Posts tagged ‘United States Department of Justice’

October 11, 2010

Obama and Lethal Force Under Law

by Vince

The NYT applauds Obama’s assasination program all the while calling him to be transparent:

The Obama administration has sharply expanded the shadow waragainst terrorists, using both the military and the C.I.A. to track down and kill hundreds of them, in a dozen countries, on and off the battlefield.

The drone program has been effective, killing more than 400 Al Qaeda militants this year alone, according to American officials, but fewer than 10 noncombatants. But assassinations are a grave act and subject to abuse — and imitation by other countries. The government needs to do a better job of showing the world that it is acting in strict compliance with international law.

The fine details that separate a president being allowed to single out an extremist for kill and being covered by independent oversight seems minute. Is Obama commanding for these extremists to be killed or is he simply reporting to us what has been reported to him from the DOD or another group?

The Obama administration needs to go out of its way to demonstrate that it is keeping its promise to do things differently than the Bush administration did. It must explain how targets are chosen, demonstrate that attacks are limited and are a last resort, and allow independent authorities to oversee the process.

Obama responded to the above claim in a recent Rolling Stone interview, which I found extremely enlightening and fun to read:

I have been able to make sure that our intelligence agencies and our military operate under a core set of principles and rules that are true to our traditions of due process. People will say, “I don’t know — you’ve got your Justice Department out there that’s still using the state-secrets doctrine to defend against some of these previous actions.” Well, I gave very specific instructions to the Department of Justice. What I’ve said is that we are not going to use a shroud of secrecy to excuse illegal behavior on our part. On the other hand, there are occasions where I’ve got to protect operatives in the field, their sources and their methods, because if those were revealed in open court, they could be subject to very great danger. There are going to be circumstances in which, yes, I can’t have every operation that we’re engaged in to deal with a very real terrorist threat published in Rolling Stone.

These things don’t happen overnight. But we’re moving in the right direction, and that’s what people have to keep in mind.

I side with Obama on this, for the long term process and I applaud his patience.

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