Obama Admits U.S. Drone Program Exists, But It's Definitely Just for Special Terrorist Occasions

President Obama didn't just use the Google+ "hangout" to not answer questions about marijuana. (Okay, that might have been Youtube and Google's fault, but never underestimate the powers of not talking about the drug war which happen when media and politicians' powers combine.) He also used the opportunity to admit that the United States' program of targeted drone strikes and assassinations, used throughout the Middle East, most heavily in Pakistan, does in fact exist. With the incredibly low standards that the Obama administration and politics in general demands, that's pretty bold. After all, the program still doesn't officially exist and most U.S. officials who have spoken about it with any detail of knowledge have been anonymous. Officials from the Obama administration noted that this confirmation was not a mistake from the president (not sure how it could have been when he talked about the program for four minutes). 

The downside to Obama's declaration is that he also assured the Internet-viewing public that the strikes had "not caused a huge number of civilian casualties" and that it is "important for everybody to understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash."  These strikes are "for the most part very precise — precision strikes against Al-Qaeda and their affiliates" most often in Pakistan's Federally Administrated Tribal Areas.

Also, the way targets are chosen is apparently "not just a bunch of guys in a room somewhere making decisions." No, according to a December Washington Post article it's actually a bunch of guys in two rooms making decisions; there's a CIA list and a military list, with some overlap between them, but enough bureaucracy and secrecy to make sure that nobody has a completely clear view of how strikes happen and who is being targeted and why.

But yes, according to Obama the program exists but it has led to practically no civilian casualties, also everyone killed (which is in the the neighborhood of 2000 people since Obama took office) was a terrorist; also there's a lot of accountability and careful oversight. I guess it's supposed to be nice that the transparency-loathing president thinks his citizens are man enough to know that yes, that drone program the media talks about sometimes does exist. 

Here's the clip if you feel like suffering through the whole four minutes. Props to the citizen who asked the hilariously cautious follow-up question about whether using drone strikes might cause other countries to "perceive" that we're "intervening in their affairs." How might America fix that crazy perception? Well, the president says that drones are an alternative to intervening more heavily in other countries, they in fact help us "respect the sovereignty" of those places because a strike is better than an all-out war. Which is more or less true and we already knew that, but it's a pretty damned arrogant and unsatisfying answer all the same. And yes Obama addressed the recent controversy over drone flights in Iraq —he said they're surveillance, not strikes — but maybe someone should remind him that the Iraqis already had their all-out war. So it would be more than fair if any American aircraft, even those flying peacefully over that U.S. embassy of 16,000 personnel, gives an Iraqi pause.

I would have preferred to hear him try to evade the pot question yet again. 

Reason on drones and the war on terror

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  • Live Free or Diet||

    Then the mission creep sets in...

  • RoboCain||

    This.

  • cathrine||

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  • Tim||

    "You bubble-headed booby! You realize what you've done?"

  • .||

    "Also, the way targets are chosen is apparently 'not just a bunch of guys in a room somewhere making decisions.' No, according to a December Washington Post article it's actually a bunch of guys in two rooms making decisions; there's a CIA list and a military list, with some overlap between them, but enough bureaucracy and secrecy to make sure that nobody has a completely clear view of how strikes happen and who is being targeted and why."

    You've heard of security through obscurity before, though the term has usually been applicable in discussing a final product, rather than that product's manufacturing process. Just another example of your government demonstrating its unique capacity for innovation in WTF (Winning The Future).

  • o3||

    the civilians killed were in the HVT's entourage since the HVT's often travel w family. >what we dont know is how many HVT's were NOT targeted due to civilians in the area

  • Tim||

    " Bad call? These people are dead, Burke! Don't you have any idea what you've done here? "

  • o3||

    have the drones won in syria yet tim?

  • The Question of Auban||

    Should murderers get leniency because of all of the people they did not kill?

  • Military||

    Dont peak over the edge of the wall civilian. War will shock you.

  • ||

    And how many Drone attacks have hit wedding parties and other events where the "HVT" was presumed to be, but actually wasn't?

    You are no better than the guys who ordered the firebombing of Dresden.

  • Almanian||

    But, but....HITLER!!!11!

  • o3||

    ha ha u lost

  • Tim||

    Obama in a darkened command bunker watching as the drone homes in on a wedding.
    "I object muthafukka!"

