Drones

Thanks, Obama, for That Unaccountable System of Deadly Drone Strikes!

Now that it's in Trump's hands, even the illusion of responsibility is fading.

|

predator drone
Josh Kroese / Dreamstime

President Donald Trump's administration, specifically the CIA, may soon be unleashing armed drones in airstrikes in foreign countries with much less oversight.

Thank President Barack Obama for that. Obama installed a system of using armed drones to kill foreign targets in the war on terror. Many of these strikes happened in countries in which America was not even at war, such as Yemen and Pakistan.

He justified the secretive system—eventually described in the press as a "kill list"—under the post-9/11 authorization for war against Al Qaeda. The president ran the drone program through the Pentagon and the CIA with no outside oversight, and he resisted any sort of transparency until enough information leaked out about it that he could no longer ignore it.

These drone strikes have been credibly blamed for hundreds of deaths of civilians (including more than 100 children). His administration put the number of civilian deaths much lower, but independent observers have disagreed.

Obama sold this program on the basis of his personal, sober judgment. Once the existence of the kill list became public, there was much concern about the lack of due process, but not a whole lot was done to try to stop it, other than a famous filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in 2013.

Now the program belongs to Trump. Trump critics may worry that his bombastic temperament will lead to bad drone deployment decisions. Well, we probably won't have to worry about that. What we do have to worry about is a complete abandonment of oversight and accountability under a president who is willing to leave these decisions to others.

There were hints earlier in the year that Trump was going to loosen some Obama-era restrictions on CIA drone use. Today NBC is reporting that plans are in the works to cut the brakes and let the drones fly more freely:

[CIA Director Mike] Pompeo has pushed for more freedom of action. He wants Trump to authorize the spy agency to strike targets in Afghanistan, which had long been the domain of the military, a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge told NBC News. The New York Times first reported that news last week.

The White House also is drafting a new written policy on counterterrorist operations outside of war zones that would supercede the so-called drone playbook that the Obama administration had hoped would govern the decisions of future presidents, several officials said.

The drone playbook, known as the Presidential Policy Guidance, or PPG, includes a provision that no strike should go forward unless analysts determine that there is a near-certainty that no civilians will be harmed. And it includes a provision forbidding the addition of new detainees to the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Trump administration is contemplating removing both of those restrictions, officials involved in the planning told NBC News.

These developments concern human rights activists, who argue that the CIA is less accountable than the military.

"The last thing the U.S. should be doing right now is expanding a global, secret killing program," said Zeke Johnson, senior director of programs for Amnesty International USA. "By its own admission, the U.S. government's use of drones has meant the deaths of civilians and there has been insufficient accountability."

Reason TV warned back in 2012 that the Obama administration's secretive use of drone strikes was bad news and would lead to even worse problems down the line. And here we are, down the line:

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

64 responses to “Thanks, Obama, for That Unaccountable System of Deadly Drone Strikes!

    1. Piloting remote drones via satellite uplink, no doubt.

        1. BEST J*B EVAH!

    2. I just can’t tell if this is a scam or not. Is this legit?

      1. Give it a shot and let us know.

        1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

          This is what I do… http://www.startonlinejob.com

      2. It’s Experian. They need new IT staff.

  1. I can hear G Gordon Liddy furiously jerking off from here.

    1. Are you sure he is not just eating another rat? Similar noises.

  2. Only a ‘woke’ president should be allowed to reign death from the sky. Obama killed people with all the best of intentions.

    No seriously, this is scary

    1. Are sky reigns what you use to tow the lion?

    2. There are progressives who would label your post as ray-cist.

      They would insist that challenging anything about the narcissistic nihilistic negro is ray-cist.

      Truthfully asseverating the fact that he is a mass murdering narcissistic nihilistic negro is ray-cist.

      Its all part of the sacralization of the negro.

      1. Welp, this was certainly a comment.

        1. Libertymike ia definitely one of the top three most racist commenters on the street…….depending on the street.

          1. What do you mean by racist?

            Is it racist to call Obama a mass murderer?

            Is it racist to accurately describe Obama as a narcissistic nihilistic negro?

            Is it racist to point out unpleasant facts about any negro individual?

            Is it racist to use the word negro instead of Afro-American?

