The Obama administration’s use of drones was the focus of a lot of media attention this week. Among the many articles and commentaries, there was Jo Becker and Scott Shane’s Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will in The New York Times, PBS’s interview with Shane called How Obama Maintains His Secret ‘Kill List, Seumas Milne’s America’s murderous drone campaign is fuelling terror in the Guardian, Sudarsan Raghavan’s In Yemen, U.S. airstrikes breed anger, and sympathy for al-Qaeda in the Washington Post, Scott Horton’s Obama’s Kill List in Harper’s (which published In the Eye of the Drone in March), Ta-Nehisi Coates’s The Kill List in The Atlantic and Reed Richardson’s Droning On, Drowning Out in The Nation. Steven Colbert had his say with Barack Obama’s Righteous Drone Strikes, as did Collin Smith with Obama’s Hands-On Role in Counterterrorism Operations at NextGen. (Weighing in as well have been Charles Krauthammer and other right-wingers, but you’ll have to retrieve those links on your own.)
At The Atlantic, there was Robert Wright’s Do Obama’s Drone Strikes Imperil America? An excerpt:
High profile reportage in the New York Times and the Washington Post and on PBS together amplified a question that has been asked more and more by national security experts: Is Obama sacrificing America’s long-term security for short-term political gain?
The long-term security risk was captured in the lead paragraph of a Washington Post story: “Across the vast, rugged terrain of southern Yemen, an escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes is stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants and driving tribesmen to join a network linked to terrorist plots against the United States.”
More than 20 interviews conducted in Yemen by the Post–with government officials, tribal leaders, and others–revealed “a strong shift in sentiment toward militants affiliated with the transnational network’s most active wing, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP.” Since 2009, when Obama is first known to have authorized drone strikes in Yemen, the number of core AQAP members has more than doubled, growing from around 300 to at least 700. That’s not the direction in which the drone strikes were supposed to move the numbers.
A Yemeni human rights worker described the dynamic at play: “The drones are killing al-Qaeda leaders, but they are also turning them into heroes.” [...]
Dennis Blair, director of national intelligence until May of 2010, gave the Times a simple analysis of Obama’s penchant for drone strikes: “It is the politically advantageous thing to do–low cost, no U.S. casualties, gives the appearance of toughness. It plays well domestically and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.” [...]
But, hey, so long as things don’t get out of control before election day, why worry?
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2007:
You know we’ve been all over the fight to bring the Senate into the 21st Century by mandating electronic filing of their FEC disclosure reports, a bill with wide bipartisan support currently being blocked by one man, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is maintaining an anonymous hold on behalf of an unknown Republican colleague, every one of whom has denied being the culprit.
After Sens. Feingold and Feinstein pushed for unanimous consent for passage of the bill in April, Sen. Bunning announced that there was a Republican still objecting to such consent. Sen. Mitch McConnell, as the Minority Leader, knows who the objector is, and knows what amendments s/he wants to offer. He could release this information but refuses to help move a bill forwards that he claims to support. This is nonsense.
Well, our friends at the Sunlight Foundation are kicking up the pressure more than a notch today with the unveiling of a new website, What’sMcConnellHiding.com, which is chock full of action items and background on his protection of an anonymous hold here, and includes something I haven’t seen before: a contest. If you’re the first to get Sen. McConnell on video answering questions about this bill, and upload it to YouTube, you can win $ 500.