone counter-measures would be far more interesting, methinks. If somebody comes up with a cheap means to shooting down a $7 million drone loaded with another million in weapons reliably, then that might raise a few hackles.

  • Ford Prefect

    Shit! Don’t say that out loud!

    Someone will get ideas!

  • Ford Prefect

    Their classification system serves two nefarious purposes: 1) It means we’re killing lots of “bad” people (funny how they use that word, instead of something technically relevant, like “criminal” or “murderer.” Merely “bad” is somehow seen as adequate.); and 2) all those innocent people aren’t innocent. They’re “bad” too. It’s body-count and CYA all in one sweet package!

  • Ford Prefect

    It’s a feature, not a bug. The only way to justify war spending on current levels is to make sure there’s lots of boogeymen out there who want to kill us. So they’re doing their level best to create that demand.

    We live in an era in which “running government like a business” has been the mantra for 30 years. What else could we expect from our CEO-class rulers?

    No analysis of NatSec policy is relevant without considering the business model, since that’s what is driving all of it!

  • lynchie

    You just admitted that we as a country recklessly attack civilians (because no one stop us) so they retaliate in any way they can.

  • “eventually they’ll all want to kill us.” The dystopian inevitability.

  • Yep, “body counts,” If the take ear trophies that counts for two.

  • Brilliantly put, Ford.

  • MyrddinWilt

    Was he told not to? I haven’t seen that yet.

  • MyrddinWilt

    Oh but everyone could agree with Obama’s speech, or at leas half of it because he argued both sides of the case then declared he will keep on doing the same as before.

    I think it is a little more than just wanting to triangulate the GOP though. I think it is more about getting excited about the shiny new toys and all how convenient it is to be able to play at war without having any US troops in harms way.

    As I have been saying for some time though, drones are going to get a lot less popular as soon as other countries start flying them.

  • Yep.

    Attending a wedding? Terrorist.
    Attending a funeral? Terrorist.
    Walking down a road believed to be used by terrorists? Terrorist.
    Living next door to a suspected terrorist? Terrorist.
    Be a male between the age of 12 and 65? Terrorist.
    Riding in a car or bus with a suspected terrorist? Terrorist.
    Standing next to someone who, from several thousand feet and through a grainy telephoto lens, sort of resembles a suspected terrorist? Terrorist.

    It didn’t pass my notice how they’re essentially classifying everyone killed by drone bombs to be terrorists, militants, or insurgents, whether there’s proof or not. Maybe their thinking is if we throw enough missiles at these people, it’ll become a self-fulfilling fact — eventually they’ll all want to kill us.

  • Hey, apparently it’s better that an entire village be wiped off the face of the Earth than for a single American soldier to risk his or her life.

  • Catfish

  • When I TROLL hunt for reptiles I drone them for efficiency’s sake and you would certainly approve of that. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is that bold enough for you?

  • yep! I suspect it’s easier to support killing than actually serving and putting it on the line.

  • “not at all clueless” Then you are clearly a psychopath.

  • Well done! Skinned that troll like a pro!

  • “You’re a bloody-minded nationalist” Bingo!—-the most contemptible form of armchair patriotism.

  • Sweetie

    Presidential legacy is just part of the distraction engine surrounding the office and the conduits of corrupt power behind it. In other words, it’s mainly for the plebs.

  • I don’t think Obama raves. He’s seems quite articulate to me.

  • rotfl

  • But, but hurling insults is not needless. Sun Tzu opines that defining the enemy is a basic tactic, especially according to the level of ignorance that will bring him down.

  • Ford Prefect

    With drones, there seems to be two holdovers from vietnam: 1) “If he’s running he’s VC,” and 2), body counts, although they say they don’t do them, the press releases announcing their kills would bely that.

  • “Give it up, Karmanot” But Becca, I’m Irish/Scots and have been at war with these types for over 1500 years now. :-)

  • Heart surgery with a chainsaw

  • Help yourself.

