Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Obama’s big boy pants


Winner of the Nobel peace prize for his good intentions, our president is fast achieving the kind of notoriety that Dubya momentarily commanded with his “mission accomplished” swagger. 

Neocons praise Obama for putting on his big boy pants the first time he made a secret kill list and checked it twice before unleashing Predator drones programmed in the name of anti-terrorism to unleash acts of terror against other nations

The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf urges Congress to wake up to Obama’s dramatic expansion of executive power, which, of course, includes the right to maintain the above secret kill lists:

Even the Obama Administration agrees that the lethal drone program it runs permits the executive branch to kill too easily. Its officials felt it urgent to codify various constraints when they thought Mitt Romney might win the election, The New York Times recently reported, quoting one official who said, "There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands."

The story went on to report that the efforts are less urgent now that President Obama has won reelection (as if he alone is trustworthy enough to extrajudicially kill all willy-nilly, or to delegate that power to unerring paragons of good judgment like retired CIA Director David Petraeus). Still, the effort goes on with as much transparency as you'd expect: "The draft rule book for drone strikes that has been passed among agencies over the last several months is so highly classified, officials said, that it is hand-carried from office to office rather than sent by e-mail."

So consider this.

The Obama Administration thinks that on the president's authority it can adopt secret rules to a secret killing program, and that the rules will bind future presidents to Obama's notions of prudence?

That isn't how it works. Some David Addington/Harold Koh type could write up a memo demolishing any prudent safeguard the next president found hobbling in no more than a week or two.

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