Saturday, February 9, 2013

The John O. Brennan Senate Hearings Drone On

President Obama has nominated his counter-terrorism advisor, John O. Brennan, to be the new Director of the CIA. His Senate confirmation hearing has dragged on over issues of drones and waterboarding eventhough it is recognized that he will easily win confirmation. Brennan had previously been with the CIA for a quarter century. He was Executive Director of the CIA during Bush Administration. He admits to knowing of the waterboarding actions during the Bush Administration, but claims he was out of the loop on the decisions. The drone campaign started under President Bush and was escalated by President Obama as the technology and resources expanded. The drones are a triumph of American nano-technology. The Obama Administration prefers drone strikes to kill the terrorists rather than capturing them. They do not want to bring new prisoners to Gitmo. My view is simple – just kill the terrorists before they kill us. This is an asymmetrical war in which the terrorists neither respect international boundaries nor the recognized rules of war, the Geneva Convention. Predators, Reapers, Ravens, Switchblades, Hellfire Missiles – doesn’t matter. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen – their efforts are global. Our preemptive defenses need also be Global. Pakistan routinely objects to the over 300 drone attacks so far in Pakistan. The protests are usually pro forma because Pakistan is often behind many of the strikes. The only question is that if we kill them all by drones, then we will have no one to obtain human information from, including by waterboarding, if necessary. If the drone campaign were by the Bush Administration, then the media and liberal Democrats would be going ballistic today. But President Obama is a liberal, one of them. Thus, their protests are hypocritically muted. Senators are concerned, at least publicly, because they have been left out of the loop. Thus they want to see to see the legal documents supporting the legality of the drones. They want to know the basis for authorizing strikes against United States citizens who might be a terrorist. The Obama Administration produced an unsigned, undated legal memorandum from the Office of Counsel justifying the drone attacks. John Yoo, serving in President Bush’s Office of Counsel after 9/11, co-penned a memo for the Bush Administration in which he drew the line between legal interrogations and illegal ones. In doing so he followed the statutes enacted by Congress. Professor Yoo was crucified by the media and Democrats, such as Senator Obama, for authorizing torture. Water boarding became a 4 letter word. President Obama’s lawyers therefore wish to remain anonymous. Their memo was prompted by the proposed use of a done to kill Anwar Al-Alakwi, a terrorist who was born in the United States and later converted to Islam. The opponents of the drone attacks refer to them as “targeted killings.” Far better a targeted killing than a mass killing in efforts to rid the world of these terrorists.

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