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Drones And The Kill List Now

The White House debates a drone attack against a U.S. citizen and terror suspect in Pakistan. We’ll look at Washington’s kill list and American drone policy.

Pakistani protesters burn a representation of the U.S. flag to condemn American drone strikes on militants' hideouts in Pakistani tribal areas, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 in Multan, Pakistan. The U.S. is now said to be considering legal options for using an unmanned drone to kill an American citizen in Pakistan. (AP)

Pakistani protesters burn a representation of the U.S. flag to condemn American drone strikes on militants’ hideouts in Pakistani tribal areas, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 in Multan, Pakistan. The U.S. is now said to be considering legal options for using an unmanned drone to kill an American citizen in Pakistan. (AP)

In drone news:  the White House is reported this week to be debating whether or not to launch a strike from the sky on an American linked to Al Qaeda.  It’s a “kill list” question, and whether Americans belong on it.  They’ve been there before.  In Pakistan, Kareem Khan has “disappeared.”  His brother and son were killed by a US drone. He was due to testify before European officials on US policy.  In Washington, a report that the NSA is targeting drone strikes off cell phone locations.  Light up your cell, they’ll light you up.  This hour On Point:  keeping up with American drones.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Greg Miller, intelligence reporter for the Washington Post. (@gregpmiller)

Spencer Ackerman, national security editor for the Guardian U.S. (@attackerman)

Micah Zenko, Douglas Dillon Fellow in the Center for Preventative Action at the Council on Foreign Relations. Author of “Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies” and “Between Threats and War: U.S. Discrete Military Operations in the Post-Cold War World.” (@MicahZenko)

Philip Mudd, director of global risk at SouthernSun Asset Management. Former deputy director of the counter-terrorism center at the C.I.A.  Former senior intelligence adviser and deputy director of the F.B.I.’s National Security branch.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: U.S. weighs lethal strike against American citizen — “The Obama administration is weighing whether to approve a lethal strike against a U.S. citizen who is accused of being part of the al-Qaeda terrorist network overseas and involved in ongoing plotting against American targets, U.S. officials said.”

Council On Foreign Relations: Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies – “Like any tool, drones are only as useful as the information guiding them, and for this they are heavily reliant on local military and intelligence cooperation. More important, significant questions exist about who constitutes a legitimate target and under what circumstances it is acceptable to strike. ”

The Intercept: The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program — “According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.”

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  • Isaac Bresnick

    There’s a common misconception about this issue. In this case, I think there are colorable constitutional arguments to be made about the killing of American citizens in certain circumstances, and I sympathize with efforts to find limits on the President’s power. With that said, I think most people who appeal to the Constitution for a limit here are engaged in an optimistic distraction – no such limit is to be found.

    The President is Commander-in-Chief, and Congress has authorized him to go to war. Days after 9/11, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, which granted him broad authority to use military force against individuals or organizations that he determines have connections to the 9/11 attacks. That law is still on the books. It’s incredibly broad, and it’s incredibly troublesome. The President is given the discretion to decide where the battlefield is, and who’s on it. The constitutionality of his decision will turn on this inquiry:

    Are the people put on the list because of their military value, or are they put on the list because of their violations of federal law? The Justice Department can’t summarily execute the Americans on the list because then it’s the carrying out of a death sentence without process, in violation of the Fifth Amendment. But the military is another matter: the President can order the killing of any individual, pursuant to the authority granted to him by Congress, as an act of war against those whom Congress has declared it.

    And one last thing: I don’t think it matters whether the people on the list are American or Pakistani. The Fifth Amendment says “person,” not “citizen.” The same restrictions (or lack thereof) should apply no matter who the target is. Osama bin Laden could be killed in combat as the leader of the militant organization against which we wage war, but he couldn’t be executed without additional process as the criminal who orchestrated roughly 3,000 counts of murder in the State of New York, the District of Columbia, and the Pennsylvania Commonwealth.

    • The poster formerly known as t

      In a globalized, capitalist,the term citizen IS outdated. There are law-abiding CONSUMERS and then, there are criminals.

    • Ray in VT

      I think that you make some very good points. The global, stateless nature of some of the threats that we face, as well as issues that arise with deploying new technologies, have all come together to create new questions and challenges that are legal, political, and moral.

      Drones can be useful, but they also carry their own set of problems. We don’t have to put “boots on the ground”, which the public generally likes, but they engender emnity in many areas where their use has resulted in civilian deaths. Their use also creates problems with nations like Pakistan, where we have used them despite calls from that nation not to do so.

