Obama’s ‘Kill List’ Is Unchecked Presidential Power?
The problem isn’t the leaks, it’s the policy. It’s the assertion of a presidential prerogative that the administration can target for death people it decides are terrorists — even American citizens — anywhere in the world, at any time, on secret evidence with no review.
It is a policy driven largely by the new technological capacity of pilotless aircraft. Drone strikes have rapidly expanded, becoming a centerpiece of the Obama strategy. Over the last three years, the Obama administration has carried out at least 239 covert drone strikes, more than five times the 44 approved under George W. Bush.
Drones are enormously seductive and widely popular. Video games made real, they are relatively cheap, risk no U.S. casualties, claim to be exactly targeted and, according to the administration, have been lethal in eliminating al-Qaeda’s operatives. As Adm. Dennis Blair, former director of national intelligence for the Obama administration before being pushed out, notes, “It plays well domestically and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.”
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