|The President's new weapon .|
According to the recent document that was leaked, and Press Secretary Jay Carney, it is OK for the president to use drones to kill U.S. citizens abroad, without using any kind of "enhanced techniques," or even a trial, for that matter. The White House and Justice Department on Tuesday adamantly defended the administration's authority to use unmanned drones to kill terror operatives -- even if those operatives are U.S. citizens -- following the release of a controversial memo on the program. This is disturbing, not so much the act but the process and justification. It's encouraging, however, to see that the Left isn't giving Obama a free ride on this one, much like the Right was wiling to do for George II. The pressure on John Brennan, Barack Obama's nominee for CIAdirector and the architect of the White House strategy on drones, intensified on Wednesday amid revelations of a secret CIA drone base in Saudi Arabia.The Obama administration and Saudi Arabia were silent over reports on Wednesday that the CIA is secretly using an air base in Saudi Arabia to conduct its controversial drone assassination campaign inneighbouring Yemen. The reports revealed that the drones that killed the US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his son in September 2011, and Said al-Shehri, a senior al-Qaida commander who died from his injuries last month, were launched from the unnamed base. The drone issue is sensitive in Saudi Arabia because of the unpopularity of US military bases, which were thought to have been largely removed after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.Saudi Arabia is home to the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and the continued presence of US troops after the 1991 Gulf war was one of the stated motivations behind al-Qaida's 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Khobar Towers bombing five years earlier.The Islamic world is sensitive about Saudi Arabia--the holy land--being used by infidels to wage war against Muslims. Osama bin Laden used that as justification for the attacks on the embassies in Africa, and implied that it triggered the Sept. 11 attacks. Obama personally holds the reins on this expansive drone war, and he holds them tightly. But whatever internal processes he has created could be dismantled by his successors. According to leaks, Obama personally makes the hardest moral calls — whether to conduct strikes that will kill not just the targeted individuals but also women and children. Top administration lawyers vet the drone kill lists and vigorously debate the legality and morality of expanding strikes. No law requires this abundant caution. Whoever eventually inherits the drone war — Republican or Democrat. The drone war needs to be restrained because the technology is too tempting, appearing to offer a low-cost alternative to bloody counterinsurgencies. In the near-future, drone strikes might be deployed to new regions, to meet new threats, based on a belief in their precision and success.The rules for drone wars are still being written. The Bush White House spent eight years writing and revising the rules for a new kind of war against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. It created novel detention and interrogation policies.
The White House on Wednesday directed the Justice Department to release classified documents discussing the legal justification for the use of drones in targeting American citizens abroad who are considered terrorist to the two Congressional intelligence committees, according to an administration official.No President should have the authority to order the execution of an American citizen without due process and any lawyer offering such an opinion is unfit for government service or admission to the Bar. And the Times in an editorial today observes that while the Obama drone kill policy outlined in the memo was not exactly a surprise “it was disturbing to see the twisted logic of the administration’s lawyers laid out in black and white. It had the air of a legal justification written after the fact for a policy decision that had already been made, and it brought back unwelcome memories of memos written for President George W. Bush to justify illegal wiretapping, indefinite detention, kidnapping, abuse and torture.”