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Old 11-25-2012, 12:32 PM  
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Obama administration pushed for "drone rulebook" during the election.

Imagine that.

President Obama and his administration were perfectly fine with the drone program's complete extralegal operation in the shadows with no accountability and no legal red tape guiding their operations to make sure the power to kill people far, far away weren't absolute.

Then, the election rolls along. There's a chance that Mitt Romney actually wins the thing, and at this point the Obama administration realizes: maybe it's not a good thing to have limitless, extralegal power to kill with no accountability? I mean, the Republicans aren't us, we can't trust them as much.

Epic ****ing facepalm. The realization that accountability needs to be in place to protect us from the other party, rather than to protect the most basic foundations of American jurisprudence, due process, and public service. Just shockingly stupid.

Add into all of this: the Obama administration is seeking a rulebook. Whatever that is. Legal framework? Legal accountability? Better access for oversight? It may not be until another Republican comes close to winning a Presidential election before we find out. Christ.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/wo...pagewanted=all

Election Spurred a Move to Codify U.S. Drone Policy
By SCOTT SHANE
Published: November 24, 2012

WASHINGTON — Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.

The matter may have lost some urgency after Nov. 6. But with more than 300 drone strikes and some 2,500 people killed by the Central Intelligence Agency and the military since Mr. Obama first took office, the administration is still pushing to make the rules formal and resolve internal uncertainty and disagreement about exactly when lethal action is justified.

Mr. Obama and his advisers are still debating whether remote-control killing should be a measure of last resort against imminent threats to the United States, or a more flexible tool, available to help allied governments attack their enemies or to prevent militants from controlling territory.

Though publicly the administration presents a united front on the use of drones, behind the scenes there is longstanding tension. The Defense Department and the C.I.A. continue to press for greater latitude to carry out strikes; Justice Department and State Department officials, and the president’s counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, have argued for restraint, officials involved in the discussions say.

More broadly, the administration’s legal reasoning has not persuaded many other countries that the strikes are acceptable under international law. For years before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the United States routinely condemned targeted killings of suspected terrorists by Israel, and most countries still object to such measures.

But since the first targeted killing by the United States in 2002, two administrations have taken the position that the United States is at war with Al Qaeda and its allies and can legally defend itself by striking its enemies wherever they are found.

Partly because United Nations officials know that the United States is setting a legal and ethical precedent for other countries developing armed drones, the U.N. plans to open a unit in Geneva early next year to investigate American drone strikes.

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 national security officials insist that the process is meticulous and lawful, the president and top aides believe it should be institutionalized, a course of action that seemed particularly urgent when it appeared that Mitt Romney might win the presidency.

“There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands,” said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity. With a continuing debate about the proper limits of drone strikes, Mr. Obama did not want to leave an “amorphous” program to his successor, the official said. The effort, which would have been rushed to completion by January had Mr. Romney won, will now be finished at a more leisurely pace, the official said.

Mr. Obama himself, in little-noticed remarks, has acknowledged that the legal governance of drone strikes is still a work in progress.

“One of the things we’ve got to do is put a legal architecture in place, and we need Congressional help in order to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in but any president’s reined in terms of some of the decisions that we’re making,” Mr. Obama told Jon Stewart in an appearance on “The Daily Show” on Oct. 18.

In an interview with Mark Bowden for a new book on the killing of Osama bin Laden, “The Finish,” Mr. Obama said that “creating a legal structure, processes, with oversight checks on how we use unmanned weapons, is going to be a challenge for me and my successors for some time to come.”

The president expressed wariness of the powerful temptation drones pose to policy makers. “There’s a remoteness to it that makes it tempting to think that somehow we can, without any mess on our hands, solve vexing security problems,” he said.

Despite public remarks by Mr. Obama and his aides on the legal basis for targeted killing, the program remains officially classified. In court, fighting lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times seeking secret legal opinions on targeted killings, the government has refused even to acknowledge the existence of the drone program in Pakistan.

But by many accounts, there has been a significant shift in the nature of the targets. In the early years, most strikes were aimed at ranking leaders of Al Qaeda thought to be plotting to attack the United States. That is the purpose Mr. Obama has emphasized, saying in a CNN interview in September that drones were used to prevent “an operational plot against the United States” and counter “terrorist networks that target the United States.”

But for at least two years in Pakistan, partly because of the C.I.A.’s success in decimating Al Qaeda’s top ranks, most strikes have been directed at militants whose main battle is with the Pakistani authorities or who fight with the Taliban against American troops in Afghanistan.

In Yemen, some strikes apparently launched by the United States killed militants who were preparing to attack Yemeni military forces. Some of those killed were wearing suicide vests, according to Yemeni news reports.

