RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Junod writes: "Sure, we as a nation have always killed people. A lot of people. But no president has ever waged war by killing enemies one by one, targeting them individually for execution, wherever they are. The Obama administration has taken pains to tell us, over and over again, that they are careful, scrupulous of our laws, and determined to avoid the loss of collateral, innocent lives. They're careful because when it comes to waging war on individuals, the distinction between war and murder becomes a fine one. "

President Obama in the White House Situation Room in September 2009, the month he authorized the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and, by apparent accident, al-Awlaki's son. (photo: Pete Souza/White House)
President Obama in the White House Situation Room in September 2009, the month he authorized the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and, by apparent accident, al-Awlaki's son. (photo: Pete Souza/White House)

The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama

By Tom Junod, Esquire Magazine

14 July 12


ure, we as a nation have always killed people. A lot of people. But no president has ever waged war by killing enemies one by one, targeting them individually for execution, wherever they are. The Obama administration has taken pains to tell us, over and over again, that they are careful, scrupulous of our laws, and determined to avoid the loss of collateral, innocent lives. They're careful because when it comes to waging war on individuals, the distinction between war and murder becomes a fine one. Especially when, on occasion, the individuals we target are Americans and when, in one instance, the collateral damage was an American boy.

You are a good man. You are an honorable man. You are both president of the United States and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. You are both the most powerful man in the world and an unimpeachably upstanding citizen. You place a large premium on being beyond reproach. You have become your own deliberative body, standing not so much by your decisions as by the process by which you make them. You are not only rational; you are a rationalist. You think everything through, as though it is within your power to find the point where what is moral meets what is necessary.

You love two things, your family and the law, and you have surrounded yourself with those who are similarly inclined. To make sure that you obey the law, you have hired lawyers prominent for accusing your predecessor of flouting it; to make sure that you don't fall prey to the inevitable corruption of secrecy, you have hired lawyers on record for being committed to transparency. Unlike George W. Bush, you have never held yourself above the law by virtue of being commander in chief; indeed, you have spent part of your political capital trying to prove civilian justice adequate to our security needs. You prize both discipline and deliberation; you insist that those around you possess a personal integrity that matches their political ideals and your own; and it is out of these unlikely ingredients that you have created the Lethal Presidency.

You are a historic figure, Mr. President. You are not only the first African-American president; you are the first who has made use of your power to target and kill individuals identified as a threat to the United States throughout your entire term. You are the first president to make the killing of targeted individuals the focus of our military operations, of our intelligence, of our national-security strategy, and, some argue, of our foreign policy. You have authorized kill teams comprised of both soldiers from Special Forces and civilians from the CIA, and you have coordinated their efforts through the Departments of Justice and State. You have gradually withdrawn from the nation building required by "counterinsurgency" and poured resources into the covert operations that form the basis of "counter-terrorism." More than any other president you have made the killing rather than the capture of individuals the option of first resort, and have killed them both from the sky, with drones, and on the ground, with "nighttime" raids not dissimilar to the one that killed Osama bin Laden. You have killed individuals in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, and are making provisions to expand the presence of American Special Forces in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In Pakistan and other places where the United States has not committed troops, you are estimated to have killed at least two thousand by drone. You have formalized what is known as "the program," and at the height of its activity it was reported to be launching drone strikes in Pakistan every three days. Your lethality is expansive in both practice and principle; you are fighting terrorism with a policy of preemptive execution, and claiming not just the legal right to do so but the legal right to do so in secret. The American people, for the most part, have no idea who has been killed, and why; the American people - and for that matter, most of their representatives in Congress - have no idea what crimes those killed in their name are supposed to have committed, and have been told that they are not entitled to know.

This is not to say that the American people don't know about the Lethal Presidency, and that they don't support its aims. They do. They know about the killing because you have celebrated - with appropriate sobriety - the most notable kills, specifically those of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki; they support it because you have asked for their trust as a good and honorable man surrounded by good and honorable men and women and they have given it to you. In so doing, you have changed a technological capability into a moral imperative and have convinced your countrymen to see the necessity without seeing the downside. Politically, there is no downside. Historically, there is only the irony of the upside - that you, of all presidents, have become the lethal one; that you, of all people, have turned out to be a man of proven integrity whose foreign and domestic policies are less popular than your proven willingness to kill, in defense of your country, even your own countrymen ... indeed, to kill even a sixteen-year-old American boy accused of no crime at all.

It's an American story. A promising student from a poor country is selected to go to America on a Fulbright scholarship. His country is an agricultural one - an agricultural country simmering in the desert - so he goes off to study agricultural economics. He enters New Mexico State University in 1966, gets his business degree three years later, and he's studying for his master's when his first son is born. "I remember the name of the gynecologist!" he says. "I remember the name of the hospital - Las Cruces General! The next day I went to school and was very pleased. At the time in America, they distributed cigars if it was a boy. So that's what I did - I distributed cigars. It was a fantastic thing, to have my firstborn son be born in the United States."

It was 1971, and Nasser al-Awlaki named his American son Anwar. He got his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln - "The year I got there, they took the national college football championship! They beat Oklahoma in the Game of the Century!" - and then got an offer to teach at the University of Minnesota. "We took Anwar to nursery school there. He was a very brilliant boy. His nursery-school teacher wrote him every year, even when he came back to Yemen. I joined the University of Sanaa and took Anwar to bilingual school. In three months he was speaking and writing Arabic!"

Anwar al-Awlaki, firstborn son of Nasser, never lost his American citizenship, though he eventually gained his Yemeni one. In 1991, he got his own scholarship to Colorado State University, and the American story - the story of the American al-Awlakis - was told a second time. "He studied civil engineering," his father says. "After he got his degree, he came back to Yemen in 1994 in order to get married. He married his second cousin and then took his wife back to America, to Denver. His first son was born in August 1995, in Denver, Colorado. My wife and my mother went to Colorado for the birth and stayed six months. He was a beautiful, lovable little boy - and of course we were all very happy that he was born in America."

You must know the boy, Mr. President. Though you've never spoken a word about him, you must know his name, who and what he was. He was, after all, one of yours. He was a citizen. He had certain inalienable rights. He moved away when he was seven, but in that way he was not so different from you. He moved around a lot when he was growing up, because his father did. He went from Denver to San Diego, and from San Diego to a suburb of Washington, D. C. Then he went to Yemen. He was an American boy, but his father came to feel that America was attacking him, and he took his wife and son back to Yemen and began preaching hatred against Americans. Anwar al-Awlaki took it as his constitutionally guaranteed right to do so. When you decided that you had to do something about him, you also had to decide whether his citizenship stood in the way. You decided that it didn't.

Anwar al-Awlaki fled into the mountains of Yemen. The boy lived with his grandfather Nasser in the capital city of Sanaa. He didn't see his father for two years. He loved his father and missed him. He was sixteen. One morning last September, he didn't show up for breakfast. His mother went to find him and instead she found a note. He had climbed out the window of the apartment building where he lived. He had gone in search of his father. You might not have known him then - you might not have had cause to know his name. But his name was Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, and he knew you as both the president of the United States and as the man trying to kill his father.

You have never spoken directly about the Lethal Presidency. You have never given a speech about its prerogatives, obligations, and responsibilities, and how you feel about living up to them. You have never told your side of a historic story.

You have let others do that.

As soon as the killing started - and the killing started as soon as you took office - you struggled with how to tell the American people about it. You struggled with its secrecy, and you struggled no less with its popularity. You struggled with how you could reconcile your commitment to transparency with your commitment to carrying out classified lethal operations based on secret kill lists, and you struggled with how to promulgate a narrative that has proven remarkably effective at combating Republican charges that you are "soft on terror." How do you tell a story that is not meant to be told?

At first, you resorted to leaks. Your administration is famously disciplined, but it has leaked so much advantageous information about the drone program that the leaks form the basis of the ACLU's lawsuit challenging your right to keep the program secret.

Of course, you are known to be on the side of transparency, and so in March 2010 you allowed the State Department's Harold Koh to defend, in a speech, what he called "U. S. targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles."

The speech was the final product of what one former administration lawyer calls an "unbelievably excruciating process of crafting a public statement that all the agencies can agree on." But Koh gained special authority to speak because he became the State Department's legal advisor after serving as the dean of Yale Law and earning renown as a principled critic of the Bush administration's legal positions. His speech would establish a pattern: Periodically, you dispatch men of proven integrity to put their integrity on the line in defense of the Lethal Presidency. They make speeches at prominent venues, usually at the law schools and public-policy arms of prominent universities, and they speak for you by proxy.

These speeches are remarkably consistent. They stress that the United States is at war with Al Qaeda and its "associated forces." They stress that the United States has a legal right to defend itself and thus to kill those plotting to kill innocent Americans. They stress that the program and the practice the United States has developed in response to the threat of Al Qaeda - what has become known as "targeted killing" - is consistent with the laws of war, is consistent with the "principles of international law" (if not with international law itself), and is consistent with the laws of the United States. They stress that every effort is made to minimize civilian casualties and that no man is put to death by the United States without the United States first affording him every consideration. They stress that a process of review is in place, and although the process is secret - although the object of the review of course never knows that he is being reviewed - the decision to target and kill an individual living in another country is never taken lightly, particularly if he is an American citizen.

There have been six of these speeches since Harold Koh delivered the first in 2010; there have been four in 2012 alone, and each has shown, according to the administration lawyer, "a little more leg." Indeed, they have evolved past the point of articulating legal principles and in this election year amount to a public-relations campaign for the administration's right to hold the power of life and death. The "leg" that the lawyer refers to is not only a glimpse into the decision-making process but also a glimpse into the hearts of the decision makers. The Lethal Presidency has decided to tell its story, and it turns out to be something like a plea for sympathy.

From Harold Koh to CIA general counsel Stephen Preston, from Attorney General Eric Holder to your chief counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, the men who have spoken on your behalf are men of deep principle who have gone public with assurances that they are deeply principled. They are men who defend the decisions they have made by the fact that they were the ones who made them - and that the decisions were difficult. They are at pains to communicate that they struggle with killing ... and so it was inevitable that the Lethal Presidency's spring campaign climaxed with a front-page New York Times story that revealed that you do, too. You not only make the final decisions over who lives and who dies; you also want the American public to know that you make the final decisions over who lives and who dies, and that your judicious exercise of this awesome responsibility weighs on you heavily.

"The [Times] story is consistent with the administration's approach, which is that since there can be no external oversight over the program, the greatest internal oversight that you can have is for this to be the personal responsibility of the president himself," says the lawyer.

The New York Times story is in fact consistent with all the stories and with all the speeches. In every single utterance of the Lethal Presidency on the subject of its own lethality, it has offered the same narrative: that although it claims the power to kill, its combination of legal restraint and personal scruple makes the exercise of this power extremely difficult. The Lethal Presidency - and the Lethal President - wants us to know that killing is hard. It has spent months telling us this story because there is another story, a counterstory voiced off the record by administration members and confirmed by everything human beings have learned about killing in their bloody history:

That killing individuals identified as our enemies isn't hard at all.

That it's the easiest thing humans - particularly humans in power - can do.

Anwar al-Awlaki was an American father to his American son. When he moved his family from Colorado to California, he spent a lot of time with the boy. "He used to take Abdulrahman ocean fishing," says Nasser al-Awlaki. "He was a very practical man and very good at fishing. They used to catch all kinds of fish. They used to go hiking in the mountains. They did a lot of activities, and Abdulrahman was very attached to his father."

But Anwar al-Awlaki did not go to San Diego simply to get his master's degree at San Diego State University and go fishing. He had begun the serious study of Islam during his college days in Colorado, and he became the imam of a large San Diego mosque. What his father had always noticed about him - his easy fluency in both En-glish and Arabic - attracted followers, especially among the young. He recorded a series of popular lectures explicating the life of the Prophet; he also preached to two of the men who became 9/11 hijackers and was twice arrested for soliciting prostitutes.

He took everything with him when he moved in 2001 to the nationally prominent Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia - both his fluency and his baggage. He was an American whose birthright expressed itself even when he extolled the Prophet, and as imam he was expected to become an ambassador for Islam at a time when Islam was both expansionary and vulnerable. After his move to Virginia, Al Qaeda attacked America, and although al-Awlaki tried to fulfill his obligation as an ambassador - working as a chaplain at George Washington University; very publicly condemning the 9/11 attacks; explaining Ramadan in a good-natured video interview on the Washington Post Web site; even giving an invocation at the Capitol one day in 2001 - the FBI discovered that one of the 9/11 hijackers had followed him from California to Virginia. He was questioned at least four times, and he complained to his father that he was under surveillance. When he resigned from the mosque, a young associate named Johari Abdul-Malik tried to prevail upon him to stay. In Abdul-Malik's recollection, al-Awlaki said that he "could do more for Islam in another country" and had three job offers overseas.

"It didn't wash with me," Abdul-Malik says. "I was like, 'You speak English, dude. You're an American. You're going to do more for Islam in Yemen?' But I didn't know then that he'd been busted for soliciting. When I found out, I thought, Okay, he's afraid of being exposed. He was afraid the FBI was going to expose him."

But Abdul-Malik had another encounter with al-Awlaki soon after al-Awlaki left America with Abdulrahman and the rest of his family. "I was taking the pilgrimage to Mecca. I was on the bus and heard a familiar voice. I looked up and saw that our spiritual guide was Anwar al-Awlaki. He recognized me and invited me to split the preaching with him. He never spoke of politics during the pilgrimage, and he couldn't have been more gracious. I didn't see him again until I checked him out on the Internet after he became so controversial. He was not only saying that it was the duty of Muslims to kill Americans; he was saying that it was the duty of Muslims to kill Muslims who didn't believe as he did. I thought, He's talking about me. There are people who say that he couldn't have said the things he's supposed to have said. But they're in deep denial. They don't want to admit that somewhere along the way something happened to their guy."

You knew, before you became president, that you could send soldiers to war. Like every president who came before you, you had to answer questions not just of competence but of conscience when you campaigned to become America's commander in chief.

Unlike your predecessors, however, you had to answer an additional question before you took the job. Other presidents had to decide whether they could preside over the slaughter of massed armies, and the piteous suffering of whole populations.

You had to decide if you could target and kill one person at a time.

Maybe it's an easy question, considering the difficulty of the others. Maybe killing one person isn't a burden; maybe it's a relief, in light of the alternatives. After all, you inherited three wars from George W. Bush: the two "hot theater" wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the "asymmetrical" war against Al Qaeda. The Iraq war killed tens of thousands of Iraqis, maybe more. The Afghanistan war is a trap from which we struggle to extricate ourselves. The first was vain; the second, in vain. The war with Al Qaeda is, by comparison, a vision - a vision of how war could be, and never has been. It is a war of individuals instead of armies. It is a war of combatants instead of civilians. It is a war of intelligence instead of brute force. It is a war not only of technological precision but moral discrimination, designed to separate the guilty from the innocent. It is, indeed, war as an alternative to war: It saves lives by ending lives; it responds to those plotting mass murder by, well, murdering them.

And that is what makes the question so profound and so profoundly difficult. "For some reason, it's an unusual and extraordinarily grave thing when you have an individual person who's being singled out for targeting," says an administration lawyer who was instrumental in formulating its targeting policy. "It's not a distinction that holds up when you press it a bit - I mean, snipers target individuals, and they're still considered soldiers. And yet the distinction between shooting at armies and shooting at individuals is there. It's an intuitive thing, I think, in the human animal."

It's probably a hard-wired thing. It's certainly an ancient thing, fundamental to the creation of human conscience. The difference between shedding the blood of many for a cause outside yourself and shedding the blood of one for a cause of your own seems ineffable - and yet it's nothing less than the difference between war and murder.

Yet you are committing something that looks like murder in the cause of war. You are shedding the blood of one in order to spare the blood of many. You are not observing moral distinctions so much as you are inventing them, in the pursuit of what you regard as both a historic opportunity and a personal obligation. You have made a historic opportunity into your personal obligation, and in so doing you have made sure that no man can become president unless he knows that he has it within him to kill another man - one whose face he has probably seen, one whose name he probably knows.

