As Obama announces delayed withdrawal from Afghanistan, major expose on drone program published

I’m going to be spending the better part of tonight reading through The Drone Papers, an eight-part series of investigations published by The Intercept today outlining the Obama administration’s secretive policies relating to the assassination targeted killing of American and foreign citizens in the War on Terror. As they describe the report:

The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret slides that provides a window into the inner workings of the U.S. military’s kill/capture operations at a key time in the evolution of the drone wars — between 2011 and 2013. The documents, which also outline the internal views of special operations forces on the shortcomings and flaws of the drone program, were provided by a source within the intelligence community who worked on the types of operations and programs described in the slides.

A few thoughts going in:

A MQ-9 Reaper, via Wikimedia Commons

A MQ-9 Reaper, via Wikimedia Commons

1. In the abstract, drones are a technological advance, like the machine gun. In the context of a war — provided that war is just — one is not only allowed but obligated to use the tools at your disposal to protect the people fighting in that war. Lowering you military capability to that of your opponents is not, in and of itself, a moral position. I’m just barely old enough to remember a time when liberals were on board with using drones in Afghanistan for precisely this reason: They saved American lives.

2. In practice, however, the United States has been unable and, as The Drone Papers seem to suggest, unwilling to codify and adhere to rules regarding when and how using drones is justified. Not only does this lack of oversight and accountability present a massive moral problem, it presents a military problem as well. When we bomb civilians without explanation — when we aren’t sure how many people we’ve killed — we exacerbate the threat we’re supposedly “neutralizing.”

3. President Obama is going to announce in a few minutes that we’re delaying our exit in Afghanistan. Perhaps indefinitely, but at least through much of the rest of his term. The roughly ten thousand troops that will remain in the country will be supported and, in many cases, replaced by drones.

Check out The Drone Papers here.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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13 Responses to “As Obama announces delayed withdrawal from Afghanistan, major expose on drone program published”

  1. Bill_Perdue says:

    Ike started the ‘advisor’ program in ’55.

    JFK added to it incrementally and steadily.

    LBJ exploded the program and morphed it into a full scale invasion, murdering his own lapdog quisling won os ow and attempted occupation of Vietnam and Laos. Nixon added Cambodia to the list. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeNv_62v6WQ

    There are no excuses for them or for Nixon, Carter, Reagan, the Bushes, the Clintons, Obama or Obama Jr, BS. US wars of aggression and war crimes are bi-partisan and Sanders is deep in that mire.

  2. mf_roe says:

    With you on LBJ’s criminality, but JFK started the “adviser” BS. JFK was more than ready to not only rattle sabers but draw and brandish them in the face of very serious adversaries. The guy was always looking to prove his manhood..

  3. mf_roe says:

    Coke Zero?

  4. mf_roe says:

    Bullets and bombs can’t buy love or respect, but their great at getting you more hatred and revenge than you can handle. This country is full of fools incapable of processing the fallacy of “might makes right” thinking.

  5. goulo says:

    In an anti-war protest years ago, right before the US invaded Iraq after 9/11, I saw a sad wise sign saying “We’re making enemies faster than we can kill them.”

    And unfortunately, that just keeps on being true.

  6. Skycat says:

    Can we just call it “the Uncola”?

  7. Indigo says:

    Everybody over 65 already knows that. You forgot to mention that Medicare deductions are also going up. And so it goes in “the greatest country in the world.” It must be awful in those places, huh?

  8. Bill_Perdue says:

    In other news “The Social Security Administration on Thursday will announce some news that will be distressing to more than one in four households: there will be no Social Security cost of living adjustment (“COLA”) for 2016.

    This is no small matter. The purpose of the annual adjustments is to ensure that Social Security’s benefits don’t lose value over time. They are intended to keep seniors and other beneficiaries afloat, to allow them to tread water. But seniors are not floating; they are sinking.

    You would be hard pressed to find a senior who has not seen the cost of medical care, prescription drugs, food and other necessities go up…. The zero automatic adjustment has happened only twice before, in 2010 and 2011. All three zero years, 2010, 2011, and now 2016, will have occurred during the Obama administration. http://www.nationofchange.org/2015/10/15/social-security-benefits-eroded-by-inadequate-inflation-adjustment/

    Business as usual for Democrats and Republicans.

  9. nicho says:

    Just so everyone’s clear, there is no such thing as a “just war.” I know the term is thrown around a lot — even by eminent philosophers and theologians — but it’s bullshit.

    A country’s participation in a war may be justified, but the war itself is not. For a war to start, someone has to do something unjust. The fact that someone else responds in self-defense does not somehow “justify” the whole conflict.

    Example: I’m walking down the street, minding my own business. Someone comes along and attacks me. That is unjust. I exercise the right of self defense. That is justified on my part, but in no way justifies the action of the other person. So the resulting battle between the two of us is not a “just” battle.

  10. mf_roe says:

    We are the fuckers that justified using TWO nuclear bombs ON CIVILIANS to vanquish Japan. Minimum 225,000 casualties 10,000 Drone kills would represent restraint.

    We slaughtered a million Vietnamese, many killed with weapons of mass destruction cluster bombs, chemical agents.10,000 Drone kills would represent restraint.

    We are the asshats that supported the Bush Dynasty’s serial invasions of Iraqi, another million (or two) heathen . 10,000 Drone kills would represent restraint.

    The blood of hundreds of millions that await the horrors of climate change. 10,000 Drone kills would represent restraint.

  11. Bill_Perdue says:

    In addition there are about 3,000 US troops in Iraq, again, this time as ‘advisors’.

    Shades of war criminal LBJ and his MAAG, Military Assistance Advisory Group, in Vietnam. Soon there were half a million ‘advisors’ in Vietnam and they didn’t leave until the Vietnamese and the US civilian and GI antiwar movements drove them out.

  12. Indigo says:

    Nothing to see here, move along, please.

    Speaking of nothing, today is the opening day of the Medicare/Health Care Supplement Hunting Season. (the season runs from today, October 15 to December 7)

  13. Bill_Perdue says:

    As far as I know all the major candidates in both parties support the use of drones, although, like Obama, they pretend they won’t be used to murder civilians as a terrorist threat.

    Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., would not put a stop to the United States’ lethal and controversial drone campaign if he entered the White House, the presidential contender said in a television interview Sunday.

    On ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” Sanders said, “I think we have to use drones very, very selectively and effectively. That has not always been the case.” He added, “What you can argue is that there are times and places where drone attacks have been effective. … There are times and places where they have been absolutely countereffective and have caused more problems than they have solved. When you kill innocent people, the end rehttp://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/bernie_sanders_says_he_wouldnt_end_drone_program_20150831sult is that people in the region become anti-American who otherwise would not have been.””

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