      I think that it does create somewhat different issues when the person is an American. If an American citizen has taken up arms against our nation, then does that make one a legitimate target? What efforts should be done to bring such a person home to face justice? Does that depend upon where that person is (in an active war zone, for instance)? I think that there are many questions here that we, as a nation, need to figure out, and we haven’t made much, if any, progress on this front over the past several years.

      • Ike B.

        If an American citizen has taken up arms against our nation, then does that make one a legitimate target?

        Actually, no, it doesn’t. Not in and of itself. It makes one guilty of treason, but that’s a Constitutionally-defined crime, and you still have to be tried before you can be punished for it.

        The AUMF isn’t so broad as to capture anyone taking up arms against the United States anywhere. It has to be in connection to the organizations or persons who committed the acts of terror on September 11, 2001.

        Does that depend upon where that person is (in an active war zone, for instance)?

        The President says it does, but I say that, legally, it doesn’t. The President is showing restraint in the powers Congress gave him by saying that he won’t do it on American soil, or if the possibility of capture exists. But if the statutory landscape remains unchanged, there’s nothing stopping the next President from going where President Obama won’t.

        • Ray in VT

          I was posing the question regarding what makes one a target. I think that, depending upon the case, it could make one a target, or, at the very least, someone whom it is legitimate to engage on the battlefield. For instance, if it was known that an American was engaged with an enemy at a location could we still blow it up, or would that person’s presence require another course of action.

          I think that another consideration could be one’s role. Is a propaganda guy like a foot soldier carrying out an attack?

          I also think that there has been a bit too much flying by the seat of our pants on this front for some time and that we need something codified and standardized that can be used as a guide for action for this and future leaders.

          • Ike B.

            Good questions.

          • Ray in VT

            I think that there are a plethora of questions here, but we’ve had few answers and/or resolutions. I think that this sort of thing often happens in times of great change and/or new technologies. Just look at the issues regarding intellectual property, copyright and the like that have arisen with the Internet.

    • John Cedar

      Your literal interpretation of the Constitution is not in keeping with the 20th century practice of seeing a living breathing document. It is a fools bet to wager that a majority on the SCOTUS would not find a limits on drone strikes buried between the phrase that makes abortions a right and the phrase that justifies “reverse discrimination”.

      BTW…If you truly sympathize with efforts to find limits on the President’s power, then you are an obstructionist and/or a racist.

      • Ike B.

        I’ve thought it over, and there’s nothing in your comment I wish to respond to.

  • HonestDebate1

    This is another case of the inevitable collision between technology and morality. Drones exist and, from here on, always will. Matters of war, jurisprudence and government power are all covered by the Constitution. The most important thing is a government with integrity and transparency.

    The politics is interesting. I don’t see dastardly intentions projected onto President Obama. The mainstream is not calling him sadistic or accusing him of stealing the oil. They are not saying he’s an imperialists bent on taking over the world. They’re not saying he’s willing to let Americans die because of personal vendettas. The criticisms are incompetence, apathy and unilateralism. By and large Americans understand the dire nature of the radical Islamic threat. We are willing to give some deference to the President without assaulting his character with whacko narratives. Maybe the President is acting within the Constitution, in the best interest of America using the most effective tools at his disposal….. or maybe not. That’s where the transparency and integrity come in.

    • Ray in VT

      Well, I don’t see President Obama misrepresenting intelligence, sometimes directly making statements entirely at odds with assessments made by the intelligence community months before, in order to build a case for invading another country, and, as far as we know, the current administration isn’t engaging in the sorts of torture that you have historically favored. Perhaps there is a sort of fundamental difference in the actions of the two administrations which account for the differences that you have cited.

      “We are willing to give some deference to the President without assaulting his character with whacko narratives.” That statement seems fairly at odds with many of the things that have been and continue to be said regarding our current President

      On most of your other statements I think that we by and large agree.

      • HonestDebate1

        “…I don’t see President Obama misrepresenting intelligence…”

        Al Qaeda is decimated and Benghazi was caused by a video.

        • Ray in VT

          How is the Al Qaeda core doing, and feel free to continue to ignore initial intelligence reports that suggested an initial protest. It’s dishonest debate, but if that is what you feel that you need to do in order to paint the President in a bad light, then go right ahead. Also, how many countries were invaded and how many Americans died because the situation in Benghazi wasn’t clear for a number of days? The CIA said that there were no operational ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda months previous to former President Bush going out and telling the American public that there was. He gets a pass though, right? Maybe he believed it (for some reason), so it wasn’t a lie by any definition, despite dictionaries that say otherwise.

    • Shag_Wevera

      No matter the topic, always back to president Obama.

      • HonestDebate1

        “The buck stops with you.”