What happened to Anwar al-Awlaki was that he went to prison. Why he was arrested is a matter of dispute. He'd begun speaking against the United States almost as soon as he left the U. S. in 2002, winning fame for his "inflammatory" rhetoric and his transfixing ability to radicalize young Muslims. He started in En-gland, making speeches at mosques, and then moved back to Yemen, making videos for the Internet. He moved his family back and forth between his ancestral village and the large apartment belonging to his father and mother in Sanaa. His father had risen to prominence since getting his Ph.D. in the United States. He had been president of the University of Sanaa, and now he was agriculture minister for the government. But he could not keep his son out of jail. He could not keep his son silent, and so he could not keep his son safe.

Anwar al-Awlaki was arrested in 2006. He was arrested in Yemen, by Yemen, without any charges. It's often reported that he was arrested in a "tribal dispute" rather than at the behest of the United States; what's certain, however, is that once he was in jail, the United States expressed an interest in keeping him there. He was questioned again by the FBI and stayed in jail for eighteen months. Nasser al-Awlaki never took Abdulrahman to see him. "It was very hard for Abdulrahman to have his father in jail," Nasser al-Awlaki says. "It was very hard for the whole family. We couldn't see him for a long time. Anwar wasn't even allowed to have any books his first year in prison. Then they only allowed him books in English. I gave him Moby-Dick. I gave him Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. And also Shakespeare. He became a very good reader of Moby-Dick and Charles Dickens. He liked the stories of Dickens because they were about cultural issues and tried to relate those issues to Yemen and the Muslim world."

To the dismay of many in the Department of Homeland Security, Yemen released Anwar al-Awlaki from prison in December 2007. He never lived again with his family, because he felt that his presence endangered them. Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, along with his mother and four siblings, stayed in Nasser al-Awlaki's house in Sanaa. Anwar al-Awlaki moved to his ancestral village, near the Arabian Sea, and lived under the protection of his tribe, the Awlakis. He'd associated with Al Qaeda before going to prison; now his role became clear. While Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula engaged in a Taliban-like struggle for Yemen, he would be the American. He would be the one who could get to America, by the example of his betrayal. He was still a citizen; he would use his citizenship to engage in treason, and his fluency - what a member of his first mosque in Colorado called his "beautiful tongue" - to inspire those who wanted to follow.

He didn't have to seek them out. Though he lived at the end of the earth, they came to him through e-mails and through his medium, the Internet. One who found him had gone to the mosque in Falls Church. He was now an Army psychiatrist at Fort Hood. He wanted to talk to his former imam about the obligation of jihad. Anwar al-Awlaki answered him back. They corresponded - with the FBI aware of the correspondence - and on November 5, 2009, the Army psychiatrist shot forty-three Americans at Fort Hood, killing thirteen. Anwar al-Awlaki wrote in praise of the murders, and he called for the release of the correspondence. He wanted people to read the e-mails. He wanted people to know that he was not a murderer. He was not a terrorist. He was an American who knew what to say to a worldwide audience of people who wanted to murder Americans, and that made him - as a New York City counterterrorism official later called him - "the most dangerous man in the world."

You are not the first president with the power to kill individuals. You are, however, the first president to exercise it on a mass scale. You inherited the power from George W. Bush as one of several responses to terrorism. You will pass it on to your successor as the only response, as well as an exemplar of principle. Your administration has devoted far more time and energy to telling the story of targeted killing than it has to telling the story of any of your domestic policies, including health care. It is as though you realize that more than any of your policies, the Lethal Presidency will be your legacy.

How did this happen? How did your administration become the administration to embrace and unleash a power that has always existed and yet has never been anything but reluctantly employed? Yes, you could argue that the power to kill is an inherent power of the presidency - that, as former Bush-administration legal counsel Jack Goldsmith says, "it is not remotely a new power. In World War II, we targeted enemies all over the globe."

You could argue that the National Security Act of 1947 both created the Central Intelligence Agency and gave presidents the power to kill individuals in secret, under the rubric of "covert action."

You could argue that even when the Church Committee held congressional hearings in the seventies to investigate, among other abuses of power, the CIA's program of political assassinations, its members had a vote on what it called "direct action" - and decided, according to then-senator Walter Mondale, "that the executive should still have the authority to deal covertly in the action area. Push comes to shove, the president is there to protect the American people and find a way to do it."

And you could argue - you have argued - that Congress already approved everything you've done "in the action area" when it passed its authorization for the use of military force in the wake of 9/11.

But in fact the statutory power to kill individuals has always been subject to deep moral qualms about its use, not to mention constitutional constraints. It has never been used so openly or so routinely, much less as an accoutrement to an administration's national-security agenda. A country that preventively kills its enemies is simply a different country from the one we've been throughout our history, and so although Congress preserved the president's power to engage in "covert" or "direct" action, President Ford signed an executive order against the use of assassinations in 1976.

And although Jimmy Carter attempted to use special-operations forces to rescue hostages in Iran, "we had very little direct action of any kind," says his vice-president, Walter Mondale. "We didn't get involved in any intelligence actions as distinct from intelligence gathering."

And although Bill Clinton tried to kill Osama bin Laden with cruise missiles in 1998, he justified the operation as an attack on Al Qaeda training camps rather than as an attack on an individual.

And although Israel responded to the wave of suicide bombings that began in 2000 with the second Palestinian intifada by employing the tactic of what it was the first to call "targeted killing," the U. S. ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, condemned it without hesitation: "The United States government is very clearly on the record as being against targeted assassinations. They are extrajudicial killings and we do not support that."

And although in the months leading up to 9/11 the CIA's Counterterrorism Center urged director George Tenet to arm the Predator drone with Hellfire missiles, Tenet was reluctant to do so because he didn't want to get the CIA back in the business of killing - he was, according to the 9/11 report, "appalled" by the suggestion and thought the CIA "had no authority" to "pull the trigger."

Of course, the attacks of 9/11 overcame Tenet's reluctance and everyone else's. But even then a lawyer who worked in the Bush administration's Justice Department and was present in the White House Situation Room in the days after the attacks remembers that "the question of whether you can target one guy was one of the first debates. The intelligence agencies were very specific. They had a list of people to be generally targeted" - what would become known as a kill list - "and they wanted assurance that they would not be prosecuted. We advised them that we will not go after you if you meet these conditions."

What were the representatives of the intelligence agencies afraid of being prosecuted for? "Murder," says the lawyer. But a year after the intelligence agencies received the Justice Department's assurances that killing an individual identified as an enemy combatant in wartime was not the same as simply killing an individual, a Predator drone flown by the CIA launched a Hellfire missile at a car driving in an isolated area of Yemen. The missile hit its target and killed six people, including an American citizen, Kamal Darwish. The American was identified as one of a group of Americans accused of having terrorist connections, but he was not on any kill list. Two milestones, however, had been reached simultaneously: the first U. S. drone strike and the first U. S. citizen killed by drone.

This is your inheritance, Mr. President - the legacy of statutory power and moral qualm that you had to sort through even before you took office. You have responded by claiming the power and admitting the qualm. But there is something strange about the Lethal Presidency's public statements: What they communicate is always something different from what they say. Your admission that you struggle in the exercise of lethal power is meant as an assurance that your struggle compels you to use lethal power responsibly. But neither you nor anyone in your administration has allowed the impression that that struggle is anything but an obstacle to be surmounted and that you are anything but resolute in surmounting it. You struggle with your moral qualms about the Lethal Presidency only to gain the moral distinction of triumphing over them - and to claim, as the Lethal President, the higher morality of killing.

Anwar al-Awlaki was never charged with a crime. He was never charged for any of his suspected connections to the 9/11 hijackers. He was never charged with the crime for which he was jailed in Yemen. He was never charged for his e-mails to the Fort Hood murderer. He was never charged for his treason. And yet on the day before Christmas 2009, President Obama approved a Yemeni air strike on an Al Qaeda meeting that was based on CIA intelligence - and that included Anwar al-Awlaki as a target. The strike killed thirty people. But it spared al-Awlaki.

A day later, a young Nigerian named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab boarded Northwest flight 253 with a bomb devised by an Al Qaeda bomb maker sewn into his underwear. The flight originated in Amsterdam; it was bound for Detroit, and when it came into U. S. airspace, Abdulmutallab tried to detonate what he had in his pants - to give America an extravaganza of mass murder on Christmas Day.

The bomb ignited but didn't explode, and Abdulmutallab was overcome by the passengers. He wound up cooperating with American authorities after his arrest and told them that not only had he engaged in correspondence with Anwar al-Awlaki, he had plotted to bring down an American airliner under al-Awlaki's direction.

Anwar al-Awlaki had always sought the space between inflammatory speech and overt conspiracy. And so after news broke of Abdulmutallab's failed attempt to kill Americans, he went on the Internet to remind America of its vulnerability ... to taunt the country where he was born - and its president - with his beautiful, murderous tongue.

But to the Obama administration, he had gone from inspiring attacks on America to planning them - he had become "operational." He was actively plotting to kill Americans and harm American interests. He was aligned with Al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate. He met the definition of enemy combatant and imminent threat. And so, although he was a U. S. citizen - and although the Obama administration had already countenanced trying to kill him on Christmas Eve - he was put on a kill list.

It is not known exactly when he was included on the list. What is known is that he was put on the list while Abdulmutallab was just beginning to cooperate with the FBI. What is known is that the administration had been thinking of how to target al-Awlaki for some time, and that it leaked its intentions to The Washington Post in part to satisfy what it believed were its constitutional requirements to him. What is known is that the Post published its story just about a month after America's attack on al-Awlaki and al-Awlaki's attack on America, and that when Nasser al-Awlaki read that his son was on a kill list, he immediately tried saving his life.

He began by writing President Obama a personal letter in which he reminded the president of the similarities in their backgrounds and said that he distributed cigars when his son Anwar was born in America. Then he sought counsel from the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights and did the most American thing of all.

He sued.

"I tried every legal means to stop the targeted killing of my son," Nasser al-Awlaki says. "George Bush had my son locked up [in Yemen], but he didn't order his killing. I could not believe that a president would order the killing of my son. But Eric Holder and Barack Obama are giving us a new definition of the due process of the law. How can they kill him without due process?"

He lost. In December 2010, a judge opened his ruling with an acknowledgment of the "stark and perplexing questions" the lawsuit raised; then he ruled that the father lacked the legal standing to sue for the son and, further, that targeted killing was a "political question" outside the jurisdiction of the court. Nasser al-Awlaki did not appeal because he feared the administration's power, and its vengeance. He did not get his injunction against the president, and had no choice but to complain to anyone who would listen that his American son was being denied due process by being put on an American kill list. He did not understand the administration's most audacious claim: that the machinations required to put a citizen on a kill list were due process; that a citizen's presence on a kill list was itself proof that due process had been afforded.

On January 20, 2009, you were inaugurated as president of the United States. On January 22, you signed executive orders that banned harsh interrogations, closed the CIA's "black sites," and called for the closing of the detention center at Guantánamo Bay. On January 23, two drone attacks killed fifteen people in Pakistan. Newspaper reports suggested that none of them were senior members of Al Qaeda, but the outgoing CIA director assured you that at least five of them were militants. In his book Obama's Wars, Bob Woodward wrote this of your response: "The president said good. He fully endorsed the covert action program, and made it clear he wanted more." More recent revelations in The New York Times suggested that you were concerned about the wanton nature of the attack and the loss of innocent life. You demanded to know what happened and instituted a new standard: Unless the CIA could guarantee that there would be no civilian casualties, you personally would have to approve the strike.

So you lived up to your word, both to the American public and the CIA itself. You ran for president on the promise to restore the moral basis of American counterterrorism after eight years of the severe latitude enjoyed by George W. Bush. But when you sent your transition teams to the CIA in the weeks before your inauguration, they made sure to assure the agents and officers on hand that "they were going to be 'as tough if not tougher' than the Bush people," says a former senior official at the agency. "You have to understand the dynamic. They basically shitcanned the interrogation board. But they wanted to make it clear that they weren't a bunch of left-wing pussies - that they would be focusing and upping the ante on the Predator program."

There were two kinds of opportunity. The first was strategic. "When President Obama first took office, there was a real and present danger from Al Qaeda, particularly in Pakistan, where it was under no pressure," says Bruce Riedel, the former CIA officer you hired to assess the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "The intelligence community was giving the president these warnings, and the only weapon he had at his disposal was the CIA's drone program. So it seemed prudent to increase its pace and its activity. I advised it, along with others, including [counterterrorism advisor] John Brennan."

"The basic approach is clearly a continuation of what began under George Bush," says Michael Leiter, head of the National Counterterrorism Center for the last two years of the Bush administration and the first two years of yours. "Where there was a change was in the intensity of the activity. And intensity counts for a lot. It wasn't that the White House said, 'You have to pick up the pace.' It was that the intelligence community listened to the president's strategic goals and said, 'If that's where you're trying to go, the current pace isn't going to get you there. So we can pick up the pace if you want to pick up the pace. There are ways to do that.' "

The second opportunity was political. From the start of your term, Mr. President, you have used your aggressive prosecution of counterterrorism programs - in other words, killing - to stave off attacks from the Right. This is not to say that you kill with an eye on the polls. It is to say that your political advisors have always had an interest in promoting the Lethal Presidency, to the extent even those involved in "the process" are well aware that it is by killing that you have, in the words of a former administration official, "credentialed yourself on national security." It is to say that the obvious political utility of killing leads to the appearance of political consideration and to contemplation of the monstrous possibility that somewhere in the world someone has been killed to bolster your right flank.

Of course, it has worked. When you have been accused of appeasing terrorists, you have foreclosed the discussion simply by saying, "Ask Osama bin Laden." And when the Right criticizes your counterterrorism policies, it doesn't - it can't - criticize you for all the killing. It is reduced to criticizing you for killing terrorists instead of capturing them and interrogating them in Guantánamo. It criticizes you on intelligence grounds rather than moral ones. Listen to Senator Saxby Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: "You're seeing individuals that we should be capturing and gaining intelligence from not being captured. They're for the most part being targeted otherwise."

And yet there can be no more devastating moral criticism than the criticism that you are killing for convenience - killing as an alternative to something else. "We lack, as a nation, a place to put terrorists if we catch them," says Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. "In most wars, if you're the CIA director or the secretary of defense and you just captured the number two of an enemy organization, most people would say, 'Oh, great.' You know what we'd say? 'Oh, shit.' It's a hot potato nobody wants to handle, and I can tell you, from talking to them, that it affects the forces on the ground. I can tell you that the operators are in a bad spot out there. They know that if they capture a guy, it creates a nightmare. And it's just easier to kill 'em."

You are touchy about this criticism and your representatives respond with force when it is leveled at you. John Brennan has dismissed this criticism - this scenario - as "absurd." Jennifer Daskal, the lawyer you brought in to oversee human-rights compliance at Guantánamo, calls it "a nonsensical argument," given the inaccessibility of the regions where most of the killing takes place. And Michael Leiter says, "It's not like there were a massive amount of detentions in Waziristan [the province in Pakistan that has taken the brunt of the drone attacks] before President Obama took office. There were none."

The numbers, however, are at the very least suggestive. Since taking office, you have killed thousands of people identified as terrorists or militants outside the theater of Afghanistan. You have captured and detained one. This doesn't necessarily mean that you are killing instead of capturing - "that's not even the right question," says the former administration official, who is familiar with the targeting process. "It's not at all clear that we'd be sending our people into Yemen to capture the people we're targeting. But it's not at all clear that we'd be targeting them if the technology wasn't so advanced. What's happening is that we're using the technology to target people we never would have bothered to capture."

The mother had to wake the boy for his 4:30 prayers. In this he was not so different from other teenaged boys in the Muslim world. Boys have to be awakened for their prayers. Their parents have to wake them. It is required.

The family prayed and went back to bed. When the mother woke at 7:30, she found her two youngest children watching cartoons. It was a Sunday morning, usually a school day in Yemen. But September 4, 2011, was a holiday. At eight o'clock, the mother told her daughter to wake up her two boys. The daughter came back and said that the oldest boy, Abdulrahman, was not in his bed. The mother searched the house and found the kitchen window open. Then she found a note under the mat by her bedroom door. It was from Abdulrahman, in Arabic, asking her forgiveness for leaving - for going out into the world to find his father.

Abdulrahman al-Awlaki had not seen Anwar al-Awlaki in two years. At one time, when his father was living in the family's ancestral village near the Arabian Sea, he used to visit his father and live with him for weeks at a time. But then drones were heard over the village, and his father fled into the mountains. Nobody knew where he was. "Abdulrahman was very aware who his father was and knew that the U. S. government was trying to kill him," wrote Anwar al-Awlaki's sister in an e-mail about her nephew's last days. "Why is his father targeted? That may be the question that Abdulrahman thought about all the time."

