President Obama Briefly Worried That His Unaccountable, Murderous Power Might Fall Into Republican Hands

The first 61 words of this chilling and banal New York Times article are a perfect distillation of how grotesque power appears in the eye of Americans who wield it:

Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.

The matter may have lost some urgency after Nov. 6.

A reminder to most Democrats who spent 2002-08 telling us that abuse of executive power was at or near the top of the nation's most urgent moral concerns: You just didn't mean it.

More from the article:

"There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands," said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity. With a continuing debate about the proper limits of drone strikes, Mr. Obama did not want to leave an "amorphous" program to his successor, the official said. The effort, which would have been rushed to completion by January had Mr. Romney won, will now be finished at a more leisurely pace, the official said. [...]

"One of the things we've got to do is put a legal architecture in place, and we need Congressional help in order to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in but any president's reined in terms of some of the decisions that we're making," Mr. Obama told Jon Stewart in an appearance on “The Daily Show” on Oct. 18.

In an interview with Mark Bowden for a new book on the killing of Osama bin Laden, "The Finish," Mr. Obama said that "creating a legal structure, processes, with oversight checks on how we use unmanned weapons, is going to be a challenge for me and my successors for some time to come."

The point of constitutional governance is that the legal structure for and oversight of executive power is not a task for the executive itself. The fact that a president (and former constitutional law professor) would think otherwise vividly illustrates how far from that bedrock concept we have strayed. 

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  • JW||

    I briefly took leave of my senses and discussed politics at Thanksgiving with an in-law, a staunch Obamabot. Evidently, the most pressing issue facing this country is a lack of More Free Shit™.

    When I, politely, mentioned the body-count of this administration and it's eager willingness to kill, the conversation suddenly died.

    Funny that.

  • ||

    When I, politely, mentioned the body-count of this administration and it's eager willingness to kill, the conversation suddenly died.

    That's what you get for telling dead baby jokes at the dinner table, however politely you told it.

    Oh! You meant the drones...well, funny how More Free Shit(tm) makes it all go away. You know, those people over there getting drone justice are so far removed from daily life in The States, JW.

  • JW||

    Oh! You meant the drones...well, funny how More Free Shit(tm) makes it all go away. You know, those people over there getting drone justice are so far removed from daily life in The States, JW.

    Those 3rd World ingrates should take solace, knowing that they're dying for our solar subsidies and ObamaCare.

  • ||

    Indeed! And reducing their total carbon footprint to...ahem...boot. It's a very Green policy, Glory be to Gaia(tm).

    And so thoughtful for His Pestilency to dictate future policy should he have lost his re-election bid.

  • JW||

    And reducing their total carbon footprint to...ahem...boot. It's a very Green policy

    We must win the War on Climate Change! Die!, you dung burning caveman!

    And so thoughtful for His Pestilency to dictate future policy should he have lost his re-election bid.

    He kills so much only because he cares so much.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Don't you know how much of a carbon and methane footprint burning dung has!!!11!1Eleventy!1!

  • Bardas Phocas||

    It's a reworking of the saying: "Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face, there will be a well-heeled, Western liberal to explain that the face foot does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy Bush-free government."

  • Lord Humungus||

    I've found bringing up dead brown children causes a mental overload. It just doesn't jibe with their "we're the good guys" mantra.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Yeah. I was politely dismissed by some family members when I mentioned that I voted for Gary Johnson. The candidate who wanted to end the war on drugs, end military adventurism, etc. When I pointed out that Obama has extended Bush's failures, they just stared back at me. Like they are in a stupor. The cult of personality is insane.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I'm over here in Liberia and I hang a bit with a bunch of fairly informed (at least about current events) UN volunteers (they're cared for by the UN, but they really work for WFP/USAID/UNHCR).

    I don't know if they're better or worse than your family since they know about all the crap like the pot squashing in CA and the drone wars, they just absolutely do not care.

  • Drake||

    I made some fun of liberal in-laws for Obama's civil rights' record. They were informed enough to be very embarrassed by his drug-war and drone-war.

  • ||

    I was told I was acting like a teenager, criticizing Obama for not being perfect.

    I mean, ohmigod, how fucking lame, *rolls eyes*, so I went and hung out at the mall.

  • 1955||

    I get the you're just too cynical.