    • jimino

      How would you suggest the USA fight the “radical Islamic threat”? Do drones have any role in it?

      • HonestDebate1

        To the fullest extent possible within the constraints of our Constitution.

        Yes.

  • John Cedar

    The more things change the more they stay the same. Before there were drones there was the CIA. After Nixon tied their hands, they had to be more secretive and insert an extra layer of plausible deniability, but they were still there. I furget…what happened to that third marathon bombing suspect again?

    • Ray in VT

      Which was the third one? The guy that Glenn Beck warned us about being a “bad man”, despite the FBI having cleared him of any suspicion?

      • John Cedar

        The number “three” and the word “suspect” were not salient to the point in the least.
        I was referring to this guy:
        http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/22/us-usa-explosion-florida-idUSBRE94L0J820130522

        If Beck accused the wrong guy then he is as guilty as the FBI when they initially released surveillance pictures of the wrong guy. Like they did in the innocent Bubba bombing guy in the 90′s

        • Ray in VT

          Based upon what has been said about that individual, calling him the “third marathon bombing suspect” is inaccurate.

          So, after a guy gets cleared of suspicion and some crackpot goes on for days about him being some sort of terrorist, then it’s the fault of the cops?

          • John Cedar

            I concede whatever tangential irrelevant inaccuracy you took issue with.
            My point was that our government killed a person of interest, while conducting its war on terra® and no drone was needed.

          • Ray in VT

            Yes, being totally wrong is a “tangential irrelevant inaccuracy”, given that, unless you have knowledge of evidence to the contrary, he was being looked at in connection not with the marathon bombing, but with a drug-related triple murder from over a year before. Making him the “third marathon bombing suspect”, based upon that, is beyond a stretch.

  • Shag_Wevera

    If you are in favor of using drones, I wonder what you would consider inappropriate use?

    • Ray in VT

      Good question. Many seem to be in favor of using drones to combat militants or perhaps intelligence gathering, but would we want them being used in a manner consistent with how the CIA deployed assets throughout much of the 20th century, such as using them in an attempt to destabilize a foreign government? Probably not would be my guess for most people.

  • creaker

    So if another country locates what they believe to be a legitimate target in the US, and they strike killing their target plus whatever collateral damage may occur, we’re ok with that? If not, why not?

    • Ray in VT

      Because these things are okay for us to do, but it’s bad when others do it of course.

    • Ike B.

      We’re not okay with it for the same reason nobody’s okay with someone waging war on their home turf. Doesn’t mean it’s wrong when we do it, or wrong when they do it – that’s going to be determined by the reasons for and methods of doing it, just like every other war, right?

      • creaker

        Maybe that’s the whole crux of the issue – is it ok to declare “war” against individuals or groups and then carry out attacks without notification to or cooperation or consent of whatever sovereign nations these individuals or groups happen to be in?

        For Afghanistan and Pakistan and some other nations, the US says “yes”. What if it was China – or Germany – or Canada?

        • Ray in VT

          I think that on the international affairs front it is more problematic if we are doing it without a nation’s consent. I think that the government of Yemen has not been too opposed to us targeting militants there, but Pakistan has been quite opposed. They haven’t exactly done a whole lot to oppose these moves, but maybe they aren’t in much of a position to do so. This, of course, leaves aside your question about targeting people or groups without notification.

        • Ike B.

          I suppose that would depend on why we were declaring war on organizations within Canada, Germany, or China.

    • HonestDebate1

      That is not a good criteria. Other countries are going to do what they are going to do without regard to our feelings.

  • James

    Sad to say I am more surprised that we found out about Kareem Khan’s disappearance, then the fact that he actually disappeared when he did.

  • J__o__h__n

    Which has more collateral damage per strike, drones or conventional warfare?

    • James

      The better question is 12 years after 9/11 and almost 3 after Bin Laden’s death, why is there still collateral damage.

      • J__o__h__n

        Both should be asked.

      • Ray in VT

        I think that the answer is because there are still plenty of people out there who are engaged in that same struggle, though at different levels, who threaten us, our interests or our allies, and who make it a habit of living amongst people who are not engaged in that struggle.

    • doggypeg

      Are you suggesting, with this question, that these are the only two options available?

      • J__o__h__n

        No.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Both are acts of war, and should only be used after we declare war. As such, deaths of innocents need to be avoided. But using either before war is declared is morally wrong.

    • HonestDebate1

      Conventional warfare.

  • doggypeg

    Something is seriously wrong with the moral fiber of this country where we engage in national discussions about whether or not to torture prisoners and whether or not to execute people who are suspected of criminal activity or planning criminal activity.