The family thought he'd be back in a few days because he left with only his backpack. They thought about going to find him, but then worried that if he had found his father, his father's location would be revealed, and the Americans would kill him. So they waited. A few days later, they got a call from their relatives in Shabwah province. Abdulrahman was with them, spending time with his teenaged second cousin. He had not found his father. He still had no idea where he was.

What you want us to know about the process - the review process, the targeting process - is essentially what you want us to know about yourself, Mr. President. It is moral and responsible. It is rigorous and reflective. It is technocratic, but it encourages people to ask hard questions and engage in passionate debate. When it makes a mistake, it learns from its mistakes, and gets better. It is human and flawed, but it tries really hard. It starts with meetings involving as many as one hundred people from different agencies and ends with the approval of targets by John Brennan and the approval of operations by you. Your responsibility is full and final, and in the end you emerge as agonized and humane, heroic and all-powerful.

You have accepted no judicial review of any of your decisions. Your administration has insisted that there is no role for the courts in the making of war, and has cited both tradition and precedent to back up its position. You have accepted, however, what Eric Holder calls the "robust oversight" of Congress.

"We are notified of specific operations within a day or so of them taking place," says a congressional staffer who works for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. "Fax is one of the ways by which notifications are done, but there are also briefings and official notifications and reports. What I can say is that we are generally not surprised by a new kind of activity. If there is something new, we are generally told about it in advance. When we're doing our job the right way, people outside the government should have no idea we're doing it."

The killing of an American citizen: That was a new activity. And so "the program was talked about all the way to its conclusion," says Senator Saxby Chambliss. "Any time you're engaging a citizen - particularly one as noted as Anwar al-Awlaki - there's reason to be more vigilant just to make sure that all the requirements of the law are being abided by. We were briefed any number of times during the process, and also on the final authorization of what could take place."

In a speech he gave in March, Attorney General Eric Holder articulated the central doctrine of the Lethal Presidency: "The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process." Of course, he is speaking of American citizens. The Constitution guarantees combatants from other countries nothing. And yet we still give them something like due process; we still give them the meetings involving one hundred members of the executive branch, we still give them the impassioned interagency debate, we still give them the input of Justice and State, we still give them John Brennan, we still give them you, Mr. President, and your moral prestige. And if they are citizens, well, then, there is, in the words of John Brennan, "additional review" - additional review that must surely constitute due process.

In the history of war, no enemy has been given this kind of consideration. The people we're targeting aren't soldiers; they're plotters - murderers - who deliberate over the deaths of innocents. And in response we give them a review process that deliberates on how to spare innocents and kill only the guilty; that is self-critical; that works constantly to eliminate "mistakes"; that aspires to a kind of perfection and comes so close to achieving it that a year ago John Brennan could announce in a speech that the program operating in Pakistan had been operating since the summer of 2010 without "a single collateral death."

No, there is no court, and there is no judge. But instead of a court there is the White House Situation Room, and instead of a judge there is you - the Lethal President who has worked tirelessly to earn what is the hallmark of the Lethal Presidency:

Moral confidence in the act of killing.

Anwar al-Awlaki was nowhere near his son. He was in the mountains of Jawf province, hundreds of miles away. Over the previous year and a half he had survived two drone attacks that had killed thirty-two of the wrong people. Now he was with Samir Khan, another American citizen who'd betrayed his country and was working as an Al Qaeda propagandist. He was not on a kill list, but it didn't matter. On September 30, Khan was riding in a convoy taking al-Awlaki and others down a mountain road. They had heard and seen Predator drones scouring their refuges before. They probably didn't hear the one that killed them ... or maybe they did. "They fired seven rockets into those cars," Nasser al-Awlaki says. "They destroyed the cars and everything of the car and the people in the car. The people there told us they were all cut to pieces. They collected their remains and put them in two graves. At least they were given a proper Muslim funeral."

The next day, Abdulrahman called his mother from the ancestral village near the Arabian Sea. He had heard about what happened to his father. He was coming home.

You were proud that you were able to kill Anwar al-Awlaki. You were proud because his death marked "another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat Al Qaeda and its affiliates"; because by killing him you almost certainly saved American lives; and because you obeyed the law.

This is the consuming irony of the Lethal Presidency. You have become the Lethal President because you are also the Rule-of-Law President. You have been able to kill our enemies because you have forsworn waterboarding them. You have become the first president to execute without trial an American citizen because you hired David Barron and Martin Lederman - the constitutional lawyers renowned for their blistering attacks on the legal memos that justified the Bush administration's use of torture - to write the legal memos that justified the execution without trial of an American citizen.

"President Bush would never have been able to scale this up the way President Obama has because he wouldn't have had the trust of the public and the Congress and the international community," says the former administration official familiar with the targeting process. "That trust has been enabling."

There have been thousands killed as the result of direct orders of the Lethal Presidency. How can each death be said to be the end product of rigorous review when there are so many of them? And most importantly, how can the care given to the inclusion of individual terrorists on CIA and DOD kill lists be extended to those who are killed without the administration ever knowing their names - those who are killed in "signature strikes," based on data, rather than "personality strikes," based on human intelligence?

The simple answer: It can't, especially when, in the words of a former senior CIA official, "the increase in signature strikes is what accounts for most of the increased activity." The Lethal Presidency is using intelligence to put people to death, but when the official familiar with targeting is asked about the quality of the information, there is a long pause before the answer.

"I can't answer that question," the official finally says. "You get information from intelligence channels and you don't know how reliable it is or who the source was. The intelligence services have criteria, but most of the time the people making the decision have no idea what those criteria are. Some people [targets] you see over and over again. But when someone turns up for the first time, it's harder to have confidence in that information."

It is only human to have faith in the "human intelligence" generated by the agents, operatives, and assets of the CIA. But that's the point: What's human is always only human, and often wrong. America invaded Iraq on the pretext of intelligence that was fallacious if not dishonest. It confidently asserted that the detainees in Guantánamo were the "worst of the worst" and left them to the devices of CIA interrogators before admitting that hundreds were hapless victims of circumstance and letting them go. You, Mr. President, do not have a Guantánamo. But you are making the same characterization of those you target that the Bush administration made of those it detained, based on the same sources. The difference is that all your sentences are final, and you will never let anybody go. To put it as simply as possible: Six hundred men have been released uncharged from Guantánamo since its inception, which amounts to an admission of a terrible mistake. What if they had never even been detained? What if, under the precepts of the Lethal Presidency, they had simply been killed?

For all its respect for the law, the Obama administration has been legally innovative in the cause of killing. It has called for the definition of an "imminent threat" to be broadened and for the definition of "collateral damage" to be narrowed. An imminent threat used to be someone who represented a clear and present danger. Now it is someone who appears dangerous. Collateral damage used to be anyone killed who was not targeted. Now the term "collateral damage" applies only to women and children. "My understanding is that able-bodied males of military age are considered fair game," says the former administration official, "if they're in the proximity of a known militant."

Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was the son of Anwar al-Awlaki. Did that make him an imminent threat? He was sixteen years old, able-bodied. Did that make him fair game? To his family, he was still a child. Does that make him collateral damage? He was an American citizen. Does that mean that he should have been given due process? Should his citizenship have offered him a degree of protection not enjoyed by the other boys who were with him on the night of October 14, 2011? They were all able-bodied, after all. They were all teenagers. They all had the potential to be dangerous someday.

On that night, though, they were all celebrating Abdulrahman's last night in his ancestral village near the Arabian Sea. He had been waiting for Yemen's political unrest to die down before heading home. Now the way seemed clear, the roads less perilous, and he was saying goodbye to the friends he'd made. There were six or seven of them, along with a seventeen-year-old cousin. It was a night lit by a bright moon, and they were sitting around a fire. They were cooking and eating. It was initially reported that an Al Qaeda leader named Ibrahim al-Banna was among those killed, but then it was reported that al-Banna is still alive to this day. It was also reported that Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was a twenty-one-year-old militant, until his grandfather released his birth certificate. There is the fog of war, and then there is the deeper fog of the Lethal Presidency. What is certain is only this: that a drone crossed the moonlit sky, and when the sun rose the next morning, the relatives of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki gathered his remains - along with those of his cousin and some teenaged boys - so that they could give a Muslim funeral to an American boy.

This is what Senator Carl Levin, who receives regular briefings on "clandestine activities" as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says about the death of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki: "My understanding is that there was adequate justification." How? "It was justified by the presence of a high-value target."

This is what his aunt says about his death in an e-mail: "We were all afraid that Abdulrahman would get caught up in the turmoil in Yemen. However, none of us thought that Abdulrahman will face a danger from the sky. We thought that the American administration, the world leader and superpower will be far and wide from such cruelty. Some may say Abdulrahman was collateral damage; some said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. We say that Abdulrahman was in his father's land and was dining under the moon light, it looked to him, us and the rest of the world to be the right time and place. He was not in a cave in Waziristan or Tora Bora, he was simply a kid enjoying his time in the country side. The ones that were in the wrong place and time were the American drones, nothing else."

You have spoken once about the drones and teenaged boys. You weren't speaking as the Lethal President but you were referring to the Lethal Presidency. You were also making a joke. You were at the podium at the 2010 White House Correspondents' Dinner. You welcomed the Jonas Brothers and said, "Sasha and Malia are huge fans. But boys, don't get any ideas. I have two words for you - Predator drones. You will never see it coming."

You have never spoken of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. Though you probably approved the strike that killed him, you have never mentioned his name in public. Though he was an American citizen killed by an American drone, you have kept the circumstances of his death secret. Though what we know about the circumstances of his death casts doubt on most of the claims your administration makes about both the rigor of the process and the precision of the program, there has been no call in Congress for an investigation or a hearing. You have been free to keep the American people safe by expanding the Lethal Presidency - by approving the expanded use of signature strikes in Yemen and by defying an edict of the Pakistani parliament and continuing drone strikes in Pakistan. You have even begun thinking of using the Lethal Presidency as an example for other countries that want Lethal Presidencies of their own.

"Other nations also possess this technology," said John Brennan in his most recent speech. "Many more nations are seeking it, and more will succeed in acquiring it. President Obama and those of us on his national-security team are very mindful that as our nation uses this technology, we are establishing precedents that other nations may follow, and not all of them will be nations that share our interests or the premium we put on protecting human life, including innocent civilians."

Of course, the danger of the Lethal Presidency is that the precedent you establish is hardly ever the precedent you think you are establishing, and whenever you seem to be describing a program that is limited and temporary, you are really describing a program that is expansive and permanent. You are a very controlled man, and as Lethal President, it's natural for you to think that you can control the Lethal Presidency. It's even natural for you to think that you can control the Lethal Presidencies of other countries, simply by the power of your example. But the Lethal Presidency incorporates not just drone technology but a way of thinking about drone technology, and this way of thinking will be your ultimate export. You have anticipated the problem of proliferation. But an arms race involving drones would be very different from an arms race involving nuclear arms, because the message that spread with nuclear arms was that these weapons must never be used. The message that you are spreading with drones is that they must be - that using them amounts to nothing less than our moral duty.

The former official in your administration - the one familiar with targeting - has suggested a question intended to encapsulate the danger represented by the expansive nature of the Lethal Presidency:

"Ask the administration if the president himself is targetable." But here's something simpler, and more human. You have made sure that you will not be the only Lethal President. You have made sure that your successor in the White House will also be a Lethal President, as well as someone somewhere else in the world.

What if the next Lethal President is not as good and as honorable as you? What if he is actually cruel or bloodthirsty?

What if he turns out to be - like you, Mr. President - just a man? your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+16 # indian weaver 2012-07-14 12:29
Obama doesn't have the courage to "just say no" to assassination and torture. He is incapable of creative thinking and action, in concert with "a few good men". Maybe he's afraid of being assassinated himself by our government, or what? Obama turns out to be another bad person, a politician, not a decent human being. I guess the pay and benefits of being president is too good to allow any dissension? I think courage is the key, and this guy has none. I know you don't think it's that simple, but it is. The problem is having the courage. That is not so simple for a politican, maybe impossible.
+54 # Erdajean 2012-07-14 15:38
Every day a dozen Democrat drumbeaters email us the breathless message, "DONATE! The Republicans are ahead of us in financing!"

No doubt this is true -- the string-pullers who move the GOP toward its ever-more Fascistic ends are the richest in the country -- and the world, now that anybody on the globe can buy into our elections.

What the Democrats ONCE had, that, conceivably, all the world's money COULD NOT BUY, was Moral Integrity. Thus it was the will of good people, the belief that America WAS the most honorable and decent country, given the right leadership, that elected Barack Obama.

That was then; this is now. George W.Bush would have loved the option of taking out anyone on earth he decided was against him -- along with their families and neighbors, without sending in the troops and being obvious. Bush and his cohort were just a little before their time.

That total outrage was left for our good man, Mr. Obama. And it seems -- at least to some of us -- that our honor, our honesty, our mercy and humanity, that summation of highest-value quality that people revere -- and that money could not buy -- is dumped in the dust. So the contest is now indeed, all about money. Too bad for us.
+18 # indian weaver 2012-07-14 16:51
Not too bad for us, unless we lie down and let them (the congress, obama, biden et. al.) trample our lives and destroy the country. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That is what George Washington, Ben Franklin (read Walter Isaacson's biography of him), Paul Revere, Patrick Henry, John Adams, and all of the courageous colonists and signers of the Declaration of Independence thought and did. And those very "terrorists", those who founded my country, did fight back and win (along with engaging a critical ally in France). They did fight back and win, with casualites, but we already have millions of casualties: homeless, hungry, jobless, unemployed, no medical aid, and more "no" is coming unless... If you are one who is losing their retirement / investments / homes etc., then you know you have less to lose now than a few years ago, and maybe very soon, you'll have nothing left to lose. And when you have nothing left to lose, you have only one option: do whatever it takes to regain freedom. Like George Washington did, and we can do.
+9 # ErnestineBass 2012-07-16 11:34
The "Founding Fathers" you speak of in such glowing terms were, for the most part, wealthy business/land/s lave-owners who 1) objected to paying taxes (to the Crown), and 2) carried out a program of systematic genocide upon the native inhabitants of this country under the guise of "Manifest Destiny".
0 # bigkahuna671 2012-07-22 18:33
I am usually one of the more liberal people out there, but you make me appear to be Attila the Hun. Trying to paint Pres. Obama with the brush of mass murderer because he has determined that our national security is more important than the lives of people whose very existence is dedicated to killing as many Americans as they can is ridiculous. Americans want physical security but grouse and say we've lost our moral compass whenever it requires we go on the offensive. That American converts to Islam have been just as vile in their call to jihad against the West, especially the "Great Satan," American, and it is only a miracle that more innocent American (and foreign) lives have not been lost. Remember the Shoe Bomber and other attempts that have been stopped, not to even think of the countless terrorist attacks that have been stopped and not publicized? I'll take a President who is more worried about saving innocent Americans. You can't have it all, either we take care of our own security, think Tacitus who warned that the best defense is to be prepared to take the offense, or live in fear because we won't know when, where, how, and who is plotting to bomb our trains, buses, government buildings, or hijack our planes and crash them into buildings.
0 # tahoevalleylines 2012-07-14 20:47
Misfortune is growing up in a home that was an OSS "safe house" near the end of WWII and a few years after. Two family friends, home on leave for months at a time, then gone for a few months. Ten years later they revealed to our family they were in France in the spring of 1944 helping French resistance with a couple of nasty Gaulieters we wanted out of the way before our men "attacked" - which turned out to be the June 1944 invasion... Gaulieters were Hitler's hand picked provincial governors, and his direct contact in the occupied countries.

Assassination or execution, or agents killing part of the Nazi machine? This whole collection of letters and comments seems ignorant, even if thoughtfully scripted!

Courage? Who knows what courage is if you are not privy to information that has to be acted upon in a timely way and you are where the buck stops? So you don't like the particular war of this generation? Would oil be at the heart of this conflict. Or is the Islamic distaste for infidels involved too?

If the former, which of the dozens of writers here ready to change lifestyle, that is, go back to the pre-imported oil transportation/ distribution model in America?

How would Obama critics deal with the conflict here; anyone besides the President read George Grant's "The Blood Of The Moon"? You think we should leave Muslim troublemakers alone, then you haven't read Grant's book...
+32 # Jyl 2012-07-14 13:49
Good heavens - I had to take a few naps before managing to plod through this never-ending bit of bombastic blather.
+28 # paulrevere 2012-07-14 15:35
pretty long article for sure...BUT, PLEASE Jyl does 'bombastic blather' fit here?