  • ||

    Once again we see, as in the case of the Taser, that when a new technology is proposed for aggressive military or law enforcement use, that no matter how much this stuff gets touted as being "less lethal" or "safer for our police/Air Force pilots", what actually happens is that the reduced risk causes their use to grow exponentially, and for them to be abused. Because they make aggression easier.

    Yay.

  • Lucy Steigerwald||

    If I pay you royalties, can I edit my post to include this comment?

  • ||

    Certainly, Lucy. For payment, I require...that you also state that ProL is a dork. A big dork.

  • ||

    He'll allow it for free, but you have to refer to him as Magnificent Bastard Episiarch.

  • Paul||

    The British refer to that as an M.B.E.

  • ||

    We don't need no friggin' queen to award such designations here. We're Americans, dammit! Even Episiarch!

  • Almanian||

    He's Episiarch, yes....but he's OUR Episiarch, damnit!

  • ||

    I wouldn't let her. She opposes capitalizing "Internet," and complained about it on Twitter.

    An internet is a thing. The Internet is a particular instantiation. It offends me in my professional capacity to see that stance.

  • ||

    I'm an Internet guy, too. Consistent with my Moon and Earth positions.

  • AlmightyJB||

    To hell with your fascist capitalization and punctuation rules. Attica! Attica!

  • ||

    I just did that bit in a meeting at work. Not many chances to chant "Attica! Attica!"

  • AlmightyJB||

    sweet:)

  • Paul||

    Do still have the hostages or have you left the building yet?

  • ||

    And just like Dog Day Afternoon, ProLib was also trying to raise enough money for his lover's sex change operation.

  • ||

    Hey, now!

  • Brett L||

    Dear Sir:

    The Internetz called, they say this post must end with "get off my lawn!" to be correct.

  • ||

    Don't listen to him, Lucy. I've had him declared incompetent and have his power of attorney. I'm also his healthcare surrogate, which means I control his medication. You'd be shocked to learn how demanding that job really is.

  • ||

    ProL, I need my incontinence pills again. You know, my Vicodin.

  • ||

    [Nods head at Episiarch's personal pharmacist.]

  • Michael Jackson's Corpse||

    [Nods head at Episiarch's personal pharmacist.]

    Nice to see him again!

  • ||

    That's Episiarch's doctor, not his pharmacist.

  • killazontherun||

    Oh, you people. She bats her wicked eyes your way, and you burst out in an old fashioned Broadway musical way.

  • ||

    We love Lucy and she loves us. Why can't you just accept our relationship?

  • killazontherun||

    When you guys are with Lucy, I'm left with the ball in my hand. You guys use to love kickball, but you are now all about the girl.

  • killazontherun||

    And I hear she sells kisses behind the bleachers for five bucks, and Ron Paul gets a two dollar cut off of each one.

  • .||

    Off each buck, kiss, or bleacher?

  • killazontherun||

    If she is getting five dollars for each kiss, and Paul gets a two dollars off of that five, well then you can figure out the pronoun being referred to from there. I have faith in you.

  • killazontherun||

    there's is a discount proposition redeemable at your local Joez Law in that last post. Shit! I even read it a second time to avoid going there.

  • JEP||

    hey, that's supply and demand for you..

  • ||

    All this talk of kissing makes me uncomfortable. A little decorum around here is not so much to ask.

  • H man||

    You have read your own slashfic haven't you?

  • Pimp ||

    Paul, baby, you changed the game.

  • ||

    So it's the Peltzman Effect for military hardware?

  • Alack||

    Isn't that the same argument that they're using to try to get Four Loko further-regulated?

    http://alcoholjustice.org/blog.....ption.html

  • ||

    Yes. And that's why we shouldn't bomb Pakistan with Four Loco either.

  • RoboCain||

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Needs Melville quotes.

  • ||

    The Drone Chamber?

  • killazontherun||

    It cannot be emphasized enough even though I'm the only person the effing planet who brings it up; clergy are fucking useless on the battlefield or as operatives for terrorist missions. He and the CIA are lying about the reason the assassinated al-Awlaki. It was revenge for Fort hood, straight up.

  • killazontherun||

    Need a new keyboard, I have to press hard on the 'y' and some other keys. And that's right, the planet only deserves a euphemism, but clergy, brrr, they deserve the word in its entirety.

  • o3||

    and if it was, so?

  • killazontherun||

    Get the fuck away from me, Bottom Bitch.

  • ||

    For once I agree with Orin. I would hope the country would want revenge for Fort Hood.