    • ghm52

      Wasn’t that a Tom Cruise movie theme several years ago…pre-crime arrest?

  • Coastghost

    At this point US attack drone policy outside of the US is no major concern of mine: what does alarm is the prospect for the proliferation of domestic drones here in the US. Once broadly approved for commercial purposes, citizens will have NO way to discern a surveillance drone from a commercial delivery drone, a traffic monitoring drone from some local police half-wit’s fun & games spying on comely young women emerging from their baths.
    I duly note that the WaPo representative, obedient to the whims of WaPo owner Jeff Bezos, said nothing, not one single word, AGAINST the prospect of domestic drone proliferation. I construe Bezos as a threat to domestic liberty given his unapologetic endorsement of introducing drone fleets into American skies.
    And public radio be damned for saying nothing to contest it.

    • doggypeg

      Shouldn’t people have the right to prove themselves innocent?

      • Steve__T

        As long as you are not caught being guilty.

        • doggypeg

          How many of the drone strike victims have been caught being guilty? (And what does caught being guilty mean anyway?)

          • Steve__T

            Smoking gun in hand, dead body(s), video of crime. etc…..

  • ghm52

    Tom, Democracy Now reported this AM about a smartphone app that vibrates every time a drone strike happens. It is called Metadataplus, or something like that…it was pitched to Apple by a PhD student as Dronesplus and was rejected 3 times…until he changed the name.
    Just thinking that Americans can feel every time a drone strikes. so far out of our conscious thought except at news time, is chilling on steroids!
    I am against the drone program and Kill List Tuesday. I have made my feelings known to our government. Deaf. Dumb. Blind. and so very wrong.
    Maybe our intimate contact with our smart phones will garner citizen outrage.

  • creaker

    What I worry about is the government flipping things around – wanting to kill a US citizen for other reasons and using a false accusation of being with al-Qaeda as the justification.

    • creaker

      The guest’s analogy about the sniper was flawed – under current rules with drones, accusing someone of being a potential sniper would be sufficient to justify killing them. No rooftops or guns would need to be involved.

  • ghm52

    From Democracy Now this AM: “A new iPhone app has been released that tracks every reported U.S. drone
    strike overseas. Over the course of two years, Apple rejected different
    versions no less than five times. Now, for the first time, the app is
    finally available under the name of Metadata +, created by New York
    University graduate student Josh Begley.”

  • JasonB

    Wow, does this caller, Eddy, know anything about US law and the rights of US citizens? As soon as the government routinely assassinates US citizens, I worry. I’m already worried. We have laws to deal with treasonous Americans. We can’t let the government kill Americans just because they say someone is a terrorist. We have due process in the United States.

  • warryer

    How long before the definition of who is a terrorist shifts?

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      It already has, and it continues to shift. Look at Syria, and Russia, and everywhere else, for that matter.

      • tbphkm33

        Soon, anyone who speaks out against the Empire is a terrorist.

  • Paul Gerard

    The sniper analogy does not hold. The sniper is being caught in the act of a crime, and the public is being protected. The correct analogy would be taking out a ‘sniper’ the day before a shooting, to prevent the shooting. The police do not do that.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    The most basic question is whether the CIA should be intelligence *only*. In my opinion, they should never *do* anything; and only gather intelligence.

    • andic_epipedon

      The CIA has such a long history of getting it’s hands dirty. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        There is only one way to change them – and it begins after we the people decide to not allow them to do anything in our name.

  • James

    Who is this guy who keeps rambling on about “being outside the reach of the US law” He’s scaring the hell out of me. Could you imagine someone hiding out in the woods and the police saying “well he’s out in the wilderness, he’s out of our reach, send a drone to bomb him” Or “we think he has a assault rifle, we can’t send in cops, send a drone”

  • Sue Leroux

    I would like the gentleman who argues that we need to take out a person who appears to be a sniper intent on killing others to use that same argument when women attempt to shield themselves from their abusive and dangerous partners. It appears law enforcement is much more willing to act on a potential mass murderer than take seriously the thousands of heinous villains who threaten, then actually kill their partners and others in the line of fire every year.

    • brettearle

      It would certainly sometimes be Just if the Law to protect women would behave in the same way as Laws to protect the country.

      But, in my opinion, the reason why they obviously can’t be equated is because Drones will go after citizens who are a danger to National Security.

      And the protocol for National Security, I don’t believe, always adheres to The Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

      In the case of an individual, a man’s freedom or woman’s freedom cannot be stripped–unless there is probable cause. A motion for Enforced Detention can be a high threshold of evidence to overcome.

      Whether we like it or not, the US Government considers the safety of the country to be more important than the safety of any particular woman, or any individual, for that matter.

