Obama looks safe enough (for the moment), so I'm going to allow myself to slip back into my usual cynical stance toward the president. The following appears on Juan Cole
(and comes to our attention by way of Sky Dancing
President Obama’s personal involvement in selecting the targets of covert drone strikes means he risks effectively handing a ‘loaded gun’ to Mitt Romney come November, says the co-author of a new report aimed at US policymakers.
‘If Obama leaves, he’s leaving a loaded gun: he’s set up a programme where the greatest constraint is his personal prerogative. There’s no legal oversight, no courtroom that can make [the drone programme] stop. A President Romney could vastly accelerate it,’ said Naureen Shah, associate director of the Counterterrorism and Human Rights Project at the Columbia Law School.
The president ‘personally approves every military target’ in Yemen and Somalia and around a third of targets in Pakistan, the report says. The remainder of strikes in Pakistan are decided by the CIA, so are even further from formal decision-making processes and public scrutiny.
But deciding who is a militant and who is a civilian is fraught with difficulty – the very terms ‘civilian’ and ‘militant’ are ‘ambiguous, controversial, and susceptible to manipulation,’ the report says.
The US’s criteria for who is a civilian are ‘deeply problematic’, it adds. In May, a New York Times investigation revealed that all ‘military-aged males’ are held to be militants.
The Obama administration is so in thrall to drones’ technological potential that alternatives are barely considered, Shah said.
This is why we must follow the old lefty rule: "Vote on Tuesday; protest on Wednesday." But before someone tries try to sneak in a comment justifying a vote for Romney (ratfuckers of that sort are still barred from commenting on this site), please note this piece
by the NYT's Charlie Savage. It begins with a description of the executive order against torture signed by Obama:
By contrast, Mr. Romney’s advisers have privately urged him to “rescind and replace President Obama’s executive order” and permit secret “enhanced interrogation techniques against high-value detainees that are safe, legal and effective in generating intelligence to save American lives,” according to an internal Romney campaign memorandum.
While the memo is a policy proposal drafted by Mr. Romney’s advisers in September 2011, and not a final decision by him, its detailed analysis dovetails with his rare and limited public comments about interrogation.
“We’ll use enhanced interrogation techniques which go beyond those that are in the military handbook right now,” he said at a news conference in Charleston, S.C., in December.
The Romney campaign document, obtained by The New York Times, is a five-page policy paper titled “Interrogation Techniques.” It was a near-final draft circulated last September among the Romney campaign’s “national security law subcommittee” for any further comments before it was to be submitted to Mr. Romney. The panel consists of a brain trust of conservative lawyers, most of whom are veterans of the George W. Bush administration.
Steven Bradbury was, as some of you may recall, the fellow who offered the legal justification for CIA torture during the Bush years. Bradbury is on Team Romney.
has seen the actual memo. Here's a paragraph she considers key:
Governor Romney has recognized for years that the sounder policy outcome is the revival of the enhanced interrogation program. And a reluctance by the Governor to expressly endorse such an outcome during the campaign could become a self-fulfilling prophecy once he takes office by signaling to the bureaucracy that this is not a deeply-felt priority.
To which she adds:
First, note the language here. The advisors worry that if Mitt doesn’t explicitly endorse getting back into the torture business during the election, he might not do so. They want to force his hand before he’s elected to make sure he’ll carry through.
That is not the language of advisors. It’s the language of puppet-masters (though I’m sure the equivalent memos from inside the Obama camp aren’t much different).
Actually, the word is "advisers," but let that pass. I think Marcy is on to something here. Maybe the problem with Romney is the men behind Romney. Maybe he has been manipulated by "puppet masters" on a whole range of issues -- hence his wildly fluctuating stances. One string pulls him in one direction, while the other pulls him elsewhere...
At any rate, you have a clear choice this year. You can vote for the liberal, President Drone-Warfare. Or you can vote for the conservative, Governor Drones-and-Torture. If you try to tell me that there's no difference between the two candidates -- well, that's easy for you to say. You're not the one being tortured, are you?