Tuesday, February 05, 2013


The objection is from Ed Morrissey, author (under a different Administration) of "Is Waterboarding Torture Or Necessity? Yes." That post is a big squish daring Congress to do something about it -- Morrissey's usual schtick concerning Bush-era torture. But when certain government figures advance the human rights agenda, Morrissey stops playing cagey and gets more direct:
Yesterday, Barack Obama signed an order pledging to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay within in a year, but without offering a solution for the current detainees. That little detail takes on a little more significance after today’s report in the New York Times about the career of a released Gitmo inmate. After getting sprung from Gitmo, Said al-Shihri became a leader of the al-Qaeda network in Yemen... 
The war on terror is no game. These people intend to kill us in large numbers, and unless we take that seriously, they will succeed. It’s not the same as using the exclusionary rule to return a burglar to the streets rather than offend tender sensibilities because someone filled out a warrant incorrectly. Al-Qaeda is not the Gambino crime family, and a law-enforcement approach will not defeat them.
Obama to release photos of abuse
Here we go again. The US will release dozens of pictures depicting prisoner abuse by the American military and intelligence agents after the Obama administration dropped an appeal to block a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU. Will these pictures have the same demoralizing effect on both the troops and the CIA?... 
In 2004, the release of the pictures from Abu Ghraib overwhelmed the limited context of the abuse at that prison, which involved a handful of soldiers that had already come under investigation from the Pentagon for their abusive treatment of prisoners. The release of those images created a firestorm of vituperation against the American military around the world, calls for immediate firings and purges, even though the military had already acted to clean up the problem. The damage done to the Army’s reputation in particular has never been undone.
Small wonder the intelligence community has erupted in anger over this...
Khaled el-Masri sued the US for what he claimed was an illegal detention and rendition that cost him five months in an Afghan jail, but the Supreme Court dismissed the case...
Masri may well have had a good case for his lawsuit, under other circumstances. If, as he claims, he has no connection to terrorism and got abducted by the CIA in Macedonia and held for almost half a year of interrogation, he should be due some compensation. Unfortunately, with the kind of war we're fighting, we have to err on the side of our safety -- and we have to learn from our mistakes, too.
So much for his bleeding heart. But, you know: If he's bullshitting now, so what? The policy of drone assassination of U.S. citizens is an outrage, and every voice in the chorus of disapproval is welcome, even the posers'.  Let us take the opportunity presented by opportunism, and welcome and support them. Tomorrow we can get back at each others' throats.


  1. wileywitch10:17 PM

    I have an Abut Ghraib tic:

    When the photos of Abu Ghraib tortures first became public there was much noise in the press that this “abuse” scandal and the photos of it have “lost the war” and lowered Iraqi opinion of the U.S. and the occupation. Like it was going so well. I saw a troop on the news recently saying something to the effect that Iraqis are actually looking at him cross-eyed now, as if that never happened before.

    What’s amazing though, is what hasn’t “lost” the “war“:

    ~It wasn’t that the U.S. bombed these people who were no threat, whatsoever, to any nation, on the basis of faulty intelligence--if not outright lies.

    ~It wasn’t that we bombed and strafed people in their cities and in their homes, for weeks on end.

    ~It wasn’t that we fired missiles and dropped cluster bombs into populated areas in a country in which half the population was under the age of 15.

    ~It wasn‘t that we destroyed energy grids, communications centers, and water systems.

    ~It wasn’t the amputations without anesthesia or antibiotics.

    ~It wasn’t the children being turned into pink mists by cluster bombs.


    it's a very long list. I have to read every one of them whenever I hear that "those pictures lost the war" and then I ask "What war?" That wasn't a "war"; it was an invasion and destruction of an entire nation. Rat fucking bastards.

    I hate that administration eternally for this and the drowning of New Orleans.

  2. Leeds man10:19 PM

    Are they allowed to drone-attack suspected US citizens on US soil? If so, would "collaterally" killed folk of military age be labelled enemy combatants as well?

  3. wileywitch10:23 PM

    Rather than focusing on drones, I think we should focus on the killing. Better to go straight to the heart of the matter. Unfortunately, The War on Terror (tm) lends itself to the same kind of secrecy and subterfuge that the Cold War did. So, perhaps we need to have a serious talk about what the War on Terror is and what it's worth.

    One thing I think the government should is give account of all deaths, regularly. The fact that our government doesn't think it necessary to count the deaths they deal and report them is bothersome and encourages the perception that those deaths don't matter to the government or the general population.

  4. they’ll drone ya when you’re walkin’ ’long the street...

  5. commie atheist11:13 PM

    Not sure when Glenn watches MSNBC, but Maddow has been hitting the administration pretty hard over drones, at least the last two nights.

  6. XeckyGilchrist11:35 PM

    I hope a good round of very public outrage can help to stuff the extrajudicial-horseshit genie back in the bottle.

  7. Let's check the latest daffynition.

    Among the linguistic gymnastics embraced by Obama as the Pentagon struggled to deal with the inevitable rise in civilian casualties resulting from a massive increase in unmanned aerial drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen was a deceptive redefinition of the term "militant."

    In an effort to minimize official civilian death tolls from these strikes, in which hundreds of innocent people have been killed in Pakistan alone, several administration officials told the Times that the administration is effectively counting "all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants," barring "explicit" posthumous intelligence proving their innocence.


  8. We're a good number of years into it, now.


  9. AGoodQuestion12:05 AM

    During Vietnam, body counts were proffered as evidence that we were "winning" in the defense of the South Vietnamese government. Obviously that interpretation didn't convince so many people after awhile, which is why number of kills hasn't been much publicized since then.

    It would be... instructive to bring it back, though. The thing about the GWOT is that the goals are in so many instances vague. How many people are we willing to kill when we don't know what we're trying to accomplish?

  10. mortimer12:22 AM

    Here's Morrisey now with just a few key words changed to create the whine he never wrote in 2003-4:

    So let’s just recap. The US can target Iraq if they believe a threat to be “imminent” even when no threat of attack is immediately present. Iraq must have recently been involved in activities, with no real definition of “activities” or “recently.” And rather than prove that Iraq plans to continue these “activities,” it’s up to Saddam Hussein to prove to the U.S. that Iraq has renounced and/or abandoned such “activities” — activities that the government won’t define.

  11. wileywitch12:45 AM

    Well, I wouldn't feel so all alone--- everybody must get droned.

  12. wileywitch12:58 AM

    This is another burr up my ass about our invasion of Iraq. It wasn't "preemptive". A preemptive attack is an attack that is when an enemy attack is "imminent or taking place". Launching an invasion based on the mere "belief" that a nation may be a threat in some vague future is "preventive". That's the stuff of Nuremberg and no number of scary modifiers will ever make it anything else.

    The media was so enamored with playing the pep-squad after 9/11 that they did far worse than not doing their homework--- they rallied the country behind a two-bit demagogue and mass-murderer, and then did it again in 2004 election. Their coverage of both wars was nothing but propaganda.

    The country and the media won't rally around the next POTUS who is on duty during a large-scale terrorist attack from outside the country, if such a thing were to happen.* After a few trillion have been spent and passengers have been subjected to the TSA for a dozen years, the President of such a scenario could not stand in the rubble with a bullhorn to address an adoring crowd.

    *(Domestic terrorist attacks are whole different animal, because "crazy".

  13. wileywitch1:08 AM

    After the Tet Offensive with all the film footage of our soldiers on stretchers or in body bags or in flag-draped coffins on the news every day, many of the people who had previously been for it started thinking it wasn't worth it. In my neighborhood, it was news of the Mai Lai massacre that killed the jingoism.

    "Communism" and "terrorism" in jingo can be nearly indistinguishable in their effect; but communists didn't really come onto our home turf and kill a couple of thousand people. I'm not saying that our killing is justified, just that there is somewhat of a threat, though I suspect that we might be making it worse. But I wouldn't lay a bet on it.

  14. Maddow's even written a very excellent book DRIFT:THE UNMOORING OF AMERICAN MILITARY POWER whose ultimate point is that assorted presidencies' finagling over when and how to exercise military action and the legislative branch's abdication of responsibility over declaring 'war' has led to the over-reaching broadness of the drone campaign.

  15. BigHank531:22 AM

    I know what Ed Morrissey's answer will be....as soon as a Republican president is sworn in, anyway.

  16. le gros legume2:16 AM

    The drone program is awful (and I don't think assasinating US citizens is so much worse than assassinating non-citizens). Nevertheless, Glenn Greenwald should go fuck himself.