      And, in a way, I can understand where they’re coming from:

      A country is made up of millions of individuals.

      An individual may be powerfully symbolic. But it is ONLY one individual.

      This line of reasoning may be how the Federal Government views it.

      Can you not see their point of view–regardless of whether you are woman or a man?

      If not, why not?

      I do NOT think, necessarily, that in this regard, the Federal Government is “out to get women”. But rather they are “out to get” subversives.

      Subversives have less rights than either gender.

  • creaker

    So what happens when people inside the US are labeled as suspected members of a terrorist group? Whether that group is Al Qaeda or Occupy Wall Street?

    • Guest

      Supply side economics. Their assets are frozen and are given to capitalists.

  • creaker

    Drones are a weapon of terror.

  • Shag_Wevera

    You are at a friend’s wedding, when an explosion rips the ceremony apart. Guess you didn’t know a Chinese dissident was in attendance. Surprise! The Chinese have now developed effective drone technology now. NOW do you have a problem with the unilateral use of deadly force with drone technology?

  • Zachary

    As one of the guests mentioned. Over 3500 individuals have been killed in united states drone strikes. Many civilians. At what point are signiture strikes considered war crimes or crimes against humanity? Imagine a developed nation such as england or germany comitting drone strikes on US soil. Ethically as americans we cannot let this revolting practice continue as well as litigate those who are guilty of committing these crimes.

  • seszoo

    Came in late on this , This is definitely a subject that needs more out in the open discussion . While I’m not against killing the bad guys that will do innocents harm ,What does concern me is that with every strike it gets easier and easier to pull the trigger and the definition of whom we target gets broader and broader , Whom are these guys that make this decision over life and death? Better question whom are they answerable to ,? Us ? Or are we just as much responsible for this decision as it’s done in our names .?

  • Elizabeth_in_RI

    The question should be “kill list” or no kill list – not whether an American is on the list or not. If we’ve decided that it’s okay to use drones in that way, then it should be okay for anyone we’ve decided is an enemy. If we question whether we should use drones against Americans, maybe we should question if we should use drones away from the battle field at all.

  • John_Hamilton

    First, the notion that Barack Obama is a Constitutional scholar because he was a “professor” of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago is largely false. He was a lecturer, an adjunct instructor, not a professor. This is a growing phenomena in the U.S., where colleges and universities hire teachers as part-time temporary help as a way of avoiding paying benefits. It’s the higher education equivalent of temp work.

    In regard to targeting of American citizens overseas with drones, it follows a pattern. As with unlimited domestic spying, two purposes are served. One is that by incrementally introducing a practice, it gets established in the bureaucracy, tacitly or openly approved by Congress, and through the court system is declared legitimate.

    The other purpose is international, and is also incremental. If actions that are essentially terrorist by commonly accepted definition are introduced into the mix of worldwide activities, and no foreign entity – the World Court, foreign governments, international alliances – are willing or able to challenge them, then the activity becomes established and grows.

    The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are perfect examples of incremental actions that establish precedents for further actions. Though established in precedent, they are not likely to be practiced routinely because of the serious negative consequences – tremendous cost, great loss of life, and international condemnation. They also were wars for nothing. Nothing was intended, other than the psychopathic intentions of the perpetrators, and nothing was gained.

    As with every other topic on OnPoint, this phenomenon was discussed in isolation from all other phenomena in the Universe. This is the Western approach known as reductionism. With a systems approach, the phenomenon can be discussed realistically. NSA spying, international adventurism, semi-indiscriminate drone attacks, and even “free trade” agreements can all be seen in context with the encroaching crises of our unsustainable infinite-growth economic system in a condition of increasingly severe global climate change.

    In this context, it looks worse. Why, one might ask, would a country do NOTHING about its unsustainable economic system and global warming, but go diddling around the planet with spy technology and drone attacks, all the while mumbling about invading someone or other? Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Venezuela. Who else? This is a discussion I would like to hear on OnPoint.

  • TyroneJ

    America really needs to examine it’s assumptions about the size of the threat of terrorism.

    Terrorism strikes the fear that it does because one cannot see it coming and its apparent randomness in whether one will be a victim of it. But we live everyday with other threats that have these same hallmarks and annually cause many times the death & damage of a “911”.

    Every time you drive in a vehicle you run the risk of being killed through no fault of your own, just like in a terror attack. And your death from a car wreak is just as devastating to your family as if you die from a terrorist attack. We have a 911′s worth of these deaths every 5 weeks, so we’ve had over 100 since the real 911. A similar argument can be made about unforeseeable random economic damage – we absorb four 911′s worth of random economic damage every year due to weather damage. So in addition to the 100 times the unforeseeable deaths of a “911″ since the real 911, we’ve had about 50 times the economic damage of 911 since the real 911. And yet we live with cars without destroying our freedom, and we don’t all live underground to avoid the weather.