  • Or Drone Operator Jones hears from his supervisor, “You’ve been returning with full ordinance too often. It’s making our numbers look bad. You need to be making at least 80% positive IDs, got it? I don’t care if you’re not sure, your report says you’re sure. It’s not like anybody’s going to charge you with a war crime if you’re wrong.”

  • Kali is fierce, but just. Our Troll du Jour just want people to be killed because foreigners scare him.

  • Ford Prefect

    Ok. But that’s not how it works. The way it works is if you’re male, between the age of 12-65 and you’re in a town, village or road “used by terrorists,” you’re a terrorist suspect–they don’t even have to know who you are. If you’re labeled a suspect, you’re as good as dead. Also too, everyone else within the blast radius is also posthumously labeled a “suspect.” Men, women, children of all ages. Under Obama’s “rules” a three-week old infant within the blast radius is a “suspected terrorist.” Got it?

    That’s how it works. You’ll notice that actual intelligence has nothing to do with it. So your notion of pre-emption is just bullshit. It doesn’t exist.

    Lastly, while we’re blowing up innocent people all over the world, you are as likely to be killed by your own furniture as by a terrorist. You are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer, than by a terrorist. And since you live in a red state with hardly any workplace safety protections, you’re hundreds of times more likely to die at work than from a terrorist. Extra points for those who live in Texas, who are vastly more likely to be killed by their boss than anyone else.

    Still, why let things like perspective get in the way of a good killing spree, right?

  • NorthAlabama

    you see, that’s the difference between us. i understand your views and reasonings, i just don’t agree, and i don’t feel that disagreement gives me the right to hurl needless insults at you and your beliefs. but keep on going, as long as you want – it shows your true character, too, or lack thereof.

  • NorthAlabama

    troll much? you forgot the all caps, bold letters, and multiple exclamation points.

  • Give it up, Karmanot. You’re dealing with a guy who has zero empathy and absolutely no objective understanding of human psychology. He actually believes terrorists have no motivation other than an insatiable desire to kill. In his world, every one of them simply wakes up one day and says to themselves, “I hate America and I want to murder people, so let’s get on with it. Who needs any other reason?”

    And apparently all their neighbors are in on it. “Have you heard? Abdul is a terrorist now. A shame none of us feels like doing anything about him. I guess if a Hellfire missile hits our house, it’s our fault. I’m sure the rest of our extended family will understand and forgive them, because the Americans clearly had no choice. They’re at war with us, you know — not our country, but just us.”

    And apparently there are never any mistakes in targeting. No false-positive IDs. No strikes because a given drone operator was under pressure to have as high a body count as possible and to be sure to launch his missiles before returning to base — because that kind of thing has never, ever happened before in American war-making. Anybody standing next to the maybe-terrorist is acceptable collateral damage because hey, even though Congress has not actually declared a war since the WWII armistice and countries like Yemen and Pakistan are ostensibly our allies, we’re at war with subsets of their civilian populations and mere suspicion is enough to warrant execution.

    And never any alternative to death from above, sprayed indiscriminately.

    And 9/11 excuses everything, no matter how unrelated, damaging, immoral, and/or reckless.

  • NorthAlabama

    i would rather track down those planning the attcks before the attacks, not after.

  • Ford Prefect

    I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. Are you saying that being “proactive” means killing people in advance of something else happening? If nothing happens, there’s no crime. If there’s no crime, there’s no criminal. And besides, we’re really indiscriminate about killing anyway, with 90% of our “hits” being innocent bystanders.

    You’re proactivity requires perfect knowledge of “the enemy” to have any worth at all. Otherwise, it’s just murder. Or terrorism. Take your pick. And you think I have blood lust? ARe you mad?!

  • NorthAlabama

    will never let go!

  • It’s a good day for being alive. It’s a good day for outing the jive. It’s a good day for dissing the hama from Alabama. there, that’s how it’s working out for me. You?

