Obama Brags About His 'Extensive Process' for Deciding Who Will Die

In an interview this week, Jessica Yellin, CNN's chief White House correspondent, asked President Obama how he decides who will live and who will die. "I've got to be a little careful here," Obama replied, because "there are classified issues." But he was able to assure the American people that "our criteria for using [drones] is [sic] very tight and very strict": The threat must be "serious and not speculative," capture has to be "very difficult," and the risk of "civilian casualties" must be minimized. How does the government make sure these criteria are satisfied?

We have an extensive process with a lot of checks, a lot of eyes looking at it. Obviously, as president, I'm ultimately responsible for decisions that are made by the administration. But I think what the American people need to know is the seriousness with which we take both the responsibility to keep them safe but also the seriousness with which we take the need to abide by our traditions of rule of law and due process. 

All of this is done secretly, of course, and all of the "eyes looking at it" belong to people who work for the president, so you kinda have to take Obama's word for it. In his view, the executive branch is checking itself, so there is no need for judicial oversight. And he should know, right? He used to teach constitutional law. But doesn't this arrangement effectively give one man the power to kill anyone he identifies as an enemy of the state? Yes and no:

I can’t get too deeply into how these things work. But as I said, as commander in chief ultimately I am responsible for the process that we've set up.

Obama conceded that singling people out for death dealt at a distance is "something that you have to struggle with, because if you don't it's very easy to slip into a situation in which you end up bending rules, thinking that the ends always justify the means." What a relief to know that the president is not bending the rules when he orders the summary execution of people he considers threats to national security.

Obama closed the exchange by flattering his interviewer. "It's very important for the president and the entire culture of our national security team to continually ask tough questions," he said. "Are we doing the right thing? Are we abiding by the rule of law? Are we abiding by due process?" Yellin asked those tough questions, and she got her answer: yes. The rest is classified.

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  • Ayn Random Variation||

    We're from the Government, and we're here to kill you.

  • A Serious Man||

    Shorter Obama: the kill list is safe and we have top men working on it now. Top. Men.

  • Voros McCracken||

    You guys use this phrase a lot, but this really is exactly like from the movie.

    Shouldn't someone get to follow up and ask whether it's really fair that he gets to decide whether or not his own actions are above board?

  • Pro Libertate||

    He sees. He considers. He judges.

    Yep, that's what our entire history of due process is about--one-man judge, jury, and executioner. Shit, he should fly the drones himself!

  • A Serious Man||

    We are a nation of men and not of laws. It's the American way the Founding Fathers envisioned, not that it matters since we have law scholars that can tell peons that black is white when it comes to the Constitution.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Not of men. Of man. The man.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    YOU DA MAN!

  • rts||

    Top. Man.

  • db||

    You're the top!
    You're a drone strike pilot!

    You're the top!
    Collat'ral's where you file it!

    You're the buzzing sound that's all around Herat!
    But if, Baby, I'm the bottom, you're the Top!

  • Knutsack||

    After all the links to metal, I never thought I'd see a Cole Porter song here. And yet, here it is. Wow.

  • ||

    black is white

    Racist!

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    President Obama pays the Iron Price for what he has.

  • Paul.||

    Shit, he should fly the drones himself!

    Little people fly drones. Miss Daisy sits in the back and tells them where to go.

  • ||

    He is the law!

  • Loki||

    Judge Dredd-bama: "I AM THE LAW!!!"

  • ||

    Why isn't what Obama is doing compared to what Mcnamara and Johnson did?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    They happened, like, 100 50 years ago or something.

  • Paul.||

    Because you would be comparing a Democrat to another Democrat. Oh wait, you said "comparing", I was thinking "contrasting".

    Because Johnson was essentially Kennedy II, and since Kennedy essentially started the Viet Nam war, then it's all good.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Well, if the President says it's OK, then it's OK.
    I feel better about the kill list now!