    The threat of terrorism is real. But it’s very small compared to other threats to our lives and property that we live with every day.

    • tbphkm33

      All very true… but only the threat of terrorism provides active fodder for the military industrial machine. As long as the fear element can be used, billions of dollars will continue to be wasted on military and security hardware, irrespective of the dubiousness of its effectiveness. Big money is making really BIG MONEY off inflating the terrorist threat.

      • The poster formerly known as t

        Terrorism is a threat to the wealthy and or comfortable. Often, terrorist destroy human capital–which are assets to the wealthy and comfortable. When was the last time you saw a prison, a homeless shelter or small mom and pops store fall victim to terrorists? The terrorists are seem to target educated people and servants of the wealthy and comfortable.

    • FrankensteinDragon

      th eonly reason the threat of terror is real–is because the US creates terror and many many many enemies. Our policies and actions need to change NOW.

  • tbphkm33

    Too bad there is not due process for the other 6.5 billion people that the Empire USA poses a military and terrorist threat to. If you are not a citizen of the homeland, you are expendable. That is the bottom line from Washington, D.C. It is a corrupt and rotten Empire that has lost its moral compass.

    At the end of the day, it is the US that will pay an economic price for treating the rest of the world as second class citizens – more and more, people even in allied nations are quietly choosing to boycott US products.

  • twenty_niner

    Two confirmed kills in Eurasia!

    FYI, Negative and potentially subversive comments are thought crimes and will be duly reported to the Inner Party.

    • Ike B.

      You compare President Obama to Chairman Mao because he’s killed two Americans abroad for their ties to foreign militant organizations actively engaged in war on the United States?

      I feel like some perspective is needed. Or High School history classes.

      • jefe68

        Most likely both. Through in some civics classes as well.

      • twenty_niner

        I’m just trying my best to be a leftist sycophant; maybe you have some tips. I can report that it has been very difficult, although a lot of people on this forum seem to be able to pull it off no sweat. I guess you do what you can for the Party.

        Plus, I prefer “Dear Leader”. I’m going to put a picture of him in my house and do push ups and smoke in front of it. I forgot what kind of cigarettes Dear Leader smokes; probably not good for his golf game.

        “killed two Americans abroad”

        How dare you sell Dear Leader short!

        390+ covert drone strikes.
        More than 2400 killed + 273 civilians.
        Throw in massive NSA spying, IRS audits, no-bid contracts for friends of “Dear Leader”, > 100% debt to GDP, massive money printing and debt monetization. Put all that together and mission accomplished: the world’s largest banana republic!

        • Ike B.

          10/10, good sir. 10/10.

  • StilllHere

    Whose kill list are we talking about Barack’s or Hillary’s?

  • marygrav

    If Tom really wanted to know about the who what & why about drones, he would have asked P.W. Singer whom he has interview on ON POINT RADIO at least twice. P.W. Singer’s Wired For War gives all the facts on drones and cyber warfare. So that when he has all that wonder in his voice it is all BS.

    Singer writes in Wired For War that these US drones began in northern New Jersey. And he states that anyone in the Middle East can buy drones because they are sold at weapons shows in Dubui and other places of interests.

    Also Singer writes that the best drone pilots/operators and at-risk gamers. He believes that students who don’t meet the so-called intellectual mark, are better able to fire off drones. And they will in the future “make war easy.”

    Reading and listening to the CD of Wired for War, I thought of an old Star Trek story of war where the enemies fired miseles at each other using a map in a game fashion. When a direct hit was registered, the effected people would have to go to a death chamber. This it seems had gone on for years, thus civilizing warfare. Captain Kirk & crew put an end to this clean-killing warfare.

    I listened every time that P.W. Singer came on ON POINT and waited for Tom to ask him about drones, but never a mumbling word was said.

    President Obama has sworn an oath to the US Constitution to protect the American people and their interest. He is Commander in Chief and he takes his responsibility seriously, unlike the T-Party, who see the president as more important that the United States itself.

    Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize because the Europeans were so afraid of George W. Bush and the Neocons and survived an election fight that went one for two years and never lost his cool, that to them he was the “promised man god.” Between 1999 and 2012, the US had fallen so deep into Fascism, until most of the US allies were terrified of what WE the People had become. We were taken over internally by the forces of hubris and greed and Duel Loyalists that cared for nothing but revenge against imagined enemies. The US was insane and Obama brought it back to sanity, at least in the eyes of the world, but not in the House of Representatives and Mitch McConnel.