      2. I wouldn’t say what WakaWaka said is racist, but I sure would say you are Mike.

        1. Is it racist to point out unpleasant facts about racist blacks?

          Are you trying to win the affection of antifa and BLM?

          Are you trying to be cuck of the month?

          1. Huh, using cuck now I see. But no, the issue is that you make statements about a single person and then blame it on a widespread issue with his race as a whole.

            1. No, that is you projecting a progressive, anti-racist construct.

              Obama is not an awful human being because he is black but we should not forget that he is a big time beneficiary and supporter of affirmative action, BLM, false racial narratives and the like.

              Just because one is black does not mean one is entitled to any special privileges, including truth avoidance.

              If we are to have a conversation about race, then we must embrace facts, even if you have been brainwashed to consider the publication of the same to be racist.

              For example, why are black people so many more times likely (I believe 10 times more likely) to commit inter-racial crimes of violence against whites than the converse?

              Being libertarian necessarily means rejecting anti-racist rubbish.

              1. For example, why are black people so many more times likely (I believe 10 times more likely) to commit inter-racial crimes of violence against whites than the converse?

                I’d have to see some citations for that, but consider which is easier air combat — you against one hundred enemy, or one hundred of you against one enemy? With one against many, you fire at whoever you see, you let loose guided missiles at will, because you can only shoot down enemies; whereas they dare not fire any guided missiles because they’d probably home in on their buddies, and trying to shoot you also has the danger of where the missed rounds go.

                Or to put it another way for simpletons like you — blacks make up, what, 12% of the population? That means they are outnumbered 8 to 1. If they pick random people to mug or kill, odds are only 1 in 8 to get a black victim. It’s the same 1 in 8 chance for a white criminal to pick a black victim.

                You’re going to need a better excuse next time.

                1. Your post is vacuous. For simpletons like you, vacuous means “having or showing a lack of thought or intelligence; mindless”.

                  That blacks comprise between 12-13% of the population does not explain why, between 1980-2010, they committed over 52% of all the murders in the USA.

                  That blacks comprise between 12-13% of the population does not explain why blacks committed 560,600 crimes of violence against whites in 2013 whereas whites committed 99,403 crimes of violence against blacks. Given that whites are approximately 62% of the population, you do the math.

                  Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Victimization Surveys.

                  Are you afraid of the facts? Please let go of your anti-racist rubbish, you vacuous dolt.

                  1. That blacks comprise between 12-13% of the population does not explain why, between 1980-2010, they committed over 52% of all the murders in the USA.

                    Your solution seems to be that it is inherent, that they are lacking in will or something. That’s by definition racist saying that it is an inherent aspect of their race. You use the phrase “vacuous dolt” all you want, but at least be honest that you’re a racist.

                    That blacks comprise between 12-13% of the population does not explain why blacks committed 560,600 crimes of violence against whites in 2013 whereas whites committed 99,403 crimes of violence against blacks. Given that whites are approximately 62% of the population, you do the math.

                    The difference in population does explain the difference. There are more White people than Black people, and so all crime being distributed evenly you would expect more crime to happen to whites.

                    1. The disparity is present across all racial categories of victim.

                      It doesn’t change the fact that LBJ and the Great Society are, in fact, responsible for the disparity (acting as a guarantor and multiplier to disproportionate black poverty and urbanization).

                      #Cucks4Lyfe

          2. Get off your high horse.

            It’s not actually about anyone’s race, it’s about whether or not they belong to the right political camp.

            It is very true that Obama got a totally free pass to drone bomb the crap out of foreigners (and at least one American), but it is because he was a prog, not because of his skin tone. If he had a been a white liberal democrat, he’d have received the same treatment.

            Imagine for a moment if Condie Rice had run and been elected in 2008 and 2012. Do you think for even a moment that she would not have faced any criticism, no matter how egregious her actions, because she’s both black AND a woman? Having two victim credentials is even better for SJWs than one, right?

            Hell, she could even have been a lesbian oon top of being black and a woman, but the “R” after her name would still have cancelled out any special consideration from the left.

            You are deluded if you think race really plays any important role in these things.

      3. Its all part of the sacralization of the negro.

        What is sacralization and how is it treated?

