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Friday, October 26, 2012

John Brennan, Obama's killing czar, opposes drone war?

President Obama listens to Brennan's report. Credits: Public domain.
John O. Brennan's official title is Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, as well as assistant to the president.  Unofficially, the Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf has dubbed Brennan the Obama Administration's Killing Czar. And according to Friedersdorf, even Brennan has qualms about the drone war:

In Djibouti, a small East African country on the Gulf of Aiden, the United States launches killer drones that strike in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. Last spring, as one of the drones sat on a runway, it suddenly came alive "without any human direction, even though the ignition had been turned off and the fuel lines closed," the Washington Post reports. "Technicians concluded that a software bug had infected the 'brains' of the drone, but never pinpointed the problem." It's an anecdote that underscores how easily things can go wrong as America rapidly expands drone fleets and missions. It isn't just that drones are frequently crashing, sometimes on urban neighborhoods, in the part of the world where John Brennan, the top counterterrorism adviser to President Obama, says that he's been most successful controlling the unmanned program. It's that a drone there isn't or wasn't entirely under the control of its minders!

With that in mind, let's turn to Pakistan, where America has carried out more drone strikes than anywhere else. Remarkably, the man who has more power than anyone save Obama over America's kill list has unwittingly made an air-tight argument that the drone war, as presently waged, is deeply problematic. That's what I gleaned from a close reading of the three-part Washington Post series on kill lists, which quotes Brennan and others familiar with his thinking at length.

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