    Know the history; which is the background of all news. Putting the listening public in a panic show the resemblance between Fox and NPR.

    • twenty_niner

      The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives.

      Sincerely,
      BHO
      Dear Leader

    • twenty_niner
  • C.White

    I have heard many good aspects of discussion on this topic, but the one thing that I’ve never heard much discussion about is why we have drawn a distinction between the manned and unmanned aircraft. We would hardly imagine making any of these airstrikes with F-15s or other manned craft. The effects on targets are virtually the same–the missiles fired from UAS are no more or less accurate, and the sensor pods carried by them are not better or worse than those attached to manned jets (contrary to many popular imaginings, pilots in manned strike aircraft don’t get any closer to seeing the targets with their own eyes than those sitting in control rooms in Nevada, everything is done through the sensor pods). What is the distinguishing feature here other than the pilot in the cockpit? If the effects on target are the main point of contention, why is there any legal or moral distinction in the slightest between manned and unmanned strikes?

    • Bluejay2fly

      Unmanned aircraft do not allow for the awkward possibility of a pilot being shot down and held hostage. Bloodless war, so to speak, allows for engagements which might otherwise not be undertaken. Technology has done that to war in general. Would we have fought in Iraq, Kosovo, Iraq (again), Afghanistan if any of those wars would result in 100K or 200K dead?

      • C.White

        The use of UAS instead of manned craft is certainly a way to mitigate the risk of losing pilots, but that doesn’t explain why we’ve carved out a distinct legal/moral niche for UAS in targeting. Yemen doesn’t have the means to shoot down a US attack aircraft flying at 12,000 ft., but we exclusively use UAS to attack targets there because we’ve created (what I think is) a false distinction in the tool, when there is no difference in effects.

        • Bluejay2fly

          True, like anything else it is a multiplicity of reasons. Perhaps the manufactures of unmanned drones see a huge market for sales from everything from border security to inspecting forests or industrial machinery. Having military contracts would certainly be beneficial for those companies to defray R+D before selling to other markets, so imagine the strength of that lobby. I still think planes can crash with pilots without being shot down or countries can acquire said technology in the future to shoot down those planes is still a factor, albeit a small one. Primarily, it is just a very convenient and efficient way of killing people you think are a problem.

    • FrankensteinDragon

      Manned aircraft is terrorism too. Pilots should be ashamed. They are not heroes. They are killers–little butsniffers of the rich.

      • C.White

        I don’t share your clear antipathy toward the military, but it sounds like we at least agree there isn’t a moral or significant technological distinction between the two types of killing, and neither should there be a legal one that somehow sets this apart. We’ll have to agree to disagree about the motivations of the people who serve in the military, but I can say from my experience sniffing rich ani isn’t chief among them.

  • harverdphd

    If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

  • hourly_PA

    What the people are always told and what they keep on believing is that the war and killing overseas is for their benefit. But the enterprise overseas is mostly about theft and plunder, pocketed by the same breed as manufactured the Shock and Awe of 2003.

  • Robert__Black

    Just a little cartoon I did today… (well, there was an image attached to this comment. You can view it here http://www.robertblack.com.au/the-sharp-end/too-small )

  • andic_epipedon

    How can we as American citizens condone the killing of American citizens without the benefit of a trial and the more perverse Signature Strikes where we just think something might be happening as opposed to actually know?

  • andic_epipedon

    What a slippery slope.

  • andic_epipedon

    I guess I can’t complain when I get blown up in collateral damage by a foreign entity if my country is changing the rules of the game. Whatever happened to Nuremberg and the rules of warfare?

    • Bluejay2fly

      There should be no rules in warfare because countries should only engage in it as an absolute matter of self preservation. War should be horrible and ugly so as to convince countries they never should want to engage in it again. The easier and more bloodless we make war the more appealing we make it and the more wars we will fight!

  • Bluejay2fly

    We have shown the world that conspicious consumption and using military aggression to align markets is a great way to obtain wealth and comfort. What a sad and terrible legacy.

  • andic_epipedon

    Is there any transparency on the qualifications of a person to be put on the hit list? Is it just the CIA says so or is there a clearly stated policy? There will be a little more transparency when it is switched from the CIA to the military, but will we see enough transparency for the American people to be able to determine whether or not our actions are moral?

  • Fredlinskip

    Over ¾ 0f conversation seemed to revolve around use of drones against U.S. citizens.

    How condescending.