  17. In the spirit of kumbaya, I'll bite my tongue and instead endorse Roy's concluding paragraph: The policy of drone assassination of U.S. citizens is an outrage, and every voice in the chorus of disapproval is welcome, even the posers'. Let us take the opportunity presented by opportunism, and welcome and support them.

    (Also too, while it's a separate and longer discussion, I'd suggest that dismantling American plutocracy is a necessary but insufficient condition for dismantling American imperialism.)

  18. MikeJ5:45 AM

    The military kills people. Repeal the AUMF and then they can stop. Right now US law tells the military that they are supposed to kill people associated with AQ.

  19. Doghouse Riley7:03 AM

    Let us take the opportunity presented by opportunism, and welcome and support them. Tomorrow we can get back at each others' throats.

    I'll make common cause on foreign policy with fucks like Cap'n Ed soon as they demonstrate a cogent view of this country's history dating to the Spanish-American War, and a commitment to choose a principle and stick with it. Otherwise it's like cheering a monkey because the feces it flung caught Michelle Malkin with her mouth open.

  20. Aimai7:17 AM

    Well, would that be so wrong? I'll cheer the monkey. But I won't pretend I can work with him to achieve anything more for the general good than getting shit everywhere.

  21. Pope Zebbidie XIII7:24 AM

    Because what he should be doing is forgetting all about US killing the innocent and guilty alike and doing colour pieces on the SuperBowl? Instead he just bangs on and on about civil liberties and the President is even a Republican!. Fuck him, hey?

    Why can't he just get along?

  22. satch7:26 AM

    Nah, forget kumbaya... in the words the right always uses against us: "Sure, Morrissey SAYS it, but he doesn't MEAN it." The same goes for the corporate mouthpiece media, which marks Inauguration Day 2008 as the day it suddenly discovered the spine to criticize an administration.

  23. satch7:30 AM

    You don't even have to go as far as "U.S. soil". How about Hamburg or Londonistan.

  24. montag28:05 AM

    It might well be that Cap'n Ed is in the thrall of this latest conspiracy theory. I doubt that he gives a shit about brown people half a world away, citizens or not, but, gun owners in the U.S. are quite another matter.

    Especially those manly men with guns who are threatened by almost everything.

    Otherwise, plenty of reasons to be suspicious of drone warfare--it's more indiscriminate than described, it's geopolitically stupid, and it's the working definition of mission creep. It's also the culmination of thirty years of the military attempting assassination from the air, which--even with drones--hasn't been very successful.

    There are only two people left in positions of responsibility for the attacks of 9/11 that remain at large--Mullah Omar (only because he was the only person in Afghanistan responsible for bin Laden's presence there) and Ayman al-Zawahiri, and a reasonable reading of the AUMF suggests that they should be the only remaining targets, not every Ahmed, Mohammed and Ali that comes along with a grudge and a Quran and low self-esteem and creates al-Qaeda of the Disgruntled Hinterlands with a grant from some religious loony in Saudi Arabia. At some point long since passed, this stopped being about retribution for 9/11 (if it ever was just that alone) and became Calvinball with guns. The rules are always fluid enough to keep the game going forever, and to give our military the illusion that they're winning.

    In some specific ways, this is foreign policy as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

  25. redoubt8:11 AM

    In re the "media": They had visions of Gulf War 1 dancing in their heads, and said, "We can do this again." (Remember, the "media" isn't as much liberal or conservative as it's capitalist.)
    Of course, the "media" forgot there were two things that didn't exist (to that extent) back then: Fox "News" and the internet.

  26. For "kumbaya" perhaps substitute "common cause (on this particular issue)," as alluded to elsewhere in the thread and in Roy's post. Greenwald is hyperbolic, but continues to try to raise a legitimate issue. Cap'n Ed is arguing in bad faith or doesn't realize his own inconsistencies, but given the constant legitimization of conservative critiques (even some really insane ones) in the corporate media, it will be interesting to see if his complaints make any headway where those from DFHs don't. None of that means Cap'n Ed and his ilk should be running the government any more than they are now, or that the corporate media doesn't suck. But cheer the monkey, as aimai says. YMMV...

  27. le gros legume8:24 AM

    There's not a government on Earth that doesn't kill the innocent and guilty alike -- it's one of those things that governments do. I'm glad we're doing a whole lot less of it than we were under the Great Simpleton, but I can't expect the imperial meatgrinder to transform into the scepter of wisdom just like that -- or even in four short years.

    Greenwald seems insufferably self-righteous to me. Maybe it's just that he thinks we live in Supergroovyfreedonia, while I think we live in Ignorantmotherfuckerland.

    And I'd like to state more strongly that the fact that Anwar al-Awlaki was an American citizen means little to me. He's no more deprived of life than the tens of thousands of non-American civilians we killed in Iraq.

  28. wileywitch8:38 AM

    We haven't been in Afghanistan alone. I really hope that the international community does help to foster long-term changes in Afghanistan. There are whole lot of organizations that have been asking Afghanians(?) what they want and helping them get it. There are alliances being formed with trade associations, and there has been progress with the Afghan government becoming better able to police areas where the Taliban are abusing the fuck out of people and killing many.

    The media never talks about all the other actors. There is and has been much more going on than US vs. Taliban. Nobody but the Taliban likes the Taliban.

    Even though women have equal rights according to Afghanistan's constitution, the government has to make the laws to make that happen. They recently made it illegal to imprison women/girls for "running away" and have made some progress enforcing it. It's a huge problem for women/girls who leave abusive situations or want to.That's a big deal. I would like to see women/girls in Afghanistan living better lives.

    It's not out of the question that the U.S. could evolve a peace-keeping force that could be counted on, in conjunction with the UN and others, to stop something like the Rwanda Genocide.

  29. but who knows? maybe the administration will at least hear the right's complaints about it.

  30. Helmut Monotreme9:06 AM

    I posted this over at Sadly, No last night but it applies here as well.

    The mention of Obama’s drone warfare really gets us in to a circular firing squad doesn’t it? I think there’s some common ground we can all agree on.

    1. Drone warfare is overused both inside active theaters of war (Afghanistan) on more or less military targets and outside of them (Yemen etc) on so called terrorists, in both cases with insufficient regard for positive identification of legitimate targets and insufficient effort to prevent collateral damage.

    2. The continued military presence in Afghanistan and, to the extent it continues, in Iraq is undesirable for many reasons including that’s it’s an immoral neo imperial occupation of a sovereign independent country, that its a unsustainable expense in tough economic times, and that it’s geopolitically counterproductive and will be ineffective in its goal of reducing terrorism and may result in blowback sooner rather than later. The counterarguments to these reasons most typically employed by conservatives, neocons and so-called centrists boil down to “but 9-11!”, “no it isn’t!” and “nuh-uh!”.

    3. The best way to end the war in Afghanistan and end the drone strikes is where we all fall apart. Since some of us view the president as an irredeemably corrupt, and a willing participant in American Imperialism, their solutions are going to differ from those who see an embattled president winding down the war as fast as he can without leaving a dangerous power vacuum in the middle east. Still others see a weak president far too willing to listen to the his advisers in the pentagon and CIA lest he be considered weak on terrorism. Some advocate working within the established party machine by working on behalf of anti war factions in the Democratic party and creating one in the Republican party. Some advocate public action and anti war protests on a massive scale, some advocate for 3rd party solutions to ‘punish’ extant parties at the ballot box and in their donation coffers, while others hope for the criminal prosecutions of those they consider to be war criminals.

    All of those viewpoints have at least an element of truth to them, and since none of us are senior administration officials, we have a hard time judging which one of those options is closest to the truth. we can only interpret the biased data being fed to us through a media far more interested in ad revenue than being a messenger of truth or fact checking administration or opposition officials, and the press releases of the military industrial complex.

    So what do we do? we learn to work together. We have to. If the Oil barons and snake handlers of the right can work together to do everything from fighting abortion rights in all fifty states to pushing the most permissive gun legislation this side of Somalia and drilling for oil everywhere in between, we can work together too. We don’t have to even like each other as long as we can focus on what’s important. We can’t afford the bitter recriminations and purity purges that so crippled the Republicans in the most recent elections in the wake of the Tea Party movement.

  31. Leeds man9:15 AM

    "Greenwald seems insufferably self-righteous to me."

    And Chomsky is boring!

  32. Halloween_Jack9:40 AM

    The problem with that line of thinking is that you end up with things like Jane Hamsher co-signing a letter with Grover Norquist to the effect that Rahm Emanuel should be fired, which as far as I can tell did absolutely nothing but cost Hamsher points with progressives.

  33. montag29:55 AM

    Umm, I think any notion that the U.S. is there for altruistic reasons is Pollyanna-ish. We busted the country, and our track record on "nation-building" stinks.

