We’re still crawling out from under the Christmas Tree around here but I read this interesting post and immediately thought of all of you. It’s a little deep in the weeds but I found it a fascinating read for the progressive/liberal end of the political spectrum. I guess I’m assuming I’m not the only one who thinks about these issues so we’ll see if anyone else thinks they’re important in an election year.
Last night I had a little free time and as it seemed pretty quiet around here, I went over to the Plumline to see what everyone was discussing and I thought the most interesting links in the Happy Hour thread were those relating to the “Drones”. The discussion was launched by a piece from Greg Miller over at the WaPo and then the reaction from a few left leaning bloggers.
Other commanders in chief have presided over wars with far higher casualty counts. But no president has ever relied so extensively on the secret killing of individuals to advance the nation’s security goals.
The rapid expansion of the drone program has blurred long-standing boundaries between the CIA and the military. Lethal operations are increasingly assembled a la carte, piecing together personnel and equipment in ways that allow the White House to toggle between separate legal authorities that govern the use of lethal force.
In Yemen, for instance, the CIA and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command pursue the same adversary with nearly identical aircraft. But they alternate taking the lead on strikes to exploit their separate authorities, and they maintain separate kill lists that overlap but don’t match. CIA and military strikes this fall killed three U.S. citizens, two of whom were suspected al-Qaeda operatives.
The convergence of military and intelligence resources has created blind spots in congressional oversight. Intelligence committees are briefed on CIA operations, and JSOC reports to armed services panels. As a result, no committee has a complete, unobstructed view.
With a year to go in President Obama’s first term, his administration can point to undeniable results: Osama bin Laden is dead, the core al-Qaeda network is near defeat, and members of its regional affiliates scan the sky for metallic glints.
Those results, delivered with unprecedented precision from aircraft that put no American pilots at risk, may help explain why the drone campaign has never attracted as much scrutiny as the detention or interrogation programs of the George W. Bush era. Although human rights advocates and others are increasingly critical of the drone program, the level of public debate remains muted.
Senior Democrats barely blink at the idea that a president from their party has assembled such a highly efficient machine for the targeted killing of suspected terrorists. It is a measure of the extent to which the drone campaign has become an awkward open secret in Washington that even those inclined to express misgivings can only allude to a program that, officially, they are not allowed to discuss.
Judging from the comments I’m not actually convinced that everyone read the Miller piece, or the other commentary, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m finding it fascinating that there is so little outcry from left leaning pundits and citizens and when I read the following piece it crystallized for me that we’re becoming either immune or unconcerned or maybe just apathetic to the most important issues of our time. Over at America Blog they’ve been tracking viewer hits through Blogger and have put together what appear to be the top three issues based upon stories on their website. Granted these are issues that matter to the left, I’m not even going to pretend to understand the issues through a conservative lens, but I think Obama and Company have quite possibly undercut liberal ideals to a pretty remarkable extent. And I also believe the whole “drone” story will become issue number four.
1. There’s an interest in these subjects (NDAA, PIPA, & mortgage fraud) that’s deep and persistent. All of our site’s regulars have weighed with their “views” a long time ago. As near as I can tell, the driver to all three posts is Google (search terms: PIPA, NDAA, “whistleblower found dead”) as new people search on these subjects. If so, Google is telling us something.
2. Message for the left — If this really is a clue to the mind of left-leaning voters, it would be smart to hit these subjects hard, starting now. There are far more listeners, I suspect, for whom the PIPA, NDAA, and mortgage fraud messages resonate, than anyone appreciates.
I’d suggest taking advantage of this opportunity. If our small indicators are right, the time to plant seeds is now, not months from now. The soil is ready, so to speak. Let’s not lose the chance.
3. Note to Obama & his merry band — I would not underestimate the extent to which these issues, especially NDAA, are a bridge too far for your base. It seems you’ve been playing a game of “how low can we go” — how far can we stoop to the demands of the money-soaked property rights and national security establishments and not lose our dependable triangulated base.
PIPA=Kill the Internet Bill
Mortgage Fraud=Whistle Blower Death in Nevada
Maybe it’s just me but I’d rather spend more time discussing these kinds of issues than the GOP primaries and their merry host of actors. Just in case no one reads the original story in America Blog, the point is that the three stories linked just above keep popping up in the Best of the Week and Best of the Month categories long after they should have disappeared from the forefront. My contention is that the “Drone” story may be another one.
Filed under: NDAA, Obama | Tagged: drones, NDAA, PIPA, whistle blower | 73 Comments »