This piece so perfectly and granularly describes the moral and ethical liberty the big 0 has taken.

I had a bit of heart burn over the author's attempt at saving the integrity of the soulless rationalizers around big 0 when he states "you have asked for their trust as a good and honorable man surrounded by good and honorable men and women"...for I remain flat-footed as to how one can be good and honorable and yet participate in wholesale slaughter, via word and electronics from afar, of bystanders and innocents?

Sickening morals...NO ethics...NO honor...and NO principles is all I can come up with...otherwis e, that rationale must be extended to mass murderers of any sort, who 'had their reasons'.
+44 # John Locke 2012-07-14 16:46
paulrevere: this is the history of America from the landing of Columbus to the beginning of the American empire...
we are a ruthless people! without a moral compas! Our morality is to take what we want and to remain strong so the defenseless will cower before us...We are not the good guys...we are the enemy we see when we look in the mirror!

America's time of greatness is over, and our empire will collapse! as has all empires before us!
+14 # mim 2012-07-14 18:33
@John Locke: If our time of greatness is over, then we must have been great at some time. But if we never had a moral compass, then when were we great?
-6 # John Locke 2012-07-15 08:52
mim: First and second world wars, or do you lack knowledge of history?
+13 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-15 10:51
The U.S. entry into WWII was as clear a necessity as any war ever fought. When a nation is inventing stories to justify its assault against others –– such as Germany was doing –– stopping it is a manifest moral necessity. WWI, on the other hand, was created by bankers to promote their financial empires; nobody was morally clean in that one. The two were quite different.
+3 # thomachuck 2012-07-15 06:41
This is patent foolishness. Were we great during WW II? Ask any Brit who was alive then. Or any Frenchman. Or anyone who was in the steamroller path of Nazism or the Japanese empire. My god, get a clue about the gross oversimplificat ion and pat conclusion you are stating. We've had some bad moments but this war against nationless extremism terrorism is truly different from any wartime situation we have experienced. Bush and Obama both knew that and both have said "you will be hearing from us." Morality, indeed, has to come to grips with necessity.
+4 # John Locke 2012-07-16 18:16
thomachuck: "Morality, indeed, has to come to grips with necessity".

So by your standards necessity or the pretext of Necessity rules, therefore torture is appropriate under your necessity standard?

I disagree either we are a moral people or we are terrorists! Torture is never acceptable to a moral people!
+41 # Stephanie Remington 2012-07-14 17:02
Maybe if you personally knew any of the many innocent victims of drone-delivered bombs, or any of the people who live in constant fear of having more members of their family or community obliterated by them, you would find reading long articles about this lethal policy less onerous.
+23 # Peacedragon 2012-07-14 14:15
Thank you RSN for providing this article about something that has bothered me for some time. On the surface it seems that we have to vote for a murderer or an idiot. I have printed the article and ordered the Woodward book mentioned from my local library. I will be back later if I have anything worthwhile to say.
+12 # indian weaver 2012-07-14 15:32
You already said something that millions of us consider: do I vote for Obama the murderer / torturer / war criminal, or Mitt who is clearly an idiot / loser in the world of real humans. Well, hard to believe one of those 2 mean clowns are supposed to lead my country, ha ha. I'm sitting these presidential voting charades out from now on. I'm concentrating on making a $billion instead, so I can buy my politician. Voting has become passe, rediculous, pointless and a waste of time and energy. Voting was meaningful in the historic days of the democracy. This is why Neil Young composed his timely wonderful blues song "looking for a leader". So are a lot of us, hopelessly it appears.
+8 # John Locke 2012-07-14 17:27
indian weaver: I agree with you, and when you make that billion dollars you will become a republican so you can fight to keep it!
+14 # Interested Observer 2012-07-15 03:48
Don't you mean Mitt Romney, future murderer/tortur er/war criminal. Based on his constituency he will extend the status quo to new depths, and do so ruthlessly, in the style of his current trade, and with enthusiasm. Obama is dealing with things as they are, but not with the enthusiasm of Bush, Cheny, the Bush neo-con cabinet nor the "patriotic vigor" I expect of a president Romney who will appoint a new neo-con cabinet to continue the work.
+8 # futhark 2012-07-15 08:58
So, here I am yesterday sitting in the local Democratic Club meeting, thinking..."Am I really a Democrat?" I was raised a Democrat...Fran klin Roosevelt was the revered as a father and Lyndon Johnson was going to bring the New Deal to its logical conclusion with the Civil Rights Act and the Great Society. My first presidential vote went for George McGovern.

But now I'm a registered Republican, so I could vote for Ron Paul, the most consistent and vociferous critic of the abuse of the American military in service of the MIC and surveillance state apparatus. However, my recent experience with the American "healthcare" so-called system has made me a strong advocate of the Single Payer plan for universal medical insurance. Dr. Paul opposes "Obamacare". Well, I do, too, as a very weak response to a critical problem.

So, surrounded by people whose cars sport bumper stickers celebrating drone-murderer Barack Obama, it's hard to tell with which group to align. One subject at the meeting was the problem of so many people "declining to state" a party preference. Is it any wonder, when you look at what the parties are offering?
+5 # indian weaver 2012-07-16 12:54
I also re-registered as a Republican for the same reasons as futhark: abuse of military in service of the MIC and surveillance apparatus, as starters. And I support single payer universal healthcare (like all of europe for a half century now). I've given up however and will not vote. I detest the lying cowardly torturer / assassin obama as much as dumdum dubya and his sick sidekick dick the pri..k at this point, and mitt is a joke, so he is perfect for our presidency - same vapid dolt as obama - empty of substance. I give up on this former democracy and expect the inevitable domestic insurgency replete with ieds coming soon to a street near you. This government is creating a big blowback retaliatory backlash as if they have planned it, following a script. At this point, the hundreds of suicide bombers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan make perfect sense, with their having to combat amerika which is ruthlessly and for no good reason (other than making a lot of money off their - not my - b.s wars) attacking their families and homes for years now. This country has self destructed in only a few years, and it becomes more of a fascist terrorist state daily. The amerikan people have no say in how their money is spent, who we attack, and when and where we attack next with our terrorist police state. So, what to do ...?
-1 # mjc 2012-07-17 07:54
I can so relate to your political conflict but it is a bit late to talk about a third choice which might or might not be able to overcome the trend toward military empire and police state that is now quite evident. Began to suspect Obama back in 2008 and left the top of the ticket blank then. Today, Romney means a full-blown conservative take over of this country guaranteeing that we will be more fascist than democratic by 2016. Simply cannot allow him or the Republicans into the presidency and must get the upper hand in the House as well as the Senate. Then we can work on our various Senators and Representatives to fulfil the promises that Obama has broken and begin a withdrawal from empire across the world.
+4 # Majikman 2012-07-15 15:11
The repugs, especially Mittens, thank you for not voting.
0 # DHa7763100 2012-07-15 22:04
So, then it's OK for Bush and Cheney to start an illegal war and slaughter people, but when Obama has to go in and clean up the mess, then he is a murderer.
-1 # John Locke 2012-07-16 18:35
DHa7763100: What mess did Obama go in and clean up? He escalated the War in Afghanistan and wanted to remain in Iraq until we were thrown out!

He has increased drone warfare through out the region! Let at least be honest about Obama even if you feel a need to vote for him!
-2 # gzuckier 2012-07-17 00:03
Quoting John Locke:
DHa7763100: What mess did Obama go in and clean up? He escalated the War in Afghanistan and wanted to remain in Iraq until we were thrown out!

He has increased drone warfare through out the region! Let at least be honest about Obama even if you feel a need to vote for him!

Uh, the last guy killed half a million Iraqis for no particular reason, so I'm thinking the new guy is doing a bit better.
+20 # Smiley 2012-07-14 22:24
I'm so sick of trying to guess the lesser of 2 evils. I will no longer vote for evil. I will vote my conscience (probably Jill Stein). The problem is people who will vote for Romney or Obama.
+1 # Regina 2012-07-15 15:12
+5 # ErnestineBass 2012-07-16 11:44
Do you consider preservation of the status quo an "accomplishment ", Regina?
+4 # John Locke 2012-07-16 18:38
Regina: as I understand your concern you would rather we prostitute our vote for a man we don't believe in rather then vote our conscience? Isn’t that Amoral?
-17 # brux 2012-07-14 15:22
These kinds of articles seem to pander to the anti-war group, i.e.. they polarize the rest of us as pro-war … which at least, I, am not.

You have to compare the arc of history. This world has since technology was invented been awash in injustice, unfairness, violence, hate and war.

Campare what was done in the past to how we fight wars and settle conflicts today - things are much better. To demand or unfairly focus on just one aspect of things does not do the discussion justice.

We Americans, ought to think deeply on military and war. Due to our system we are open to the rest of the world, and we do not take unilateral action to protect ourselves. Our economy is decimated today because of unemployment, corruption, selling off our system for the profit of a few - a game we have played for over 100 years with other countries.

If the US did not have a strong military there is a good chance that we would not be secure and might face problems much worse today, like the Arab Spring. We have a chance to solve our problems democratically with reason. To change our ways without careful thinking and exact alternatives even from something as bad as war is something we need to really think about it.

We are making progress and with discussion, reason and experiment, the ability to try new things, maybe we can do better without making drastic changes or putting our security at risk.
+54 # John Locke 2012-07-14 16:49
brux: "we do not take unilateral action to protect ourselves"

Please define our presense in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea and Vietnam! these were unilateral actions against countries that did not invade the US!
+7 # brux 2012-07-14 19:24
My point is that we do not protect ourselves as a "people", the government exists to cater to demands from individual power centers, and those power centers have become global and very powerful in and out of nation states.

the US military right now is the largest assett that the US owns and is the most impressive in the world. we have thrown away most of our other assetts through kneejerk reactions the really important thing is to understand the military and who influences and controls it.
+5 # John Locke 2012-07-15 08:55
brux: I don't look at a military as an asset, I look at intelligence as an asset, the military is reactionary...i t is not a thinking arm of government!
-6 # DHa7763100 2012-07-15 22:47
YOu don't think that having the best military in the world as an asset??? Our MIGHT helps other contries feel a little safer, because they know we will have their backs. You don't think our military is a deterent to those who would try to attack us?
You might change your mind if you were blown-up due to an invasion. Oh, but wait,you would be dead, so you couldn't change you mind.
+5 # John Locke 2012-07-16 09:07
DHa7763100: We have an overkill military; we have the largest budget in the world and are incapable of winning a war! Other countries do not feel safer because of our Military power, they feel threatened by our aggressive tendencies...

We are no deterrent, wars and civil disobedience abounds worldwide because of us...we have supported every renegade government in the world...Our armed forces don't protect us from invasion, they are to bogged down fighting wars for natural resources and again with all our technology and man power we still can't win a war...Think Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Korea for a small example! So please tell me what deterrent we are? And how the world is safer due to us?
+5 # Artemis 2012-07-16 09:12
This is a delusion. Other countries do not feel safer, they feel more endangered through US policies and alliances. The Afghanis not only feel less safe, it has been clearly proven that they are less safe. And what is all this stuff about invasion? Seems to me the USA has been doing the invading, not always militarily, but in many other ways too. Or assisting the invasions by backing people we should not be associated with.
+2 # DHa7763100 2012-07-15 22:39
YOu have a point.
0 # eflaspo 2012-07-14 15:28
I fail to see what the problem is: Obama inherits two wars, one illegal, from his predecessor, ends the illegal one, and is doing his darnedest to both minimize collateral damage to civilians as well a shut down the other one. Sounds like he is doing a good job, to me. Or are you just one of those liberals for whom Obama is not "liberal" enough.
+27 # John Locke 2012-07-14 16:58
eflaspo: If he is as you say winding down the wars...Please explain his drone warfare escalation in Pakistan, Yemen, and In Somalia, to name a quick couple of countries!
+20 # eflaspo 2012-07-14 18:49
For all his vaunted powers as Commander in Chief, Obama, or any US president, is not a king. So he must work within the system, which is, as you must know, broken. Meanwhile, we are having an election campaign between a pathological liar, Mitt Romney, and Obama. I am going with Obama on this one.
+16 # eflaspo 2012-07-14 19:22
In the run-up to the war in Iraq, neoconservative hawks in and out of the Bush administration promised that the U.S. invasion would quickly transform that country into a strong ally, a model Arab democracy and a major oil producer that would lower world prices, even while paying for its own reconstruction.

Ten bloody and grueling years later, Iraq is finally emerging from its ruins and establishing itself as a geopolitical player in the Middle East -- but not the way the neocons envisioned.

Though technically a democracy, Iraq's floundering government has degenerated into a tottering quasi-dictators hip. The costs of the war (more than $800 billion) and reconstruction (more than $50 billion) have been staggeringly high. And while Iraq is finally producing oil at pre-war levels, it is trying its best to drive oil prices as high as possible.

Most disturbing to many American foreign policy experts, however, is Iraq's extremely close relationship with Iran. Today, the country that was formerly Iran's deadliest rival is its strongest ally.
+12 # Glen 2012-07-15 07:24
Have you been to Iraq eflaspo? When you say "Iraq is finally emerging from its ruins" you are describing the results of the American attacks on the country and the overzealous kill factor. Try explaining that rise from the ashes to the thousands of orphans, homeless, maimed, and those being born with birth defects.

That is exactly what the neo-cons were shooting for right from their beginnings, and that agenda remains today. The monetary price paid is far too much for American citizens but not nearly enough for Iraqi citizens.
+31 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-14 17:55
Another way of looking at it is this: he 'inherited' two wars, both of them in violation of international law. Afghanistan did not attack us. He greatly expanded that war, escalated the war into Pakistan and other states, dropped special ops troops into a dozen African nations, overthrew Libya and lied about the reasons and our use of mercenaries which caused the 'uprising', expanded the 'anti-drug' war in Honduras after acceding to the military coup there... in short, he's greatly expanded America's military presence almost everywhere. Not 'liberal' enough? Are you joking? His undermining of the constitution is worse than anything Nixon ever did. Stop giving him a pass because he's a Democrat. "Doing his darndest to...minimize damage to civilians"? Really? Then how come we target funeral processions and rescue operations, both of these documented by U.N. observers. What he is doing is obscene and it is causing people around the world to hate us. Do you really 'fail to see what the problem is'? Try paying closer attention.
+12 # eflaspo 2012-07-14 19:02
So what's your option, Neocons again?
+5 # John Locke 2012-07-15 09:00
eflaspo: Someone who is not simply the lesser of the two evils!!!

Isn't it about time we had someone in office who had a real interest in us?
-2 # DHa7763100 2012-07-15 22:48
Like who? Got any ideas?
-2 # Feral Dogz 2012-07-17 10:25
Quoting John Locke:
eflaspo: Someone who is not simply the lesser of the two evils!!!

Isn't it about time we had someone in office who had a real interest in us?

Please, name the person you think should replace the President!
-2 # DHa7763100 2012-07-15 22:10
Have you been to Iraq. If so, then did you go as a soldier?
-1 # DHa7763100 2012-07-15 22:37
People around the world DO NOT hate us, except for the dictators. Do you know any people from around the world? Do you talk to those people? Most think we are the greatest country on the planet, but they are wondering why so much bulls**t is being spat out by the politicians. We have become more of a laughing stock than anything else because of all the infighting. And some also add..."how do you expect the rest of the world to get along, when you can't even get along with yourselves."
Oh, to add...I believe it's the Republicans who hold the card on "undermining the constitution."
+4 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-16 09:32
You are deluded. America was once an admired country; we are now feared and hated because of our thirst for resources, territory and blood. The only people who think 'we' are the 'greatest country on the planet' are Americans so brainwashed by the whores in the mass media that they think military might is equivalent to 'greatness.'

We more and more act like imperial Rome. We are fast on our way to the same ugly fate.
+1 # mjc 2012-07-16 14:07
elfaspo...he ain't a liberal by any definition escept the definitions written by the Republican. You do remember his "surge" ofsome 30,000 + troops?
-14 # MarjG 2012-07-14 15:58
As the person with responsibility to fight terrorism by individuals often protected by foreign governments, and not countries at war with us, how does Obama best minimize that danger? Send our troops in harms way to become maimed, be killed, or kill countries of unintended victims? Do we send a signal it's okay to hide the terrorists?
+40 # John Locke 2012-07-14 17:07
MarjG: Do you have any idea what Terrorism is? It is not an enemy it is an ideology of people without a standing army...The way to deal with this ideology is to change the landscape, war and killing will never end terrorism, it will Embolden it because for every terrorist killed 10 more will take their place...they become martyrs for their cause...We are not involved in a war against terrorism, we are engaged in a war to eliminate our rights as a free people! Using the ploy of terrorism to accomplish it!