    As for security, here's the latest:


    As well, the Inspector General for Afghan affairs has been recently quoted as saying that the USG has spent $51 billion on the Afghan security forces–and yet, nobody knows much at all about the force, even its current size. The IG thinks data made available for auditing “could be a sham.”

    And, just for comparison, we've spent more annually on training and equipping the ANSF than the entire $4.5 billion annual governmental budget for the country, with shabby results. That doesn't bode well for the future.

    As for progress afforded Afghanistan by the U.S., that may be a sham, too:


    Don't want to sound overly pessimistic, but we've been breaking that country since the late `70s. The particular irony is that in 2001, the Afghans were on the verge of throwing out the Taliban, because they were terrible at governing. They didn't know fuck-all about running a country, and they still don't. Instead of biding our time, we invaded, occupied, installed a corrupt government (shades of Vietnam!) and we still haven't been able to provide the one thing that ordinary Afghans say they need--security.

    We are not the good guys here. We break things, try to remake them in our image, give up and leave.

    As for preventing another Rwanda, consider this:


  34. Greenwald is boring, so let's just cheer for President Goldman Sachs Dronestrike.

    He wears our team's uniform!

  35. Maybe it's just that he thinks we live in Supergroovyfreedonia, while I think we live in Ignorantmotherfuckerland." No he doesn't. Very much the opposite. It appears that you live in ignorantmotherfuckerland, however.

  36. tim11710:48 AM

    Communism represented an existential threat to the nation and an economic threat to its interested overseas. Terrorism does not. Little pinpricks, even 9/11 itself, don't bring down Great Powers, unless they over-react and spend themselves into oblivion trying to stop pinpricks (which cannot be done).

    Communism might have been an over-blown threat, but it was of far more national importance than Afghan dirt farmers and Yememi preachers who have little to no ability to attack the US. These terrorists, outside of 9/11, are incompetent, petty criminals and blind religious fanatics who cannot even light a shoe bomb or catch their underwear on fire. They are not existential threats to the nation

  37. Well, so is Greenwald. He writes these long-ass posts, and all he does is complain about America and Israel, just as that commie troublemaker Martin Luther King used to do. (Greenwald actually gets a fair number of comments complaining about his long boring posts.) Maybe he could do a nice upbeat post sometime, about his dogs, maybe link to a cute kitty video, or better yet, put up some cute pictures of POTUS and his adorable family.

  38. tim11710:49 AM

    It's Glenn...he's frequently right, but always a polemicist.

  39. Sorta like Roy, who does almost nothing but hate on the Right. So one-note.

  40. tim11710:50 AM

    American LIKE this shit. We are a blood-thirsty people (which makes us pretty much like everyone else). Take a poll on drone attacks. I'm betting drones are popular than Dancing with the Stars

  41. tim11710:52 AM

    Well, they don't need much prodding either

  42. "Communism represented an existential threat to the nation and an economic threat to its interested overseas." Vietnam, however, did not. It was a nation of peasants. Communism wouldn't have been a factor there if the US and its European partners hadn't been building empires and squashing self-determination around the world. Communism was the flag under which resistance could work, because it sure wasn't going to happen under the US. (Compare the large presence of Communists in the American Civil Rights movement: for many years Communists were the only white people who'd get involved.) What really constituted an existential and economic to the US was independent, autonomous countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Look at the US and European reaction to the Haitian Revolution, which had nothing to do with communism, but the US did its best to squash it anyway, and continues to do so to this day.

  43. ChrisVosburg11:02 AM

    Hear dat, and this is what is to me so galling, the belief that American citizenship is some sort of a merit badge. If an Afghan native and an American citizen are each determined to be equal threat to the security of the United States, are they saying that we should weigh the nationality of the suspected bad actor before acting?

  44. I think this is a very interesting and, arguably, useful approach to a complicated problem. But the same problems of execution arise with it as with more binary approaches--a not insignificant number of the people you are trying to "work with" reject anything short of extreme purity outrage all the time as the real failure.

    Setting aside, for the moment, crucial questions like "Obama: most evil president ever or mere time serving lickspittle" which would actually totally alter your political approach to pressuring him I don't really feel any particular way about drone strikes or about american citizens as their target--that's not because I'm a bad person (I think) but rather because I don't see that the method of delivery of death or the citizenship status of the person killed is more significant than their status as a non combatant/uninvolved person.

    I deplore the killing of civilians and non combatants in every situation--war or not war, inside my country or outside my country, by drone or by sniper or by bomb. I oppose that politically by striving to elect to power the party that I thought least likely to captiously pursue policies of imperial engagement for their own sake. I still support the party in power because I think they are (for the most part) legitimatley attempting to wind down the violence. I see no reason to make common cause with members or groups in the opposition party because their support for non violence/anti imperialism is as ephemeral as the morning mist and because as it turns out the "enemy of my enemy" is a really lousy political philosophy and generally works out poorly for the sucker who thinks that "enemies" ever make good friends.

    On the specific subject of the targeted killing of self professed members of organizations committed to the overthrow of my country I think there is a long and unexplored history of external agitators to be considered.

    A whole lot of people have protested/mocked/fought their own society and endured a whole lot of personal attack, prison, and even death without renouncing their citizenship or running into exile. Socrates, Martin Luther King, Mandela all come to mind. What distinguishes Anwar Al Awaki from them is that he left this country in order to overthrow it--he could have stayed here and used his first amendment rights and the courts to battle for his perspective and he probably would have done pretty well. Certainly our own home grown neo nazis do pretty well up until the moment they actually take up arms and provide a clear provocation--{unless you are in MOVE and they can just drop a bomb on you with no comeback at all}.

    One of the implicit compacts of democracy is that you join the political process, you share in the ups and downs of the country as a whole, and you don't take out your rage at not being able to bring your political policies to fruition by destroying the entire State. We fought that battle with the Civil War--didn't we? We killed southernors over just these issues, didn't we? Were we retroactively wrong to have been willing to kill Southern confederates on Southern Battlefields because they were once US citizens? How is Al Awaki any different from Robert E. Lee?

  45. And "associated with AQ" means Ayrabs, whatever their actual affiliation.

    LBJ defended his refusal to negotiate with the NLF and North Vietnam in terms of refusal to negotiate with "terrorists." Not much has changed in the rhetoric of empire and aggression.

  46. BigHank5311:12 AM

    There's not a government on Earth that doesn't kill the innocent and
    guilty alike -- it's one of those things that governments do.

    No, actually, that's THE thing that governments do. If you want to kill people legally--which is to say, you get to walk around afterwards and still be a respected member of the community--you need a State. It may be done for the best of reasons (executing criminals, repelling invaders) or the worst: ethnic cleansing, political power, kleptocracy. To not just get away with murder; but in fact to be celebrated and rewarded for your killing, one needs to establish a consensus and obtain a mandate from the populace.

    The state monopoly on killing is the first right claimed by the state, and supports the rest of the state. Many of the benefits and rights we enjoy are granted in large part to make that monopoly more palatable.

    Don't take this as an endorsement of libertarianism. When dealing with the State it's wise to recall the first rule of firearm safety: assume the thing is loaded and cocked. Any government can become a killing machine; that's why we have regulations and checks and balances and the whole thing is designed to be operated by messages carried on horseback.

    Greenwald may be annoying as hell, but he's very much on the side of civilization.

  47. Formerly_Nom_De_Plume11:15 AM

    Speaking of torture, how the hell did Glenn Greenwald manage to write something less than 140 characters long?

  48. Leeds man11:41 AM

    A not insignificant number of the people you are trying to "work with" yell things like "purity troll", "sparkle ponies" and other such nonsense if you even bring up the subject of drones.

  49. He's on the side of civilization--absolutely. But he picks and chooses his battles as much as the rest of us do. He's living in Brazil--which has a horrible human rights violation history and continues to batter and kill its own poor and dispossesed with impunity but he spends his political and public policy time focusing on the politics of a place he doesn't even live in.

    He accepts Brazil's problems because he can live with his spouse--which I respect as a very important issue for all of us--but he isn't attacking or even engaging with Brazil's government and economy. Why is that? Because he has chosen exile over confrontation with political power at home. Because its not convenient for him and because he, in fact, relies on the protections afforded US citizens abroad just like the rest of us. He hasn't renounced his citizenship--has he?

    I'm not challenging Greenwald's perspective--I think he's right to be a gadfly to the US administration and I admire his single minded approach. I think there should always be more Greenwalds both in and out of the country.