  • Ford Prefect

    Well put! Of course, the icing on this cake lies in the way he can also claim to take responsibility while blaming all of us for all his various crimes. When it comes to murder, torture, murdering Americans without due process or shredding the First Amendment, he attributes that to “US” or “WE.”

    His speeches aren’t even very good. They’re easy to parse. He says extra-judicial murder should have rules attached to it. Well, his own “disposition matrix” could hardly be described as “rules” in any real sense, since it’s still extra-judicial murder. But some mindless drone of a “journalist” can spout about rules, so it’s all good! Murder reformed. Except it’s still murder!

  • I would have asked my relative but died in the collapse . Any other questions from the vicarious gallery?

  • NorthAlabama

    i’m sure you have some crazy glue nearby.

  • My moron dar just broke the meter.

  • NorthAlabama

    not at all clueless. if my friends and neighbors were recklessly attacking civilians of another country, i might expect retalliation.

  • Would make a great T-shirt and bumper sticker!

  • NorthAlabama

    i pay close attention. i’m just able to separate the ravings of killers from the right of self defense.

  • When you lose a child in war, maybe, just maybe you might get some clue. If the town in which you live gets wiped out by a drone and you family, neighbors and friends die terrible burning deaths, maybe you’ll get a clue. But, I doubt it, you are pathetically and dangerously clueless.

  • NorthAlabama

    i think it’s a very good insight to your beliefs. no blood lust here, only glad to see we’re being proactive, instead of waiting for the explosion, and then wondering what we did to cause it.

  • Oh but they do and have. You aren’t paying attention.

  • Ford Prefect

    Wrong again. Deliberately killing innocent civilians for a political purpose is the very definition of terrorism. That’s what Obama & Co do. We even whore out our drones to other governments and kill their political opposition (or even fulfilling personal vendettas) in exchange for basing rights. See also: rendition, systematic torture (Abu Ghraib!!), illegal invasions, indefinite detention without charge or trial, naked wars of aggression and so forth. The Obama Administration is even arming jihadi groups affiliated with Al Qaeda in Syria. How’s that NOT terrorism? Some of them have even demonstrated cannibalistic tendencies to make their point. How is that NOT terrorism?

    You’re a bloody-minded nationalist. You believe murder is fine when it’s done by your people and wrong when others do the same thing. Basically, you have no moral compass and are unable to even make moral distinctions in the first place. You really ought to stop preaching, as it only makes you look horribly craven.

  • Yep, someone hiccups at the wrong moment in Fort Bum Scratch Texas and a whole village is gone.

  • YEP!

  • I concur. He’s the friggin’ president and C-in-C. Gitmo was opened under C-in-C authority, it could be closed down by the same. If force-feeding prisoners is wrong, then order it to be stopped. If endless war is bad, then declare all reasonable pre-war objectives achieved and end them. If a free press is that essential to American democracy and values, then stop prosecuting whistleblowers and spying on the press. If it’s accepted by all reasonable persons that indiscriminate drone strikes creates more terrorists than the few actually killed, then order it to be stopped in favor of more effective diplomatic and law-enforcement strategies.

  • NorthAlabama

    bully much? how’s that workin’ out for ‘ya?

  • Who knew Obozo had an inner Barry Goldwater.

  • A neighborhood kid has one and flies it over Alabama’s house to see if his/her panties are in a bunch.

  • Cool: from Ava Broun to Ilse Koch in one paragraph.

  • There is at least one in North Alabama.

  • “I defer to Muhammed Ali on war.” Same here!

  • I know. Even if ‘fighting back’ isn’t the least bit careful to fight those actually responsible. He pretty much epitomizes everything that’s wrong and immoral with our country’s foreign policies.

  • “it was done on purpose” FACT: oh, indeed it was, as was the murder of an innocent family riding in a taxi, as were the civilians who tried to help them —remember that incident, It turned Bradley Manning into a whistle blower. It is you armchair, blood thirsty, voyeurs who keep this death march alive. Your stubborn ignorance and refusal to face reality is a form of terrorism in itself.

  • NorthAlabama

    if you equivocate our military and political leaders with terrorists, your way too lost to talk on the subject.