If we stopped taking what we want from other countries and made sure they had a real government, the world would feel differently about the US

WE should stop supporting dictatorships that make these people hate us! Which is what we do routinely?
+15 # banichi 2012-07-15 10:33
John Locke, you are right on...but if you look at who has been the 'rulers' of our country through our history, and the elite and wealthy class they come from, you can understand the evolution of the reality that has resulted in the support of dictatorships that, as you say, make people hate us. Which they do, for good reasons.

What Americans have to give up, what they (we) have clung to, increasingly desperately over time, is the illusion that we are the 'good guys' who act with honor and out of moral strength and righteousness for a good cause, because we represent the best of democracy. Hogwash! Reality and history say differently. Too many examples for detail here, but consider the case of the Japanese-Americ ans in WWII for just one, or the use of multibillion$ 'loans' to developing countries to get access to their resources, most notably oil?

No, as a nation, we are not the good guys we see ourselves as. But that illusion has allowed the elite who run us to lead us around by our noses while failing to see the evil - yes, evil - that we have done as a country and a people. In our name and to our shame.

If you want to be a patriot, consider the Occupy movement as a whole. Not the President, not the politicians, not the corporate-owned media. Think for yourself. As John Locke obviously does.
-2 # DHa7763100 2012-07-15 22:54
Do you know what TERRORISM is...evidently not. It's "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion"
+2 # John Locke 2012-07-16 09:14
DHa7763100 Then please explain how this ideology can be an enemy to be dealt with by an army?
+4 # John Locke 2012-07-16 09:18
DHa7763100: Think...19 of the 9-11 highjackers were Saudi Arabian Nationals...Sho uld we have attacked Saudi Arabia over these 19 terrorists?

But we did attack Afghanistan whose only posture was to allegedly refuse to turn Bin Ladin over to us...However when you research the truth, The Taliban government had agreed to turn Bin Ladin over to the US, they only asked for evidence he was involved, and the US could not provide the evidence!!!
+3 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-16 09:37
We can't attack Saudi Arabia, ever. If Saudi Arabia stopped agreeing to take dollars for oil, the U.S. stock market –– and the U.S. economy –– would collapse.
+3 # John Locke 2012-07-16 09:58
Richard Raznikov: Richard, agreed, so Afghanistan became a better target and after all the Unocal Pipeline was really a necessity! as was the IRAQ oil...
+6 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-16 09:36
Okay, and you think that blowing up people with 'shock and awe' and killing entire cities such as Fallujah is gentle persuasion? It is, sadly, the U.S. which is, as Martin Luther King, Jr., said (April 4, 1967) "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world."

WE are by far the most terrorist state. And we are hated for it.
-3 # DHa7763100 2012-07-15 22:15
I agree. At least with drones our boys are not being killed. And with Obama singleing out the individuals who are the cause of most of the problem, instead of bombing a whole town, he is keeping the whole town and our troops from being slaughtered.
+31 # omomma 2012-07-14 16:02
Henh? Your third sentence says you have no idea what you're talking about: "But no president has ever waged war by killing enemies one by one, targeting them individually for execution, wherever they are."

Tell that to the Allendes and the Castros and the Noriegas, et al. Hell, go all the way back to the 19th century and Nicaragua and Mexico. Get some history first on who set what precedent and when and where.
+31 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-14 18:01
First, the three leaders you name have virtually nothing in common with one another except that the U.S. hated them. Allende was democratically elected but U.S. corporations wanted him out. The U.S. then sponsored the coup which resulted in the massacre of thousands of innocent people under the Pinochet regime. Castro did not sent killers to the U.S. to kill Americans but we sent them to try to kill him. Noriega was a buddy of Bush the elder and we had no problem with him when he ran cocaine deals. It was only when he thought he could stand independently that we went after him. None of those people sent troops to other countries to kill people; only the U.S. does that. Only the U.S. wages war against other nations who have done nothing to harm us.
+4 # paulrevere 2012-07-14 19:09
You two are in complete agreement...
-5 # DHa7763100 2012-07-15 23:00
How do you know Castro did not send killers to the U.S.?
+11 # Smiley 2012-07-14 22:21
Allende? Are you kidding? He and thousands of others who weren't fascists and not not afraid to say so were the targets!!
+17 # Montague 2012-07-14 16:05
Sad to see that apart from peacedragon, the only posters so far get a negative vote for not taking Obama's side and the other positive votes for thinking such a serious matter is too boring to read about. Peacedragon is right: a murderer or an idiot for President.
+6 # John Locke 2012-07-15 09:04
Montague: Yes it boils down to who the people will prefer, a murderer or an idiot for President...gre at choices right?
-1 # DHa7763100 2012-07-15 23:02
Well that's all we have. It's that way with most elections.
+2 # John Locke 2012-07-16 09:20
DHa7763100 Then its time to change...

you surely must know what the definition for doing the same thing over and over is ... maybe we should try something different, like supporting a third party candidate
+11 # Loupbouc 2012-07-14 16:07
Tom Junod's article tenders sound criticism of perhaps the most evil of our Presidents. Still, his criticism is much insufficient; and I fear some readers may misperceive his sarcasms as being serious propositions respecting Obama's character & behavior.

But my most vital concern is that Junod's article seems to treat warfare-killing as if honorable despite the warfare (our Afghan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya warfare) is patently ILLEGAL and motivated just by greed (wealth-greed & power-greed) and narcissism. One can read the article as premised on the notion that Obama does wrong by killing individuals (even if many, seriatim or collaterally) but not by waging illegal wars with uniformed personnel and military equipment.

The legal and moral truth is: Like Johnson & Nixon & the first Bush & the second Bush & Clinton, Obama is a mass murderer & also guilty of mass criminal and criminal maimings & mass criminal dislocations & other mass crimes both because he prosecutes traditional but ILLEGAL wars and because he targets individuals not proven guilty of capital offenses.
+2 # Loupbouc 2012-07-14 17:06
Correction of my third paragraph:

The legal and moral truth is: Like Johnson & Nixon & the first Bush & the second Bush & Clinton, Obama is a mass murderer & also guilty of mass criminal maimings & mass criminal dislocations & other mass crimes both because he prosecutes traditional but ILLEGAL wars and because he targets individuals not proven guilty of capital offenses.
+28 # Sophie 2012-07-14 18:22
Whatever you may think is the truth, Obama is not "perhaps the most evil of our Presidents."
I still give that dubious award to Bush #1, and Bush #2.
And, considering the fact that it is between Obama and Romney (VP unknown at this time), I'm willing to support Obama for only one reason: that he is at the moment supportive of the reproductive rights of women--there is no Repug on earth I will vote for--sham or not.

Allowing Romney to become POTUS means that MORE will suffer. What do you think Romney will do--he's not going to change anything Obama has already implemented, and he will decisively continue to benefit only the wealthiest of Americans.

A revolution must happen for any REAL change.
+21 # doneasley 2012-07-14 21:39
Quoting Sophie:
... Obama is not "perhaps the most evil of our Presidents." I still give that dubious award to Bush #1, and Bush #2... I'm willing to support Obama... there is no Repug on earth I will vote for... Allowing Romney to become POTUS means that MORE will suffer... Romney will... benefit only the wealthiest of Americans.

You're so right, Sophie. The Bush/Cheney administration was the most lethal combination in my recollection. Cheney the Instigator and Bush the Initiator (the "Decider"). In fact, Cheney initiated some covert activities that Bush didn't know about. Neither will go on foreign soil for fear of being arrested for war crimes. Their whole lying buildup, invasion, and occupation of Iraq caused:
o the lives of 5000 or more American and allied troops;
o the wounding of tens of thousands more American and allied troops;
o the deaths and wounding of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis;
o more than 4.5 million Iraqi refugees - 2.5 million outside Iraq;
o destruction of billions in Iraqi infrastructure;
o at least $2 trillion in US taxpayer funds expended on a contrived invasion/occupa tion (not a "war"), using private security, oil field and support services mainly supplied by no-bid contracts to the Halliburton Corp. - a company from which Cheney was still drawing a yearly stipend of $1 million or more after taking office.

There is no doubt a Romney presidency would continue the rape of America.
+8 # John Locke 2012-07-15 09:06
doneasley: "There is no doubt a Romney presidency would continue the rape of America"

Maybe just a little faster then Obama!
-1 # DHa7763100 2012-07-15 23:15
Especially considering that Romney has surrounded himself with ex-Bush people. A Very intelligent move on his part, don't you think?
+4 # John Locke 2012-07-16 09:22
DHa7763100: Are you aware that Obama has done the same thing! All his advisors were in the Bush administration!
+2 # John Locke 2012-07-16 19:01
Sophie: THe sad part of your comment is that you have to choose a person who will allow you the rights you have simply by birth... and that No man should have a right to deny you!!!!!!
-6 # DHa7763100 2012-07-15 23:11
Obama "targets individuals not proven guilty of capital offenses?" Not proven guilty? Well if they didn't do it , then who did?. . You seem to have all the answers.
I guess it was just our immagination that these people were slaughtering their own?
+4 # John Locke 2012-07-16 09:30
DHa7763100: We have a system of Justice in America where the accused has a presumption of innocence until proven guilty by a jury of his peers...and with the presentation of evidence and the right to defend against the accusations...

Do you think that is inconvenient!

No man has a right to be the judge, jury and executioner under a democracy! When a man such as Obama makes the decision to kill anyone, and especially an American Citizen,,, He has become a dictator and the Republic is lost!

If Obama can order any American murdered without a trial, he can even order your death, if he feels you are a threat, no matter what you may or may not have done!!!How would you establish your innocense after you were murdered?

Give some thought to this my friend!
+10 # opieee 2012-07-14 16:07
It is nice to be able to sit back and moralize. In fact it is a real luxury. None of these moralists seem to be able to add and subtract though.

As unpleasant as it is, killing a few innocents in order to prevent the killing of thousands seems to be part of the economics. It is the reality that terrorists are engaged in the killing of innocents. Innocents are their PRIMARY targets in fact.

Perhaps the armchair moralists have a solution for this conundrum instead of sitting comfortably back grousing while others bear their moral burdens for them?

This ain't Tiddlywinks being played here and I actually feel sorrow for those having to face these kind of decisions.
+16 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-14 18:06
With all due respect, opieee, you don't know what you're talking about. What 'terrorists' are you referring to? Whom are they 'targeting'? The pathetic excuse that we kill others in order to prevent worse killings has no basis in fact.

"Armchair moralists"? What does that mean? People who think? Is that what troubles you? Who exactly is bearing my moral burden, those who kill and main in my name? The people who excuse their savagery by pretending it is necessary?

Obama's policies are shameful. Targeted killings are murders, regardless of the rhetoric they're wrapped in.
-5 # jancc 2012-07-14 19:19
Aren't bunker busters targeted killing? What about surgical strikes? It is easy for us to declare the president a murder for doing what we elected him to do. Prevent further attacks on America.
+9 # Stephanie Remington 2012-07-15 07:22
Quoting jancc:
Aren't bunker busters targeted killing? What about surgical strikes? It is easy for us to declare the president a murder for doing what we elected him to do. Prevent further attacks on America.

A bunker buster is a bomb designed to penetrate deep into the Earth, splitting the ground. Explosions of these bombs look like volcanic eruptions and can disfigure a very large radius of earth from the point of impact. Do you honestly believe that a weapon like that might be used to hit, say, a dart board target?

The term surgical strike is a logical absurdity used to convince gullible people that bombs are as precise as scalpels and that killing more than one person, or killing the wrong person, is as impossible as a surgeon harming innocent victims while performing surgery on his intended patient.

Are you claiming that you voted for Obama, not because you wanted him to fix the economy, the health care system, education, the environment, government corruption, etc. … but because you wanted him “to prevent further attacks on America”?
+10 # Glen 2012-07-15 08:53
jancc, we did not "elect" Obama to expand war and killing. Preventive maintenance on U.S. soil is one thing. Purposely attacking and assassinating is another. Certainly, there was a time when all that was covert and the U.S. didn't really stand tall morally, but it was never on the level it is now, and it is done with an attitude of justification that is murderous and in your face.

Obama is carrying out the agenda set decades ago. That is THE biggest disappointment for most folks, that he really isn't weak or dumb, he knew exactly what he would be doing when he got into office.
+14 # Stephanie Remington 2012-07-15 06:04
Quoting opieee:

As unpleasant as it is, killing a few innocents in order to prevent the killing of thousands seems to be part of the economics.

The lack of morality reflected in that sentence is repugnant.

Would you call it "unpleasant" if your family members were killed by a drone targeting "homegrown terrorists" thought to be hiding in your neighborhood? If not, then shame on you for articulating that thought. Your lack of knowledge or concern about the thousands of innocents killed by Obama's drones has no bearing on the actual value of their lives.

Since we have killed substantially more civilians in response to 911 than were killed on that horrible day, using your ‘logic’ it is completely acceptable for the countries with civilian deaths to target American civilians in response. Is that what you advocate? Global, revenge-based lawlessness? Or do you believe that “the economics” of killing-to-supp osedly-prevent- killing is the exclusive purview of countries with powerful militaries?
-21 # amber2opal 2012-07-14 16:31
Amen, Jyl. The last thing I want to read on RSN (or anywhere) is that our president is a murderer. Not so. Anwar al-Awlaki was a murderous, treasonous SOB whose citizenship was less meaningful to him by far than it is to Junod. The penalty for treason is death--even for American citizens. And there are consequences for placing your family in harm's way.
My president is a hero.
+19 # John Locke 2012-07-14 17:11
amber2opal: Reminds me of the nazi country right or wrong!

I disagree with you, but then I am not in favor of wars and killing...
-15 # 2012-07-14 16:36
Was 911 not mass murder? We are not facing a traditional uniformed armed force. We are facing individual cells of people willing to blow themselves up to kill people at weddings and funerals. Should we carpet bomb Pakistan like Laos? Would that make it morally acceptable? This nation is under a Fatwah to kill Americans; civilian and military. How do you propose we respond to that threat? If you encounter a rattlesnake, you cut off its head. That is the position we find ourselves in today and since 911.
+24 # Stephanie Remington 2012-07-14 17:32
Mass murder is a criminal act that, prior to 911, was prosecuted in the legal system, not by waging war. How is it just to slaughter many more innocent civilians in the pursuit of terrorists? How can it even be considered rational when repeatedly killing innocent people engenders more anger at the U.S. and more terrorism?
+36 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-14 18:13
You don't understand either 9-11 or the actual reality of 'terrorism.' You are responding to imaginary threats created to scare you into surrendering your constitutional rights. Are there really secret cells everywhere determined to destroy us? Says who? Based on what? A dozen guys armed with boxcutters and you're surrendering our country's history, traditions, moral character, liberties, and domestic peace? What cowards.

You assert that Pakistan is 'under a Fatwah to kill Americans'. And you learned of this how? From what source? I propose that those who are trying to scare you ought to quit throwing ignorant and dangerous charges around without proof.

Americans used to be braver than this. How shameful that we would give up our freedom and our integrity in the face of vague, unsubstantiated claims made by crazy and/or deluded politicians and media hacks.
-9 # db4635 2012-07-14 16:38
I don't know where to begin.

1 - This crap was written by an idealist with the mentality of a 21 yr old. Whoever HE is, he is ignorant of the facts about world terrorism unknown to the general public and ignorant of how to protect lives and democracy in this day and time.

2 - I am very disapponted that RSN would print this trite and will stop my monthly donation, however insignificant it may be.

3 - This is the kind of crap that will influence likely Obama voters to not vote. Then what will we have? Something as bad or worse than 8 years of George Bush and Dick Cheney who led us into two wars resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents.

4 - Grow up!
+18 # Stephanie Remington 2012-07-14 17:26
Quoting db4635:
I don't know where to begin.

3 - This is the kind of crap that will influence likely Obama voters to not vote.

Obama's policies, not people's opinions about them, influence people not to vote for him.
-6 # db4635 2012-07-15 08:28
3 - This is the kind of crap that will influence likely Obama voters to not vote.