“Unless they were about to get on a flight to New York to conduct an attack, they were not an imminent threat to the United States,” said Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who is a critic of the strikes. “We don’t say that we’re the counterinsurgency air force of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, but we are.”

Then there is the matter of strikes against people whose identities are unknown. In an online video chat in January, Mr. Obama spoke of the strikes in Pakistan as “a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists.” But for several years, first in Pakistan and later in Yemen, in addition to “personality strikes” against named terrorists, the C.I.A. and the military have carried out “signature strikes” against groups of suspected, unknown militants.

Originally that term was used to suggest the specific “signature” of a known high-level terrorist, such as his vehicle parked at a meeting place. But the word evolved to mean the “signature” of militants in general — for instance, young men toting arms in an area controlled by extremist groups. Such strikes have prompted the greatest conflict inside the Obama administration, with some officials questioning whether killing unidentified fighters is legally justified or worth the local backlash.

Many people inside and outside the government have argued for far greater candor about all of the strikes, saying excessive secrecy has prevented public debate in Congress or a full explanation of their rationale. Experts say the strikes are deeply unpopular both in Pakistan and Yemen, in part because of allegations of large numbers of civilian casualties, which American officials say are exaggerated.

Gregory D. Johnsen, author of “The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al Qaeda and America’s War in Arabia,” argues that the strike strategy is backfiring in Yemen. “In Yemen, Al Qaeda is actually expanding,” Mr. Johnsen said in a recent talk at the Brookings Institution, in part because of the backlash against the strikes.

Shuja Nawaz, a Pakistan-born analyst now at the Atlantic Council in Washington, said the United States should start making public a detailed account of the results of each strike, including any collateral deaths, in part to counter propaganda from jihadist groups. “This is a grand opportunity for the Obama administration to take the drones out of the shadows and to be open about their objectives,” he said.

But the administration appears to be a long way from embracing such openness. The draft rule book for drone strikes that has been passed among agencies over the last several months is so highly classified, officials said, that it is hand-carried from office to office rather than sent by e-mail.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:24 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Pawnmower View Post
This isn't exactly honest...One happens in the field of combat....in a combat zone, in an area not controlled by our forces.

The other happens in the safety and security of an area we control.

The killing and torturing of prisoners under your control is considered morally wrong by a vast majority of people.

Killing in combat during wartime, while not pleasant, is not considered morally wrong by the vast majority of people.
To be honest because we're fighting terrorists instead of an army under a flag I could give a shit either way.

The thing I don't understand is how someone would care if a terrorist is water boarded but not give a shit if an innocent family is killed going for water or something is ok just because they're in the vicinity of a terrorist.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:25 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by mlyonsd View Post
They're both war and with one innocents aren't collateral damage.
torture is bad and drones are bad, ok...

but would you eliminate drone strikes considering how effective they can be?

if not eliminate, what would you suggest as appropriate limitations on the practice?
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:28 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by go bowe View Post
torture is bad and drones are bad, ok...

but would you eliminate drone strikes considering how effective they can be?

if not eliminate, what would you suggest as appropriate limitations on the practice?
I don't suggest eliminating them. I think it's hypocritical to think torture is bad but killing innocent people is ok.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:28 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
Rulebook plus oversight for a non-lethal interrogation program - GWBush

No rules or oversight for assassination program that occassionally targets US citizens - BHObama

Whatever your opinion is of the interrogation program, that's a pretty stark contrast.
I make no apologies or excuses or even explanations for Obama's drone program. Nobody on this forum has been more virulent against it than I have been.

But your characterization of Bush's torture program is hysterically inaccurate.

I suppose that's the difference between us.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:29 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by mlyonsd View Post
They're both war and with one innocents aren't collateral damage.
Torturing prisoners is not war. It's deliberate torture.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:34 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by mlyonsd View Post
I don't suggest eliminating them. I think it's hypocritical to think torture is bad but killing innocent people is ok.
killing innocent people is never ok afaic...

that's my greatest concern wrt to the drone program...

i don't know how to address it, but that's the part that bothers me...
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:35 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
Torturing prisoners is not war. It's deliberate torture.
Yes I should clarify. Torturing an enemy fighting while flying a flag that plays by the rules of war is bad.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:37 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by go bowe View Post
killing innocent people is never ok afaic...

that's my greatest concern wrt to the drone program...

i don't know how to address it, but that's the part that bothers me...
Yes it's messy. But I don't bust Obama's balls for doing it.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:37 PM   #24
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The thing I don't understand is how someone would care if a terrorist is water boarded but not give a shit if an innocent family is killed going for water or something is ok just because they're in the vicinity of a terrorist.
That is what I am trying to explain to you,

Take for example a very well cited case of the "American" who we wkilled with drone strikes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anwar_al-Aulaqi

Anwar_al Aulaqi.