  • It always looks that way when sitting safely at home.

  • NorthAlabama

    sweeter than whatever you call what’s going on in your mind.

  • NorthAlabama

    i’ve never advcated murder of anyone. i just don’t have issues with fighting back after every other recourse has been exhausted.

  • Thank you. But the Kali Durga from Alabama respectfully disagrees.

  • NorthAlabama

    it would probably be better asked of anyone living in manhattan when the towers collapsed, “darlin'”.

  • “but it’s always good to have beliefs.” Ilse Koch had beliefs, but that was not a good thing. I can just visualize N.Alabama in a camp setting.

  • Ford Prefect

    Careful now. You’re projecting.

  • Alabama advocates war crimes, murdering children and families: “but once civilians are attacked, i have no issue with fighting back.”

  • NorthAlabama

    terrorists don’t need a case, or justification, just their own feeble rationalizations to kill.

  • If you dropped a bomb on my house, murdered my spouse and children or parents, I would go to the ends of the earth (and Alabama) to hunt you down. How’s it feel to have the drones on the other foot sweetpea?

  • NorthAlabama

    it will be interesting to see what charges actually end up becoming reality.

  • Sweet home Alabama?

  • nicho

    I hope you realize that every argument you’ve made here today is a justification for the attacks against on on 9-11. You are basically making the terrorists’ case for them.

  • “i’m glad the program is moving from of the hands of the cia into the military” You would..

  • nicho

    Just like the relentless search for the culprit when Dick Cheney outed a covert CIA agent and jeopardized lives on the ground.

    The problem with your argument is that Obama wants to criminalize asking for information — not necessarily publishing it. And I’d really want to see evidence that lives were jeopardized in this case. That a cheap charge that’s easily made.

  • Ford Prefect

    Obama’s “signature strikes” don’t even require a positive ID of the target. That goes to show just how un-surgical their methods are.

    It’s just state terror.

  • I will certainly do my part to help that happen.

  • I seriously doubt Hills will be running, because by the time Obozo leaves office, the banks will collapse big time AGAIN and she doesn’t want to be the first woman American president, whom people call Hoover Hills behind her back.

  • Ford Prefect

    Since he’s still got three more years to wreak havoc on the world, I’d argue he’s actually a lot worse than Shrub.

  • Ford Prefect

    O’s speech was probably the best effort at Doublethink I’ve yet seen outside an Orwell novel. Endless war is bad, but WE have to do it because it’s necessary, which means it’s good. Squelching the press is bad, but it’s good. Drones are bad, but you folks are making me do that, which is good because it’s “democracy in action” or something.

    Establishment nitwits can spout about Obomber’s legacy all they want, but it means precisely nothing. I’ve yet to see one tiny bit of evidence he or anyone else actually cares about this “legacy” thing.

    If you add up the “anonymous” briefing pre-speech, the speech and his actual policies, just look at where those things all intersect and you have a decent picture. That picture reads: “Drones are good, murder is good, censorship is good and raw militarism is good. Human rights? All bad. Very, very bad.”

  • NorthAlabama

    where did the “they hate us for our freedoms” comment come from? i’ve never made that argument in my lifetime, ever. a few extremists hate us because of how they interpret their religion, our actions, or our country’s support of allies,
    or because their friends told them to, or because, because, because, ad nauseam.

    they will always find a rationalization for their decision to target our country and our allies. glad we are fighting back, after years of letting the attacks go unanswered.

  • NorthAlabama

    interesting, if not misguided, dickens reference. too bad it’s wrong.

  • But, you are so worth guesty. Maybe someday you will come out of the cowering shadows and engage with a commenter of Beccas’ quaility.

  • Stitch one, purl two, Madam Alabama deFarge is working on her terrorist blanket again!

  • Eloquent comment Becca. It reminds me that there is a grief beyond rage. Obama is a war criminal, an assassin, a killer of children, innocent civilians and villages. What makes him any different than other murderous tyrants of history—-nothing. His contribution to history will be graves, grieving, and a legacy of death.