  • John||

    it is a war. That is what commanders do.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    You know who else assumed the power to have people killed during a war...

  • ||

    He-Man?

  • Xenocles||

    Every soldier ever?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    #WINNING

  • Pro Libertate||

    You say that now, but let's see if you're singing the same tune when Obama orders a drone strike against a certain "known libertarian."

  • Xenocles||

    Look, everyone knows he's a libertarian. A trial is not necessary.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's a fair cop.

  • SKR||

    Plus he weighs the same as a duck.

  • Paul.||

    Known libertarian, known terrorist... compare and contrast...

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, terrorists justify expanded government power. Libertarians oppose it. Therefore, terrorists are better than libertarians.

  • Paul.||

    it is a war.

    With whom?

  • Pro Libertate||

    With John. He's a known libertarian on the kill list. So am I, but John's ahead of me.

  • $park¥||

    If I were you, I'd find out where John is and stay far away. If you two ever get close enough to each other you're likely to find yourselves up at the top of the list.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Right, a libertarian conspiracy! Or [shudder] a militia.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Huttaree LOOMS LARGE

  • Paul.||

    No, there's just a risk you'll cross the streams.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    You're right to a point: the executive branch, by design, was given wide latitude when it comes to waging war in legitimate conflicts -- in practice, this shakes out to include conflicts against nation-states where Congress has declared and/or recognized a state of war, short-term actions in conflicts where there is an immediate threat to the US, and low-intensity conflicts against groups which don't fit into neat Westphalian categories.

    Lack of transparency is also not a terribly novel development in warmaking -- doesn't make it any better, but it is nonetheless sadly true.

    What is new, is the potential for US citizens to end up on the kill list or as collateral damage without any discussion, transparency, or concern regarding same.

  • Fluffy||

    It would be a war if we said, "We are committed to supporting the government of Yemen, and it's our intention to make war on and exterminate anyone opposed to that government."

    (Repeat as necessary with the government of Pakistan, the puppet governments of Afghanistan and Somalia, etc.)

    Part of what's offensive here is the absurd charade we go through to justify all of our efforts as being directed against "Al Qaeda". Just fucking admit we've decided strategically to wipe out all rural opposition to the Pakistani government, whoever it is. That at least would be honest.

  • Calidissident||

    And as our leaders have said, the battlefield is the entire world, including America ...

  • ||

    This isn't war, this is nation building. The three week push to Bagdhad, that was war. The Battle of the Bulge, that was fucking war. The Battle for Fallueja, that was war. And most of this war, there has been that much war.

    And nation buidling is a different animal than war. Oh sure it is dangerous for the troops who have to endure it. And for them, it fucking looks like war.

    And don't tell me that because terrorists are different, as they don't have nation-states under their control, that that makes this war different. We killed the dude responsible, so they say, for 9-11. So, what is the justification for the war now? Who exactly is the enemy?

    So no John, it isn't war, and Obama is nothing but a cheap, jiving, murderous fuck from chigago.

  • ||

    Whew! I'm glad that's settled! Well, guess the gay marriage and tax-the-rich thing will just swing me over to D-Land.

  • Paul.||

    "our criteria for using [drones] is [sic] very tight and very strict"

    Democrats love this shit. Elites talking about how gravely they take their role as a decider in life or death situations.

    No need to ask if this guy should be doing this, just make sure that he's intelligent, well read, supports gay marriage and believes in a woman's right to choose. Everything after that is just details.

  • MWG||

    Don't forget articulate. He's got to be articulate.

  • Paul.||

    That's racist.

    No one points out that John F Kennedy was 'articulate', they only point it out when a Black man speaks well. Because we expect black people to not be articulate and are pleasantly surprised when they sound like white folks.

  • ||

    Paul, has anyone ever told you you're very articulate?

  • MWG||

    Wait... I forgot...

