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Killing Me Softly With His Drone

I keep thinking I should write up something thoughtful.  That I should find a way to express my opinion about The Drones, The Presidential Kill List (complete with Power Point presentations!) and the almost complete silence about the issue in both televised media and the fashionable progressive blogosphere.  But my brain is stuck on a simple phrase, “Are you fucking kidding me?

In a delayed reaction, I’m wondering – Is “militant” more like a religion or an activity?

Glenn Greenwald, Deliberate media propaganda

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that the Obama administration, in order to conceal civilian deaths caused by their drone attacks, “counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.” Although I wrote at length about the NYT‘s various revelations, I wrote separately about that specific disclosure, in order to emphasize the implications for media outlets reporting on American drone attacks:

What kind of self-respecting media outlet would be party to this practice? Here’s the New York Times documenting that this is what the term “militant” means when used by government officials. Any media outlet that continues using it while knowing this is explicitly choosing to be an instrument for state propaganda.

Early this morning, the U.S. fired a missile from a drone in northwest Pakistan — its first since the NYT story – and killed two people.


There is, as usual, no indication that these media outlets have any idea whatsoever about who was killed in these strikes. All they know is that “officials” (whether American or Pakistani) told them that they were “militants,” so they blindly repeat that as fact. They “report” this not only without having the slightest idea whether it’s true, but worse, with the full knowledge that the word “militant” is being aggressively distorted by deceitful U.S. government propaganda that defines the term to mean: any “military-age males” whom we kill (the use of the phrase “suspected militants” in the body of the article suffers the same infirmity).

Jane, at FireDogLake has been silent about Obama’s Kill List (at least as far as I can tell – I’ll add links if I’m wrong.) But I stumbled across this great post by Dissenter, The Media on Obama’s ‘Kill List’.  It’s a long list discussing some of the stories I’ve mentioned in my posts and a couple I’m including today as well as some you haven’t seen from me.

Laugh or cry – or both: MSNBC: No Time for Obama’s Kill List?

The New York Times’ lengthy report (5/29/12) on Barack Obama’s drone “kill list” should provoke serious questions: Is such a program legal? How does it square with Obama’s criticism of the Bush administration’s “war on terror” policies? What does it tell us about how the administration identifies “militants” who are targeted for assassination?

But those questions have been raised only in fits and starts–and are basically absent from the liberal cable news channel MSNBC.


But what about the channel that would seem the natural place for some of that left-leaning analysis? MSNBC has been mostly quiet. A search of the Nexis news database turns up nothing on Obama’s kill list. The program Morning Joe had one discussion (5/29/12) where the panelists mostly supported the program, though host Joe Scarborough expressed some reservations.

What was more newsworthy? MSNBC’s prime time shows seemed to have plenty of coverage of “birther” Donald Trump.

In an almost illegibly formatted piece from The Nation makes a pretty good point: US president’s kill list is illegal and immoral:

The Times described the president as poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies – their “baseball cards,” as one unnamed official put it – and making the final determination of whether and when a suspected terrorist leader, and sometimes his family, will be killed.But if the president’s personal involvement is laudable, the killings themselves are no less controversial. And, if the Times’s reporting is accurate, the programme itself is illegal.Becker and Shane confirm what we could only guess from remarks made by Obama’s advisors in the past: that the United States is targeting to kill individuals overseas who do not pose an imminent threat to the United States and who are not directly participating in hostilities against Americans. That’s a violation of international law.

And from Stephen Colbert (Video starts playing – with sound – as page loads!!!) – Two Birds With One Drone

17 Responses

  1. Thank you, K.B. Excellent.

  2. I guess The Nation decided to do away with paragraph breaks….but I did manage to find this interesting tidbit: (my paragraph breaks :>)

    “Human Rights First has asked President Obama to clarify two points of international law: First, that his administration does not permit the targeting of all members of any terrorist group with which it claims to be at war; and, second, that it does not permit the targeting of individuals merely because they are seen to be associating with members of a terrorist group.

    The government should also provide further information on the criteria for lethal targeting decisions, the process by which targeting decisions are made, and the mechanisms in place to provide accountability and remedy for violations of the law.

    Such information should include a copy, with as few redactions as possible, of the Office of Legal Counsel’s 2010 memorandum on the lethal targeting of Anwar al-Awlaki – an account of which has appeared in the New York Times. Without such public accountability for its lethal drone programme, we can have no confidence that the United States is complying either with international or domestic law, or even pursuing a sensible policy.

    Despite all the speeches, the administration’s response to allegations of errors and evidence that significant numbers of innocent civilians are being maimed and killed by US-sponsored targeted killing remains: “Trust us.” That is not an acceptable response in a democracy.”

  3. Hiya KB — you are absolutely right, we should all be in an uproar about this. Just this morning on Chris Hayes’ show, “Up” — there was a clear, upfront discussion of this very issue. The guy from the “The Nation” was one of the panelists and he was unequivocal about the illegality and the murder of the innocents — many children.

    He made a startling observation, with the closing of Gitmo being too politically unpalatable and legally difficult, it seems as though we have been using drones to keep the Gitmo census static. Reprehensible, repugnant, egregious are a few words that come to mind.

    • (nodding) I can’t believe the silence.

      I’m sorry I missed the Chris Hayes show. I don’t even know when or where it’s on. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

    • [Oborg]

      Shaddup and pull the levers for the Dems, ya DFH! What, you think Rmoney won’t kill swarthy heathens and start a war with Iran to boot AND destroy Social Security and Medicare? Besides, if a GOP Prez is EVER elected again, the global warming will run away and the polar ice caps will melt! Beachfront property in da Arkanshire! Cats and dogs living together! EEK! So shaddup and vote for Dear Leader Obamessiah, you r@c!s+ ingrates!

      [/Oborg] 😛

  4. Perhaps Obama feels if he kills enough innocent Muslims he’ll get the Savage, Beck, Limbaugh vote.

  5. Obama is probably proud of all aspects of this activity and would be confused and surprised to hear that anyone beyond the “professional
    leftists” might disagree.

    Perhaps the NyTimes and others are writing about this to get it “out there” and see if any sort of public displeasure develops. (At least a hundred million people are too consumed with the minute-to-minute fear of having their house stolen or their job stolen or both to even think about these higher-order concerns. If they even hear about them at all in their mass market media outlets.

    • That’s actually a huge part of my rage…. When I say, “Are you fucking kidding me? — My outrage isn’t limited to the morality, cruelty, illegality — It’s also that in this time of incredible domestic need and hurt he’s putting so much of his efforts into something so horribly destructive! One morning most weeks and how much time to those 100 or so people spend?

      Of course most people can’t think about this stuff. On top of everything else, it’s too much!

  6. Thanks for not letting go of this, K.B. Morality and good judgement seem to have collapsed in favor of legal maneuvering and spin.

    • What were they talking about 15 years ago or so — The Fog of War? This is way past that. I’m not going to let go. I kind of wish I could.

  7. Some more links:

    The Guardian: Drone wars and state secrecy – how Barack Obama became a hardliner

    ‘Anti-war activist’ Medea Benjamin (Code Pink) at informationclearinghouse.com: Will Americans Speak Out Against Obama’s Drone Warfare?

    Transcript from therealnews.com: Obama’s and Brennan’s “Kill List”

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