  • killazontherun||

    Revenge isn't the government's prerogative, nor its call for whom it is deserved against. Somebody in the government tells the media on the day of the shooting that al-Awlaki is responsible, we are suppose to just take his word on it? That is why we have the court system. Star Chambers are inherently tyrannical.

  • ||

    al-Awlaki was in contract with the Fort Hood shooter. We have all the emails. He told Hussein to do what he did. He was guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.

    Now, I think they should have captured or at least tried to capture him. And that was a line that should not have been crossed.

    But that being said, spare me your bullshit that he was some innocent guy. He wasn't. The problem is not killing him. It is the precedent that is set. The next guy likely won't be as deserving.

  • killazontherun||

    Take that back. I don't do bullshit. My post was straight up with you out of respect.

  • ||

    I agree with you that it is a problem killing an American citizen without trial. But it is possible to kill the right guy in the wrong way. And that is what happened here.

  • Tim||

    "it is a problem killing an American citizen without trial"

    Back in my day, it was a capital offense. You kids...

  • killazontherun||

    What I have a problem is with Obama's attempt to cloud the difference between an operative deployed in an action, we both agree it is justified to kill someone who is in that capacity, and Obama intentionally obfuscated his language to sound like that was what he was doing when approved the assassination.

    Here is Obama from the NYT:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10.....yemen.html

    “The death of Awlaki is a major blow to Al Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate,” President Obama said in remarks at a swearing-in ceremony for the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, outside Washington. Mr. Obama said the cleric had taken “the lead role in planning and directing the efforts to murder innocent Americans.”

    Mr. Obama also called Mr. Awlaki “the leader of external operations for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” — the first time the United States has publicly used that description of him. American officials say he inspired militants around the world and helped plan a number of terrorist plots, including the December 2009 attempt to blow up a jetliner bound for Detroit.

    The drone strike was the first C.I.A. strike in Yemen since 2002 — there have been others since then by the military’s Special Operations forces — and was part of an effort by the spy agency to duplicate in Yemen the covert war the it has been running in Pakistan. Friday’s operation was the first time the agency had carried out a deadly strike from a new base in the region. The agency began constructing the base this year, officials said, when it became apparent to intelligence and counterterrorism officials that the threat from Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen had eclipsed that coming from its core group of operatives hiding in Pakistan.
  • mad libertarian guy||

    I highly doubt that al Queda designates people within their very loosely affiliated organization by spy department sounding titles.

  • MNG||

    "That is why we have the court system. "

    Read that until you get it John.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Revenge? They caught the guy who did it. He's gonna spend the rest of his life in prison for it. What more revenge do we need?

  • ||

    Catching the guy who is running around the world encouraging and telling people to do it.

    I object to the killing. But that is only because he was an American citizen. He was clearly an enemy and got what he deserved. The problem is the next guy they use that power on likely won't.

  • Hugh Akston||

    So arresting Occupados was only half the job? It won't be truly over until they drone the Adbusters compound too?

  • Paul||

    So arresting Occupados was only half the job? It won't be truly over until they drone the Adbusters compound too?

    *squinting*

    I'm trying to find the downside.

  • ||

    I'm with Paul.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Okay bad example. I'll try to find a provocateur that someone might object to killing.

  • ||

    I object to the killing. But that is only because he was an American citizen.

    I don't think his citizenship makes any difference. Any enemy fighter is an enemy fighter; his nationality makes no difference. If he was an enemy fighter subject to being killed, then it was a good shoot, regardless.

    If he wasn't, then it wasn't good shoot, regardless.

  • Zeb||

    Wanting revenge is an ugly and base thing. It is also understandable in many circumstances, and I don't necessarily hold it against people who desire revenge. There have certainly been times when I have felt a desire for revenge. But I don't act on it. Because revenge does no good. If there is some deterrent effect that justifies killing someone, fine, make that argument. But revenge by itself is never a good or acceptable reason to do anything.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Not to mention that government shouldn't have the capability to exact revenge in the first place.

    Especially extra judiciously and in secret.

  • Jeff P||

  • Alan Vanneman||

    President Obama's definition of "not huge": less than the total population of Pakistan.

  • Tim||

    So I made a decision, and it was wrong. It was a bad call, Ripley. It was a bad call.
    Ripley: Bad call? These people are dead, Burke! Don't you have any idea what you've done here?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Hey, at least you didn't redirect people to your mobile site that doesn't handle comments every time they click on comments or post a comment. So you're not so bad.

  • Tim||

    "your mobile site that doesn't handle comments "
    AKA "Ceti Alpha Five"

  • ||

    Tim, this is Ceti Alpha Five.