We tried every which way to apprehend this guy, get him to come back to the US. We asked his family, his villiage...basically his entire village in Yemen was acting as a human shield....and this is a TOP Al Qaeda recruiter, recruiting other Americans to do damage/murder/bombings etc in America.

Our choices are 1) try to apprehend him (risk of loss of life, foregn soil etc...) or 2) surgical strike (risk of some collateral/human shield life) or 3) do nothing, and let him continue to wage war against us with an enemy group and have attacks carried out in the USA by his followers.

We chose to surgically strike him, for good or for bad...But back to your question...the DIFFERENCE is that if we had apprehended him, we wouldn't simply torture him or kill him.

The reason he died is because he was an enemy COMBATANT, on foreign soil and was actively waging war against us, with a group who congress has AUTHORIZED us to carry out strikes on, WHEREVER they may be. It is much easier to launch a hellfire missile from miles away than to risk many lives to send troops in just to apprehend one guy.

That is completely different from torturing /killing people under our control.....

Neither are good, but IMO when you have apprehended someone, and they have surrendered to you and do not pose a threat,(they are your prisoner), you are bound to give them reasonable care.

In combat, if there is an enemy or a leader hiding and waging war on you (and congress has authorized action) you are not duty bound to risk AMERICAN lives to apprehend them, instead of killing them. You can simply launch a missile, snipe them, or fire artillery at them....

That's the difference.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:42 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Pawnmower View Post
That is what I am trying to explain to you,

Take for example a very well cited case of the "American" who we wkilled with drone strikes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anwar_al-Aulaqi

Anwar_al Aulaqi.


We tried every which way to apprehend this guy, get him to come back to the US. We asked his family, his villiage...basically his entire village in Yemen was acting as a human shield....and this is a TOP Al Qaeda recruiter, recruiting other Americans to do damage/murder/bombings etc in America.

Our choices are 1) try to apprehend him (risk of loss of life, foregn soil etc...) or 2) surgical strike (risk of some collateral/human shield life) or 3) do nothing, and let him continue to wage war against us with an enemy group and have attacks carried out in the USA by his followers.

We chose to surgically strike him, for good or for bad...But back to your question...the DIFFERENCE is that if we had apprehended him, we wouldn't simply torture him or kill him.

The reason he died is because he was an enemy COMBATANT, on foreign soil and was actively waging war against us, with a group who congress has AUTHORIZED us to carry out strikes on, WHEREVER they may be. It is much easier to launch a hellfire missile from miles away that to risk many lives to send troops in just to apprehend one guy.

That is completely different from torturing /killing people under our control.....

Neither are good, but IMO when you have apprehended someone, and they have surrendered to you and do not pose a threat,(they are your prisoner), you are bound to give them reasonable care.

That's the difference.
Yes I get it. But when fighting a shadow group like AQ all gloves are off, especially when they've proven they don't mind flying kamikaze planes with innocent people aboard into buildings where innocent people are working.

If you apprehend one keeping that from happening again his more important than if is sinuses are cleared out by water.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:48 PM   #26
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yep stark contrast.

One is torture

One is war
Neither are torture, both are war. One respects the accountability we hold in high esteem in our country, the other is based on the hubris of an amateur from Chicago.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:50 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
I make no apologies or excuses or even explanations for Obama's drone program. Nobody on this forum has been more virulent against it than I have been.

But your characterization of Bush's torture program is hysterically inaccurate.

I suppose that's the difference between us.
It's not inaccurate at all. And ftr, I object to the "torture" mischaracterizations running rampant in this thread.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:51 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by mlyonsd View Post
If you apprehend one keeping that from happening again his more important than if is sinuses are cleared out by water.
I'm not arguing that waterboarding is torture. I honestly don't know enough about it to say one way or the other.

But I am against torturing prisoners, as it hasn't even proven to be more effective than modern interrogation techniques.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:53 PM   #29
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This is not a conventional war. This is a war against terrorist.
If Torturing every last one of them, only saves one American family from going through the process of picking up a loved one in a casket draped with an American flag. Im all in.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:55 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Pawnmower View Post
I'm not arguing that waterboarding is torture. I honestly don't know enough about it to say one way or the other.

But I am against torturing prisoners, as it hasn't even proven to be more effective than modern interrogation techniques.
I'm against torture on moral grounds. I certainly don't believe it's been proven to be less effective than modern interrogation techniques in all possible cases though.
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