Obama's policies, not people's opinions about them, influence people not to vote for him.

Unfortunately too many people are not learning Obama's policies, but are buying into the right and left wing distortions of his policies by lying politicians,rad io hacks, talking heads, and preachers.

There are only two choices on who will run this country for the next four years - Obama or Romney. A vote for anyone but Obama gives that opportunity to Romney. Just like voting for Nader gave the country to Bush.
+13 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-15 11:05
A vote for Nader did NOT 'give the country to Bush.' Bush won because the vote was suppressed in Ohio and stolen in Florida. Bush won because the Supreme Court, two of whose members were actually working for or had relatives working for Bush, refused to recuse themselves. Bush won also because Gore ran a bad campaign. Every actual analysis of the Nader vote shows that had he not run those votes would NOT have won any electoral votes for Gore. The Nader-did-it excuse is a way for some people to evade responsibility and avoid acknowledging what really happened.

I agree that one of two people will be elected in 2012. If you want to select 'the lesser of two evils,' then do so. I, for one, am done voting for evil in any form.
+3 # John Locke 2012-07-16 09:45
Richard Raznikov and Stephanie Remington...

Thank you both for your intelligent insight!
+2 # indian weaver 2012-07-16 13:05
Yep, me too. both obama and romney are horrible sub humans, and i don't say animals because they are not as good as any animal, or plant - all of which contribute to the planet, and do not harm it like obama et. al. are doing. I am done voting for these human evils who say they can be my leader, same as raznikov. it's over, so what's next ...
+3 # John Locke 2012-07-16 19:05
indian weaver: There are many who feel as you do, and you are absolutely right, I have said before and I will add it again here...I will not vote for either Romney or Obama, I prefer to have my rights and human dignity and neither of these bought and paid for candidates have what I want or need in a president!
+12 # Monty 2012-07-14 16:42
Jesus Tom, are you working for that tool Romney?
Do you think that GWB did a good job?
Do you want Republicans to regain the office of President of the United States?
I'm having a hard time seeing what you hope to accomplish.
+24 # stevejbons 2012-07-14 16:42
Hey Tom, wise up! Please don't fall into the trap of false equivalency which, of course is the speciality of right wing media and the fools who support the GOP. Let's get real here: Bush and Cheney used trumped up intelligence and knowingly LIED to create an unnecessary war with Iraq that killed over 7,000 U.S. troops and contractors and an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,00+ innocent Iraqi civilians. If you don't realize we ALWAYS have to live with the lesser of two evils you should wake up. If anyone thinks that Romney won't be a far more lethal president (especially given that many of Bush's former advisors will be on his team) then they need to take a gut check.
+4 # John Locke 2012-07-15 09:11
stevejbons: If our choices have always been the lesser of the two evils, that is because both parties have been bought and paid for and that is the only choice they will allow us...a good reason to abandon both controlled parties and form a real party!
-9 # db4635 2012-07-14 16:46
Okay, here is #5. What the hell is this distinction that a terrorist was a US citizen living in a foreign land? Who cares if he intended to kill as many US citizens as he possibly could? Really?
+30 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-14 18:16
INTENDED? Since when is murder acceptable in response to what you or anyone else thinks someone intended? If I think YOU intend to do me harm, does that give me the right to kill you? What sort of world do you live in?
-7 # db4635 2012-07-15 08:35
Quoting Richard Raznikov:
INTENDED? Since when is murder acceptable in response to what you or anyone else thinks someone intended? If I think YOU intend to do me harm, does that give me the right to kill you? What sort of world do you live in?

Well yes, if you live in Florida and 22 states. But you are mincing words. Would "plotting" suit you better than "intended"? How about giving "intended" bombers the weapon? How far along the road to killing masses of Americans do you want to go before the government takes action?
+2 # John Locke 2012-07-16 09:52
db4635: Allow me to step in here... are we a nation of laws or a lawless nation?

A nation of laws allows an accused his day in court... not killing him on suspicion! Would you like anything less?

Bin Ladin could have been captured and brought back to the US for trial where he could have proven his innocence...Why was he murdered? Could it be that he was not responsible and was made a fall guy like Lee Harvey Oswald?

Doesn’t it make better sense to allow an accused his day in court and even then we make mistakes! Imagine the mistakes that are subject to unilateral murder?
as these authorized killings are!
+2 # indian weaver 2012-07-16 13:12
Exactly. obama taking out bin laden is not "bringing him to justice", as every corporate media outlet portrayed it, as well as TIME magazine. obama simply sunk to bin laden's evil level as an assassin. Bringing someone to justice means trying a person in a court of justice, not taking justice into your own hands. that is called revenge and retaliation, action outside the Rule of Law. Obama and amerika would have learned a lot from bin laden on trial, as john locke notes. lee harvey oswald was obviously a paid off assassin by our government. why else would they have set up oswald's assassination at the entrance to the jail, a no brainer for millions of americans who think for themselves instead of thinking as they are told.
+1 # John Locke 2012-07-16 18:30
indian weaver: Oswald was a patsy, whether he was involved will never be known...but we do know the CIA was involved and George HW Bush was right there standing in front of the book depositary! There are actual photos supporting this!

Whether Bin Ladin was really involved also will never be known due to the cover up of Obama by the assassination of Bin Ladin,

This begs the real question...What is the US afraid of if Bin Ladin had a trial and the truth came out?

There was NO reason to kill an unarmed man!!!!!
+15 # cordleycoit 2012-07-14 17:17
Murderer are a danger be they President or Imam. They must account for each crime be they W. Bush or Obama. Each will have their time in the glass box of history. Hurting people is wrong torture them is a crime and waging war on individuals is murder. Those presidents are caught in the wheel of crime and they will be tried over and over like the tyrants of old. They are our bad examples.
+23 # walt 2012-07-14 17:20
I continue to be shocked at Obama's ease with killing and violence and have registered my concerns with him and the DNC. I think this is a huge part of the dissatisfaction with him among many voters, especially the young ones who won him the White House in 2008. Much of that dissatisfaction began with the surge in Afghanistan in 2009 and continues today with the drone attacks. Many of us expected better.

The USA has again chosen the low ground. When we are victims of the same or similar attacks, what can we say?

If an international tribunal cites Obama for war crimes, it will be very hard to defend his actions. But sadly, Americans seem not to care or we would have demanded an investigation into the illegal Iraq invasion.
+18 # eflaspo 2012-07-14 19:14
The voting public does not care about this subject. They do not see it on the news. In fact, they do not see it at all. The main problem the average American voter faces is either lack of a job, how to retire since their life saving has been wiped out or where to live now that their house has been foreclosed on.
-3 # jancc 2012-07-14 19:29
He explicitly said he would escalate in Afghanistan before he took office. I'm sorry people, but you all seem to forget that war creates jobs and fighting to end wars in congress is a nonstarter because you have people representing districts with military bases and manufacturing. No president can stop this military industrial complex ball from rolling on down the road. Not even Ron Paul. At least the president is trying to do this by minimizing cost and loss of life on our end. As for the subject of this article, he could have as easily been killed on the battlefield during a big war where thousand of other people died too.
+7 # Stephanie Remington 2012-07-14 23:43
Quoting jancc:
I'm sorry people, but you all seem to forget that war creates jobs and fighting to end wars in congress is a nonstarter because you have people representing districts with military bases and manufacturing.

That must be why our economy is so strong and we have such low unemployment compared to before we were in all these wars.
-2 # ganymede 2012-07-14 17:46
I'm reading this and thinking what a murdering crud Obama is, and then I think of George Bush who destroyed a country and killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's, mostly civilians, in a totally unjustified war, and then I think of Obama again. Life is complex. Obama is a truly compassionate individual who is seriously trying to make things better, and our country safer. It looks like he will win big this November because Romney and all the Teapublicans are, at best, ignorant and misinformed, and, at worse, greedy,warmonge ring cretins who mean this country no good. The public is tiring of these people who have nothing positive to offer America. Life is complex and the choices we make are important. Hopefully, some of you concerned left leaning readers will think over and ameliorate your condemnation of Obama.
over the Drone issue.
+10 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-14 23:30
ganymede, I agree with you about Romney and his ilk. I wish I also agreed with you that the drone issue is the biggest problem with Obama but I do not. Add to that his widespread assault on civil liberties, expanded spying on Americans, limitations on free speech, the NDAA legislation, Guantanamo, the jailing of Bradley Manning, the foreign adventures crippling other legitimate governments, the special ops all over Africa, the push for new nuclear facilities in the face of Fukushima, the coddling of the banking crooks, the special deals with Monsanto, Duke Energy, Goldman Sachs... it's not that the drone attacks on wedding parties and funerals are an aberration but that his policies across the board are deeply flawed. I don't agree that he is a 'compassionate individual,' and I worked for him and voted for him. Not again.
+8 # futhark 2012-07-15 15:14
Wow, Richard Raznikov! You've just listed every reason that the thought of even being around Obama supporters makes me almost physically ill! Barack Obama's campaign is certainly not getting a nickel from me. Better to send the money to those who are really working for peace, justice, and liberty, like Cindy Sheehan!

It looks like we may end up getting a continuation of the kind of political leadership we've had over the past several decades: loyal servants of the MIC and surveillance state apparatus, with only a thin veneer of concessions to programs that would really make American society more secure, just, and equitable.
+18 # Regina 2012-07-14 17:49
Imagine...just think: A whopping lot of this could have been averted if the front shed of the FBI had condescended to listen to a mere female field agent -- she was trying desperately to alert the top dogs to the fantastic fact that there were foreign operatives enrolled in flight school seeking specialized instruction specifically on how to steer planes, never mind takeoff and landing. They could have caught the 9/11 maniacs and nipped their fantastic plot in the bud. We would then have averted two wars, further Al Qaeda machinations, and the killing spree reported here. And we might have had at hand the financial resources to meet our national needs, instead of paying for Dubya's unfunded wars and the mission(s) he never accomplished. And averted the recession that now engulfs us. When foresight fails, the hindsight that follows is very costly, now in lives as well as money.
+17 # Loupbouc 2012-07-14 19:24
You miss reality. 911 was Cheney's ruse.

If 911 had been prevented, Cheney would have invented another "reason" justifying the destroying of our constitution and our becoming a new Rome.

911 was just a criminal act (of the obvious perpetrators & Cheney & his henchmen). It cannot justify our wars or US state terrorism (conducted here, against US citizens and abroad against innocent foreign populations.

Obama uses fear-of-terrori sts (fear of government-inve nted bogeyman) just as Cheney did & just as Romney would — to control blithering Americans to further the interests of big business & big finance & to achieve ever-greater hegemony by exporting war and US state terrorism rather than attain legitimate international economic power by exporting valuable production & valuable ideas.
0 # WASABIMON 2012-07-14 19:26
thank you----he is essentially a what you say and for a writer from this website to spew such vomit makes me question what their understanding of the big picture really amounts to---the man is a very morally convoluted MONSTER
+3 # WASABIMON 2012-07-14 19:27
but if she was listened to then CHENEY and the rest wouldnt have gotten to institute their " NEW WORLD ORDER "
+14 # oakes721 2012-07-14 18:29
From Bush who could barely utter an intelligibly tortured phrase ~ to Obama droning on in complete (death) sentences, the puppet dictators follow one agenda ~ which has nothing to do with the good of the people of any land.
-4 # Michael_K 2012-07-14 18:47
"You are a good man. You are an honorable man. You are both president of the United States and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. You are both the most powerful man in the world and an unimpeachably upstanding citizen. You place a large premium on being beyond reproach."

Someone please fetch me a bucket, I may throw up! Disgusting display of preliminary ass-kissing. Just get straight to the truth. He's a dictatorial, obsessively secretive, murderous thug. Period.
-7 # motamanx 2012-07-14 20:06
He didn't start wars for the money--as Cheney did. The only thing he has done wrong was to follow in the errant footsteps of his lackluster predecessor.
+3 # Michael_K 2012-07-17 10:37
Quoting motamanx:
He didn't start wars for the money--as Cheney did. The only thing he has done wrong was to follow in the errant footsteps of his lackluster predecessor.

Um... worse, he expanded upon almost every evil deed of his predecessors.
0 # 2012-07-14 19:04
I am not a huge fan of Obama, but I ask the various commentators on this board to understand something. For better or worse, one of the most fundamental rights that we grant to our commander in chief is the ability to declare war. In principle, Congress needs to act as a check to this, but in practice, no Congress has ever denied a president this right. War is the act of killing one's enemies. We have been at war so long that few understand that there has been a year since the mid-fifties where we were not actively engaged in war somewhere. War means bombers and missiles, most of which killed indiscriminatel y. Bush II was responsible for upwards of 250,000 deaths in the Iraq war. Most of those deaths were not "targeted", they were the results of aerial bombing campaigns, in many cases on civilian targets.

Obama is using drones, capable of remarkably precise attacks. It is likely that in that last four years, perhaps 200 people have died due to these attacks, most of those in some way with carrying the battle against the US. Not all, certainly, but perhaps 40-50%. People are upset not because of the use of drones, but because drones are increasingly used within US airspace for other tasks. We see the threat, where we don't see the bombers or fighter jets. 250,000 vs 250. Ideally, it should be zero, but perhaps this is a start.
+13 # Loupbouc 2012-07-14 19:28
You wrote:

"For better or worse, one of the most fundamental rights that we grant to our commander in chief is the ability to declare war. In principle, Congress needs to act as a check to this, but in practice, no Congress has ever denied a president this right."

You need to read---READ---A rticles I & II of the US Constitution.
+13 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-14 22:59
Yes -- it's amazing how many people write all this stuff in utter ignorance (including of the constitution), and believe the garbage they hear on TV and from self-serving politicians.

Several thousand people have been killed by drone attacks, the vast majority civilians.

People complain about the lies of Bush, but the lies, in the service of making aggressive war, about Libya, Syria, and Iran are just as bad.
Excess death in Iraq was not, btw, 250,000 but between 1 and 2 million, and a great many were not the result of bombs or direct military attack, but the consequences of making that aggressive war.

People must stop believing what they hear in the corporate and western media if there is to be any way out destroying the species.
+3 # futhark 2012-07-15 15:18
Yes, thank you, Loupbouc.

It's time to restore the republic and start taking the Constitution seriously. Vote our Congresspersons who rubber stamp executive abuse. No president has "the fundamental right" to declare war. In fact, this is specifically prohibited in the Constitution.
+10 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-14 23:38
kurt, I ask you to reacquaint yourself with the constitution. The president does NOT have the 'fundamental right' to declare war. That is reserved to the Congress and for very sound reasons. For a president to usurp it is a very serious crime.

We are especially in danger now because we are told that there is no particular 'national' enemy but a ghostly one which is in many countries; that, therefore, we can kill people wherever and whenever we like. It's impossible to overstate how dangerous this is. We are making enemies of the world while pretending to fight an enemy which we are creating.

The people Obama has killed are closer in number to 3,000, and they are not, regardless of your total guess, 40-50% comprised of people who would "carry the battle" to us... they are not IN any battle. We have invented this so-called battle in order to justify war and to keep the people at home quiet and docile.

So far, I guess it's working, and when you wake up with no freedom left and the constitution in shreds, who will you blame?
+10 # Stephanie Remington 2012-07-15 00:32
In case, Mr. Cagle, you do not take Loupbouc's advice and read articles I and II of the Constitution, here's the bottom line. Congress, not the president, has the authority to declare war.

In practice, congress has allowed presidents to break the law since the 1940s by usurping this right. However, as recently as 2011, congress specifically voted AGAINST authorization of war against Libya. Obama ignored that, as well.

Would you have considered the December 2009 drone attack of Yemen "remarkably precise" if the 21 children killed in it were your relatives? Please do not make wild, unsubstantiated guesses about casualties. The total number you claim is ridiculously low. Nearly that many children were killed by Obama's drones in Pakistan alone (and that's counting only the children who could be identified by name). Most casualties are civilians. Even if you were right about 40-50% of casualties being from actual combatants, it's shocking that you feel that killing “only” 50-60% innocent people could justify the policy.
+1 # 2012-07-15 10:16

Yes, Article I and II specifically give the right of declaring war to Congress. In practice, this has NEVER served as a deterrent for a president to go to war. The War Powers Act placed a limit of three months on the amount of time that a president could engage in a conflict without requiring Congressional approval, and even then, if I remember correctly, what was specifically controlled was the ability to spend additional moneys (Congress's power has always been that of the purse strings).

