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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.


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”

22 Responses

  1. I know this list is pathetically short. If you have links to add, I really will post them.

    • I’ll take a look around and see what I can find. People might be undergoing some reevaluation today. If they were Obama fans, they may be trying to reconcile their support with these new revelations.
      It doesn’t surprise us but some Democrats out there may be stunned.
      And now the choice is laid before them: ignore this and dance with the devil what brung them or find an alternative?
      It’s not that hard. The general election ballot isn’t printed until after the conventions. There is still time…

      • You will need to find someone who has had no involvement with the Obama Administration to be the substitute, RD. Finding such a person is not so easy…

        • Frankly, I’d settle for anyone but him. If the Democratic Party repudiated the Kill List and kicked Obama out, that would be a huge thing.

          I think. Well. Maybe not Reid or Pelosi.

          Hmmm. ??

          • Well then, the kind of person you need is someone like this:


            I don’t think he wants the job just yet, though. Maybe in 2016.

          • Didn’t West go back to seminary recently? BTW, that’s the surest path to atheism. Once you understand the Bible, it’s hard to believe in any of it.

          • He’s returning to Union Theological Seminary. As to whether the place will turn into an atheist, well, it didn’t the last time he was there…

          • Er, “as tho whether the place will turn HIM into an atheist”, that is.

      • RD – I just don’t see that this is going to happen. I’m stealing this from a comment I saw this AM at Facebook – and it is exactly how I see (hope?) things play out in November:

        “I hope Obama loses. Romney would be a more aggressive fascist, but the public is the real issue, the public needs to go to revolution and clearly, they’re still on a sedative with Obama, thinking he’s some sort of old time Democrat. Too early for the US Green Party to gain control. They’ll make serious gains, but this election, there MUST be turmoil and the public has to be the winner. Obama must not win. Get Romney in there and the public will get it quickly and a democratic revolution can stand a chance. Am I correct?”

        • Ah, the electoral strategy known as “the worse, the better”. In the past, the only political party to actually use it was the Communist Party in Russia (pre-1917), and France in the 1930s. In both cases, it worked fairly well, actually.

          • I’ve got no idea who is worse. Seriously.

          • Well, if you have no idea which of the two is worse, then you should consider who comes along with each of them “for the ride”, so to speak. If Romney wins, the RP party apparatus comes with him into the government. If Obama wins, the DP party appartus comes with him into the government. Which party apparatus do you prefer?.

          • The Nazis in Germany and the Fascists in Italy pursued their own versions of it. Only they spread violence and disorder throughout their respective countries so as to be able to turn around and say that only they could stop the violence and disorder.

          • Also, this was the NaderGreen motivation for running in 2000. They hoped to get Bush elected so as to have a radicalized electorate to work with at some future point. The NaderGreens had a very minor role in getting Gore defeated, but that was their sole and only intent, and I still hate them for it unto this very day.

    • “… this list is pathetically short.”

      And that to me is almost as chilling as the content of article!

      For example when googling: ‘Obama’s Kill List + Guardian’ this Donald Trump’s ‘birther’ remarks take centre stage was what I came up with! The NYT article is mentioned only in the very last paragraph. 🙄

      Same thing in my own national media. Not that Danish media is that important to Americans, I know, but I still think you can read something of a … ‘western’ trend into it: No mentioning of the kill list but lots of reporting on Obama bestowing The Medal of Freedom on Bob Dylan!

  2. Remind me again why the Republicans are worse?

    • You got me. I was talking to someone about the Kill List yesterday — describing it…. And her immediate response was that it makes it even MORE important to defeat Romney. Just that sentence. I was pulseless for a second or two. Just shocked. But, she immediately explained that Romney is lightyears worse than Obama.

      Now, I’ve got no expectation or reason to vote for Romney. But (this isn’t exactly praise), I don’t consider him worse than Obama.

      • If pre-polling in the last week or two before the election in Michigan suggests Romney-Obama to be evenly tied, I may well vote for Romney to do my part to keep Obama from winning.

        On this kill list subject, Romney would at-worst move the responsibility for the listing and the killing back to the CIA and DoD so as to restore plausible deniability to the Office of the President.

        On the crassly vulgar and narrowly selfish question of Medicare and Social Security, I think a combination of Romney and a pack of Senate Democrats would be less likely to destroy my retirement survival future than Obama and the same pack of Senate Democrats.
        At least under a President Romney, the Senate Democrats would be torn between two conflicting desires: their desire to destroy Social Security and Medicare as against their desire to protect their Democratic party brand value.

    • There was a time when I would have tried to answer that question. And I still might at the state level in some states. But at the Federal Level? If Romney wins, then we will find out if they even are “worse”

  3. “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.”

    So that means the collateral damage from such drone strikes could be considered combatants..Nice way of recruiting future terrorists..

  4. Obama sounds more like a Chicago mob boss, than president.

  5. From the UK based Bureau of Investigative Journalism: Analysis: How Obama embraced redefinition of ‘civilian’ in secret drone wars.

    The bureau also ‘analyses the US’s secret bombing campaign in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia’: Covert War on Terror – the Data. I believe their count of casualties are quite different from the official numbers?

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