  • NorthAlabama

    this one bothers me on many different levels. i’m a firm believer in freedom of the press, and the right to protect sources. state and federal courts have a mixed history when it comes to confidentiality. it looks like the ag used a very broad interpretation of department guidelines in requesting the info. verizon was all too agreeable in handing the info over. why couldn’t verizon wait for a subpoena?

    if lives of our allies on the ground were jeopardized by the thoughtless leaking of classified info, i can see why there was a relentless search to identify the leak. it takes time and effort to develop sources inside terrorist organizations, and casually leaking this info for the sake of being the first with a headline, or in order to sell papers (inform the public?) gets on my nerves, too.

  • Obozo is the worst President since the lil’ Dub.

  • Your comment on Vermont interests me because I had lived there for some years. It is true that Vermont is liberal, but something else deeply informs that state, which is the enlightenment principles of populist democracy. I can think of only one another state like it—–the State of San Francisco.

  • “McCain is reckless” Yes, but an angry, dissolussioned America decided that character instability was heroic and appointed him Prince of heroes. Now at the end of his days he’s appearing to be exactly what hewis : a jackoff, hot head, low watt goober.

  • DrDignity

    Good article, Gaius! The offensive strategy, the disastrous policies of this administration & the one previous have had serious consequences on the world & within the nation. The blowback in the form of increased enmity, a creeping inverted totalitarian police state, the decimation of the middle & poor classes, the crumbling infrastructure, the disregard for the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, habeas corpus & the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights are chilling to anybody paying attention. It won’t be long before drones will be used within the US by terrified nations who may feel threatened for any reason or by our own militarised police forces against the people. The laws are already in place for any President to kill at will for any reason, logical or paranoid.

  • Have you? Buh-bye Mr. Troll. I am done engaging you.

  • NorthAlabama

    my alma mater’s agriculture department uses them to monitor crops and livestock – who knew? kinda creepy to have colleges using surveillance – wonder where those checks and balances are?

  • NorthAlabama

    have you had much success winning people over to your views by using insults?

  • jomicur

    The primary purpose of the US government is to increase the profits of defense contractors. The secondary purpose is to increase the profits of non-defense related corporations. Congress and the White House seldom do much that doesn’t accomplish one or the other, if not both.

  • JayRandal

    Huffington Post headline today: Sen. McCain crossed border of Turkey into Syria to meet with rebels.
    His action done in defiance of Pres. Obama but will BHO take action against McCain? Probably not because Obama allowing GOPers such as McCain to do whatever they want to do. McCain is reckless
    and increasingly becoming unhinged. He should be forced to retire from Senate before he ignites war
    with Syria and Iran.

  • NorthAlabama

    and your so-called evidence of all of this comes from where? and you suggest we randomly attack anyone we can, not because of a threat, but just because? pull your aluminum foil cap out of the closet, time to dust it off.

  • nicho

    And the current policy is making things worse — far worse. And for the record, when did we “sit by and negotiate” — ignoring for the moment that those are self-contradictory? We have had an aggressive policy for decades of killing people at will, toppling democratic governments, killing democratically elected leaders, stealing resources, you name it. If people are attacking us it’s not because they picked our name out of a hat.

  • NorthAlabama

    no, he wasn’t.

  • nicho

    Yes, he was.

  • NorthAlabama

    appeasement didn’t work out so well for us or our allies. time to change tactics.

  • nicho

    So then they have the right to fight back — and then we have the right to fight back — giving them more reason to fight back — giving us more reason to fight back. And many of them have very little to lose, making them much more dangerous.

  • NorthAlabama

    see the above comment about how just sitting by and negotiating didn’t work out so well.

  • Lucky for you, America will never run out of people who hate us. And it’s not for our freedoms.

  • nicho

    Which were the direct result of their watching our attacks on their countries, homes, friends, and families for decades. One thing about their attacks on our soil was that it took them so long to retaliate. You had to figure it was coming. I’m not saying it was right, but then our campaign of murder on their soil wasn’t right either.

