May 30, 2012 · 0 Comments
By Andrew Rosenthal:
Whenever I raise questions about President Obama’s “targeted killing” policy, and the cavalier way his aides dismiss criticism of it, administration officials tell me that I wouldn’t worry so much if I understood the program’s inner workings. But the more that comes to light, the more worried I feel.
Take today’s lengthy article by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, which describes how Mr. Obama has placed himself “at the helm of a top-secret ‘nominations’ process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, for which the capture part has become largely theoretical.” He “signs off on every [drone] strike in Yemen and Somalia and also on the more complex and risky strikes in Pakistan — about a third of the total.”
The White House spin on Mr. Obama’s personal involvement with the drones program is that he’s shouldering the moral responsibility. In the words of Thomas Donilon, his national security adviser, “he’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”
That’s precisely the problem: The tether is too short. If Mr. Obama wants to authorize every drone strike, fine—but even the president requires oversight (remember checks and balances?) which he won’t allow. The administration refuses to accept judicial review (from a FISA-style court, say) prior to a strike directed at an American citizen, and won’t deign to release the legal documents written to justify the targeted killing program. The Times and the ACLU have both sued to force disclosure of these documents. No luck yet.
Read the rest of Obama’s Role in Targeted Killing Program at NYTimes.com.