  • Gamblorr||

    This one really confuzzles me. You think that "won't kill American citizens, won't wage unauthorized wars, and will respect the right to due process" are unrealistic expectations to have of a president, and I'M cynical?!?

  • R C Dean||

    I did give my (proggy-lib) sister-in-law pause after she said she was in favor of big government because when you got right down to it, she really didn't trust her neigbors.

    I asked her why, if she thought people basically couldn't be trusted, she wanted to give so many of them so much power.

    No response.

  • wanderlustmisfit||

    that's an awesome argument. i can see it:
    'Deregulate!? Small Government!? That's anarchy! You can't just let people do what they want!!'
    'You don't trust people to act respectably and with morals?'
    'No, of course not. Don't you see what would happen? Raping and pillaging!'
    'So you don't trust your neighbors?'
    'Not if they're going to rape and pillage me.'
    'But you trust people who, not only do you not know, but you don't even know what it is they're doing, to make all of the laws that govern your life?'
    ---- People incapable of critical thinking are the reason why a Democracy can only work with a small Federal government. Too many dumb mistakes kills us all.

  • ||

    better than silence is the tortured attempt to defend Obama's godawful ways with "But the Republicans would be worse!". Well that makes it all OK then.

  • JW||

    I was *this* close to snapping and going on a rant about how it's not enough that the wealthiest people on the planet have all the free ponies already, we need these impoverished feriners living in their slums and huts to die faster so we can have MOAR.

    Fuck these people.

  • ||

    when you do snap, please ensure it's filmed and uploaded to YouTube for the edification of others

  • JW||

    Oh, it's a matter of when, not if, at this point. I can feel it in my bones.

    Their moral calculus is fucking sickening.

  • Killazontherun||

    I've intentionally limited my intake of political matters, and rediscovered my old passion for reading dry tomes on computer science to knock the anger down a few levels. Seems to be be working.

  • TANSTaaFL||

    I have applied a similar balm to self-induced hemorrhages via political discussions. Bourbon.

  • SugarFree||

    Politics didn't come up once all weekend. It was glorious.

  • Killazontherun||

    I imagine except for hard core Blue Team members who are still demanding to have the ring kissed or off with ye treasonous heads everyone is sick of politics for now.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    You are an instigator, ifh.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I have had a conversation end almost literally this way:

    Me: "So you're telling me it doesn't matter WHAT they're doing, only WHO is doing it?"
    UNV: "Yeah...yeah, pretty much"
    Me: "Two more jinnuntonix please!"

    I could almost see the gears going in their head. Basically she figured out that she was trying to defend indefensible behavior, then just figured that I had given her an actual way out of the argument and decided to embrace it.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "I could almost see the gears going in their head. Basically she figured out that she was trying to defend indefensible behavior, then just figured that I had given her an actual way out of the argument and decided to embrace it"

    Got into an argument like this with the Team Blue brother of my GF's friend over the PATRIOT Act a year ago.

    He started out in staunch opposition to it. I pointed out that Obama expanded it, and that the majority of Democrats in both houses voted in favor of it. He denied this, so I threw proof after proof in his face.
    His denialism was like a brick wall, but after about a dozen times trying to explain basic mathematics to him, he finally cracked and accepted it, and did an immediate about-face on his feelings toward the Act.

    His exact words were something to the effect of, "Who cares, it only affects meth dealers and terrorists, anyway?"

  • db||

    I made the huge mistake of discussing politics with my Mom over the weekend. It appears she bought into the idea that the only reason Republicans ever win elections is RACISM! Until that point I maintained my composure and I could barely take any more after that. The sad thing is that my family knows I disagree strongly with them on most political topics but they can never be satisfied until they pick that scab. My mom's husband is the worst. He reads enough that he knows the big words, but he is so embarrassingly ignorant of what they mean it's almost truly impossible to argue with him. It's like someone puts 5 parts MSNBC, 2 parts Fox News, and 1 part Alex Jones in a blender, adds some secret ingredient, and hits puree before pouring the whole mess in through a carefully prepared hole in his head.

  • JW||

    I gritted my teeth when my sister-in-law started raving about how great Rachel Maddow is.

    The sad thing is that my family knows I disagree strongly with them on most political topics but they can never be satisfied until they pick that scab.

    My gut tells me that these people travel in such a tight, Pauline Kael bubble that they forget that other people might who have different ideas than they do are *real*.

