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Wednesday: “Kill List” Reading List

On this the day after the NY Times glowing report of our weekly “Kill List” I’m reading through the comments posted to the story:

The two-handed dilemma (recommended 153 times!):

On the one hand, one admires President Obama’s resolve and clear vision of the mission, as he has defined it. On the other hand, one cannot help but draw the unavoidable conclusion that the policy of pre-emptive assassination has, perhaps forever, changed what were once considered American values.

Hey! (here’s a surprise) Not all American’s are Pacifists (recommended 131 times):

It is true that violence produces violence, but not all Americans are pacifists, and not all Americans are willing to turn the other cheek to terrorist acts. President Obama by directly taking responsibility for these decisions is acting as a leader of the entire nation. US direct military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is decreasing, reducing one source of friction between the US and people in that region.

A proud voter (210 recommends):

In an ideal world such a policy would not be needed. In a world where folks are refining underwear bombs to make them more lethal and effective in bringing down plane loads of people, where the rights of innocents are ignored, and where folks say we love death more than you love life, I say I will vote for Obama again proudly.

And it goes on and on While there negative comments sprinkled through the collection, on the whole it seems that the New York Times knows it’s audience:

But, with any luck we won’t have to take the Times word for the wonder that is Barack Obama. Bubbling up around the Internets we find that not everyone is so accepting:

At Empire Burlesque, Chris Floyd is pretty scathing in his reaction:

Hymns to the Violence: The NYT’s Love Letter to Obama’s Murder Racket

In any other age — including the last administration — this story would have been presented as a scandalous exposé. The genuinely creepy scenes of the “nominating process” alone would have been seen as horrific revelations. Imagine the revulsion at the sight of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld sifting through PowerPoint slides on “suspected terrorists” all over the world, and giving their Neronic thumbs up or down as each swarthy face pops up on a screen in front of them. Imagine the tidal wave of moral outrage from the “Netroots Nation” and other progressive champions directed at Bush not only for operating a death squad (which he did), but then trotting out Condi and Colin and Bob Gates to brag about it openly, and to paint Bush as some kind of moral avatar for the careful consideration and philosophical rigor he applied to blowing human beings to bits in sneak attacks on faraway villages.

But the NYT piece is billed as just another “process story” about an interesting aspect of Obama’s presidency, part of an election-year series assessing his record. It is based entirely on the viewpoints of Beltway insiders. The very few dollops of mild criticism of the murder program are voiced by figures from deep within the imperial machine. And even these caveats are mostly tactical in nature, based on one question: “Does the program work, is it effective?” There is not a single line that ever suggests, even slightly, that the program might be morally wrong. There is not a single line in the story suggesting that such a program should up for debate or even examination by Congress. Nor is there even a perfunctory quote from mainstream organizations such as the ACLU or Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch — or from anyone in Pakistan or Yemen or the other main targets of Obama’s proudly proclaimed and personally approved death squad.

(snip)

Obama’s deep concern for “moral responsibility” is also reflected in his decision to kill according to “signature strikes” — that is, to kill people you don’t know, who haven’t even popped up on your PowerPoint slides, if you think they might possibly look or act like alleged potential “terrorists.” (Or if you receive some “human intelligence” from an agent or an informer or someone with a grudge or someone seeking payment that a group of people doing something somewhere might be terrorists.) This “moral responsibility” is also seen in Obama’s decision to count “all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants … unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.”

Guilty until proven posthumously innocent! How’s that for “moral responsibility”? Here Obama has surpassed Augustine and Aquinas — yea, even great Aristotle himself — in this bold extension of the parameters of moral responsibility.

It’s never hurt so much to snip out these quotes. Go read the whole thing… It’s great.

Other reactions to the Kill List story (Please post your links in the comments and I’ll add them here):

From Harpers: Obama’s Kill List

From Politico: Does ‘kill list’ prove Obama’s anti-terrorism commitment? … Answer? Hell Yeah!

Digby’s Hullabaloo: “He likes action, especially when he doesn’t leave fingerprints”

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