  • Paul||

    Nice one.

  • Tim||

    Lucy you go right on quoting regulations!

  • ||

    You know, instead of these endless reboots, why not do movies from different perspectives? For instance, I really like Fred Saberhagen's The Dracula Tape, which is a first person version of Dracula, told by the not-so-evil-and-much-less-dead-than-you-thought Count.

    So, if you're doing The Thing, you do it from the alien's perspective. Aliens? From Burke's perspective.

  • John Gardner||

    Great idea. Want to take a motorcycle ride with me?

  • ||

    He didn't invent the concept, and I'm talking about movies.

  • killazontherun||

    Well, that was a little obscure. Like off the cliff obscure.

    I use to like him, and still think there was an excellent few scenes in Sunlight Dialogs, but he was pretty much a one note pony who would probably be forgotten (maybe they'd still teach Grendel in high schools) if every other person who had the ambition to be a novelist didn't suck up his love juices on that subject.

  • ||

  • ||

    Exactly.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Good alt text.

  • ||

    Its Lucy; goes without saying.

  • Paul||

    I haven't been keeping up on the Deep News Cycle lately. What's the Word On the Street about our involvement with Iran Newcular scientists assasinations?

  • Barack Obama||

    What I'll say is this: I like to think of it as respecting the sovereignty of the Iranian people.

  • Brett L||

    Far too subtle and successful to be a CIA op.

  • Paul||

    I'm still feeling it was an Israeli job. As little as I trust my government, it seems that Israel still has the cajones (and the motive) to actually carry out such a job.

  • Il Douchey||

    But dey wuh awl bahd guys. /True Lies

  • ||

    Bender: The fact is, humans are completely harmless.
    Blue Elder: We're well aware of that.
    Bender: You are?
    Blue Elder: Of course. But they're useful to us as a scapegoat to distract the public from their real problem.
    Green Elder: Like our crippling lug nut shortage.
    Orange Elder: And a corrupt government of incompetent Robot Elders.

  • Tim||

    heh.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Silence!

  • Paul||

    Is it time for a rendition of The Dirty Fucking Hippies Were Right?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Soon enough it will be time for an extraordinary rendition of dirty hippies who were right.

  • Paul||

    Extraordinary rendition exports jobs overseas. Ordinary rendition keeps them right here at home!

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy.||

    Heh!

  • cynical||

    You know, if we're attacking Pakistan's FAT areas, it's really more like high tech liposuction than underleashing a swarm of unstoppable murderbots.

  • Iran||

    Oh, they're not SO unstoppable. Mwhahahaha!

  • cynical||

    It's a trick. Get an axe.

  • ||

    A White House spokesperson said the President only answered questions he was posed? 18 of the top 20 questions were about reforming U.S. drug policy! None of them were posed? Google - Did you pose these questions? If not - WHY would you have wasted everyone's time that voted for these?

  • ||

    So, the Drone War is now official.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Begun, the Drone War has.

  • Tim||

    win

  • Hugh Akston||

    Sorry Tim, nobody wins when that movie is quoted.

  • Tim||

    !

  • Loki||

    Could be worse...

    "Meesa called Jar Jar Binks..."

  • Paul||

    Except it's not a War on Drones, it's a war using drones.

    Now, if the President got behind a war using drugs, he might be on to something.

  • Sudden||

    He's actually being honest about the Iraqi drones. A friend of mine is one of the unmanned surveillance drone operators in Iraq right now. The Iraqi govt is refusing to issue more visas for the contractors that operate the surveillance drones. So some of the contractors have been arrested if they leave the embassy since their visas expired and the Iraqis wouldn't let them renew, meanwhile the other guys there that are still at the embassy are being forced to stay beyond their original expected deployment because the contractor can't get new visas issued for their replacements.

    Not that that makes it any better, or condones the actual armed drone strikes in Pakistan, but I'll give him points for his honesty on that matter so far.

  • Hey look!||

  • Paul||

    “I was transformed by the event,” she said.

    In Capitol Hill, threshhold carries you!

  • Paul||

    "Stop Gentrification: Keep buildings boarded up!"

  • The Other Kevin||

    So we'd be totally fine if China sent a drone over Bloomington and took out the Dalai Lama because it's better than an invasion.

  • Almanian Obama||

    Let me be clear.

    That's different.

  • Tim||

    So if some terrorist douche agreed to an interview on 60 Minutes, it would be OK to missile him and Steve Kroft? BONUS!