  • NorthAlabama

    war has consequences. terrible, sad, disgusting consequences. it always has. that doesn’t mean this citizen was deliberately attacked.

  • nicho

    So you endorse a policy that is creating new terrorists by the truckful every day. The end result of Obama’s campaign of drone murder will be thousands of new terrorists. Good luck with that.

  • NorthAlabama

    thanks, but no thanks. no ignorance of history, and no naiveté. just a strong believer that our military and political leaders are basically good citizens doing the best they can. i don’t always agree with what happens. that doesn’t make them blood thirsty killers.

  • nicho

    Some live in Washington DC.

  • nicho

    And that 16-year-old boy — born in America — was “waging war on our country?”

  • NorthAlabama

    they probably feel a lot like the families around the world as we watched the attacks on the civilian targets of our country and our allies.

  • nicho

    Well, good for you. It’s a little naive and ignorant of history, but it’s always good to have beliefs.

  • nicho

    Murder. That’s why when Obama attacks an American civilian, it’s murder.

  • JayRandal

    A President to be successful has to have vision. Obama desired to become President but he has never exhibited any vision. A President has to be fully connected to common Americans but Obama
    acts aloof and hobnobs with Elite. He thinks making Wall Street happy and Pentagon allowed to wage perpetual warfare OK. Economy is barely staying afloat while GOPers want social programs slashed to the bone. Country might eventually disintegrate into far-right zones and pockets of liberalism just left in a few dwindling places like Vermont.

  • NorthAlabama

    no where near the disgust i feel about advocating a policy of just sitting by, watching, and doing nothing as terrorists strike at american civilians.

  • I am done with you. You disgust me.

  • NorthAlabama

    are you honestly suggesting our military and intelligence officers are cold blooded murders, only out to satisfy some desire to kill innocent civilians? i have more faith in our leaders and our country to believe that.

  • NorthAlabama

    there’s nothing casual against defending our country. no blood lust here, only the right to defend against those who wage war on our country, and have for decades.

  • You advocate attacking the wrong people.

  • Indigo

    Barry’s way macho with those drones, you know that, right?

  • Ooh, so a bunch of Saudi nationals launch a terrorist attack over a decade ago. They are all dead. The organization that supported them is smashed and its leader, Osama Bin Laden is dead.

    This gives us the right forever to bomb whoever we want, wherever in the world we want, and collateral damage is acceptable?

    Dude, you clearly have NO idea how many enemies we are creating with every single drone attack. Especially the ones that are hitting innocent civilians.

    Your casual bloodthirstiness is appalling.

  • NorthAlabama

    no, you are. this is not traditional war. the argument can be made whether or not american policies incited violence, but once our civilians are attacked, i have no issue with attacking back.

  • Becca, we learned from Wikileaks that our missiles deliberately target civilians. (At least in Iraq.)

    However, after the numerous campaigns against civilians throughout our history (Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Korea, Vietnam, etc.), I think it’s safe to say they’re our real targets, especially in drone wars. These devices are meant to increase terror in our “enemies” under the false assumption that overwhelming firepower will decrease their resolve to fight.

    Personally, I defer to Muhammed Ali on war. I don’t have the stomach to support the bombing of innocent people who had literally nothing to do with America other than physically resembling people who committed a terrorist attack.

  • NorthAlabama

    so you believe that terrorists only live in saudi arabia?

  • Nice straw man argument, but you are deliberately missing the point

  • Last I checked, all of the 9/11 attackers were Saudi nationals. And the attackers in Benghazi were Libyans.

    Our drones are killing villagers in rural Yemen, and quite often not hitting actual bad guys. That’s not the rule of law. That’s a war crime.

  • NorthAlabama

    and what do you call attacks on americans?

  • nicho

    They should be looking ahead to losing the Senate in 2014.

  • NorthAlabama

    is this the same rule of law that applies when embassies are attacked or planes full of civilians are brought down?

