Good morning, liberals! Did you spend yesterday carefully poring over the extremely long The New York Times article about the list of people the administration carefully compiles, personally selected by the President (except in those cases when they’re not!) to be killed by missiles from flying death robots? Probably you didn’t, because it’s obviously one of the most depressing things you could possibly read, being as it is about your Hopey solemnly deciding who should live and who should die. But you really should, to face the world as it is and do your duty as a citizen. The reality, of course, is that being the President is a job that, structurally, comes with the duty of making up a list of who you want dead, which is why every president ends his four or eight years in power looking about 20 years older than when he started. But even if you have accepted in your heart that, yes, explosive-tipped missiles are an acceptable means of forwarding foreign policy, maybe there are some things in this article will make you mad! Or drink yourself into a stupor, either one.
Here is a thing to know about this article, before you decide what to think about it: It contains a note in paragraph eight that it based on sourcing from “three dozen of [Obama’s] current and former advisers,” most of whom go unnamed. You don’t get that kind of acknowledged cooperation from White House underlings unless the White House is really pretty OK with the article as it stands, either in the sense that they pitched it to the Times or that they heard the Times was working on it and decided to get out in front of it. So it represents more or less the Administration’s idea of what they think the serious-minded liberals who read the Times want to hear.
That having been said, though: are you a pacifist? Then there is no way to sugar-coat the fact that your tax dollars continue, under President Obama, to be used to kill people with missiles in foreign countries. Sorry! But if you think that sometimes you need to perpetrate violence for the greater good — even in a politicized Obama only when necessary kind of way — then you’ll probably be satisfied, queasy-satisfied, or talk-yourself-into-it-satisfied, at the general description of how the Secret ‘Kill List’ is compiled, with Obama signing off on the drone strikes done by the military and most of the strikes done by the CIA (which is in charge of the Pakistani strikes for the usual byzantine reasons). Everyone tries really hard to make sure that only double-confirmed terrorists who are actually working on killing USA Americans and who aren’t hanging with civilians are vaporized by flying death robots.
And even when the wrong people are killed (AND OF COURSE THE WRONG PEOPLE GET KILLED SOMETIMES), less of them get killed than were killed constantly in the wars Obama ended/is ending, OK? Because if there’s one thing that kills more people than flying death robots firing missiles at camps and villages a couple times a week, it’s full-on wars with armies and soldiers invading your country for years and years. There’s a kind of horrifying moment at the beginning when they mention that one of the “nominees” (like at the Oscars!) is a 17-year-old girl, and Obama says “If they are starting to use children we are moving into a whole different phase,” and it made us think of the fact that at the end of World War II the Nazis were throwing teenagers into uniforms and then throwing them at the Allies and lots of them were machine-gunned, possibly by your grandfather, go ask him about it, he won’t tell you anything. “Machine-gunning 17-year-olds in ill-fitting Nazi uniforms in the chaos of battle” might seem less troubling than “deciding in a secure wood-paneled office whether to blow up a 17-year-old with a missile fired from a robot,” but there are probably a lot fewer dead 17-year-olds at the end of the process.
That having been said, there’s plenty to be disturbed by, here in this article that has been fairly clearly approved by the administration, much of which is not actually about the secret kill list itself! Let’s start with the fact that on Day One of the Obama Administration, when he signed the executive order banning the CIA’s horrifying rendition program, where our spies kidnapped foreigners off the streets of foreign countries and then tortured them in secret CIA “black sites,” the CIA freaked out and said “Wait, wait, does this stop us from using our safehouses to imprison the foreigners we kidnap for a few days before we hand over to foreign intelligence services to torture?” and the Justice Department was all like “Nah, mang, don’t worry about it, that’s cool.” Or the part about how Obama just sort of thought he’d shut down Guantanamo and didn’t have much of a plan for it and when Congress got shirty about the whole thing he basically said “Fine, this is not worth arguing about” and now it’s still open. On the other hand, the Administration has stopped sending new people to Guantanamo, but other hand, it is implied by several people that half the reason the kill-drone program is all about killing is so that the Administration doesn’t end up with any high-profile terror suspects it might feel obliged to store somewhere.
Then there’s this paragraph, explaining how the Administration decided that it was OK to kill American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki with a missile from space, without a trial:
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel prepared a lengthy memo justifying that extraordinary step, asserting that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.
Ha ha, no, see, we’re just going to go ahead and say “no” to that. Internal deliberations in the executive branch do not constitute “due process” by any stretch of the imagination, sorry, try again.
And even if you’re all like, “Whatever, I trust Eric Holder to do the right thing in this situation,” someday Eric Holder is going to quit and go back to his first love (the New Black Panthers). Here is a very true statement from that article: “This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president, and that’s not sustainable. I have lived the life of someone taking action on the basis of secret OLC memos, and it ain’t a good life. Democracies do not make war on the basis of legal memos locked in a DOJ safe.”
Guess who said that! Go on, guess! Give up? It is Michael Hayden, Bush’s last CIA director! Ha ha, guess he feels kind of mad about what the Dumb-o-crats are doing with all the precious terrorist-killing powers he and his buddies so carefully put together between 2001 and 2008. Just like you’ll be pissed when Romney uses all of Obama’s totally legit flying deathbot policies for evil, rather than good. Don’t worry about that Secret Kill List, though, Romney doesn’t believe in government bureaucrats compiling Secret Kill Lists. That can be done more efficiently by the private sector. [NYfuckingdepressingT]