Are Drone Strikes and Kill Lists The New Normal?

Q and A w Newsweek's Eli Lake


Disturbed by extra-constitutional U.S. drone strikes in countries such as Yemen and Pakistan? Presidential "kill lists" of suspected terrorists and security threats raise endless ethical and constitutional concerns?

A decade-plus after the 9/11 attacks and the launching of a vaguely defined and expansive global "war on terror", Americans are grappling with appalling revelations that the president claims the right, without any sort of judicial or legislative review or approval, to assassinate individuals (even American citizens) and groups he believes are national security threats.

Reason's Nick Gillespie talks with Eli Lake, the senior national security correspondent for The Daily Beast/Newsweek (and an occasional Reason contributor) and discusses the effects of technological developments and power grabs by both President George W. Bush and Barack Obama on military action.

Lake believes that a tentative consensus has formed around the use of drone strikes and targeted killings. "I think there's a much better chance, if libertarians are worried about it," he says, "of introducing some sort of oversight…and some degree of transparency in that process than it is to say we can't do it."

About 6 minutes. Produced by Joshua Swain, with camera by Meredith Bragg, Jim Epstein, and Swain.

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  1. Man created the Cylons. Then one day they decided to kill their masters…

    1. “West World – Where Nothing Can Go Worng”

      1. Which came/comes first, though?


        I am confuse.

  2. Remember when George Washington had his kill lists? Sure, there were no drones back then, but his secret cabal of stealth Ninjas made the British quake with fear. It’s one of the few reasons we won the war!

    Obama just updated an age-old right of all presidents.

    1. He saved the children but not the British children.

      1. He put his opponent’s wife’s hand in a jar of acid…

  3. I think Varys has a point here.

    1. His little birds tell him who’s on the kill list.

  4. Kill lists are unconstitutional.
    Murderdroning is immoral and illegal.
    No war has been declared in Pakistan or Yemen.
    Obama is a war criminal.
    John will defend it.

    1. We have ALWAYS been at war with [drone target]

    2. Romney won’t change it.

      1. ..because he won’t be elected, or….

        Guess it doesn’t matter – you’re right either way.

      2. Exactly. Once a president (or anyone else) gets a power, they rarely relinquish it.

      3. I’m sure he won’t.

  5. Actually, “Kill List” and “Drone Target” would be excellent names for rock and roll bands.

    “Murderdroning” would be a good album name.

  6. Ladies and Gentlemen: I present to you the 2012 Farm Bill.

    1. “Doggy Glitter Gel” – sounds like someone’s watching reruns of “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy” (NTTAWWT)

  7. (NTTAWWT)

    Yes there is. That show is an affront to all mankind, whether gay, straight or whatever the bi’s are calling themselves this week.

  8. FTA:

    Vincent Smith, an economics professor at Montana State University and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said the MAP subsidies can be of great benefit to smaller businesses that can’t afford to advertise outside the United States and are often overshadowed by larger companies producing the same products.

    “A legitimate question,” Smith said, “is whether or not that should be funded by a levy on the industry or by taxpayers.”

    That’s like the exact opposite of a legitimate question.

  9. So many advantages:

    Drones obey orders.

    Drones don’t have weak human emotions like remorse and doubt.

    Drones don’t fight for ten years and then write tell all books on the dirty things they’ve done.

    Drones like being discarded after they are no longer of any use.

    Drones and their families don’t have to be resettled in Detroit after you lose the war.

  10. Lake believes that a tentative consensus has formed around the use of drone strikes and targeted killings. “I think there’s a much better chance, if libertarians are worried about it,” he says, “of introducing some sort of oversight…and some degree of transparency in that process than it is to say we can’t do it.”

    I know the Magna Carta is irrelevant to American law, but I feel this is entirely appropriate:

    No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or dispossessed, or outlawed, or banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him, nor send upon him, except by the legal judgement of his peers or by the law of the land.

    When King John has more restrictions on his ability to kill subjects than Barack Obama has to kill citizens, a serious problem exists that no amount of “oversight” or “transparency” can fix unless we do away with the idea that Americans are a free people.

  11. Hmmm . . . for some reason the phrase ‘a kinder, gentler machine gun hand’ comes to mind around 3:18. Which is bullshitty as the lyric suggest.

    Not discussed (at least in the context Lake talks about here) is the legitimacy of a war without boarders where we are decidedly not doing drone strikes on threats to our national security but instead, taking sides in civil wars in the Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.

  12. Hmm.

    Wonder what the reaction would be if the government of Yemen started using drones to kill their opponents in Chicago?

  13. But it’s okay because Barry is the one with the kill list and the finger on the drone-strike button.

    Just ask any of the liberals who post on here. They’ll school ya.

  14. Sooner or later somebody else is going to have drones and they’re going to use them on the U.S. At which point I confidently predict that all of our resident tuff guys will shriek “That’s an act of war! How dare they do that to us!” etc.

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