In The Atlantic, Robert Wright calls out president Obama for his widespread use of drones, as well as those who justify his actions.
So this was supposed to prepare us for the fact that Obama has conducted more than 250 drone strikes in Pakistan, killing an estimated 1,400 people? Were all of these people–or half of them, or a third of them–“high value targets” who posed “a direct threat to America”? I was under the impression that lots of these people were killed because they were thought to pose a threat to our soldiers in Afghanistan, in which case I’d say they didn’t pose “a direct threat to America.” And as for the “high value targets” part: It turns out that our government often doesn’t even know who the people are who are on the receiving end of the drone strikes in Pakistan!
The fact is that, when it comes to drone strikes, President Obama has been much more reckless than any of us had reason to believe. He has lobbed missiles prolifically and sometimes undiscerningly into an allied country, embittering many of its citizens in a way that may come back to haunt us. He’s also used a drone to assassinate an American citizen abroad, disregarding the constitution’s guarantee of due process of law. Obama probably does qualify for the term “warrior in chief,” but those of us who aren’t happy about this have a right to feel betrayed.
It is a faintly hopeful sign when someone who writes for mainstream publications starts to say such things.
But on the other hand we have NPR’s counter-terrorism ‘reporter’ Dina Temple-Raston who seems to see her job as more of a stenographer, dutifully passing on Obama’s counter-terrorism chief John Brennan’s claim that the drones have “astonishing precision and they actually dramatically reduce the danger to civilians.”
What is the point of “astonishing precision” if you don’t know who the target is? “Yes, we got the guy we aimed our missile at. Who was he? We are not sure exactly but since we killed him, he must have been a terrorist. So everything is good.”