  • ||

    If they took out Bloomington, you'd owe them one.

  • Obama Supporter||

    So we'd be totally fine if China sent a drone over Bloomington and took out the Dalai Lama because it's better than an invasion.

    Absolutely.

  • Thomas L. Friedman||

    Absolutely.

  • Tim||

    George Bush Junior introduced Drone Assasination.

    Barrack Obama only used drones against high value targets.

    But begining with the inauguration of President Gingrich in 2013...

  • oncogenesis||

    And all the cheerleaders give to me
    Their long held onto virginity
    I swear I've got the biggest cock
    I'm so proud to be a jock

    GO TEAM GO
    GO TEAM GO
    GO TEAM GO
    GO TEAM GO

  • Almanian||

    On a completely unrelated topic - it's fucking 50+ in NE Ohio, and I took a vacation day and rode the FUCK out of my motorcycle. And washed the Mustang. LOVE THE WEATHER!

    If this be Global Warming™, let us make the most of it!

  • Paul||

    Myeah, I'm expecting another summer of mid 50s and sideways rain-- like the last two. If this is Global Warming, I'm with East Anglia, let's hide the decline.

  • tush blooms||

    If the average winter temperature went up five degrees and summer remained the same, as some models come close to suggesting that take saturation points into consideration, who but an ecoterrorist could object?

  • ||

    But if the North Pole melts, we'll all drown! Just like when you fill a glass with ice and water, the glass overflows when the ice melts! It's basic science!

  • Tim||

    Great moments in bad Sci -Fi : sinking icebergs

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cqWnzULAPc

  • Hugh Akston||

    If the North Pole melts, there will be no habitat for polar bears.

  • Tim||

    Sure there will, we will call them CanadaBears.

  • killazontherun||

    Well, they look like a type

  • killazontherun||

    of lumberjack. The type associated with a comedy troupe out of England.

  • killazontherun||

    Heavens to Betsy, how the fuck did that happen.

  • Tim||

    Yeah, you did all that and now you're inside posting. SHAME.

  • ||

    When he masturbates outside, people call the police. Fucking prudes.

  • ||

    I can understand people like John supporting this shit: as much as I disagree with them at least they're consistent.

    But you Lefties: where are you on this? Why is it okay to you for Obama to do it when you damned Bush to hell for it?

  • ||

    Because BHO won the Nobel Peace Prize and GWB didn't?

    Or: "It's not OK to start a war, but it's fine to escalate it?"

    Or: "BHO has CREATED 3,000,000 JOBS!" (Sorry about the all caps, but the last one has to be shouted in order to avoid examining the actual evidence for it.)

  • ||

    You expect consistency?

  • ||

    Not really. I just want to see what they say.

  • Tony||

    I assume you are talking to me. Everything really is black and white in your stunted binary brain, isn't it. There is a difference between prosecuting a legitimate war, by legitimate means, and avenging the honor of your failed father-President, by illegitimate means. Leave it up to your nihilistic simplicity to fail to see the distinction between the two.

  • you are?||

  • erikjay||

    "But yes, according to Obama the program exists but it has lead to practically no civilian casualties…"

    That's "led," okay? Jeez, folks, don't start sinking to HuffPo level (where "grisly" is "grissly" and the scourge of apostrophized plurals is alive and well). No, it's not important to the survival of humanity -- just literacy. It matters, I think.

  • Drone||

    Guys, I accidentally the whole wedding party, is this dangerous?

  • ||

    Are the same guys making Drone Strike decisions the same guys tha did "Fast and Furious"? And now that we can "hit" US citizens will there be domestic strikes as well? Ala Ruby Ridge or Waco?

  • Constitutional Believer||

    Biggest Threat to US Comes From Within Our Own Government!
    If We Don’ WAKE UP AMERICA Now!!!
    This Is Our Future Now! http://www.infowars.com/govern.....americans/

    Help WAKE UP AMERICA Now!!!
    Info: http://www.wakeupamerica.com/c.....lbelievers Join us on the ground floor of this Grassroots Powerhouse just as many conservative groups have, along with thousands of other people have joined WAKE UP AMERICA! I believe thousands more, hundreds of thousands, or millions more will help take back Our Republic with WAKE UP AMERICA! Wake Up America also includes an opportunity to create a residual income by earning compensation by implementing The WAKE UP AMERICA plan and sharing the opportunity with others.
    Take Care and GOD BLESS!
    Sincerely
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    ConstitutionalBelievers@hot.rr.com

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