        1. Damn, that link is really re-contextualizing Mike’s post.

        2. You stick a finger up the butt so you can get purchase on the anterior surface of sacro-coccygeal joint.

          1. It’s more difficult to treat sacralization in the negro, on account of baby having back.

  3. You hope that the drone program helped keep some American boots off foreign soil, but killing children (even inadvertently) to achieve that goal is quite…something.

    Removing restrictions in an already questionably legal program seems pretty damn scary.

    1. I do feel fine about it if it’s used to fight justified wars. Certainly we should use our technological advantage while at war.

      The problem is first that I’m not certain we have a single justified war currently. Second, I fear that it exacerbates America’s natural hawkishness by removing further risk on our side. Just like how Vietnam War protests ended with the draft, people can hardly give a shit about killing overseas as long as they themselves are unharmed.

      1. Justified wars?

        When has America ever had a “justified war”?

        1. I don’t know. That’s a question for philosophers. I don’t believe any of our current reach that threshold though.

          1. It is also a question for you and it is certainly not a question limited to philosophers.

            Of course, you are right about any of the current conflicts.

      2. The Vietnam what? Still no declaration’s of war since World War II.

        I’m with you though ; I’ve no problem dropping bombs in countries that we have declared war against. Congress needs to do its job and either declare war or recall all troops/military equipment from hostile nations. And pass a damn budget while your at.

    2. “killing children (even inadvertently) to achieve that goal is quite…something.”

      That’s what happens in all wars. That’s why war should only be used for self-preservation. There is no reason for us to be involved.

      1. Did you seriously take a part of one sentence from my 2 sentence comment and somehow twist it out of context? As if I’m disputing that children die in wars. I’m so confused.

        1. I wasn’t arguing with you

  4. [CIA Director Mike] Pompeo has pushed for more freedom of action. He wants Trump to authorize the spy agency to strike targets in Afghanistan, which had long been the domain of the military, a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge told NBC News. The New York Times first reported that news last week.

    The White House also is drafting a new written policy on counterterrorist operations outside of war zones that would supercede the so-called drone playbook that the Obama administration had hoped would govern the decisions of future presidents, several officials said.

    The drone playbook, known as the Presidential Policy Guidance, or PPG, includes a provision that no strike should go forward unless analysts determine that there is a near-certainty that no civilians will be harmed. And it includes a provision forbidding the addition of new detainees to the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    The Trump administration is contemplating removing both of those restrictions, officials involved in the planning told NBC News.

    Restrictions are for leftist pussies.

    1. I wish we used terms like “Ministry” instead of “Agency” in America. It sounds so much more intimidating that I have no doubt we would scrutinize the agency more than we do now.

  5. Reminds me of the video where a guy was on the street asking Obama supporters about these policies/positions, but attributed to Romney. Of course, they said those policies were crazy and that Romney was a psychopath. Most of them, of course, did a total 180 when it was revealed to them that they were actually policies that Obama had put in place.

    1. Most people have no idea they’re total tools.

    2. I wonder how people here would do on that.

      1. I suppose it would depend on whether they formed positions founded on principle, or articulated a “principle” because a particular position pleased them

    3. With leftists it’s always who, not what, that matters.

      1. Like many people here. They want so badly to be accepted by the progressive crowd. They would rather be called a cuck or a progressive, anti-racist libertarian than be called a racist.

        1. Tune for another episode of the hot, new show that’s shocking the nation, “Cuck, prog, or racist!”

          1. Murder in the hood, looting in Miami-Dade, and punching a Nazi.

            What say you?

            The Prog: Whitey caused it all.

            The Cuck: No, LBJ and the Great Society caused it all.

            The Racist: Are you niggers fo real?

        2. Anyone retarded enough to unironically use “cuck” to insult their political opponents is a moron so I’m not sure why anyone would care about that.

          1. How about the use of “racist”?

            Being a libertarian necessarily means rejecting anti-racist rubbish.

            1. Racist gets overused, but it at least has a legitimate meaning. Outside of its original sexual context, “cuck” does not.

              I’m really not sure what’s grinding your gears into going on a ran about anti-racism. You’re the only person that even brought race into the discussion.