  • juris imprudent||

    And I love how those "in the bubble" people project that onto those that disagree. "You need to get out of that Fox News bubble" coming out of anyone's yap makes their face punchable.

  • Christina||

    At the Thanksgiving table at my sister's house the topic turned to how my brother-in-law's sister (not at dinner with us) had been really, REALLY worried that Romney would win because "people are so racist!" Then everyone at the table had a good laugh because this woman is the only person any of us knows who routinely still refers to black people as niggers.

  • ||

    Yes but as an Obama voter her use of the n-word is ironic. Or post-racial. Or an appropriation of the words of oppression in order to recontextualise them. Whatever, stop microaggressing her Christina!

  • Killazontherun||

    I doubt if it is irony. It's more like with Biden. 'That Obama is just SUCH a good boy. Why can't they all be like that?'

  • ||

    It's like someone puts 5 parts MSNBC, 2 parts Fox News, and 1 part Alex Jones in a blender, adds some secret ingredient, and hits puree before pouring the whole mess in through a carefully prepared hole in his head.

    That secret ingredient is Essence of Mika Brzezinski. Don't ask me how I know this...

  • ||

    if you don't tell us how you obtain it, it's a deal

  • ||

    HIPAA, lass. HIPAA.

  • RBS||

    "My mom's husband is the worst. He reads enough that he knows the big words, but he is so embarrassingly ignorant of what they mean it's almost truly impossible to argue with him. It's like someone puts 5 parts MSNBC, 2 parts Fox News, and 1 part Alex Jones in a blender, adds some secret ingredient, and hits puree before pouring the whole mess in through a carefully prepared hole in his head."

    Are you my long lost brother in law?

  • Stephdumas||

    It might be a bit politically incorrect to said but we could ponder if it could work the other way by mentionning "reverse racism" or "positive discrimination"?

    On a off-topic sidenote, I saw this post on City-Data forums posted in 2008 where someone compared Obama to the former mayor of Detroit Coleman A. Young http://www.city-data.com/forum.....young.html

  • ||

    Yeah, yeah, rules. I'm sure they're getting Right On It at 1600 Penna. Should be done in, say, about 4 years.

  • Almanian.||

    Different when we do it, the Right People in charge, Top Men.

    Not seeing why it's so hard to realize it's all A-OK, Mr. Welch.

  • ||

    The point of constitutional governance is that the legal structure for and oversight of executive power is not a task for the executive itself.

    Who needs legal structure and oversight? It's the vibe of the thing

  • Whiterun Guard||

    If I watch that, will I get a thrill up my leg?

  • ||

    "I'm afraid, Mr. WRG, you'll have to be a bit more specific..."

  • RBS||

    I love that movie. That's how I learned about eminent domain in law school

  • The Late P Brooks||

    The point of constitutional governance is that the legal structure for and oversight of executive power is not a task for the executive itself.

    As another notable Constitutional scholar is reported to have said, "It's just a goddam piece of paper!"

  • ||

    "It's like, 100 years old n' stuff...and it's written in Olde English!"

  • Zeb||

    ""It's just a goddam piece of paper!""

    Isn't the original on parchment? I wonder if Vegans are opposed to the Constitution for that reason?

    In any case, I'm pretty sure that the constitution is a text and not a piece of paper or parchment.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Of course that argument could be used against following any law.

  • WTF||

    The point of constitutional governance is that the legal structure for and oversight of executive power is not a task for the executive itself.

    Are you serious? Are you SERIOUS?
    /Pelosi

  • ||

    “I have no idea what you are talking about. I’m happy to answer any serious questions you have.”

    "Why isn’t that serious?”

    “Because I have no idea what you are talking about.”

    Name that idiot!

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Milo Minderbinder?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Lovie Smith at a post game press conference?

  • ||

    Speaking of, The Vikings were so shittastics yesterday that Fox cancelled the broadcast of their own damn game o' the week so they could show an actual good game.

    Fucking Vikings. I would stop rooting for them, except I'm afraid that would turn me into a Redskins fan.

  • Killazontherun||

    They go with Atlanta-Tampa? That was a great game.

  • RBS||

    That's what we had here, but I live in SC so we got the whole game since the Panthers have somehow managed a monday night matchup with the Eagles. I bet the NFL and ESPN are regretting that bit of scheduling.

  • Killazontherun||

    Yeah, even I thought all the Panthers needed was to improve the defense and their 24+ average scoring record from the previous year would be a gimme. Wow, what a flame out.