    "/Biden"

  • Reformed Republican||

    it's very easy to slip into a situation in which you end up bending rules, thinking that the ends always justify the means.
    Then you remember it is classified, so it really does not matter what the fuck you do, no one will know.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Checks, balances, due process, declarations of war. . .all hallmarks of oppression.

  • ubercynic||

    . . . so it really does not matter what the fuck you do, no one will know.

    and if anyone tries to find out, you can just call them a "conspiracy theorist" and nobody will pay any attention.

  • wef||

    We should trust our Leaders.

  • db||

    We should have reason to be able to trust our Leaders.

    Until then, no thanks.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Actually, we shouldn't trust our leaders. Period. That's the foundation of our entire political system. Well, at least, it was.

  • db||

    You're right, of course.

  • wef||

    Sarcasm aside, we should never, ever trust our Leaders. The best we can hope for is to make them fear informed voters will hold them to account. I am a pessimist, however.

  • $park¥||

    If we don't kill them, they'll kill us. The only thing standing between a peaceful, secure United States and total annihilation is our brave Commander in Chief and his amazing fleet of drones.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "If I sink this putt, you live."

  • Rich||

    +19

  • Tim||

    ABortion was above his paygrade but not this.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    That was before. NOTHING is above his pay grade now. NOTHING.

  • ant1sthenes||

    He believes in a President's right to choose.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Am I alone in seeing Obama as the "I'm crushing your head" guy from The Kids in the Hall?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Yes.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    And his name is "Headcrusher".

  • Pro Libertate||

    You mean the president?

  • Paul.||

    I see him more as the Eradicator from Kids in the Hall... the Squash guy who would challenge everyone to matches.

  • Pro Libertate||

    To be honest, I've always seen him as Maria from The Sound of Music. I don't know why.

  • Paul.||

    ♫ How do you solve a problem like Obama...♫

  • Pro Libertate||

    These are a few of my favorite drones.

    Drone, of fear,
    A lethal fear.

  • Paul.||

    Grey, the color of the guuuuun!

  • ||

    Pee - you will,
    When the drone comes.

  • db||

    Far enough you'll never run!

  • gaijin||

    I'm guessing the women and children killed in the drone strike in yemen this week will be a case of 'mistakes were made' or ' that's classified'?

  • db||

    Hey, procedures were followed, it was looket at by many eyes, flesh was rent from bone. Nothing else happened.

  • db||

    WTF "looket?"

  • T||

    We'll just refuse to admit it was our drone. Somebody else is in Yemen, droning wimmenz and chillruns.

    Proably Mexicans. You know how they're always sneaking around doing the jobs Amurricans won't do.

  • johnl||

    It was Yemenis. That's why they need so much bombing. Because they are bombing each other all the time.

  • db||

    I hear it helps to lock them in the basement and sexually enslave them.

  • kinnath||

    Of all the reasons that I have grown to hate Barry, this is probably at the top of the list.

  • ||

    ...and the risk of "civilian casualties" must be minimized.

    Who here is okay with randomly dying? Show of hands please? What if I told you it was for a really good reason? Hm, still no one?

  • $park¥||

    *raises hand*

    Wait, what was the question?

    NO! NO! I take it back!

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    In theory. But in practice...

  • Shocked||

    Regardless how anyone feels about this it is fucking amazing what a non story it is. Where is Cindy Sheehan when you need her?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    what a non story it is

    I blame Bush

  • Bee Tagger||

    I think Cindy Sheehan is still out, more or less, doing her thing. What's changed is that no one in the media cares anymore.

  • T||

    Also, I find out from Wikipedia:

    The Reaper is being used as a testbed for Gorgon Stare, a wide-area surveillance sensor system.

    Shit. Charlie Stross was right.

  • T o n y||

    The drone attacks are unquestionably an improvement over the vast lawless incompetent brutality of the previous administration, but it's definitely not good that war has become so easy to declare and war machinery so easily deployed without public scrutiny. At least two things need to change for these things to become more in line with the spirit and letter of the constitution: Congress needs to grow a spine, and the American people need to become less bloodthirsty. I'll not hold my breath.