    But what I'm trying to say is that Greenwald specifically chooses to have no skin in the game here at home and he doesn't represent any viable constituency so he doesn't have to respond to pragmatism or even to reality. I think that's great. But its not a roadmap for politicians who, in fact, have to choose all the time whether they risk their constituents interests/lives/treasure on one thing or another.

  50. zencomix11:45 AM

    Teddy Roosevelt declared mission accomplished in the Philippines on the Fucking Fourth of July, 1902, and the "insurgency" lasted another dozen years or so. How could you tell if a Filipino boy was at least 10 years old? Well, you shot him in the back and burned his house down, so he must have been 10 years old.

  51. So what? Their opinions don't really matter. Talking about caring about something on the internet is the precise opposite of politically meaningful action as is making fun of people for having different perspectives.

    If the anti drones crowd really takes it seriously then they have exactly the same avenues of political expression as the rest of us: letter writing, protest, civil disobedience, exile, rebellion.

    The reason (some) people get made fun of is that they assert the right to demand attention for their very serious issue but they don't propose any viable, meaningful, action that can be taken and when other people ask "ok, what's the game plan that doesn't upset my applecart with respect to other important political issues for me" then the response, is, frequently, the reverse of the "sparkle pony" charge

    -- which is to say reflex attacks on the morality and humanity of everyone who doesn't make drones their priority. I've been called indifferent to, and complicit in, the murder of children on the internet plenty. I see where people are coming from when they say that and I (cough) respect their right to say it but its no more true of me than it is of anyone, even a person who talks a big game on the internet, so long as we are living and contributing to the US as an ongoing state (which, admittedly, you aren't so flame away!).

    BTW: I protested the Iraq war and opposed the Afghan war and would have done so regardless of whether Iraq or Afghanistan had actually been complicit in 9/11 since I oppose war at all times as more grievous than a bad peace but I am still just as complicit as the reddest red stater since I didn't protest the war by giving up my citizenship and fleeing with my family to another country. Which I considered. So I live with the shame of not being a purist. Perhaps that adds to my wry contempt for the remaining rhetorical purists among us.

  52. Jay B.12:14 PM

    Unlike your one-note, which happens to be way more boring.

  53. Jay B.12:18 PM

    No. This falls squarely under maybe the right will prosecute it in Congress, in which case it would be enormously hypocritical, but correct for the rule-of-law. The American people could give a shit.

  54. Leeds man12:21 PM

    "Talking about caring about something on the internet is the precise
    opposite of politically meaningful action as is making fun of people for
    having different perspectives."

    What an odd thing to say from someone who writes a lot on the internet on things she cares about. Anyway, I wasn't even talking about the "anti-drones crowd", or purists of any kind. I was talking about people who try to engage with the "pro-drones crowd" on more nuanced aspects of their use; Yemen vs Afghanistan vs Pakistan, etc.

  55. I don't think there's going to be much outrage here, but it's not because the American people are fascists or like killing Arabs or whatever else the Great Man Greenwald will say next. No one ever talks about this because it doesn't really play into any narratives, but drones are part and parcel of battlefield depopulation, something that's been an ongoing topic of discussion since Clinton was cranking out cheap guided missiles. There are consequences to this - warfare at a distance is indiscriminate and generally makes it easier for the government to start engagements because it's so much less painful for us. But it also means fewer American soldiers killed or maimed while performing necessary tasks. What do you expect Americans to do about that?

    I know that a lot of the anti-drone crowd attribute this to racism or imperialism or violence or whatever other awful thing occurs to them, but really think about it for a second. Think about whether hurling invective actually accomplishes anything. I hesitate to call the anti-drone thing a "cause," as it really seems to encompass nothing more than a bunch of people on their computers trying to make themselves feel righteous by saying the right things. That's great for Greenwald - ensures him a steady audience - but does this half-assed digital activism actually do anything in real life?

  56. Jay B.12:24 PM

    Opportunism got us into this mess. Opportunism may be the only way to get out. I think the House should hold shamelessly partisan hearings on the matter, come out opposed to drone strikes and the continuing human rights disasters and grandstand loudly about the actual Constitutional issues being flaunted by the Administration over due process and assassination. That they would be horrifying hypocrites isn't as important as re-establishing a check and balance against this bullshit. And it'd be nice to have some people even pretend to give a shit about civil liberties.

  57. Budbear12:28 PM

    Yeah! It sure it hateful to print someone's own words and supply links to their blogs so you can read them in context.

  58. There's nothing wrong with writing about one's causes on the Internet, just so long as no one tries to call it "activism." Everyone's trying to raise awareness these days, as though if enough people are aware of an issue it'll just fix itself. If that's all the anti-drone crowd is doing, then it's hard to take it seriously as a cause.

  59. I do write a lot about stuff on the internet--but I never mistake it for politically meaningful action. In fact if anything it removes me from the struggle. To the extent I've ever tried to use a forum on the internet as a place from which to raise political issues with others its always been a miserable failure (as far as I know).

    As for drones--I see the argument occuring between people who believe in military action (which I don't, actually, for the most part) and a fringe discussion of shouts and hoots between all those people of nuance (here but not there, now but not later) and people who don't believe in military action at all and who also believe that shouting and hooting constitutes an argument.

    There is quite a bit of discussion about drones here or drones there--Yemen or Afghanistan or Pakistan but I never see any of that degenerate into "sparkle pony" v. "murderer" because those discussions take place within a framework in which self defence, even up to and including murder, are understood to be permitted to countries as well as to people.

    Glenn is, as far as I know, an absolutist--its never ok. He finds various reasons why this killing is even more of an atrocity than that killing but that's basically his position.

    As for me: if I were president I wouldn't order many, if any, killings of anyone. Most individuals that you can kill can't really do much of anything against an entire country. They can kill individual citizens--and they do--but I might captiously prefer to see X number of my own citizens kidnapped or killed or harmed rather than have blood on my own hands. Does that make me more moral than Obama, sin eating for my life? Doubtful.

  60. Greenwald's hyperbole helps nobody. The last time he was over here, he basically claimed that anyone who supports the President obviously has no problem murdering children. How the hell does that help? He behaves like a man seeking attention, not a man seeking change, and in that regard he's a liability.

  61. Leeds man12:48 PM

    "If that's all the anti-drone crowd is doing, then it's hard to take it seriously as a cause."

    Absolutely, but unfortunately, folk who are not a priori anti-drone, or anti-Obama, often get automatically labelled so for just wanting to discuss the policies.

  62. Tehanu12:50 PM

    The problem with Jane H. co-signing with Grover the Nork isn't that two opponents on most things found one issue to agree on. That's a principle I wish we saw more often. The problem is that Grover the Nork and the rest of the rightwing crazies can't be trusted. In other words, it's not co-signing with a reasonable opponent; it's co-signing with a treacherous enemy.

  63. XeckyGilchrist12:55 PM

    Not really. The difference between me and the really strident anti-dr0nz activist is that there are conceivable actions the administration could take with which I would be satisfied.

  64. I have a feeling the Pakistani and Yemeni governments "LIKE this shit" too. Potential troublemakers in the so-called 'tribal areas' - that they themselves can't seem to govern or control without taking massive losses in men or political capital - are killed at the United States' material and political expense and said governments get to blithely lodge pro-forma protests about sovereignty and look the other way.

  65. KatWillow1:11 PM

    After Vietnam our gov't made sure there was no longer a "free press" to tell Teh People what was really going on. Instead, we have Murdoch. Meanwhile, Americans stock up on assault rifles and ammo.

  66. aimai1:12 PM

    I believe the phrase you are looking for is "The Lamb may lie down with the Lion...but it shouldn't get too comfy."

    You can't make common cause with someone on one thing if they are opposed to everythign you stand for on everything else because the other battles continue on every front and as you take your eye off those skirmishes to celebrate your new found comity your new best friend is going to slit your throat.**

    No one can believe that the party that led us into Iraq and bombed hospitals there with gleeful impunity gives an actual rats ass about drone strikes or American Citizenship or due process. That being the case in the real world you ought to know, on some level, that you and your cause, however virtuous, are merely being used in a proxy war over the things that your former enemies, now friends, think are really important: lowering taxes and getting cheap oil and maybe killing people for fun and profit.

    **This all reminds me of how touchingly Laura Bush explained her horror at the way Afghan women and girls were being treated under the Taliban, and my sweet right wing sister in law holding her hands over her heart in the breathless way heroines in romances do and declaring "I do believe in the case for a humanitarian intervention in Iraq."

  67. KatWillow1:14 PM

    Is today's blog "hating on the right"? Can you tell the difference between "hating" something and laughing jeeringly at it?

  68. aimai1:15 PM

    Pass, friend, in peace. Speak your mind, though your voice shakes and people skree skree.