  • RBS||

    They have some nice pieces on defense to build on for the future. The offense is garbage scheme wise, what's the point of having two RB's that would start on just about any other team in the league if you aren't going to use them? Of course, losing a pro bowl center for the season doesn't help.

  • Killazontherun||

    Brian Kalil would have been my very last guess of who would suffer an early season ending injury. But, still. I think Cam's pocket protection has been adequate, he is struggling with getting the ball out of his hands with any reasonable speed. Though he looked okay in the last game for a change. However, it looks like he will be mostly remembered for the most hilarious commercial of the 2012 season.

  • RBS||

    Hahaha, I saw that commercial last night.

  • 1955||

    We're stuck with the purple, cross your fingers for a QBOF one of these day, you can have the best RB of all-time and it don't matter. The NFL is all about the QB with modern rules, parity is a joke given the scarcity of the super position. SKOL Vikings!

  • Killazontherun||

    Debbie Whatswiththe-Scaryhairistein?

  • Whahappan?||

    Debbie Blabber-Mouth-Schultz.

  • JW||

    As another notable Constitutional scholar is reported to have said, "It's just a goddam piece of paper!"

    Judging by the results of the recent elections, it appears that the Constitution actually *is* a suicide pact.

  • Almanian.||

    Another thought occurs to me - someone who takes ANY "instruction" or "guidance" from this fucking hack of a President is an idiot who needs to be hit upside the head with a 2x4, HARD.

    The very idea - "so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures" - from Mr. Freeform Constitutional Origami, is insulting and infuriating.

    Not that anyone will care, of course. What an overconfident fuckstick.

  • boomanwho||

    If you knew anything about the transition from one administration to the next, you would understand it is a very responsible thing to do and would have been greatly appreciated by the Romney administration. That being said, this exercise is nothing more than twisting the rule of law to justify immoral acts of murder and should be severely condemned.

  • Almanian.||

    Yeah, gosh, thanks for enlightening my about transitions of power, about which I had noooo idea until your luminescent description.

    Read your own second sentence, dumbass.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "The effort, which would have been rushed to completion by January had Mr. Romney won, will now be finished at a more leisurely pace, the official said."

    We just got more insight into how the narrative will go when there's a Republican in the White House. After the evidence-based, nuanced, cautious droning of the Obama years (by a President Facing Unprecedented Challenges), then suddenly the cowboy Republican, disregarding the wise restraints imposed on droning by the Democrat (a day before he left office), comes on the scene and is a Threat To Human Rights and International Law.

    It's shameless.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Damme, Meneer v. H - its like a copy of the NYT from March 2016 fell through a wormhole and into your hands.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Wait, you don't mean to tell me that maybe Bush wasn't any worse than Kerry or Gore would have been on the matter and that maybe libertarians got sold a bill of goods, are you?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Wait, a new anonybot strolls onto the battlefield! Will the unrivaled service offered by the legendary LimpoSimpo, WrangVoo and Tangtam be dethroned. Stay tuned!

  • ||

    There is only TiggyFoo. All others pale in comparison.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    I was a LimpoSimpo partisan myself - but the short time he strode across these pages, like an e-Colossus, are long gone. Sigh.

  • db||

    Is this just a one-on-one bot Thunderdome we're talking, or a full on BWF* cage match?


    *Bot Wrestling Federation

  • waaminn||

    Those guys really seem to know whats going on down there. Wow.
    www.Tru-Anon.tk

  • ||

    oh thank God, the real anonbot is back.

  • mr lizard||

    Do you know who else developed explicit rules for targeted killing?....

  • ||

    The Immortals from Highlander?

  • mr lizard||

    I was actually thinking of the Zentradi

  • seguin||

    Invid Zentradi

  • seguin||

    Squirrels stole my greater than sign!

  • Bardas Phocas||

  • Ted S.||

    Lucy Steigerwald?

  • Lucy Steigerwald||

    How did you know?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Speaking of concern trolling in the new post-racial America!:

    The blatant disrespect of a black woman by McCain and other Republicans won’t soon be forgotten by African Americans, no matter how soft McCain’s rhetoric gets.

    The black woman so rudely treated by McCrazytrain? Susan Rice.

  • Killazontherun||

    How dare they stand in a way of a toady getting her just reward for sycophancy that went far beyond the call of party loyalty and ascended quite high into the realm of grotesque immorality! She was a loyal soldier to the president, after all.

