Obama Is Lying Through His Teeth About the Drone War

For drone war advocates, the legitimacy of the targeted killing program rests on the notion that those targets pose a threat to America and US troops in neighboring Afghanistan. The AUMF and the principle of “imminence” supposedly form the legal basis of the drone war.

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 12.02.28 PMAs the Obama administration has said, drone strikes are authorized only against “specific senior operational leaders of al-Qaeda and associated forces” involved in the Sept. 11, 2001. “It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative,” Obama said on CNN. “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.”

There are basically three categories of people who still believe drone strikes adhere to these standards: (1) right-wing hawks, (2) Obama/Democratic Party sycophants, and (3) the general public, which refuses to read the newspaper.

The rest of us – those paying attention – have known for years that the execution of the drone war has exceeded its already broad legal limits and that the vast majority of those killed in such bombings have not been “specific senior operational leaders in al-Qaeda.”

Joshua Landay’s report from McClatchy has documented, in the words of Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations, “proof that the United States has lied in the drone wars.”

According to classified documents that Landay obtained, the US has deliberately targeted for death by drone “groups other than al Qaida, including the Haqqani network, several Pakistani Taliban factions and the unidentified individuals described only as ‘foreign fighters’ and ‘other militants.'”

“At other times, the CIA killed people who only were suspected, associated with, or who probably belonged to militant groups.”

John Hudson at Foreign Policy estimates from the numbers in Landay’s reporting that less than 2 percent of those killed in drone strikes in Pakistan were described by the government’s own classified documents as senior members of al-Qaeda.

Consider also the New York Times piece by Mark Mazzetti, which confirmed that the very first drone strike in Pakistan, in 2004, targeted an individual that posed no threat to the US, but was instead a local rabble-rouser that the Pakistani government wanted gone. So the CIA did them a favor: The bombing killed the target “and several others, including two boys, ages 10 and 16.”

Add to this newest string of evidence the finding last year that the Obama administration “counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.”

Landay’s findings are new and important, but by no means comprehensive. “The administration has declined to reveal other details of the program, such as the intelligence used to select targets and how much evidence is required for an individual to be placed on a CIA ‘kill list,'” he reports. “The administration also hasn’t even acknowledged the existence of so-called signature strikes, let alone discussed the legal and procedural foundations of the attacks.”

Much of the disagreement about the drone war arises from the fact that the program – and virtually all of its important details – is still technically secret. Indeed, one thing the Obama administration has explicitly kept secret is the identities (when they are known) of the victims of drone strikes. Now why in the world would that information be kept secret?

Those parts of US foreign policy that are of questionable legality or are particularly cold-blooded in their execution must be kept secret in order to avoid public and judicial scrutiny. If the ugly parts of the drone war – like the fact that its illegalkills civilians, and represents a radical expansion of executive power – were out in the open, the administration might be predisposed to some accountability.  Keeping the public ignorant is absolutely essential to the proper  functioning of Obama’s foreign policy.

Thanks to selective leaks and good journalism, however, we know enough. And Landay’s reporting, as Zenko points out, is the latest piece of proof that the Obama administration has been lying through its teeth about the drone war.

43 thoughts on “Obama Is Lying Through His Teeth About the Drone War”

  1. President Barrack Obama is more than a liar, He is a War criminal and he will be held to account for all his thoughts words and deeds and all Americans who follow him. The USA a is condemned state unto the grave, never again shall she rise, and not by human hand will she be destroyed! The sins of Americans has reached unto the heavens, mighty is the Lord God who judges and He will not forget her iniquity and transgressions!

  2. I live in San Diego where there are, I think, five military installations, AND where the 9/11 cell was headquartered, learned to fly planes. The way we kill so many innocents in the world, I am shocked that the dry hills outside my home are not ablaze with the low tech retaliation of people who could easily cross the Mexican border.

    After 9/11, I feared that every abandonded old car on the highway might explode. And that the water reservoir my dogs and I walked around would be poisoned.

    I am thankful and pretty surprised we are more threatened by our well-armed neighbors than we are by these strangers we keep attacking.

    I remain a proud citizen, because of our founding principals and the good things about our country…but I am so embarrassed and sad about so many of my country's recent political choices.

    1. The 9/11 cell was at Mossad Headquarters. What well-armed neighbors in San Diego are you being threatened by? The militarized cops?

  3. This is the best comedy piece I've ever read. Was this story suppose to be real serious news?

  4. This man belongs to the famous Chicago five.., they were made by lies then and they are lying now.

  5. Let us add to this, that the CIA does NOT belong to the armed forces, and have no "license to kill". That notion is fiction, and allowing CIA to kill is to allow illegal murder, nothing else! You might add som semi-religious reasoning to that about good intentions, somehow, by some policy-responsible. But that is at precisely the same level as arguments from terrorists!

    USA is actively creating and spreading terrorism around the globe… Not a declared purpose, just the reality. How long can the population remain blind, dumb and complacent to the obvious? No self worthiness left? Only begging the powers that be of some favors…

  6. Its amazing and a testimony to the greatness of the Former, I mean United States of Amerika, I mean America, that we have NOT been attacked by a foreign entity (terrorists) since 9/11. Or maybe its just amazing that there really isn't a real "terrorist" threat here except our own government.

  7. What mainstream newspaper publishes even a small portion of the facts concerning U.S. drone strikes? The answer is zero because the main stream corporate press tells the lies of the Obamas drone war.

  8. It is abundantly clear that the drone murders by the US government are a sordid debasement of the Geneva Convention and the rules of war -let alone basic morality/ The attempts by so many State Department officials and politicians to justify this is as any thing else than mass murder is a sad inditement on US society and its acceptance of the implausible arguements offered by US politicians

  9. Hope this will be finished soon. I'm afraid that this might aggravate and hopefully it will not. The US government should certainly do something about this and fast.

  10. Its awesome and a statement to the success of the Former, I mean U. s. Declares of Amerika, I mean The united states, that we have NOT been assaulted by a international enterprise (terrorists) since 9/11. Or maybe its just awesome that there really isn't a actual "terrorist" risk here except our own govt. dental implants jupiter

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  13. If anyone seriously believes this statement that "the Obama administration has said, drone strikes are authorized only against “specific senior operational leaders of al-Qaeda and associated forces”", they need to have their heads examined. You know they are covering up and only tell you something if they get caught with their hands in the cookie jar. <a href="http :www.yourpalmbeachdentist.com” target=”_blank”>cosmetic dentistry in West Palm Beache

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