  69. KatWillow1:17 PM

    Ever read "The Lottery"? by Shirley Jackson?

  70. KatWillow1:19 PM

    They're saying that in the US we HAVE LAWS against killing Americans, or putting them in jail, without a TRIAL. Jeez, did you ever study the Constitution?

  71. Susan of Texas1:25 PM

    If Altemeyer is right about authoritarianism--and of course I think he is---then speaking out on the internet is very important. People follow along with the dominant public consensus. If "everyone" says that using drones to kill targets must end because it kills non-combatants (whose deaths we then must justify or risk a murder charge) or because it creates blow-back by inflaming anti-US passions (which it does), then most people will not support the use of drones. This public disapprobation won't change anything in the halls of power but it might change voting decisions.

    In fact it is the traditional methods of activism that are proving fruitless. We can call and write and protest but that will not change the basic power structure of our country. The rich do what they will and we do what we must. We might be able to make small changes here and there but we can't stop our president from grabbing more power or end wars.

    Activism did not stop the bank bailouts but Occupy made bankers piss their pants in fear. Occupy was nothing but a physical presence. They committed no actions, made no changes. They just stood there (more or less) and by their presence let the elite know that there are a lot of us and only a few of them.

    If we do not condemn drone wars and gutting of civil liberties in the strongest possible terms we might win the battle but we will lose the war. Let's say nobody condemns the drones. Obama's got this, let the man do his job. But the left has now given up on civil liberties. They have said that following the law--which is what Greenwald is all about--is not necessary. It's okay to ignore due process if it's your guy keeping people in prison or killing without trial.

    This is not about drones or Afghanistan or elections. It's about whether we are a nation of laws. The same set of laws that should have protected al-Awalaki and his son from drones protect us from corrupt cops or politicians or corporations.

    I don't work with people I dislike in the name of a common cause; I think that give them legitimacy they do not have. But we absolutely must condemn illegal behavior on the part of those trusted with creating and keeping safe our laws. If the right does it too, great! We'll remind them of this later when their guy is president; it's a valuable weapon in our arsenal. But as it is, they are holding the weapon and watching if we impale ourselves on it; reminding us of our past actions and waiting to see if we abandon our moral center when it's our guy doing the deed.

  72. aimai1:30 PM

    I want to thank you for introducing me to the phrase "battlefield depopulation" because its new to me but makes so much sense of a whole panoply of military decisions that are being made. Its actually the natural follow on to privatization and the astounding cost of caring for a damaged, wounded, veteran population after 12 years of war. The US military jonesing for war is like the dog that catches the car--it turns out to be fantastically difficult to deal with the results of full on battlefield war in terms of money, health care, etc... Green eyeshades at the Pentagon and in the Government are of course going to push for anything that results in limited battlefield commitment of men or hardware because its so damned expensive after decomissioning.

  73. aimai1:41 PM

    This is not about drones or Afghanistan or elections. It's about whether we are a nation of laws. The same set of laws that should have protected al-Awalaki and his son from drones protect us from corrupt cops or politicians or corporations.

    You are one of the most important voices on this, SoT and I really respect you and your outlook. But, and this is a big but, I'm not sure I agree that its a good idea to pin your argument on the illegality of the killing of al Awalaki and on the notion that the government can/can not apply the same death sentence to any American on US soil.

    For one thing if the government decided that al Awalaki needed to be killed but they couldn't kill him without "due process" they could, of course, have stripped him of his passport and citizenship. They have done so in the past and can no doubt do so again. For another thing the US government can and does kill its own enemies on US soil with impunity. No one was punished for the bomb dropped on MOVE, no one was punished for the invasion of David Koresh's compound. No one will be punished for tazing to death numerous people who were merely in the way of the Police. There is a slippery slope here but it really doesn't begin or end with the death of Al Awalaki.

    For another thing I object, strenuously, to the focus on Al Awalaki because he was a US citizen. We are killing plenty of citizens of other countries deliberately and by accident. Their deaths are not more dangerous to us morally or less vile than Al Awalaki's--in fact, to my mind, his is by far the more righteous kill in the sense that we as a nation can be considered to at least be responsible for our own citizens and their actions around the world.

    As for whether the right wing is watching and waiting to see whether we "abandon our moral center when its our guy doing the deed." I doubt very much that they care in any real sense. They will always call us craven opportunists and project onto us their own indifference to human life. Or they will flip--in this case--and continue to beat us about the head as starry eyed dreamers not fit to hold power. Who cares? You do what you do without regards to its impact on the Republican party because it will have no particularly good impact regardless of the timing. People's grasp of history is as nuanced and as faillible as their grasp of anything--next time the argument comes up and a Republican is president they will find a reason why the previous arguments don't apply, or go back slightly farther and complain that you held Obama to one standard but you didn't chastise Clinton severely enough.

  74. ChrisVosburg1:42 PM

    Even a cursory read of the constitution will reveal to you that the rights enumerated therein are guaranteed to "the people," not "the citizens."

    Thus any foreign national enjoys the same constitutional protections when on US soil.

    Law enforcement agencies kill people in this country every day without benefit of a trial (it typically happens when someone answers a search warrant with a drawn weapon, or presents an immediate threat to the safety of others, including cops). My advice: do what helpful Officer Friendly tells you to do.

    And people are imprisoned without trial every day, which is called being held pending bail or trial. Sometimes, there is no bail when the suspect presents a flight risk.

    I can't believe that you are unaware of these simple facts, Kat.

  75. aimai1:46 PM

    Just to remind everyone that within the Military Industrial Political complex the actors may change but the actions never do and that this notion of a world historic detente between, say Glenn Greenwald and Ed Morrissey is beyond absurdly meaningless here's a House Republican letting you all know how eager the Republicans will be to attack Obama from the left on this:

    Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that "there is oversight" on the Obama administration's drone strikes against U.S. citizens who are believed to be senior al-Qaeda leaders.
    "I review all of the air strikes that we use under this title of the law," he told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. Rogers added that Americans who decide to join al-Qaeda become enemies of the U.S. "If you have someone who has joined this organization, and they may not be engaged in plot a today, but part of an organization plotting to kill Americans, and so they've joined the enemy. So you don't just kill the enemy when they're at the gate."
    Rogers insisted there is not a long list of Americans on any "kill list." "I can candidly tell you that," he said.

  76. This falls squarely under maybe the right will prosecute it in Congress

    Flatulent Ed notwithstanding, I very much doubt that the calls for impeachment would switch from using Benghazi, recess appointments, or, for the especially stupid, Stuxnet leaks, to what boils down to "The President is illegally killing suspected terrorists abroad!" They've certainly managed some breathtakingly hypocritical moves, and will continue to do so, but I really don't see them being able to spin this one to the base. What, Steve King is going to go back home and tell the inbred Talibornagain fuckwits of western Iowa, "These people the President has been targeting might not even be guilty of anything, even though they have Muslim-sounding names"? Even if he could manage to produce those sounds, which I doubt, his cadre would draw and quarter him on the spot.

    This is actually too bad, because it would be nice if they had decided to obstruct the Obama administration by curtailing the President's surveillance and assassination powers. But they are compelled to re-up the PATRIOT Act, retain the AUMF, etc, even when they're being used by a leftist fundamentalist Muslim negro, because they believe too strongly in War on Terror Until Jeebus Beams Us Up.

  77. Susan of Texas1:59 PM

    I agree that each instance of illegal official behavior is important, but that makes me even more of a purity unicorn doesn't it?

    Yes, the right will ignore ignore facts and continue their attacks no matter what but at least they won't be right. Being in the right makes us much stronger.

  78. You are zero-note. You are a gawping void. Your words are white noise played to an empty room.

  79. aimai2:09 PM

    I don't know about "makes us stronger" because I'm not sure what it means. Movements come and go, rise and fall, as the numbers of their adherents wax or wane. I don't know that the purity or the intensity of the statements or the beliefs of their membership is a factor in convincing other people to join.

    My own sense is that very few Americans care, or will care, about Drones specifically because very few care about death dealing--you have only to read the astounding hagiographic account of the recently killed American Sniper to realize that this country valorizes death dealing at a distance. We don't believe in mortal combat in which a "fair fight" occurs between well matched foes and each risks as much as the other.

    The natural allies of leftist anti-drones (anti drones as opposed to anti war) activists are going to be right wing anti government forces who are already convinced Obama's government wants to kill them. They will instantly drop their opposition to drones when the Republicans control the war machine again because they don't oppose killing people at a distance, killing other American citizens, or killing political enemies.

    The anti drones movement will wax and wane not because of the purity of your intentions or expressions or the firmness of your honorable evenhandedness but with the position of the drones in the proxy war between Republicans and Democrats for control of the national government and its treasury and resources.