    Undoubtedly presidents get in office, see reports of how easily a major terrorist attack could happen on their watch, and err on the side of killing more terrorists. Looking tough is always a political consideration as well. But I've never been convinced that we're not creating more potential terrorists than we're killing with these actions. Terrorism and guerrilla warfare have never been "solved" by killing enough people.

  • $park¥||

    The drone attacks are unquestionably an improvement over the vast lawless incompetent brutality of the previous administration

    HA HA HA! That's rich... "At least my guy is classy about it."

  • T||

    Somebody refresh my memory. Did sockpuppet support Libya? Because if so, he needs to have a nice hot cuppa STFU.

  • T o n y||

    Equating Libya with Iraq is tantamount to sucking Donald Rumsfeld's cock.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    You'd know, wouldn't you?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I really have no idea what that simile is supposed to mean.

  • T o n y||

    No he just has a much lower body count. My implicit point is that Obama is clearly more judicious about the use of force, but that's not gonna be the case for the next Republican president, so these powers are not a good idea just because Obama uses them competently.

  • Paul.||

    Tony, I keep mentioning the bankrupt "body count" argument... almost as a joke, and then you keep bringing it up... repeatedly.

    You're dangerously close *pause for irony* to becoming a charicature of yourself.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Casualties in Afghanistan are much higher than they were under the previous President -- and withdrawal from Iraq has been done under that President's time table, as well (which makes one wonder how casualties would have been higher under a hypothetical third Bush term).

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    "Terrorism and guerrilla warfare have never been 'solved' by killing enough people."

    Sure they have -- read up on pre-WWI German Africa, or any of the large series of conflicts which kept pre-industrial autocracies afloat.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    ^^this^^

    "Violence never solved anything!"

    "It solved World War II...."

  • Pro Libertate||

    Actually, the Romans did that in Judea by getting tired of just beating down rebellions. They finally just went apeshit on the Jewish terrorists, and that was that.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Speaking of the Romans, how did they respond to the Carthaginian insurgency?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Add salt.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Trick question: there was no Carthaginian insurgency.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Now that depends on your perspective, doesn't it?

  • Paul.||

    And what do the Romans know about running an Empire?

  • Fluffy||

    In exchange for their empire, the Romans gave up all of their political and legal rights and ended up as tax peons and slaves first to whatever strongman could seize control of their military and later to foreign barbarians squatting in the ruins of their cities.

    So what did they know about running an Empire? Not enough, apparently.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    It's pretty simple to destroy an insurgency if you are a superior military power. It's just very unethical.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Exactly. Even for unethical countries like, say, the Soviet Union, sometimes your hands are tied by world opinion.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Basically, this. The German experience in Africa was not a high point for human rights.

    Consider that the South African annexation of German Namibia during WWI was made easy in large part due to the huge number of Namibians who greatly preferred the apartheid conquerors to the German administration.

  • Bobarian||

    'Terrorism and guerrilla warfare have never been "solved" by killing enough people.'

    Blackjack Pershing would disagree.

    ' My implicit point is that Obama is clearly more judicious about the use of force,'

    He's killed more US Troops in AF in 3 yrs than Bush did in 7, so blow me.

  • Loki||

    He's killed more US Troops in AF in 3 yrs than Bush did in 7, so blow me.

    Careful. He would take that as an invitation if he weren't busy giving Obama his "afternoon delight". The president's cock isn't going to suck itself afterall.

  • kbolino||

    "He's killed more US Troops in AF in 3 yrs than Bush did in 7, so blow me."

    That makes about as much sense as saying he killed Bin Laden.

  • Killazontherun||

    We have an extensive process with a lot of checks, a lot of eyes looking at it.

    Well, at least six. Obama's eyes, Uncle Charlie's eyes, and those of a dog named Sam who telepathically tells Obama who needs to die.

