White House Still Attempting to Pretend We All Don't Know About the Drones

How else could the two hostages have accidentally gotten killed?


Maybe they all fell down the stairs trying to escape?

The use of drone strikes by President Barack Obama's administration in the war on terror is so familiar by now that I didn't catch an important omission in the president's statement yesterday about the accidental deaths of an American and an Italian hostage in a U.S. strike against al Qaeda in Pakistan. At no point did Obama actually utter the word "drone." During his comments yesterday, he just called it a "counterterrorism operation."

A frustrated Dan Froomkin at The Intercept takes note of the ommission and of this rather absurd exchange at a press briefing with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest:

Q: How will this incident affect specifically the U.S. policy, government policy on usage of drones?

MR. EARNEST: Well, Jeff, there are certain aspects of this specific operation that I'm not going to be able to discuss, including how this specific operation was carried out …

Q: Can you address the issue of drones, though, in any way? I take it you don't want to confirm that that's what used in this particular strike.

MR. EARNEST: I'm not in the position to talk specifically about how the operation was carried out.

Q: Can you talk, though, about a future review of drone strategy more generally?

MR. EARNEST: What I can say is that these counterterrorism operations that are critical to the national security of the United States and critical to the safety of the American people continue …

So the transparency the president has said he would apply in the case of this war on terror misfire would not extend enough to admit to the public that drones were involved, even though everybody knows that drones are involved. Froomkin asks, "If they cannot even say the word, how can they even begin to tell the truth?"

They don't intend to. They intend to say as little as they possibly can. As we noted yesterday, the drone strikes have killed hundreds of civilians in Pakistan over the course of years. They just weren't American civilians. Their deaths haven't stopped these strikes from continuing, and clearly neither will the deaths of Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto. 

In other drone responses, Ron Paul has blasted the drone strikes, but Rand Paul, who filibustered for the purpose of clarifying drone laws, has put out a short statement saying his "prayers and thoughts" are with the families of the hostages killed. Those who paid attention to Rand Paul's filibuster know that he was more concerned with deliberately targeting and executing of American citizens without due process, not accidental deaths (nor the deaths of foreign combatants). It also just so happens that two other Americans were killed in the drone strike who were allegedly members of al Qaeda. Rand Paul did not comment on them (Ron Paul did). According to the original reporting of the strikes, American intelligence didn't even know those two guys were at the compound either, and they were not being specifically targeted. 

NEXT: Ronald Bailey Reports that Libertarians Are the WEIRDest People in the World

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  1. “According to the original reporting of the strikes, American intelligence didn’t even know those two guys were at the compound either, and they were not being specifically targeted.”

    After “hundreds of hours” of scrutiny, according to President Obama, they still didn’t determine these facts.

    How can anyone be confident that they have been/are killing the “right” people at any other time?

  2. Well, you can’t make a secure national omelet without blowing some eggs the fuck up.

    1. You also can’t toss a salad without getting shit on your tongue.

  3. Obama left out a word when he said his would be the most transparent administration in history. What he meant was that it would be the most transparently dishonest administration in history, and he has even eclipsed Nixon and Johnson in that regard.

  4. “Cannot even say the word?” Come one, he’s happy to say it:

    Obama Jokes About Killing Jonas Brothers With Predator Drones


  5. Q: Can you say the word “drone” for me?

    MR. EARNEST: Your mouth is making strange noises right now. Are you having a stroke?

    1. I’m a little deaf in my left ear…. You must forgive me if I don’t hear everything you say.

  6. Give him a break. He hasn’t watched the news yet.

  7. The funny part is that I suspect the people on the receiving end know perfectly well that they got droned. So it’s only the American people who aren’t supposed to know.

  8. critical to the safety of the American people

    Except the ones that were killed by it.

    1. You are really prepared to award the legal status of citizenship to Al Qaeda operatives?

      1. Longtail,

        If the U.S. government kills United States citizens (or anyone else for that matter) without due process it does so in violation of the Bill of Rights. Are you stating that people whom President Obama or his successors decide to kill – or accidentally kill – are by definition undeserving of the rule of law?

        Are you prepared to award individuals or groups in the U.S. government the power to kill anyone they choose?

  9. I doubt libertarians support “boots on the ground” regime change that many Republicans still call for and I would be surprised if a policy of allowing terrorists to organize is attractive, so I’m confused as to why they would condemn drone warfare.

    1. Libertarians follow the NAP. They don’t think we should be droning people who haven’t attacked us.

  10. Drone, what drone?

  11. At what point do we start calling this the Pakistani War?

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