Having said that, I don't condone what Obama has done. Ideally, we would have been out of Afghanistan by now (ideally, we should have never gone in). We are in there now for geopolitical concerns that in many respects have less to do with Afghanistan and more to do with Pakistan, Russia, Syria and Iran. Are they good reasons? Probably not, from the standpoint of the American people, definitely from the standpoint of the American corporatocracy.

The point that I was making here is only that IF we are in fact going to be engaged in war I would far rather the mechanism for that war be capable of targeting more precisely those we wish killed, rather than the ones we don't. In a better world, every time a missile struck a building there would be someone there recording it, showing the death and destruction, and that it would be shown every night on TV. Support for any war would dry up immediately. THAT is the bigger problem we face now.
0 # Stephanie Remington 2012-07-15 15:05

I appreciate your reading the section and clarifying your position.

However, I completely disagree with trying to evaluate and choose a preferred scenario based on illegal, immoral acts.

I assume you wouldn't say, "well, if they have to engage in armed robbery, I'm glad they're using machine guns rather than dynamite, because more people probably would have died otherwise."

In a better world, missiles wouldn't strike buildings at all. If that sounds utopian and unachievable to you, please consider two things:

1) How utopian and impossible it once seemed to end the official practice of slavery in the US, and
2) How things might be now if those who opposed slavery focused on how things could be even worse for slaves under potentially more grievous circumstances instead of on ending slavery.
+2 # Michael_K 2012-07-17 10:42
Quoting Stephanie Remington:

I appreciate your reading the section and clarifying your position.

However, I completely disagree with trying to evaluate and choose a preferred scenario based on illegal, immoral acts.

I assume you wouldn't say, "well, if they have to engage in armed robbery, I'm glad they're using machine guns rather than dynamite, because more people probably would have died otherwise."

In a better world, missiles wouldn't strike buildings at all. If that sounds utopian and unachievable to you, please consider two things:

1) How utopian and impossible it once seemed to end the official practice of slavery in the US, and
2) How things might be now if those who opposed slavery focused on how things could be even worse for slaves under potentially more grievous circumstances instead of on ending slavery.

Apparently, illegality and immorality are not valid considerations for Obama apologists. Which, ironically, kinda makes them Republicans!
+1 # Michael_K 2012-07-17 10:40
What you say is barely sustainable ONLY if you buy wholesale into every false premise and lie of this administration.

That form of extreme credulity is no way to go through life, son.
+10 # WASABIMON 2012-07-14 19:21
no matter what this article says the more people he kills outside --the more enemies he has inside this country
-5 # seniorcitizen 2012-07-14 19:29
It seems that the author of this article does not understand that the killing of known criminals is like targeting a rampaging animal and desroying it. Would it be best to drop bombs on a whole village of civilians in order to kill one person? It is less harmful to the innocent and more humane to target the one who is the known terrorist. If we could target the known enemy and kill only them, there would be an end to all war as we know it. The mandate of Islam is to kill all infidels who do not believe their way, which is far more murderous and immoral than the deliberate targeting of known combatants. Is it murder to kill one, but war to kill many? Is the author of this article saying that war is better than going after one person whose death might save thousands more. It would be interesting to look back into history and wonder if Hitler, Stalin, or Osama Bin Laden had been a drone target before they could wreak the world with their havoc,what the results would have been. All countries have destructive bombs, even enough to kill all the inhabitants of earth if nuclear weapons are released. The moral issue is not whether to kill with drones, but it is how not to harm those who wish to live in peace.
-5 # mdhome 2012-07-14 21:53
Yes, a damn shame someone did not have the foresight to do a drone attack on Hitler in 1937 oh the emperor of Japan, many millions of lives could have been saved
+4 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-14 23:15
These wars are not the result of a handful of people, but sickness in cultures and crises in historical forces.
+2 # 2012-07-15 10:28
Quoting bluepilgrim:
These wars are not the result of a handful of people, but sickness in cultures and crises in historical forces.

A bit of both, really. The tensions that emerge are definitely historical forces, and to a certain extent there is almost invariably a "Hitler-sized" hole that will get filled by someone. On the other hand, humans are funny. When you kill the leader, the resulting confusion and political infighting that results typically causes that momentum to stall and stands a good chance of ending the conflict.

Of course, most of this is immaterial - as has been posted here. America has always been blind to its psychotic side - indeed, there are many in this country who embrace it. We don't like drones not because they are devastating but because they ARE capable of being reasonably finely targeted, meaning that we are no longer dealing with anonymous people but with people who have names and faces and families. It's much harder to kill someone when you see them as people, not faceless, anonymous numbers.
+12 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-14 23:44
Unfortunately, it is the U.S. which does not wish to 'live in peace.' These wars are being started by us, not by anyone else. You say all countries have bombs... except it's the U.S. which has more nuclear weaponry than the rest of the world combined –– by a factor of 100 times.

You write of "known terrorists" as though such a thing exists. Who says? Who decides? Where is the list? What are the criteria? If we could 'target the enemy...there would be an end to all war as we know it'? What in the world do you use to think with? You think this is a video game? These are people, and they have families and friends, and they do not see themselves as terrorists. They see US as terrorists. Indeed, we are ones who act like it. Kill them and more will rise up, hating America and wanting revenge. You think killing brings peace? It brings only more killing.
+6 # futhark 2012-07-15 15:20
Murdering for peace and justice is like raping for chastity.
+5 # LML 2012-07-14 19:32
And Brutus was an honorable man....
+1 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-14 23:00
Nice to see someone else caught that.
+1 # LML 2012-07-17 22:45
Thank you!!
+12 # motamanx 2012-07-14 20:00
Drones are the weapons of a coward. I am astonished that Obama allows them to be used at all. He should be ashamed.
Sooner (rather than later), the technology of drones will become universal--and there won't be any deniability that we used them first.
+2 # Michael_K 2012-07-17 10:44
Of cowards and liars... The lying is a very important component of its "success". Otherwise, it's terrorism, pure and simple.
+6 # keenon the truth 2012-07-14 20:30
I am forever haunted by the images of Obama and H. Clinton watching the assassination of Bin Laden. I live in Japan, and was constantly called upon to 'explain' by Japanese colleagues.
-4 # opieee 2012-07-14 21:05
In all my 74 years I cannot remember a time when it was unacceptable to put downl rabid dogs.

Please don't bleed all over me while wringing your hands. These targeted folks are self proclaimed terrorists.

Who was it that incited the underwear bomber? Who is it detonates truck bombs at barracks and embassies and Mosques? Do they take a census of those present when they detonate an IUD?

It is only regrettable that we cannot be even more precise than we are being , but that said, we are not willing to kill 50 0f our own countrymen (or theirs) to kill a few of the enemy. They do this at every opportunity.

We are fighting back in the best way possible given the tools we currently have. To not fight these lice is unacceptable.
+12 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-14 23:49
Who incited these people? Double agents, US intelligence, foreign crazies... calling people rabid dogs is a way to justify genocide. Is that what you support? Because that's what we're doing. More than a million dead in Iraq. Were they 'terrorists' or simply people wanting to live their lives in peace?

Who are you calling "self-proclaime d terrorists"? When's the last time ANYONE used that term for themselves?
+15 # Regina 2012-07-15 14:26
Iraq was not a counter-attack for 9/11 -- it was the rabid lie-promoted invasion for control of oil, among other "interests," generated by Cheney and his cohorts and carried out by his stooge-in-chief , Dubya. Our thousands who died there were sacrificed for that unwarranted power play, actually diverted from the reaction to 9/11. In the meantime, the Afghanistan war was pointless -- the 9/11 attackers were Saudis who happened to be operating in Afghanistan -- the Afghani military had not attacked us. It has all been a cascade of insanity, and we're still not out of it.
+1 # Michael_K 2012-07-17 10:48
What you call "rabid dogs" are simply criminals. We've been dealing with them for yonks, with due process and appropriate punishments.

Would you really find it acceptable that, learning that a wanted rapist is hiding in a building, the authorities fire a hellfire missile into it, utterly destroying it along with any other occupants? And without first "establishing" (for real, not just on the say-so of some notoriously inaccurate agency) the guilt of the targeted person?

Wait... don't answer that, I think I know your answer already...
-10 # Alice W 2012-07-14 21:33
why don't you try being president of the United States.
+9 # Stephanie Remington 2012-07-15 15:23
The point is, Obama DID try to become president and, in succeeding, promised – above all else – to protect and defend our Constitution.

Nobody forced him to run for office or to continue Bush’s trashing of the constitution.

What I find appalling – in addition to his tyrannical claims and exercise of power – is how many people feel that it is my duty to support him no matter how badly he betrays his duty to the constitution and to all of us who are supposed to be protected by it.
-4 # Regina 2012-07-15 17:38
No, it isn't our "duty." It's the only realizable alternative to a conspiracy of extremists, fronted by Romney but driven by Rove et al., whose victory would drive us to the end of the USA as we once knew it -- it's already a shadow of what it once was.
+5 # Stephanie Remington 2012-07-16 00:01
We (the voters) decide what is realizable.

Although I'm still in the minority in my support for third parties, that minority is growing all the time.

A friend of mine desperately begs me to vote for Obama and swears that if I don't it will be my fault, personally, if he loses.

I reject that premise entirely – particularly since it means we will always be voting based on fear instead of values.

The two candidates who best reflect my interests and values are Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein. RA didn't make it onto the ballot in California, so I will be voting for JS. If Barack Obama loses it will be because his record in office is so poor that people are willing to believe the BS Romney is spewing.
+2 # Michael_K 2012-07-17 10:50
"I reject that premise entirely – particularly since it means we will always be voting based on fear instead of values. "

I concur wholeheartedly. I can't stand the "you have no choice" Obamabots. It's blatantly self-serving false logic.
+1 # Michael_K 2012-07-17 10:48
Hear, hear!
-1 # carolsj 2012-07-14 22:00
How is a drone strike less moral than a bomber blowing up the countryside, dropping an atom bomb or dumping agent orange to poison the land? The definition of war is killing and destruction. Is killing more moral when it is done in uniform? If you don't believe it is right, then you should not support war of any kind. If you think it is necessary to protect ourselves, then make it as clean and specific as possible. What would have been better--to declare war on Pakistan in order to get Bin Laden, or to do what we did? The President is commander in chief, which means it is his job to make war. Would you rather he teach your children to kill and send them off to fight our enemies, and come back disabled in body and mind, or send in a drone to target a specific problem? I applaud his new interpretation of his duty. He has a new technology to use and is making the best of it. This article tries to make Anwar some kind of victim, when indeed he was being a traitor to the country that nurtured and educated him. And he was obviously not thinking of his son when he did what he did. And as a side note, it is legal to shoot someone because you think they mean you harm, at least in Florida. Just ask Trayvon Martin. We are a trigger happy nation and I don't understand the criticism Obama is getting on this. He is minimizing the killing the best way he can.
+13 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-14 23:54
He is expanding the killing. He is not using drones as a substitute for the rest of it but as an adjunct. Clean? You mean like 'smart bombs'? Please stop buying the propaganda they're selling.

And, by the way, the President's job is NOT making war. With respect to war, he makes decisions but it is the Congress which has the authority and for good reason –– because the framers knew that once a single person got hold of that power he or she would use it for terrible purposes.

You are tired of people 'coming back disabled in body and mind'? So am I. STOP SENDING THEM. Stop making war on everybody who won't play ball with corporate thugs. Stop attacking everyone who won't grant corporations oil and gas deals. That's what all of this is about, you know. It has nothing whatever to do with defending America.
+7 # 2012-07-15 10:32

Sadly, the current Congress will only oppose a war if they feel that it provides a political advantage to Obama. Remember that it was Dems as well as Republicans who voted for the Iraq war, even though anyone with half a brain could see that the evidence was fabricated. Most people in Congress are terrified of being perceived of as being anti-war, because the MIC PTB will make damn sure they don't stay in office.
+2 # Robert B 2012-07-14 22:23
Is that swiftboats I hear? I predicted a long time ago that someone would try to make killing Osama bin Laden a political liability for Obama, and now here it is. His Presidency is "Lethal," it says here. He has been "legally innovative in the cause of killing." This 10,000-word piece of crap can be summed up in just two: "Vote Republican!" No thank you.
+2 # ganymede 2012-07-14 22:24
This was a great article because it got a lot of energy flowing, but it was also very depressing because of the unwillingness of many readers to understand and have a bigger picture of what Obama is about and what he's having to deal with. America is and has been since WWII, the world's biggest warmongering nation. We haven't fought a war since the Korean War that was necessary, and even that one may have been unnecessary.

Obama didn't get the Nobel Peace Prize for nothing - he was recognized as someone who was committed to building peace. Yes, in many ways, he's been a disappointment, but he's going in the right direction. He didn't have anything to do with creating the Middle East mess and the economic crash.

We're either going to have evolution or some type of real revolution. Most rightwingers don't have the mentality to understand they are wrong on nearly every major issue we face. And it isn't a question of moral equivalency - the lesser of two evils, etc. Romney might even be worse than Bush in foreign adventures as he's already aligned himself with the neocons. I think Obama may go down as one of our great presidents as he takes us from the end of a period of turmoil to the birth of a new America. That sounds like something even cynical progressives and liberals's, and maybe even some enlightened rightwingers would want.
+6 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-16 09:53
He got the Nobel Prize for nothing. You think he 'may go down as one of our great presidents if...' Fantasies are nice but everything he's actually done, as cited elsewhere, marks him as one of America's worst presidents. Is he as bad as Bush? I don't know. Would Romney be better? Probably not. But how pathetic is that, comparing Obama to a couple of cretins.
+4 # Michael_K 2012-07-17 10:52
IF the man had any honour at all, he'd organize a big ceremony to transfer his Nobel Peace Prize to an obviously deserving party, like Bradley Manning.
+9 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-14 23:23
So many brainwashed people would rather keep their erroneous beliefs and lose the world, than abandon their beliefs and ignorance and save the world.

So few people (supporting Obama and the atrocities of empire) understand what is really happening I despair for the survival of the species, much less the country.
+3 # unitedwestand 2012-07-14 23:33
Sorry, I just couldn't get through the whole LOOOONNNNG accusatory article. The "you," "you" got to me. With each "you" I wanted a defense response or at least an explanation and I know some attempts are made, some by the posters.

The Bush administration made me really look at the history of this country and centuries of policies that either removed, controlled, or manage adversaries, and so much of it is not very pretty.

I don't like the idea that adversaries are being tried before judicial proof of guilt. I think the disappointment here is that we expected THIS president to have the morality that is other worldly.

Articles like this are good however, so that we can be more aware and maybe try to sway policy a bit, but I will take President Obama's policies to the alternative.

One of the frightening things I remember hearing is that Grover Norquist said to a crowd of RWers: We don't want a President that can think, we just want a President that can sign his name.

President Obama still gets my vote.
+3 # Michael_K 2012-07-17 10:53
After all that, Obama STILL gets your vote? WOW! Cognitive Dissonance indeed!
+4 # Stephanie Remington 2012-07-17 15:30
Quoting unitedwestand:
I think the disappointment here is that we expected THIS president to have the morality that is other worldly.

Whoa! Defending the constitution doesn't require "other worldly" morality.
+15 # SanFraner 2012-07-15 03:50
Everyone seems to believe the official report what what actually happened on 9/11. I, for one, don't believe it. The whole premise of the justification of the erosion of our liberties is based on a lie. I do not believe that airplanes hitting buildings will cause them to disintegrate. i also do not believe that the 3rd building (building #7) just disintegrated on it's own 6 hours later, or that they couldn't find the engines of the planes that supposedly hit the pentagon because they had melted with the heat, yet they found paper passports. Just because the major media outlets (after being properly coached, say something enough times does not make it true. If you expose this lie, the whole premise for all of these killings and the loss of our freedom and privacy is gone.
+7 # RobertMStahl 2012-07-15 18:29
+6 # seeuingoa 2012-07-15 04:23
An idiot or a murderer ?

An idiot is of course out of the question
and a murderer should of course be out of
the question too.

So a good advice to people who intend to
vote for the drone guy: before leaving for the voting box, go out in your bathroom and flush down all the principles you have had about

drones/indefini te detention/ tar sand pipeline/violat ion of 1st amendment/
taxcut for the rich/ oil drilling in
the arctic.... and you probably have
your "favourites" to add.