  • Killazontherun||

    As much as I'm joking, I get this creepy since that something seriously fucked up is going on here. Yes, its fucked up that a president has a kill list in and of itself, but that is not what I mean here. There is something else here that I would lay odds is as fucked as a South Park episode.

  • Killazontherun||

    creepy sense

  • Killazontherun||

    Obama certainly brought the fundamental change he promised. Even King Henry was concerned about plausible deniabilaty when he sent the knights to smite Beckett. Obama is more than happy to talk about a kill list, smiling obliviously while doing so.

    Did Johnson have a kill list? Kennedy or Nixon or Eisenhower? There were some convenient deaths on their watch including in Kennedy's case the nationalist leader of South Vietnam, but damn, even fifty years from now you would have a hard time making the necessary links.

  • db||

    Most. Transparent. Administration. Ever.

    They're at least the first to admit to a kill list. Why not stop extrajudicial killings? Because...

  • George26||

    Suppose an American went to Hanoi and became a leader of the Hanoi government. Do you really think Kenedy or Johnson or Eisenhower would have insited that this person has all the same costitutional rights as anyone else?

  • jester||

    they should have.

  • George26||

    This is crap. There is a thing called war, and in war people DIE. When there are enemies in a war, you try to KILL them. When enemies are in a hostile country, it has always been okay to purposefully kill them. Suppose an American citizen went to Nazi Germany and became a leader in the Nazi hierachy. American inteligence found out where the man was, and sent paratroopers to KILL him. Would you protest his killing as unconstitutional?

  • ChrisO||

    Exactly what war have we declared in Yemen? I must have missed it.

  • SKR||

    This. ^^^

  • db||

    Concerted human activity nearly always leads to sorrow. And this is somehow an excuse for itself.

    If you cannot see just how tenuous the definitions of "enemy," "hostile," and "war" are, how can you be expected to understand that defining something as "war" doesn't allow you to excuse anything done under that thin veil of legitimacy? How easily can these concepts be turned back on you?

  • George26||

    The individuals on the "kill list" are all known members of terrorist organizations. What is to prevent the government from declaring any organization it doesn't like a "terrorist organization?" Well name a terrorist organization that you think doesn't deserve that title. If you were really afraid of the government declaring you a terrorist organization, why aren't you waging armed resistance against the government. If the government does become tyrannical, THAT will be the time to wage armed resistance against the government. At that time this "kill list" will be of little use to the government anyway. Also, I am not currently living outside the jurristiction of the United States.

  • db||

    As long as GOOD people get to declare who's EVIL everything works out OK, right? No potential for abuse there.

  • Les||

    Known to whom? Based on what evidence?

    Look, if you want to trash the concept of due process, just say so.

    But don't pretend that just because the government says someone is guilty of something that it must mean it's true.

  • jester||

    George26,

    You pretend to live in a simplified world. My definition of 'terrorist' is someone who willfully targets civilians to get a political response in their favor. This lamentably includes most legitimate governments in the world. So terrorism becomes one of those nebulous and polemic terms that reduce themselves to meaninglessness.

    All we are saying, those of us who cherish freedom, is give due process a chance. There are a lot of thorny situations out there i.e don't be such an ass-kissing, boot licking, browwn nosing sycophant. Enough already.

  • db||

    Suppose a German U-boat commander defected to the U.S. and began assisting the U.S. Navy with attacks on the German Navy. Would you accept German V-2 bombardment of American civilians in close proximity to him as an appropriate response?

  • George26||

    This is classic. "Of course I would oppose the Germans, those people are evil!" This is based on several assumptions. First, that Germany is ALREADY at war with the United States, why else would the U.S. navy be attacking the German navy? All you are doing is flipping my question around, because you do not seem to see the difference between GOOD and EVIL. The Nazis are evil and the killing of Nazis is legitamate.(do you dispute this?) Of course the United states should do anything it can to defeat the Nazis. If in some alternate reality situation it is the Americans who are Nazis and are making war against the Germans, than it would be justified if they were to defend themsleves with V-2 rockets.