  6. Didn’t much of Reason vote for Obama?

    1. I’m never sure anymore when I see people say this whether they’re being sarcastic or not. Anyway, the Reason staff and various hangers-on typically report on who they voted for in major elections. In both 2012 and 2016 the vast majority voted either for Gary Johnson or not at all. I can’t recall anybody voting for Obama in either year.

  7. Automating and sterilizing the horrors of war, what could go wrong?

    In all seriousness, how many people our government has killed through a computer screen is a testament to how twisted and disgusting they are. Sadly, the evils that they’ve done won’t come to the populations attention until they turn their weapons on us.

    1. I honestly think that, regardless of anything else he did military-wise, that’s why W ordered so few drone strikes (of the numbers I was able to pull up for Pakistan, for example, out of 406 from 2004-2017, only 10 were in Bush’s tenure). The man, even flying in the Air National Guard at home, was a combat trainer pilot and understood that drone strikes were actual bombing runs in a way that Obama and Trump haven’t.

  8. Hello, just curious about how many years the range of Obama blame extends to before and after his actual term in office. Thanks. I mean, obviously Trump is like a 4 year-old and can’t control his own actions, but Obama didn’t want him to win.

    1. The article is a criticism of Obama’s policy, as well as an attempt to point out the consequences of his policy when that power falls into the hands of his despised successor. None of that is unfair, and it’s not as if Scott is arguing that Trump has no responsibility here. Don’t pretend you instantly refrained from criticizing or blaming Bush the instant he left office.

      1. Plus, the man was handed a Nobel Peace Prize to keep warm and then went drone-mad right out the gate, like a kid given the family Beemer for Prom and opting for a demolition derby?

    2. Tony supports bombing people in their own country, including children, without a declaration of war from congress or a trial.

      This is my surprised face.

      Tony, do you gargle that BBD or do you choke too much?

    3. Clearly Obama was blameless for this, because it was completely unforeseeable that a Republican or a lunatic or someone else that he wouldn’t want wielding the power to kill people indiscriminately by remote control might someday occupy the White House.

      I had this same conversation with a conservative friend at the end of GWB’s second term, in regard to “enhanced interrogation”: “you might trust Bush with this power, but what if the next President is someone you don’t approve of giving such power to, like Hillary Clinton?”

      Any president who increases executive power should factor in what happens if that power falls into the wrong hands.

  9. I have this attitude that almost all people follow incentives and are rational in their own peculiar ways. Even sociopaths and lunatics have some reasons for what they do.

    It’s really hard to apply it to politicians who make such short-sighted decisions which seem to rely on their successors never being of a different political decision, which is really bizarre. But then I remember, yes, heinous as they may be, they must have reasons, and I can only conclude that nothing matters to them except wielding the levers of power. They don’t really care what those power levers do or who will come along later and rejigger them. They are so self-centered that literally nothing matters except being the guy in charge now. Tomorrow doesn’t matter yet. Yesterday no longer matters. Last week is entirely forgotten, and life before the last election doesn’t exist (well, except for Hillary, who seems to be stuck in the past because her present is so bleak and unfair).

    Compare them to two-year olds or dogs, who don’t want anyone anywhere near their territory. They also can’t think ahead. But at least two-year olds outgrow the territorialism eventually.

  10. This demonstrates beyond dispute the dangers in opportunism. Take a course of action because you want to, whether it comports with the Constitution or not, and you not only undermine the Constitution today but lay the groundwork for the next one in office to carry it even further.

    Liberals were so enthralled with “The One” that they never considered that they would have no basis to object when his successor took his drone policies and ran with them. Opportunism is its own punishment but everyone — we, along with the civilian victims of the misbegotten policy, continue to pay the price.

  11. “Obama installed a system of using armed drones to kill foreign targets in the war on terror.”

    And a system to kill US citizens without any due process. People forget that Obama murdered Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen from Colorado, with a drone because he was the “Osama Bin Laden of Facebook.”

    I cannot wait to see liberals who defended government murder with no due process under Obama claim how Trump is a madman for having less oversight on the drone program. At least Republicans are honest about wanting to use drones to bomb the world. I will take someone honest that I disagree with over hypocrites with no integrity or character (wait, that applies to Republicans most of the time too).

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.