  • nicho

    Obama could also be known as the president who made it a crime for journalists to ask for information. That’s a biggie too.

  • I always had a visceral sense that people will not thank you or like you for bombing them — it should be obvious. However, this young man’s interviews and testimony were an eye-opener:

    A drone strike killed five people last week in the remote Yemeni village of Wessab. Locals are still scared. Many knew at least one of the men who was killed. But they didn’t know that he was suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda. If they’d known, they would’ve helped to arrest him, or forced him to leave their village, or at least kept their distance lest they be killed or maimed. It terrifies them that they didn’t even know he was a target. What if they’d been standing next to him?

    What if their children had been standing next to him?

    Americans wouldn’t normally hear about how poor Yemeni villagers reacted to a drone strike. But Wessab is the home village of Farea al-Muslimi, a 22-year-old democracy activist who is among the most pro-American voicesin Yemen. “I don’t know if there is anyone on earth that feels more thankful to America than me,” he said Tuesday in testimony before a Senate committee. “In my heart, I know I can only repay the opportunities, friendship, warmth, and exposure your country provided me by being their ambassadors to Yemenis for the rest of my life.”
    In emotional testimony, he stated that the Obama Administration’s drone strikes in Yemen “have mademy passion and mission in support of America almost impossible” and done more to empower al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula than to weaken it. This is his story and his vital advice, drawn from his prepared remarks.

    How hard can it be to put ourselves in their position? The normal, human reaction isn’t going to be gratitude or even resignation, but anger. If a family member or someone they care about is killed, it will be a burning desire for vengeance. And because our country does this anonymously, death from above, we’re seen as cowards, unwilling to face our supposed enemies.

    There’s no such thing as a ‘surgical strike.’ Worse, the so-called iron-clad intelligence is often far less than such — and we have people here who think that people in these distant lands won’t mind when our drones blow up their neighbors’ houses? “Oops, sorry, guess we were off. Oh well, better luck next time.”

    “I have met with dozens of civilians who were injured during drone strikes and other air attacks,” al-Muslimi states. “I have met with relatives of people who were killed as well as numerous eyewitnesses. They have told me how these air strikes have changed their lives for the worst.” On one occasion, he met a man who described how “he stood helplessly as his 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter died in his arms on the way to the hospital.” The man’s house was targeted by
    mistake. He reported on another strike that killed 40 civilians and spoke to a 12-year-old boy who cried while describing being afraid of the drones buzzing overhead every night.

  • nicho

    And that’s your opinion. I call it murder.

  • I call it cowardice. And a war crime.

  • nicho

    Maybe if we had to risk people’s lives, we’d think twice about an assassination program. Drones make it all too easy for the president to unilaterally kill American citizens — some of them teenagers — without charges or trial or an opportunity to defend themselves.

  • Naja pallida

    Easier to ask yourself who isn’t making money off of drones. Every major defense contractor has their hand in the many drones that are used, and many minor ones too. We operate somewhere around a dozen different drone models, each with a different intended role. The push to use them for civilian purposes is obviously coming from defense industry lobbyists.

  • samizdat

    Actually, most of the treaties to which we are signatories–those that deal with the conduct and rules of combat, civilian deaths and their causes, torture, mass murder–are fairly unequivocal in their protocols. What Drone-bama is doing–and Bush before him–is a war crime. Full stop. Not to mention that conducting drone killings of Americans is a violation of our laws, not least of which is habeas corpus, and a trial by a jury of one’s peers.

    So, no, it is not my opinion. It is the Rule of Law which makes these distinctions.

  • JayRandal

    Who knows what Obama intends to do? He acts befuddled and confused about everything. He has
    surrounded himself with corporatist idiots and turned over Pentagon to a drunken ex-GOPer. His presidency in many ways is in meltdown but BHO seems oblivious to it. Congressional Democrats
    instead of warning Obama just sit on their hands. They are already looking ahead to Hillary in 2016.
    She would finish off Democratic Party as President but Dems refuse to see her as a DINO.