  80. Susan of Texas2:11 PM

    Let me point out one more thing. Obama wanted that white paper leaked. He is merciless to leakers and whistleblowers. Nobody would have dared leak it without permission. For some reason he wanted this all hashed out in public, normalized, trivialized and rationalized. Arthur Silber says it's about Brennan, I don't know enough to say.

  81. aimai2:13 PM

    I'd like to edit my remarks, but the system won't let me, to say that I don't mean them in an "a pox on both your houses" sort of way, nor in a "the uselessness of everything" sort of way. I think you absolutely have to keep on fighting and pushing the overton window and talking to people about the targeted killings and what they mean for us as a people. But I think the attitudes of your allies on the right are basically purely utilitarian--they are opposed to snipers sniping at Ruby Ridge and they are pro snipers sniping in Iraq. That's the sum total of the reason why (some) right wing Americans will come along on the anti-drone thing. They are not now and never will be opposed to killing people--they have happilly reconciled killing people with following Jesus and they will continue to reconcile killing other american citizens/non citizens for the government when the government comes back into Jesus's hands.

  82. aimai2:26 PM

    Its already normalized. There is nothing new about drones or about targeted killings. Pushing things out into the open used to be called "transparency." Why is this different? If Obama is not responsible for leaking the leak is the leak meritorious? If Obama is responsible for leaking the leak does it become evil? Discuss.**

    To me this reminds me of the fact that Bush kept the cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars off the books and Obama put them on the books. Does that make Obama the one who is "really" paying for the wars or does it just turn out that Obama actually believes in doing stuff out in the open because we are all equally complicit in what is done in our name/with our pay whether we acknowledge it or hide it?

  83. willf2:27 PM

    folk who are not a priori anti-drone, or anti-Obama, often get automatically labelled so for just wanting to discuss the policies.

    Feature not bug, You can't have reasoned discourse on this subject, someone might change their mind.

    I find that most people yelling about "purity" are usually providing emotional excuses why they can't have any "accountability" from their elected representatives.

    But "purity" is a better word with which to scare people than "accountability". If you are looking for "accountability", the onus is on those you wish to hold accountable, But if you are looking for "purity" well then, there's something wrong with you.

  84. Susan of Texas2:28 PM

    Our allies are those who believe in the rule of laws, not men. We are not a movement any more than atheism is a religion. We are people who define themselves by the choices they make. That is all.

  85. willf2:31 PM

    Read it? I'm about two years and a few more foreclosures away from living it.

  86. willf2:47 PM

    "world historic detente" oh boy.

    GG points out that a nominally liberal broadcast outfit is supporting the president's flying killer robot program, and a rightblogger is opposing it. That's it, he's just pointing out the irony.

    It's like that time during the election when Greenwald pointed out that Ron Paul's stated positions lined up more closely with soi-dissant liberals than Obama's did, and everyone said that Greenwald was endorsing Paul.

    People sure like to get mad at what they think he wrote.

  87. willf2:49 PM

    But who is calling it "activism"? I think you're scolding the chair on this.

  88. Susan of Texas2:52 PM

    The question is why does he want this power? Or rather, why does he want to hand this power to the next Republican president? Why now? Does he have a greater goal in mind or a specific purpose, aside from the usual military-industrial-financial complex reasons?

  89. willf3:04 PM

    Eugene Debs couldn't carry a tune in a bucket!

  90. aimai3:23 PM

    No one's mad. I take it that Glenn wants to start a conversation about something that is important--the drones--and he thinks that the right way to do it is to "embarrass" what he assumes are his liberal allies by accusing them of being no better than their right wing opponents? That's Chuckling's shtick too. Its just a schoolyard taunt and it has about as much place in an actual political debate as schoolyard taunts usually do. Its like saying "You hate fat people but you are fatter than some fat guy" is a good strategy for getting people to go on diets, or to stop fat shaming. Its just a tactic and it may or may not be a valuable one. Personally, I am not motivated by competition with Ed Morrissey or what MSNBC does.

  91. aimai3:33 PM

    You aren't making any choices that are different from mine--that was the point of my comment up or downthread that I failed to move out of this country and live in exile. We are both living here, both voting here, both paying taxes here, both benefitting (or failing to benefit) from the political and military machinations of the ruling class.

    In addition "The Rule of Laws" isn't some real thing that guarantees us the knowledge of what is right to do or not do. --Laws change all the time, they can be immoral and be laws, they can be distasteful and still be legal:--under the AUMF Bush and Obama probably have the legal right--until such time as the Supreme Court rules differently--to do what they have done.

    Laws can be wrong. I don't tailor my morality to the law as currently stated and I don't think you do either. You oppose (presumably) even lawful killings. I know I do.

    I guess I can't be your ally because although I believe in the rule of law I don't necessarily believe that I have to comply with what is legal, or that I am bound to reject something because it is legal but distasteful or immoral. Do I oppoose drones and targeted killings? yes, but I oppose them less, or rather prefer them, to all out war.

    My point here is that Altemeyer's Authoritarian/Non Authoritarian scale is not a straight line from bad to good. It actually is a more complex view of people's motivations in which absolutism in any belief and refusal to negotiate, to compromise, to temporize to guess and to doubt are more associated with Authoritarian leadership and followership than with liberal and humane values.

  92. willf3:36 PM

    I don't think he's trying to embarrass anyone, if someone feels embarrassed, then perhaps they are experiencing feelings of guilt or cognitive dissonance and they need to deal with that.

    GG was just pointing out the irony that nominally liberal broadcast outlet MSNBC says that they support the president's killer-robots-from-the-sky program, and nominally conservative Ed Morrisey says he doesn't. That's it.

  93. aimai3:36 PM

    Really? You don't get it? He has this power because Bush had this power because Clinton had the power--the power to order strikes on the "enemies of the US." That's the sovereign, executive's function in any state that isn't a failed state. Why now? Well--he could be putting Brennan up for nomination and want everything out in the open. He could want the Republicans who reflexively oppose all of his policies (the good the bad and the ugly) to get their hands dirty and admit in public that they are and always have been complicit in the dirtier parts of America's military and imperial adventures. Do you think there is some more nefarious thing going on here like Obama isn't just the President he's the super duper evil president with super duper evil intentions?

  94. aimai3:38 PM

    I don't think its an irony and its not embarrassing, I just thought it was childish--precisely because it seemed so pointless. As a state we have the power to (try to) kill our enemies. If you agree that the person killed was the enemy you celebrate, if you don't agree then you think it was a bad use of the power. That's explicitly Morrisey's perspective: he likes the power when his side uses it and he pretends to be suspicious of it when his side is out of power. To pretend that is "ironic" or even the lesser "surprising" is to pretend to a childish startlement that Glenn, of all people, cant' be feeling.

  95. wileywitch3:40 PM

    We made it so. And same for terrorism. Nevertheless, their have been terrorist attacks in the West with high death tolls. It's not new in many parts of the world, and we did overreact, but the U.S. hasn't suffered an attack on the homeland since Pearl Harbor. The Soviets didn't kill people here.

    Regardless of the rights and wrongs of how it's being carried out, protecting the country is the government's job. Personally, I think domestic terrorism is a bigger problem, and I can think that because there haven't been other significant attacks by foreign bodies within our borders.

  96. wileywitch3:42 PM

    True. The majority of the Viet Cong weren't even communists. It was, as you say, a nationalist movement.

  97. wileywitch3:46 PM

    Right now, there is some seriously bad stress between India and Pakistan over Bangladesh. I would welcome an enormous international effort to get Pakistan in order should radical extremists take hold in Pakistan. Those extremists are also killing a lot of civilians in Pakistan, btw.

  98. wileywitch3:55 PM

    Drones kill far fewer people than bombers and jets and can also get far more information without being a target than large aircraft. Because of the remote nature of piloting and targeting, and the huge chasm between weapons capability, there is a natural lack of fairness that is offensive. But the death tolls are much lower than they would have been had we used more conventional methods of bombing/firing missiles. We've lost around 5,000 soldiers in Afghanistan in ten years. In under ten years in Viet Nam, and in four years in Korea, we lost over 50,000 and the death tolls for civilians in Viet Nam, at least, were higher.

    This is a separate issue from the appropriateness of the war, but the drones are not as indiscriminate as other bomb/missile delivery vehicles and the ordinance doesn't kill as widely.

    Focusing on the drones is a losing battle, focus on the aggression.

  99. wileywitch4:11 PM

    A nation doesn't have to be altruistic to effect changes for the better. Since we were put there by the Bush administration, it would be nice if we could do something for the population before we leave.

