Thousands Dead by U.S. Drone Strikes: Is There Method to the Madness?

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
12/10/2012
       
Thousands Dead by U.S. Drone Strikes: Is There Method to the Madness?

On NPR, a panel discussed the lack of enunciated rules for the Obama administration's deadly drone war.

On December 3, National Public Radio’s (NPR) “On Point” program featured a discussion on the rules followed (or violated) by the Obama administration in the execution of the drone war.

Three guests discussed the issue: former George W. Bush administration attorney John Bellinger; Jameel Jaffer, director of the Americans for Civil Liberties (ACLU) Center for Democracy; and the Wall Street Journal Pentagon correspondent, Julian Barnes. The trio explored the question of the legality of the deaths caused by U.S. drone strikes overseas, as well as the possible reason for the shroud of secrecy that covers so much of the policy.

"The most open secret in Washington is the CIA drone program. Although technically classified, it's something the President has discussed, the administration has discussed," Barnes said. One writer commenting on the program described the hush-hush policy as “fake secrecy.” Jaffer called it “absurd.”

He continued:

It is preposterous. The assertion that this program is a secret is nothing short of absurd. For more than two years, senior officials have been making claims about the program both on the record and off. They've claimed that the program is effective, lawful and closely supervised. If they can make these claims, there is no reason why they should not be required to respond to [Freedom of Information Act] requests.

There is evidence of the truth of that assertion.

President Obama himself has spoken on the record recently about various aspects of the parameters he imposes on himself before ordering the summary execution of a “suspected militant.”

From his interview with Ben Swann, host of Reality Check on Cincinnati’s Fox affiliate, to his sit-down with CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin, the kill-list compiler-in-chief is gradually exposing details of the principles he purportedly follows before targeting someone for assassination.

When asked by CNN what process he uses to make the life-or-death decisions to deploy the drones to kill a “militant,” President Obama listed five criteria:

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Photo of MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

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