  • samizdat

    “Barack Obama, Bringer of Death.”

    There, that looks about right.

  • NorthAlabama

    that’s your opinion. i call it war.

  • Obama wants one thing: A Clintonian legacy that’ll enable him to tour the 50k per speech circuit after his presidency is over.

    Other than that, he really doesn’t give a crap what people think.

  • samizdat

    It’s murder. No trial, no evidence, no witnesses…no justice.

  • clarenceswinney

    The majority of food we eat comes form multinational agriculture conglomerates.
    Con-Agri, Adm, Cargill etc. Those super wealthy firms get subsidies from the government.
    The small farmer provides for family and few neighbors.
    Yet-The USDA is expanding a program to fight rural poverty thru federal funding.
    Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited South Carolina to announce his so-called Strike Force Initiative.
    The goal of Strike Force is to help farmers, food producers and other businesses get access
    to money for [projects such as new wells, greenhouses, community gardens, kitchen space and summer meals for low-income school children.
    My point is why should we subsidize very wealthy conglomerates?
    Try going back to community banking! 3000 counties—7000 banks—10 control 80% of deposits.

  • NorthAlabama

    considering the alternative of special ops forces on the ground, this option is safer for our troops, and there’s less chance for targets being tipped off by our “allies” when notified that troops are being deployed. good to keep in mind on memorial day.

    yes, there is the potential for misuse, especially in the hands of intelligence officials. i’m glad the program is moving from of the hands of the cia into the military. nothing like good old fashioned layers of bureaucracy, paired with some additional accountability, to slow things down a bit.

    the current president didn’t start the drone program, he ramped up its use. comparing the use of drones against missing high value targets, or risking soldiers lives, is a legitimate debate that will continue.

  • nicho

    Believe it or not, our local newspaper has a drone — and they use it to take photos.

  • keirmeister

    The drone program disturbs me, both internationally and domestically. Not too long ago, we didn’t hear about drones. Now they’re everywhere.

    So the question is: who is getting rich off of this?

    Considering how our government works now, someone is doing some heavy lobbying…and making $$$ off of “drone proliferation”. I think we need to seriously expose what’s going on behind the scenes, because now they’re talking about drones patrolling American streets – and I fear it’s only going to get worse.

  • nicho

    I don’t know. The Ig-Nobel Prize was given go him solely on the basis of his speeches, and the guy still gives a hell of a speech.

  • jomicur

    Obama seems determined to show the world that his Nobel Peace Prize was a political blunder on the order of “Dewey Beats Truman.”

  • RepubAnon

    The drone question seems to be a more targeted version of Trenchard’s philosophy of aerial warfare:

    Trenchard’s Thesis:
    Victory can be achieved by bombing enemy vital centers, thus breaking the enemy’s will to fight
    Voice: Trenchard’s theories on airpower have had a lasting effect on airpower employment. The major premise of his theory was his belief that during war, victory could be achieved by bombing enemy vital centers and thus breaking the enemy’s will to fight.

    Every test of Trenchard’s thesis using conventional weapons that I am aware of has failed. The evidence so far suggests that massive conventional bombing campaigns seem to stiffen the civilian population’s resolve to fight the foreign invaders. Consider the Battle of Britain, the bombings of Coventry, Cologne, Dresden, and Tokyo. Nagasaki and Hiroshima have been cast as having broken the will of the Japanese to fight – but I’ve heard some historians claim that the Japanese were willing to surrender by that point anyway, and the Japanese Army and civilian population were in any case still willing to fight on even after the atomic bombings. (The conventional firebombing of Tokyo caused more deaths – it merely took more planes.) Truck bombs and suicide bombers seem to have a similar effect of creating a thirst for revenge rather than submission.

    It took about 30 years for the blow-back from 1953 overthrow of Iran’s democratically-elected government to result in the rise of the ayatollahs. Thus, sometime in 2030-2040, the US will likely face some real consequences for the drone attacks.

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