A report in the New York Times on Sunday describes how, leading up to the recent US election, the Obama administration made a determined push to codify guidelines for its targeted assassination (aka 'Kill List') program and clarify rules for the use of US predator drones strikes overseas.
Critics of the US drone program have long made the argument that Demoractic supporters of the President would perhaps lose their enthusiasm (or passive acceptance) for the "kill list" program if it was placed in the hands of a Republican president like the party's most recent hopeful, Mitt Romney.
The Times reporting on Sunday seems to indicate that the fear of handing over an amiguous and secretive assassination program to a Republican administration was also shared by some top officials in the Obama administration.
Reported by the paper's Scott Shane, the article says that the "attempt to write a formal rule book for targeted killing began last summer after news reports on the drone program, started under President George W. Bush and expanded by Mr. Obama, revealed some details of the president’s role in the shifting procedures for compiling “kill lists” and approving strikes."
Though the Obama administration has continually sought to protect the secrecy of certain details of its program, it has simultaneously defended its usefulness in combating international terrorism. This contradiction has been seized by international human rights groups, US civil libertarians, journalists, and the United Nations, calling on the US government to come clean on how it justifies the extrajudicial killing of individuals--both foreign citizens and American nationals--in countries like Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and others.
Shane reports that "the president and top aides believe [the programs] should be institutionalized," and that efforts to do "seemed particularly urgent when it appeared that Mitt Romney might win the presidency."
The hypocrisy of liberals and progressives on this issue astounds me.
Change one word in the Times article - switch "Obama" for "Bush" - and you can bet that liberals and progressives would be up in arms over this program.
But because it's their guy in charge, it's a good program, a necessary program, one that is used judiciously by a judicious president.
Read this Glenn Greenwald column from late September on a Stanford/NYU study of the consequences of the drone bomb campaign on civilians, on the propaganda the Obama administration uses to justify this slaughter of innocents, on their targeting of funerals and even emergency responders to initial drone attacks, on the complicity of the media in this propaganda campaign and then tell me this program is less harmful and murderous because a Democrat is heading it as opposed to a Republican.
Here is a taste:
Significantly, the report says the prime culprit of these evils is what it calls the "dramatic escalation" of the drone campaign by the 2009 Nobel Peace laureate - escalated not just in sheer numbers (in less than four years, Obama "has reportedly carried out more than five times" the number ordered by Bush in eight years), but more so, the indiscriminate nature of the strikes. As Tuesday's Guardian article on this report states: it "blames the US president, Barack Obama, for the escalation of 'signature strikes' in which groups are selected merely through remote 'pattern of life' analysis."
The report is equally damning when documenting the attempts of the Obama administration to suppress information about its drone victims, and worse, to actively mislead when they deign selectively to release information. Recognizing the difficulty of determining the number of civilian deaths with exactitude - due to "the opaqueness of the US government about its targeted killing program" as well as the inaccessibility of the region - it nonetheless documents that "the numbers of civilians killed are undoubtedly far higher than the few claimed by US officials." In other words, the administration's public statements are false: "undoubtedly" so. As the LA Times summarizes the study's findings today: "Far more civilians have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas than U.S. counter-terrorism officials have acknowledged."
Before the election, I attempted to ask a few people who claimed they were voting for Obama over Romney despite his education policies because on other issues, he was the clear moral choice about the immorality of the drone bomb campaign.
I didn't get much response from anybody.
I suspect it's because they either live in denial that this is happening or know it but do not wish to acknowledge it publicly.
The hypocrisy Obama supporters, liberals and progressives on this issue is just infuriating.
As Greenwald notes, not only do these people ignore the crimes and murders perpetrated by the Obama administration under the guise of the War on Terror, but they actively cheer them (as at the DNC.)
And again, it's with this moral superiority complex - we're more reflective and thoughtful about this stuff then the Bushies, Obama reads Aquinas before ordering the strikes, so somehow this has a moral justification that Bush's policies didn't.
I don't see anything moral about this drone bomb campaign or the man in charge of it.
Rather I see a war criminal who is murdering lots of innocent people on a weekly basis who belongs in a jail cell next to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Hadley, Yoo, et al.