  100. JennOfArk4:12 PM

    A good back and forth here, coming from one who engaged Chuckling in his drone-hypocrisy schtick a few days ago.

    Here's the one thing I haven't seen mentioned, probably because this discussion has been more about the moral dimensions of the drone program rather than the legal or the political: remember right after 9/11 when the rightwing was all over Clinton about his failure to take bin Laden out when he could have? Of course we know who it was who took their eye off bin Laden, but I'm just noting there is a political dimension here as well, which encourages a "better safe than sorry" approach, particularly for a Democratic president since both the right and media would like to cling to the notion of Democrats as being insufficiently pro-war, or as they phrase it, "soft on defense." And as others have noted, since Congress has long since abdicated its war powers, it rests with the president to make the decisions. It's not supposed to be that way, but that is the de facto case. Presidents have legacies to consider and it's one guy who can (and will, if he's a Democrat) be singled out and blamed when anything having to do with military adventures goes awry. That's too much to put on one guy, but that's the way it is right now.

    Sure, that's the crass way to look at it, but perhaps it's helpful to note that crass opportunism wins out over principled morality at least 9 out of 10 times.

    And from a legal standpoint, I don't know where you end up on the question of targeting a US citizen with a drone strike if they are hiding out overseas to avoid the US justice system. Clearly in a case where there is fighting on the ground and a US citizen is allied with or involved in fighting US troops, it's no harm no foul if he gets killed in a battle, and wouldn't be even if he was the intended target to capture or kill. From a legal standpoint, I can't see much difference between a US citizen being killed in a firefight with ground troops or being killed by a drone - the hand doing the killing is the same and dead is dead either way.

  101. aimai4:28 PM

    Alas, too sensible.

    The original meaning of OutLaw was one who, having been offered the chance to come home for trial, stayed away from the kinds of dispute settlement functions then available. After having had his name/crime published a certain number of times then everyone was free to kill him because he was "outside" the law.

    As for the "legacy" question I think it is weird that Glenn went there--as though Obama isn't, in fact, going to be remembered for attempting to get everyone in the country some form of health care, for winding down Bush's wars, for being the first black president etc... I hate this "legacy" shtick which IIRC began after Clinton as a way of saying that Clinton had so blotted his copybook with the blow job that he had to find a way to repair his very memory as a president. I don't even remember it being said about Carter who was so roundly attacked and dissapeared from history. This legacy thing seems to me to be a backhanded way of saying that the President is concerned only about appearances and not about any kind of reality. That he has no real problems he's wrestling with --foreign policy or otherwise--and that its all for show.

    I don't even think that of George Bush, and I detested him. I think when you get stuck with a job that big there are a shitload of decisions you make that you make (however awfully) with a lot more pressing concerns on your mind than what someone will say about you twenty or thirty years out.

  102. JennOfArk4:34 PM

    Well I of course have no inside track as to the reasoning, but legacy questions aside, I can well imagine that being president these days it's impossible to push aside concerns that failing to get this or that bad guy could result in another 9/11. The only way something like that wouldn't bother you, if a bad guy you had watched but taken no action on shows up 10 or 15 years later and does something horrendous, would be if you were an incurious sociopath like George W. Bush.

    Like I said, it's really too much to put on one guy's shoulders.

  103. wileywitch4:40 PM

    Yeah, it's some bullshit, but it's also true that a lot of adolescent boys in Afghanistan do fight.

  104. aimai4:44 PM

    Good point. But you know--I'm not even sure Bush thinks that 9/11 was his fault or his legacy. And I doubt his voters do. The longer I live and read on the internet the more convinced I am that people don't really learn anything new that they didn't already believe, and things which are too painful for them to "know" they will never learn.

    Over at baloon juice someone (can't think who) who was raised in the evangelical subculture with extra doses of the rapture really nailed the inherent fatalism that a seriously calvinist/authoritarian g-d can create in the individual. Things that might scare you (end of the world, climate change, pollution, death) all get swept up together into one bit "oh...well...god's gonna do what he's gonna do." It creates a kind of learned helplessness in the individual. And I really think that political and historical events that are too big and too scary for individuals get rolled up in this as well.

    The flip side of people who blame Obama for everything and see every flaw in his responses as indicative of his basic evil nature also essentially shurg off bush's behavior (whether because they support it or they hated it) as beyond control, just part of who he was, just an act of god. Maybe I only think that because Obama's on the hot seat now but I just don't remember this level of hatred directed at Bush by both sides of the aisle (until very late in his career when even his own voters began blaming him for being a covert democrat/progressive.

  105. aimai4:48 PM

    Apologies to all for posting too much. I was engaged in the cleaning of some augean stables and, naturally, I would rather be hanging at alicublog than doing that.

  106. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard6:10 PM

    Poor Ed only gets a boner when the drone victims are darker than the president.

  107. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard6:14 PM

    Seeing how the massive protests in the runup to the Iraq invasion were totally ignored by the media, I can't see this happening.

  108. TGuerrant6:14 PM

    Like stop killing their children? I could go for that, yeah. But then, I'm a tender-hearted fool.

  109. wileywitch6:43 PM

    Not the way protests have been looking. Wish I had the skills of a librarian, then I would have this article handy; but I don't. I've read it suggested that if the left wants to have a demonstration that makes the hairs of Congress and the President stand on end; then rather than making it a free-for-all of individuals, that they should dress the same--- black and whites were recommended because most people have them in their wardrobe (especially service people)--- and march in unity. Demonstrating solidarity would be far more effective than going for a body count of individuals who show up for a host of reasons. "Look, we're cats in a herd" doesn't have the punch that the civil rights movement had, and that's not counting the real solidarity and networking that had been developed over the years.

  110. wileywitch6:49 PM

    Ah, yes. You are so much more caring than I am. No nation or force should ever fight anywhere because children could be killed, and if a nation's children are being killed and conscripted into battle by it's own, then that's o.k., because it's their children.

    It's obvious. How easily I forget my cold-hearted hatred of children.

  111. Let us take the opportunity presented by opportunism, and welcome and support them.

    Okay, but they sit at the kids' table.

  112. tigrismus7:56 PM

    Why do you hate children?

  113. XeckyGilchrist8:11 PM

    True, but there are a couple of differences now - Democratic administration, and giant puppets might not be required at protests anymore.

  114. They got little baby legs that stand so low, you got to pick 'em up just to say hello. They got little cars that go beep, beep, beep. They got little voices going peep, peep, peep. They got grubby little fingers and dirty little minds. They're gonna get you every time.

  115. chuckling9:33 PM

    I've been called indifferent to, and complicit in, the murder of children on the internet plenty.

    Well, actually, you've written that you are indifferent to drone strikes, which equates to murdering children. But of course it's just brown children on the other side of the world who are being murdered. I bet you'd sing a different tune if President Rand Paul, or Burp Romney, or King George Bush V were to use the Obama doctrine to murder liberal ivy league snobs. Cause, you know, any future nut case can do that. And not only were you silent while it was happening. You were shouting at people who cared to shut up.

    So what? Their opinions don't really matter.

    That's the spirit! And so true. Course neither do yours.

  116. chuckling9:58 PM

    Yea, it's very possible Obama will go down in history as being far worse than George W. Bush, having legalized the murder of Americans on a high level government official's whim. This latest announcement on the heels of his working with the Republican congress to enact a middle class tax increase and unilaterally surrendering on the birth control pill insurance mandate. It's starting to look like "Obamney" was more an insult to Romney than Obama.

    Well, probably not, but it's getting awfully hard to tell. And there's still nearly four more years. With Liberals like ours, we really don't need conservatives.

  117. AGoodQuestion10:14 PM

    Otherwise, plenty of reasons to be suspicious of drone warfare--it's more indiscriminate than described, it's geopolitically stupid, and it's the working definition of mission creep.

    Also it's a one way street, which the people on the receiving end obviously know. Not really useful in terms of winning hearts and minds.

  118. AGoodQuestion10:27 PM

    Sure, but there are conservatives who actually do have some credibility in pursuing a saner foreign policy, as opposed to opportunistic liberal-picking as Morrissey is doing. Justin Raimondo, say, or for that matter Pat Buchanan. As an ally, Cap'n Ed isn't one.

  119. AGoodQuestion10:43 PM

    OT, Jenn, but are you still blogging anywhere? 3 Weird Sisters seems to be kaput, and Wordpress won't even let me see the archives.

  120. wileywitch11:51 PM

    Children died in Dresden and the Siege of Leningrad. But they weren't killed by drones, so hey!

