Drone warfare and the media

Useful idiots make the media of not much better use than to wrap fish.
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The Barack Obama administration now propounds the same program of drone warfare that then-Senator Barack Obama decried. That kind of play-acting should shock everyone. To the credit of many liberal and “progressive” commentators, it shocks even them. They now say that drone warfare, in many ways, breaks faith with the Constitution. But the media are strangely silent on this question.

A judge speaks out against drone warfare

Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, formerly of the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey, never hesitated to criticize George W. Bush’s conduct of the War on Terror. He once warned that the Patriot Act let the FBI write their own search warrants on the spot. He compared this Act to the Writs of Assistance Act before (and during) the American War for Independence. And he did it when Barack Obama was still a Senator. So Judge Napolitano comes closer than any observer of the drone warfare debate to being politically neutral.

On Monday of this week, NBC News got a copy of a 16-page “white paper” from the Justice Department. (It has no date, and no one signed it. NBC News watermarked it, and might have made it hard to read.) The Judge summed it up thus:

It says, “any informed high-level U.S. government official can strip an American of his or her constitutional protections and order the killing of that American if the person is overseas, if it’s difficult to arrest that person,” This is the power claimed by kings and tyrants. This is about as un-American a power as one could imagine.

Brennan says one thing two years ago and another thing today

Last night, Bob Beckel (who once managed Walter Mondale’s campaign) called on the US Senate to hold up on confirming John Brennan as new head of the CIA. (He said this to Bill O’Reilly on his program.) Human Events suggests Bob Beckel isn’t the only one.

Brennan designed the drone warfare program of today. That he would do this is more than passing strange. Two years ago, Brennan once called “jihad” a “legitimate tenet of Islam.” Now he runs a program to kill Muslims for doing or planning “jihad.” So was he merely play-acting back then? (The common fancy Greek word is hypocrisy. That word comes from the ancient Greek word for an actor in a play – literally “under the mask.”) It gets even stranger: The Washington Times asked Brennan to explain himself three months later. He agreed to come on TV to explain his words. But finally he lost his temper and stormed off the set. (See the embedded videos below.)

And now, like the pigs Snowball and Napoleon in George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm, Brennan built the drone warfare program and now must defend it on Capitol Hill.

Media crickets

The media have been too silent on the drone warfare program.

Haddock wrapped in newspaper. Photo: Des Colhoun; Creative Commons License

The mainstream media have barely printed or said a word about the drone warfare program, or about men like Brennan and Obama changing their minds about such things. So observes John Nolte at Breitbart.com. True, some of the media are talking. The New York Times gave its own read of the “white paper.” (They also report that Congress will see more memos that back up the white paper. Furthermore, the Times worried about this more than a year ago.) Investors Business Daily asked an even more important question: is not this (de facto) President acting as judge, jury, prosecutor, and executioner?

Nolte has another problem: the mainstream media expressed outrage at the “waterboarding” method of interrogating terrorism suspects (three in all). They have expressed little to no outrage over a policy of simply killing those that the President alone, or someone working for him, says is a terrorist.

The drone warfare due-process problem

Nolte did say one thing that shocked certain “New American Patriots” who read it::

Now, personally, I’m okay with drone strikes. The policy is apparently very effective. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to know more about the policy’s limitations, and I am troubled by the fact that we can’t gather intelligence from those killed from on high. But let’s not throw out the good in pursuit of the perfect.

Here’s the problem, as IBD said: who picks the target? Who says any one person is, or is not, a terrorist? And as Gwen Ifill of The PBS News Hour asked, what stops this government from killing American citizens on American soil? (Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina asked the same. See the transcript.)

This debate even touches the gun control debate. A personal correspondent who writes often about gun rights pointed out another hypocritical element. The same government that claims this license to kill, wants to take away from the people certain weapons that are distinctly less powerful than drone aircraft. (Some law-enforcement agencies in this country want to use armed drones. So don’t imagine that drone warfare would limit itself to targets abroad.)

CNAV has said before: it is not big enough yet to have a general counsel. Subject to that, a Constitutional and legal analysis of the drone warfare memo appears here.