If you follow this advice it will be
easier to look into the eyes of your
children in a few years time.
+3 # RobertMStahl 2012-07-16 07:08
There has to be a PAPER TRAIL.

A computer copies and does nothing more. How hard a concept of corruption is it to change the copy? It is impossible not to see the Darwinian landscape. The whole notion why Linux works is because the kernal 'understands' this principle. All commands are one variation or another of the COPY command. This is not the EMBODIED MIND in the context of Francisco J. Varela who can tie the digital environment together with the biological, but basics are basics.
+7 # Montague 2012-07-15 04:26
I read where they're working on a medal for those who operate drones from the safety of an office in the USA. LOL! Where's the valor in that?
0 # youcrankypants 2012-07-15 08:15
I don't even know to who to respond to. First, it is never good when someone loses a child,sister/br other, spouse, parent, friend for any reason, but it does happen.

You must know that these types of killings have always been done by most governments. I don't condone them (I am Dove, not Hawk), but if you had to make the choice between 1 death and 1000 deaths, what would YOU do?

Obama is transparent about what he is doing. Do you think the alternative will be?
+5 # RobertMStahl 2012-07-15 18:27
Did you understand that the kid got murdered? It is murder, or is that something you would have done, too? You cannot be dense when it comes to making a distinction about human lives in this context. Murder is murder, and power corrupts, ultimate power corrupting ultimately.
0 # youcrankypants 2012-10-03 00:52
I certainly do understand that the death was murder. I was asking rhetorically: "What would YOU do?" if you were put in the decision seat. There is no good answer here. It is wrong to politicize it, yet unfortunately we must. Ignore it? Can't. Only hope is to speak up, yet also vote...yes VOTE, but do it responsibly...i n this situation, who will do the least damage. We are going to have a President...cho ose wisely. You may not like the choices, but it is your responsibility to choose who you can best work with.
+6 # GREG L 2012-07-15 08:42
This reminds me very much of the government's 1970's era co-intelpro program that's been extended globally. One of the things to keep in mind here is that there are certain to be gradients to the sanctions with targeted killing being at the top. Other lesser things would be deportations, coups, disclosure of embarrassing information (recall that the FBI threatened MLK with this), pitting people and groups against each other and etc. All of these things are being done now in addition to the killing. Basically, none of this is new. It is indeed par for the course and is consistent with how our nation has behaved historically. It's always interesting to me how the democrats and republicans can have knock down drag out fights over minutiae, but absolute silence on something like this. That silence is confirmation that both sides tacitly agree on the issues that really matter and that means it really doesn't matter who wins the election. There's a constancy on certain foreign and domestic policies across administrations and that's evidence of an unelected hand that guides the policies.
-6 # Salty 2012-07-15 10:22
If you were President, you would have to make a choice between targeted assassinations or war. Of course, you aren't President. Clearly, the technology is there to use drones. As long as the technology is there, someone will use it to their advantage. The difference between drones and 9/11 jet planes is not much. One major and somewhat new problem is that drone technology (as well as all military technology) and targeted assassinations may be used by ever smaller groups. It is, in my humble non-Presidentia l opinion, better to kill a few in a targeted group than many. Those who oppose any killing could never be President, but if they were would leave us vulnerable to unanswered attacks. Anyway, this is a tempest in a teapot. It is what it is. The world is ever more dangerous for all of us.
+8 # Artemis 2012-07-15 15:01
Salty is basing his ideas on the wrong premise. It is not that the world is ever more dangerous for all of us, but that America MAKES it more dangerous for all of us and by that I mean, for people all over the world.
And then they create drones and use them on their real or imagined enemies in other peoples' countries (!), which create new enemies for the future. Then they'll create another weapon and another, and yet they can't even spot the enemies when they are real.
I hope more and more foreign governments will inform the US how sick their citizens are of US policies.
Stand up to American imperialism - it's wrong. it's dumb, and it doesn't even work to benefit American citizens.
+1 # Montague 2012-07-15 11:45
I can't get my head round this thing a lot seem to say a la Obama's done eviL stuff but when you compare him to others we must credit him as he's not as bad. Look, we don't say of some murderer who happened to be kind to animals, bravo cos he wasn't John Wayne Gacy! What is this notion of cutting slack to our leaders we wouldn't do for others? If anything we should hold them to a higher ethical standard and to hell with this (im)moral equivocacy.
-4 # acninee 2012-07-15 12:29
I have a question for those who believe that Obama is morally in the wrong.
What do you believe would be the morally correct response to an Al Awkaki or an Osama bin Laden?
+8 # Artemis 2012-07-15 15:03
Don't create them in the first place.
-2 # Floridatexan 2012-07-15 12:35
"...He would be the one who could get to America, by the example of his betrayal. He was still a citizen; he would use his citizenship to engage in treason, and his fluency - what a member of his first mosque in Colorado called his "beautiful tongue" - to inspire those who wanted to follow...


That, Mr. Junod, is the definition of TREASON. At the moment that Mr. Al-Awlaki decided to betray his country, he became an enemy of the United States.

In your article, you cite Mr. Al-Awlaki's influence in the shooting at Ft. Hood. That also, is TREASON.

Just think...if it hadn't been for Bush and Cheney et al and their wars of aggression, mone of this would have been necessary and probably wouldn't have happened. But we are at war, and TREASON is TREASON.
+6 # Artemis 2012-07-15 15:08
"We are at war"-
Strange that everyone keeps saying that. A permanent state of war.
I don't accept that. America is not at war. You don't go to war after an act of terror. And you don't go to war on false pretenses. America just thinks they are at war and therefore they behave like they are. It is all an illusion. Unfortunate for those that America kills and those Americans who are killed.
+2 # Robert B 2012-07-15 12:47
So if Obama sits on his hands and does nothing, he's a "Defeatocrat" who would rather "understand" our enemies and provide counseling and legal representation while singing "Kumbaya." If he takes our enemies on with military power, he's a war criminal, just as bad as Bush and maybe worse. All of this is horseshit, brought to you by people who have never been anywhere near an actual war, peaceniks on the far left and warmongering fascist chickens like Dick Cheney. I was a Marine in the Vietnam War. I'll take the drone program and vote for another four years of Obama, who is a far better Commander in Chief than the wimps and scoundrels we've had since Eisenhower.
-2 # tahoevalleylines 2012-07-15 15:20
Thank You, Mr. Viet Nam vet...

Viet Nam was US entre' to war with oil in the decision making process. Strait of Malacca was too important to risk Red Chinese influence then or in future on a crucial oil route. By 1965 we had fully committed to near 100% reliance on a rubber tire economy and no oil source in the world was too far away to control... Roads were replacing rails as fast as we could pull up track.

Oil is still a big factor, but now Middle East military juggling includes capping the Pakistani nuclear arsenal, and all hands here better believe we are close to a Iran/Pakistan/N orth Korea pre-emption trifecta.

The Islam bomb threatens simply because the mission of Islam is removal of infidels. They hate India because of their pagan worship forms, and maybe someone has noted comments from Egypt about dismantling the Great Pyramids? The show is on a roll, boys & girls...

Peacemakers in America ignore the need to reorient transport to the 1950 methodology with railway a much larger player in the distribution formula. Replicating 1950 rail mileage and reach enables America to step back from the imported oil component currently overarching foreign policy.

See sources scoping issues and outcomes related to Middle East conflicts precipitated by Islamic militant elements. Expect massive casualties for all parties, including US motor fuel rationing.
0 # wfalco 2012-07-15 16:21
An odd article for me to decipher. Assassination is hardly anything new. Obama perhaps is the first to be honest about it since his bloodthirsty citizenry still wants payback for 911.
It seems to be a bit more rational to assassinate individuals such as Bin Laden and his crew rather than conquering whole countries.Under Bush we blew a country to smithereens so the money men could get lucrative contracts in order to rebuild and exploit for its resources(see Iraq.)
Lethal Presidency? Compared to? McKinley? T. Roosevelt? Monroe? Wilson? FDR? Truman?....espe cially Truman!
Eisenhower? JFK? Johnson? Nixon? Bush I?(remember the Chamorro neighborhood in Panama.)

How about the history of our economic hitmen in Latin America, Indonesia, and much of Southeast Asia? But Obama is so terrible? Excuse me for being a bit confused.
+4 # Ed 2012-07-15 16:39
... The Obama administration has taken pains to tell us, over and over again, that they are careful, scrupulous of our laws, and determined to avoid the loss of collateral, innocent lives. They're careful because when it comes to waging war on individuals, the distinction between war and murder becomes a fine one...
Maybe so under US law. For the rest of us, however, there is no distinction: Seamus O'Bama and his henchmen are cowardly cold-blooded murderers. History will record them simply as another bunch of power-crazed Yanks who enjoy killing with impunity.

Oh, and talking of the power-crazy, La Clinton is strutting around the world telling countries such as Syria to stop killing with impunity (because the USA hold the rights). Re-arrange the following words: hypocrite dirty rotten.
+2 # Artemis 2012-07-16 09:05
Yes, one has to gasp at the affrontery of Clinton telling other governments how to behave. But then again, she is part and parcel of the arrogance of "we are the most powerful" nation number. It is all a bit like Star Wars.
+2 # RobertMStahl 2012-07-15 18:18
Really good work. It is laid out excellently, and very apparent that the Darwinian landscape with the advent of the electronic age is really the dominant force. The machine has a Darwinian component that the Big O is about. The medium is the message and it is the sender that is sent said Marshall McLuhan. If one would understand the second grade notion that the missing Indira Singh had left before she came up missing, then we might be able to deal with William Binney's commentary, and much more. These are drug lords running a covert propaganda network. SWAT is owned by the cells it is designed to find and go after. Probably, we are too traumatized to understand what a smart second grader would see clearly.
+4 # John Escher 2012-07-15 20:34
stevejbons is the only person here who comes close to placing deaths of Iraqi civilians at over a million persons. He therefore is the only person in the kite's tail who carries emotional credibility with me since I did my own research on this topic, i.e., I believed the Johns Hopkins/Lancet/ Columbia School of Nursing figures and the Brit Odyssey Group's study over EVERY OTHER SOURCE OF INFORMATION.

Aside from use of pulled punch statistics, however, there are some well argued sentiments here. The upcoming election's choice of "murderer vs. idiot" however is too kind to the murderer, who clearly also is an idiot.

His idiocy first became apparent in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, which chose killing over idealism in a repugnant and unconvincing way, even before he started speaking out later about "taking out" people. A Chicago gangster. Nothing more.

People in this country tend to glorify murder and violence. They're very impressed by it. If someone's violent, they think, "He knows what he's doing."

Do you really believe anyone in any of our recent administrations who says, "We're killing the right people?" That's what a typical soldier says when he's not sure or is very sure that he did kill the wrong person. He'll plant bomb-making equipment right next to the body. Study the Winter Soldiers testimony in Silver Spring, MD on this point. The Winter Soldiers told everything before anybody ever heard of Wikileaks.
-4 # opieee 2012-07-16 08:07
Raznicov et al:

When anybody preaches a mandate to murder his own countrymen, he is a self proclaimed terrorist by that action alone and manifestly guilty. This man made himself a target of opportunity by his own actions.

He was much worse than any rabid dog because the dog has an excuse. We kill the dog because he is a serious and eminent danger to our well being. We do not afford him due process. Prudence and self preservation alone dictate what is necessary.

How much more dangerous is a malevolent human than a rabid dog?

To say that that sort of person is entitled to a trial to adjudge his guilt before we remove his is plainly absurd.

Weather these targeted people are enemy combatants or civilian criminals is totally irrelevant. We have always justifiably killed both. Just recall Bonnie and Clyde , John Dillinger,etc. These people are justifiable targets for the same reason the dog is.

If you don't want to be part of the collateral damage then it would be prudent not to associate with people who have painted targets on themselves.

All a human can do is seek to minimize the cost of existence. On a national level, I think the president is minimizing threats to our national existence the best and most economical way he knows how.
+4 # Richard Raznikov 2012-07-16 10:07
How crazy are you? If I 'don't want to be part of collateral damage', i.e. get killed, then it would be prudent to what, exactly? Not live in a country America is bombing? Not live in a neighborhood where some Obama wants to execute is staying? The biggest threat to "our" national existence is the fact that our resources and policies are in service to corporate clowns and the thieves who rip off the world's resources.
There is no 'war on terror'. You are simply repeating what you've been told.
There is a distinction between being a patriot and buying into whatever claptrap some liar, killer, or birdbrain president is dishing out. The fact that so many don't understand that distinction is the greatest threat to America's survival, not some shadowy 'enemy' invented by the militarists who want to run the planet.
-4 # opieee 2012-07-16 08:16
The topic is the lethal presidency of Barak Obama.

All the cataloging of our past sins and the sins of our fathers and our father's fathers has no place here. Neither does the wearing of sack cloth and ashes or the advocacy of those adornments.

Are these people (whatever label you want to give 'em) existential threats to the nation?

If they are existential threats, are they being dispatched efficiently, and at a minimal cost to others and ourselves?

For me the answer is Yes and yes.
-2 # opieee 2012-07-17 06:58

It is simple English: Being in the company of dangerous and violent people ought to be avoided for you own safety. Or: Shun dangerous and violent people for your own safety.

It ought to be a maxim for anyone with common, ordinary, walking-around sense.

Now why can't seem to grasp it?

My parents taught me that one at about the time I started walking to school "all by myself".
-1 # Feral Dogz 2012-07-17 11:44
Who among those commenting here is willing to give up their comfortable lifestyle and stop consuming the products of an economy based on fossil fuel consumption? Who among us is willing to pay more, a lot more, for American labor to produce what we consume? Who can look in the mirror and say in all honesty, "I am not exploiting my fellow man every day."? We are all guilty of the murders committed in defense of our selfish laziness. To place the blame on a single man is ridiculous and utterly counter-productive.

We have created and perpetuate an empire that demands tribute from the entire planet.

Changing this requires us to change ourselves in fundamental ways which we are not willing to accept. We prefer to argue from polar opposite positions on issues that are raised to distract us from the one salient fact that separates us from one another; human selfishness.

As I see it, conservatism, as the political right likes to mislabel itself, epitomizes the problem. Neo-liberalism has no apparent differenses. Libertarianism is anarchy and chaos.

The Progressive political movement, which promotes a fair distribution of the planet's resources (socialism?) looks for solutions.
-2 # Feral Dogz 2012-07-17 12:04
The choice we have in November is not so much which kind of president we want as which kind of Supreme Court we want far into the future.

This is what we will (or won't) be voting for!

If you feel Obama is a murderer, and choose not to vote, or to cast a protest vote, you have served the cause of selfishness and helped conservatives to prevail. There is no President in our history who has not sent Americans into battle to murder and die in our names.

If you live in the real world, you must choose from the real choices. Politics is all shades of gray, never a simple choice, but one we can still make by voting.
-3 # wfalco 2012-07-17 19:05
Well stated Feral. Your thoughts really make me think about who writes at this site. What is the true agenda? Are so called progressives only interested in a life long debate or argument for the sake of argument alone? I am fairly certain that many here prefer that Romney win only so their voices of dissent can stand out louder and more vitriolic. Probably for the sake of pure narcissism.
0 # Feral Dogz 2012-07-18 12:24
Yes wfalco, where were all the good and moral people in 2010 when the TP swept into congress and ground progress to a halt? Not voting! That's for sure. Karl Rove won that one handily.

That Scott Brown is a Senator is incomprehensibl e. It can only be attributed to complacency and laziness on the part of Mass. liberals who didn't bother to vote in an "off year" election.

If we want real social progress, it must be made at every level of govt. The private sector cannot be trusted to do anything but return America to the abuses that prevailed before the New Deal and other Progressive policies that limit the accumulation of great wealth in the hands of a powerful few.

The Earth belongs to every living thing upon it, and does not exist to serve the comfort and security of the privileged few and the fools who choose to serve them in exchange for a false sense of security and a remote chance to ascend to elite status.
0 # wordsfailme 2012-07-18 11:39
Thank You FeralDogz, and others.
Obama isnt defining the Presidency: he
had to join it to be one. BUT the only way to see what Obama
might really choose to do wd be to re-elect him, ie. to a final term. Meanwhile the "shit sandwich" still haunts him (pardon mixt metaphor)& I tend to think the vast complexity of that mess wd be too much
for 99.9% of us posters.
And wfalco, I wonder if anyone here who
recommends revolution has actually been
in one....

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.