More on the unconstitutional, nay criminal nature of Obama's drone warfare:
What lies at the nexus of Obama’s targeted drone killings, his self-serving leaks, and his aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers is a president who believes himself above the law, and seems convinced that he alone has a preternatural ability to determine right from wrong. ... After years of now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t stories about drone attacks across the Greater Middle East launched “presumably” by the U.S., the Times (again) carried a remarkable story not only confirming the drone killings — a technology that had morphed into a policy — but noting that Obama himself was the Great Bombardier. He had, the newspaper reported, designated himself the final decision-maker on an eyes-only “kill list” of human beings the United States wanted to destroy. It was, in short, the ultimate no-fly list. Clearly, this, too, had previously been classified top-secret material, and yet its disclosure was attributed directly to White House sources.
James Spione, an Academy Award–nominated director who is currently working on a documentary about whistleblowers in the age of Obama, summed things up to me recently this way:
"Beneath the partisan grandstanding, I think what is most troubling about this situation is the sense that the law is being selectively applied. On the one hand, we have the Justice Department twisting the Espionage Act into knots in an attempt to crack down on leaks from “little guys” like Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou, while at the same time an extraordinarily detailed window into covert drone policy magically appears in the Times."
Here is the simple reality of our moment: the president has definitively declared himself (and his advisers and those who carry out his orders) above the law, both statutory and moral. It is now for him and him alone to decide who will live and who will die under the drones, for him to reward media outlets with inside information or smack journalists who disturb him and his colleagues with subpoenas, and worst of all, to decide all by himself what is right and what is wrong.
The image Obama holds of himself, and the one his people have been aggressively promoting recently is of a righteous killer, ready to bloody his hands to smite “terrorists” and whistleblowers equally. If that sounds Biblical, it should. If it sounds full of unnerving pride, it should as well. If this is where a nation of laws ends up, you should be afraid.
from "How Obama’s targeted killings, leaks, and the everything-is-classified state have fused"
by Peter Van Burenhttp://original.antiwar.com/engelhardt/2012/06/12/the-ultimate-no-fly-list/
In the same vein of condemnation of Obama's policy, and his expansion of the Cheney concept of "imperial presidency"
, this op/ed from The Guardian:
What is also striking about Obama's embrace of drones and targeted killings is that he – who, during his 2008 campaign, displayed awareness that America's reckless actions abroad were damaging to its long-term interests – has become so indifferent to civilian casualties. According to statistics compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, at least 551 civilians have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, though the figure could be much higher. Yet, the Obama administration has consistently argued that almost no civilians are killed in these strikes, despite independent assessments that put the number of civilians killed as much higher.
This claim is only possible because the administration has engaged in an Orwellian contortion of language, which assumes that anyone in the area of a drone strike must be "up to no good" and therefore a militant. This assumption of guilt by association, and the grotesque misuse of definitions to cover up the deaths of innocents, including children, has allowed the administration to inflate the number of successful "hits" it has, while playing down the number of civilian casualties.
Obama has left most of the foundations of Bush's counterterrorism approach intact, including its presumption of executive privilege, its tolerance of indefinite detention in Guantánamo and elsewhere and its refusal to grant prisoners in America's jails abroad habeas corpus rights. While the language of the "war on terror" has been dropped, the mindset of the Bush approach – that America is forever at war, constantly on the offensive to kill "bad guys" before they get to the United States – has crept into this administration and been translated into policy in new and dangerous ways.
This fact is clearly demonstrated in a recent New York Times article, which details how President Obama has become personally involved in an elaborate internal process by which his administration decides who will be the next victim of America's drone strikes.
The spirit of the constitution was quite the opposite: all of the founders were concerned, in varying degrees, with the risk of allowing the president to exercise too much discretion when declaring war or using force abroad. For this reason, the constitution explicitly grants the right to declare war to the Congress in order to restrain the president from chasing enemies around the world based solely on his authority as commander-in-chief. The founders would be horrified, not comforted, to know that the president has implicated himself in the killing of foreign nationals in states against which the Congress has not passed a declaration of war.
Beyond bypassing the constitution and the War Powers Act, the Obama administration has also adopted a dangerously broad interpretation of the legal right to use drone strikes against terrorist suspects abroad. According to his counterterrorism chief, John Brennan, the legal authority for the drone strikes derives from the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by the Congress in September 2001 to authorize the attack on Afghanistan. He notes that there is "nothing in the AUMF that restricts the use of military force against al-Qa'ida to Afghanistan".
This interpretation treats the AUMF as a warrant to allow the president to use force against anyone at any time in a war without a defined endpoint.
The Obama administration has worked to expand its power of the executive and to resist oversight from the other branches of government. ... With little fanfare, it has also concluded that American citizens may now be killed abroad without access to a "judicial process".
from: "Obama's drone wars and the normalisation of extrajudicial murder: Executive privilege has seduced the president into a reckless 'kill first, ask questions later' policy that explodes the US constitution
guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 June 2012http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/11/obama-drone-wars-normalisation-extrajudicial-killing