  • db||

    Killing in the name of GOOD is GOOD. Because it's not EVIL. Got it.

  • George26||

    I didn't know I was on Stormfront.org

  • Killazontherun||

    Save me the hysterics, I get it. When Team Blue does it, it is in the National Interest, when Team Red does it, it's for oil.

  • ubercynic||

    F o r T h e W i n

  • bassasaurusrex||

    I didn't realize we were currently at war in Yemen. Last I checked we are only in Afghanistan fighting Al-Qaeda the taliban (supposedly) in Iraq fighting the Baath party and Al-Qaeda (supposedly) and supporting AL-QAEDA in Syria to help overthrow Asaad, which is the next country over from Iraq. Hmmm....
    Sorry, sir. They are not 'known' terrorists until a court of law has deemed them as such if they are US citizens. Regardless of how shitty their behavior, they are still subject to the US Constitution. I get that you view and Obama/Holder view that document as little else than a piece of toilet paper but it should still mean something.
    The kill list is illegal and completely un-Constitutional.

  • ubercynic||

    Whether the Nazis posed any military threat to America is debatable, saying a bunch of goat-herders in East Bugfuck, Afghanistan pose any threat to America is full tilt retard on PCP.

  • jester||

    PCP gets an unfair rap. These crazed fucks are sober and that is what is so disturbing.

  • ubercynic||

    Agreed, on all counts. Metaphor laziness: it's a fair cop.

  • ChrisO||

    I'm so old, I remember when Democrats used to be concerned about this sort of thing.

  • ||

    "... the seriousness with which we take the need to abide by our traditions of rule of law and due process. "

    I think we all know how serious that is because "...bending rules, thinking that the ends always justify the means." is the very definition of progressivism.

    Is this guy for real or am I stuck in some bizarro nightmare?

  • Killazontherun||

    They are out there, my man, and they are the reason we do not relinquish our arms.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Killing humans is an emotionally profitable business in the body politik. Americans and most folks in developed countries have deep orgasms of relief over when evil things that are vanquished in naughty places. Contemporary freedom is a blissful escape from atrocious realities with not a single mind-altering product consumed. This faith in the hand of the bullet is Grotesquian.

  • bassasaurusrex||

    Absolutely disgusting. He has no right to indiscriminately kill US citizens for perceived crimes. If that's the case then it is legal for cops to just start blowing people away under the guise that it would be 'difficult to apprehend them' with no repercussions. (oh wait, see Anaheim)
    For all the times I heard about how much of a murderer and a criminal W was (and he was) this is as bad as anything W did.
    Obama, you are little else than a vigilante thug murderer. Good job. 4 more years? ::vomits::

  • jester||

    I see at as Grand Theft Drone. Hey, da Prez can play video games too. His mum was from Kansas fer god's sake. So there are real dead bodies; he's da Prez, bitches!

  • jester||

    I see at as Grand Theft Drone. Hey, da Prez can play video games too. His mum was from Kansas fer god's sake. So there are real dead bodies; he's da Prez, bitches!

  • jester||

    Squirrels belong to a large family of small or medium-sized rodents called the Sciuridae. The family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots (including woodchucks), flying squirrels, and prairie dogs. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa, and have been introduced to Australia. The earliest known squirrels date from the Eocene and are most closely related to the mountain beaver and to the dormouse among living species.

  • db||

    Hhuh-huh. He said "mountain beaver."

  • honestgrifter||

    Here is the video he made discussing his drone strikes. I've edited it to add some truthiness.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ature=plcp

  • Rich||

    "We have an extensive process with a lot of checks, a lot of eyes looking at it."

    "A twisted tail! A thousand eyes! Trapped forever! Eepa! Eepa!"

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