    The death of children is always tragic---especially when violent and unintended. The risk of killing children is not a legitimate argument against all military action. In fact, using children and American citizens as a reason to avoid a militant action, as a policy, would only encourage terrorists and other enemies to have children and American citizens on hand as deterrent.

  121. ChrisVosburg12:32 AM

    If you stop posting, I'll come for for you. Best.

  122. ChrisVosburg12:39 AM

    Laughable, man.

  123. ChrisVosburg12:48 AM


  124. ChrisVosburg1:12 PM

    In your simplistic view, an armed police force in the city you live in equates to murder.

  125. ChrisVosburg1:36 PM

    My comment was deleted.

    My God, moderator, was it something I did? Was it something I said?

    Because it sure as hell wasn't something I wrote, which was a a polite reminder of constitutional guarantees.

    What the hell did I do?

  126. ChrisVosburg1:48 PM

    By the way, if you want to dress this debate down, you can simply view the comments of aimia, Susan of Texas, and Wileywitch.

    Word, bro..

  127. ChrisVosburg2:10 PM

    You eat what is on your plate.

    [sigh] Nato struggles to undo the damage wrought by the invasion commandeered by Dubya but it's tough. What exactly was he after if not genocide?

  128. After getting sprung from Gitmo, Said al-Shihri became a leader of the al-Qaeda network in Yemen...

    Don't know anything about this guy but if I were Gitmoed and I was innocent I sure as hell would take sides afterwards.

  129. chuckling7:35 PM

    Umm, no. In my traditional liberal view, an armed police force that kills suspects without trial equates to murder.


  130. chuckling7:41 PM

    The bombing of Dresden is widely regarded as one of the great war crimes of all time. But at least it was during a real war against a terrible enemy. We are not at war with Pakistan or Yemen or Afghanistan. We are killing suspected criminals, and anyone close to them, without trial. By any liberal tradition, that is simply murder. And politically, governments that have claimed the legal right to kill without trial, particularly their own citizens, are usually labeled Fascist. Hitler wrote about it at length in Mein Kampf. The U.S. founders, on the other hand, believed it was insane to give a government that kind of power. They were right.

  131. chuckling7:53 PM

    I do write a lot about stuff on the internet--but I never mistake it for politically meaningful action.

    Right, but anyone who disagrees with your diktats, even in the slightest, does make that mistake. We see where you're coming from. It's not a pretty place.

  132. ChrisVosburg8:29 PM

    Police kill suspects all the time without trial, usually as a result of an imminent threat to public safety, as has been pointed out to you many, many times, despite your pretense.

    But in in a wrenching return to relevancy, let's take the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, whose sordid history is summarized in his Wikipedia entry.

    What would you do?

  133. chuckling8:36 PM

    I'm unclear why we are having this argument. Police don't legally kill suspects that they deem to be a threat to public safety. They legally kill suspects who are actively threatening someone.

    I don' t need to read the entry. Anwar whatever his name should be treated like anyone else according to the rule of law. Could there possibly be a more central tenet of Liberalism? What you are advocating is Fascism, or something very close. I don't mean that as an insult, btw, just going by the historical meanings of the words.

  134. ChrisVosburg8:47 PM

    Thank you for clarifying that.

    As I said, but you decided to edit, it's "imminent threat".

    Yes, you do need to read the entry, which explains in terms anyone with an attention span greater than a cocker spaniel can understand why "Anwar whatshisname" was killed.

  135. chuckling8:47 PM

    And look, I don't want to be rude to you personally, ChrisVosburg, but are people who consider themselves to be liberals, really arguing that the police should be able to kill anyone they want if they suspect them of having committed a crime, or that they will commit one in the future? Why yes. Yes they are. It's fucking ridiculous.

  136. ChrisVosburg8:55 PM

    they will commit one in the future?

    That'd be what is called prior restraint, and you're quite correct, it is wrong to arrest someone for merely thinking about committing a crime.

    Did you think that this was why Anwar whatshisname was taken out?

  137. chuckling8:56 PM

    Do you not understand the concept of "Rule of Law" or do you not think it's important?

    Again, I don't mean to be rude. If you were writing these things on some wingnut blog I wouldn't think anything of it. But you comment here a lot and are presumably a liberal, so I find it truly bizarre that you and so many others seem so thoroughly invested in this Cheny-Rumsfeld type argument. Rule of Law is probably The core concept of liberal democracy.

  138. chuckling8:59 PM

    I don't know and don't care. Even if the execution of this one individual was consistent with the Rule of Law, that in no way justifies abandoning Rule of Law for other suspects. Is that what you're arguing?

  139. ChrisVosburg9:19 PM

    that in no way justifies abandoning Rule of Law for other suspects


  140. chuckling9:40 PM

    My understanding is that none of the victims have been arrested and tried. Certainly not the women and children and neighbors et. al. when weddings and funerals are targeted.

    If you're going to say that those aren't American citizens, on one hand I don't think it should matter, that the rule of law should apply to all people. But even if we limit the conversation to American citizens, it's still the same thing. If the government/police can order executions in secret with none of the traditional mechanisms of due process, then have become an authoritarian state, not a constitutional democracy.

    The concept of making us safer is always the main argument for authoritarianism. Sure, Anwar what's his name was probably a transparently bad guy and it may seem silly to afford him the same rights as you or yours, but when you take away his rights, the reality is you take away your own as well.

    I don't believe in liberalism or constitutional democracy for any kind of utopian reasons. History shows it to be the best way to organize society for the greatest number of people. It's a virtual certainty that many more lives were lost anor severely damaged because Bin Laden was not treated as a common criminal and accorded the benefits of the rule of law than would have been if he was. I don't doubt the same thing for Anwar what's his name.

    Anyway, I've politely answered your questions. So if you don't mind, please explain how you feel about the possibility that the government/police will inevitably abuse their power to conduct secret trials and executions. You are aware of the rhetoric coming from the right calling people who disagree with them, people like you and me traitors. What's to keep President Rand Paul or the like from having people he believes to be traitors arrested, tortured, or executed without due process or even trial at some future date?

  141. ChrisVosburg9:58 PM

    Anyway, I've politely answered your questions.

    No, chuckilng, you haven't. You have instead ignored, obfuscated, confused, and ultimately discarded any coherent expression of the topic under discussion.

    In parting, some advice: If I were were you, I'd avoid trying this again, especially with aimai, because if you piss her off you'll get your ass kicked up one side of the street and down the other (so far, she seems to consider you enough of a lightweight that she doesn't bother).

    So we'll let this comment of yours be the last word in this utterly pointless conversation:

    "I don't know and I don't care".

  142. Chuckling11:15 PM

    Wow, that's truly bizarre. I politely answered your questions. My answers are based on a thousand years or so of liberal legal thought going back to the Magna Carta. What you are apparently advocating, giving the government the power to kill anyone they want without the burden of constitutional niceties such as due process, trials, etc, is the hallmark of brutal, authoritarian regimes dating back to the dawn of human society.

    Now you bug out to avoid the obvious question? I doubt you are fooling too many people other than yourself.

    Regarding your comment about aimai, I always get a laugh at the 101st fighting keyboarder mentality you display. Nobody's kicking anyone's ass. We're typing. Duh. And I'm nothing but thankful if she, and now you, want to stop embarrassing yourselves with your lame wingnutty attacks. I genuinely wish that she considered me such a lightweight that she didn't feel the need to constantly stalk me under my comments. Did you notice the other night when she made like 30 separate comments? It was kind of scary.

    But seriously, why not answer the question, as I have without the nasty attitude? What's to keep a future government from abusing these laws? Historically, that 's been the norm. You really trust the Republicans to behave responsibly? You really trust any government with that kind of power?

  143. ChrisVosburg12:13 AM

    Thanks chuckling for that. Could you flesh your views
    out a bit for us?

  144. FlipYrWhig12:34 AM

    You want the Republican House to bash Obama over how he handles war and intelligence? Good luck with that. They care so little about civil liberties and executive power that they're going to leave unscored points and money on the table. Guaranteed.

  145. AngryWarthogBreath9:22 PM

    Can I just say, speaking as an Australian, that it's kind of worrying to hear "it's bad to kill US citizens with flying death robots for no reason" rather than "it's bad to kill people with flying death robots for no reason"? Because I want to say that. I know that there's a certain "well, what do you think war is" going on, but it's still kind of worrying.

    Other than that, my position's pretty mushy middle, drones bad because war bad, less danger to soldiers good but less danger to soldiers means more indiscriminate use which is bad, Obama should quit with that shit, but he's still better off than Romney would have been, which isn't that important without the election looming.

    I still think he's a pretty good president, but I'd rather not have to qualify that with "apart from the flying death robots", is all.

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