    The premise of many of the supporters of the policy seems to be:
    1) As long as there is a possibility that an alleged “terrorist” exists on the planet then we are at perpetual War:
    2) “War is Hell”, so don’t cry crocodile tears if mistakes are made, and/or collateral damage occurs, and innocents die in the process.
    3) It’s not like these folks are Americans- so if in wrong place at wrong time, what right do they have to live?

    4) We are the omnipotent exceptional ones, after so if in doubt- “smoke ‘em”

    Would our perspective be different if Pakistan were conducting drone attack on our soil, claiming they had learned of an American plot of bad intent towards Pakistanis?

    • Ray in VT

      I think that most of your points are pretty valid, but I don’t think that our use of drones is as cavalier as “smoke ‘em”.

      • FrankensteinDragon

        yes it is. its contempt. and technology lust. blood lust too.

        • Ray in VT

          I think that there is certainly plenty of such talk amongst members of the public, but I think, or at least I hope, that the people who are making the calls on these strikes are being and thinking more responsibly. Granted, though, this technology, like airborne bombing technology before it, makes it far, far easier to kill people than was possible, physically as well as emotionally, previously.

  • FrankensteinDragon

    The sniper analogy is BS because a sniper is known to be immediately engaged in murder. But an ‘alleged’ ‘terrorist’ plotter with alqaieda (possibly a fictional US organization) who is a US citizen is not necessarily engaged in imminent murderous actions–plotting murder is not justification for murder. A plotter must be apprehended, interrogated (without torture) and tried–the criminal action prevented.

    Obviously, he is not engaged in imminent murder or they wouldn’t be debating it–so he is not a “sniper”. This is false reasoning and propaganda.

    It looks very much like spite and contempt to me. Becase you have a US citiizen who clearly decided the US is a terrorist organization and is in fact exercising constitutional rights–right or wrong. We have the right to change or abolish our tyrannical government. The US gov is now officially a corporate aristocracy by law; Democracy is bought and paid for by a .oo1 percent and it is their interests that determine domestic and foreign policy in our name. Perhaps that is what the fascist aristocracy doesn’t want outed in public trial.

    A just system, a civil system, a democratic system, a constitutional system–would apprehend the US citizen and have him tried in a public court of law so we can determine his guilt or innocence together.

    It would make more since strategically as well to apprehend him and interrogate him for information if they really believed he was a threat–or are they just f-,,dumb. Something smells fishy to me. they clearly just feel war lust and contempt–small minds, big egos. Like football players and jocks and cheerleaders. YEah lets kill em all–i dont have a brain! ooga oooga booga booga me captain caveman! me rape sorority girls.

  • FrankensteinDragon

    How do we know he isnt Greenpeace or an anit-war actvist. We wont know because they think they can kill whenever they want. what they say is truth. well, that is BS and terrorism. This is exactly what our forefather s told us to be wary of and to abolish our tyrannical gov when this happens. Terrrorists control the American government. if there is no trial, we dont know if what they say is true.

    Only people who have something to hide work in secret.
    Impeach the entire congress, senate, judiciary and executive branch. Put them in dark prisons deep in the earth. let them rot in hell.

    we need a open transparent ethical government of the people–not the rich. But americans are high on narcotic capitalism and stupid because of it–there character warped and perverted.

    Please shut off your TV and facebook. read alternative independent news and radio programs. Democracy is not a spectators sport.

  • FrankensteinDragon

    not that bad? we have killed millions upon millions. You should think about what you are saying.

  • FrankensteinDragon

    Think. millions killed in our wars and terror attacks over the years–going back decades and decades, centuries if you want…continuous wars of extreme terror–America is the terror of
    the world historically. Drones might as well be snipers relative to our
    path of destruction and blood. No country in history has conducted so
    many wars and just utter annihilation. America is the king of terrors.
    Anyone looking down from the clouds would say–that one is evil. And
    our many ignoramuses who believe they live in a free democratic society
    and are quite happy being brainwashed slaves are guilty of all that
    murder. because Americans do nothing to stop it but glorify it
    instead. but they know not what they do. other know and dont care or enjoy it and relish it–they are the bad ones.

    You do not live in a free society. You are either a pawn or fodder for corporations–directed by corporate aristocrats–right down to your local community.

ONPOINT
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Apr 24, 2014
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, left, talks with Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Covina at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, April 21, 2014. Hernandez proposed a constitutional amendment that would ask voters to again allow public colleges to use race and ethnicity when considering college applicants. The proposal stalled this year after backlash from Asian Americans. (AP)

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A Buddhist monk lights the funeral pyre of Nepalese mountaineer Ang Kaji Sherpa, killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, during his funeral ceremony in Katmandu, Nepal, Monday, April 21, 2014.  (AP)

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