  • Ted S.||

    Susan Rice and John McCain are both vile people.

  • Killazontherun||

    DC. It's vile people all the way down.

  • Stephdumas||

    Meanwhile, on this article on Breitbart.com
    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-G.....You-Owe-Us

  • Zeb||

    So, apparently he needs to treat all black people with respect, even if they don't deserve it? And that is not racist?

  • R C Dean||

    Well, you just can't expect them to meet the same standards was white people. Or something.

  • ||

    IT'S OK WHEN WE DO IT!

    /liberalstreamofconsciousness

    (I guess they take the gift receiving adage of "it's the thought that counts" way too seriously.)

  • Rick Santorum||

    "Who? Whom?"

    _________________________________

    I define a living wage as making enough money to afford basic necessities while having enough money left over to put in savings.

  • Zeb||

    That's kind of a weird definition, don't you think? Seems to me that a living wage should be just what is needed for the necessities.

  • Sevo||

    It's not a definition; it's an opinion. And an opinion from a moron.

  • boomanwho||

    Good article except for the dig on Dems at the end just to get the comment section rolling. And you commentors have willing obliged in predictable fashion with the same comment "Thanksgiving horrors with idiot Obamabot relatives". Diverting this into partisan politics ensures that presidents on both side will continue to expand their powers beyond the Constitution. And if all you talk about is Obama and Obamabot bashing don't pretend like you really care about expansion of presidential power or innocent people killed by drones.

  • JW||

    Concern troll is concerned.

  • boomanwho||

    JW, Hunter of Trolls, What is the point of not be concerned. Who want's to live their life concerned about nothing but mock those who are.

  • JW||

    Learn something before opening your pie hole or fuck off.

    I'm happy either way.

  • R C Dean||

    Why is it that bashing the President (and his supporters) who expanded Presidential power and killing with drones somehow means we don't care about expanding Presidential power and killing with drones?

  • boomanwho||

    I am sure you are capable of caring about both. But from the comments posted here bashing Obama is what really charges these people up. I am just saying it's unproductive to solve the problem if you think there's any difference between R's an D's on presidential power.

  • juris imprudent||

    You're new here. You should've seen some of the Bush bashing.

    We are libertarians, we hate all statist fucks equally.

  • boomanwho||

    Thank you, that is good to hear.

  • Applederry||

    1.) Obama is the one who turned the drone program into the free-wheeling program it is today.

    2.) Obama is President, and will be for the next 4 years, that is, he is the one that actually has power over the program.

    3.) Romney, having lost, is completely irrelevant now.

    4.) Not a single person here has expressed that they would be okay with a republican president having this power.

    Kindly point out where the partisanship is taking place please.

  • XM||

    You can bash Obamabots while criticizing Obama.

    Obama supporter are either die hard fans who's badly misinformed or decent guys who sort of voted your a charismatic populist president. You can have a conversation about Obama with the latter. Obama GDLK for the former, it really is scary.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I am just saying it's unproductive to solve the problem if you think there's any difference between R's an D's on presidential power.

    You're not from around here, are you?

  • trig||

    Lol, yeah.. you don't say!

  • Loki||

    Translation: "It's OK, nobody panic! TOP. MEN. are still in charge, those EVUL RETHUGLICANS didn't win, so we can continue wiping our ass with the concepts of due process and constitutionality for at least another four years. Whew, bullet dodged. Now, if there was only some way to ensure that Obama is in charge forever..."

  • Bill Dalasio||

    ...his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.

    The matter may have lost some urgency after Nov. 6.


    Oh, I'm sure he'll get around to finishing it. Sometime in early January 2016. Maybe. Depends how the elections go.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands,"

    That is, in fact, the *only* concern. Power isn't a means to any end, it is the end.

  • Silver Fox||

    Oh, so it's only now that St Barack of Obama worries about the ramifications of what could happen if presidents are allowed to murder-drone people? When the possibility rose that he might not be king of the castle much longer once the peasants decided who got to sit on the throne for the next four years? Now? Not before he carried out the act?

    This is a man who never should have been given a first term in office—never mind a second.

    And the sycophants who enable and/or worship this worm don't care. Not until the spectre of a Republican presidency looms on the horizon anyways.

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  • Tablet pc||

    This is so bloody and cruel, why we can not live peaceful?

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