Dave Weigel, at Slate, highlights some numbers:
Via CNN, the new Farleigh-Dickinson poll finally, finally separates two questions about drone warfare. Question one: “In general, do you approve or disapprove of the U.S. Military using drones to carry out attacks abroad on people and other targets deemed a threat to the U.S.?” The answer here, as it’s been in every poll, is a thudding “yes.” Seventy-five percent of people (the sample is 815 registered voters) approve. The lowest approval comes from self-identified Democrats, only 66 percent of whom are warm to drone warfare.
Then there’s this question:
To the best of your knowledge, can the U.S. target U.S. citizens living in other countries with drones, or is that illegal?
When the question’s asked that way, only 24 percent of people answer “yes.”…
To the best of our knowledge, we don’t wanna know. Alex Pareene, at Salon, explains why “we” prefer knowing things that ain’t so:
… Most of the objective press considers issues to be worthy of debate and adversarial questioning only if they’re the subject of specifically partisan disagreement. If it’s a left-wing (or far right, or libertarian) objection to something on which there is broad bipartisan agreement — like the invasion of Iraq in 2003 — it’s a silly fringe concern unworthy of serious attention. The media are “soft” on Barack Obama on the subject of foreign policy because Republicans can’t object to the worst and most controversial foreign policy decisions of the Obama administration, and most elected Democrats won’t. If Lindsey Graham and Dianne Feinstein agree, then for the purposes of the Sunday shows there’s no “debate” to be had. When liberal senators like Ron Wyden object to administration actions, it’s just not considered as important or newsworthy as Republican objections to perceived liberal actions by the administration….
There was broad bipartisan agreement on the FISA Amendments Act renewal. John Brennan will get confirmed. The actual OLC memos laying out the legal argument for targeted killing will remain sealed and secret. The right hasn’t and won’t object to any of this. (Modern American conservatives seem to believe that the government can’t be trusted to do anything competently or efficiently besides decide who lives and who dies.) Instead of making the case against the administration based on those reality-based controversies, conservatives fixate on insane bullshit, like the idea that the administration purposely allowed the Benghazi attacks to happen and then refused to call them terrorism. Then they complain that their conspiratorial nothing-scandals don’t get enough pickup in the mainstream press.
Villago Delenda Est
Which is yet another of the many reasons why Villago delenda est.
do you approve or disapprove?
The Moar You Know
So, almost ten percent of the crazies (27% – 3%) won’t get on board with that plan. Interesting.
Bet that number shoots up to 50% of the populace if you specify a Republican president in charge.
Both of the poll questions seem to miss the mark, if you’re trying to gauge public sentiment about drone strikes on U.S. citizens.
I disagree slightly. The press, as has been noted, are wired for Republican concerns. I don’t think they would respect Democratic critiques of Republican administration actions.
Ok, that’s funny.
(Modern American conservatives seem to believe that the government can’t be trusted to do anything competently or efficiently besides decide who lives and who dies.)
that’s only because they’re confident the government won’t be picking them for assassination (in spite of all their nonsense about coming for their guns.)
No, I think we’re all bozo’s on this bus
Villago Delenda Est
“Do you beat your wife, or have you stopped beating her?”
Definitely endorse the “wired for Republican concerns” thing.
This probably won’t end well for the president if he doesn’t do some strategic recalculation. And soon.
The Moar You Know
@danimal: Explain. It’s not as though reelection is an issue. Or impeachment.
The second poll question is unadulterated stupidity. It makes no more sense than asking “is using a socket wrench against U.S. citizens illegal?”
Actions matter, not tools.
I don’t know, still finding it hard to care about this
Old Dan and Little Ann
Kill ’em all! Let the spaghetti monster sort ’em out.
Wait, Pareene sincerely believes that the OLC memos won’t leak now that they’re in the hands of the Senate Intel Committee?
My goodness, that boy’s naive.
@danimal: I disagree. The media, in some sort bizarre attempt to change the subject from guns, immigration and the sequester(probably because the President had all the leverage), is presenting this as Obama targeting the average American, as opposed to targeting a person who has joined al-qaeda.
If Farleigh-Dickinson had asked people if they support targeting an American member of AQ, I bet the support would be much higher.
Yes. And while a single Democrat agreeing with a batshit Republican idea immediately makes it bipartisan and no longer worthy of debating, Democratic ideas need to have enough GOP support to satisfy the Hastert Rule before they become bipartisan and no longer worth debating.
Actions matter, not tools.
Yes and no. The reason polls show support for drones, is there a fewer military coffins returning home. However, those same polls show killing americans is unpopular with an inverse ratio.
If we were killing with a lug-wrench, it would be hand to hand combat with casualties on our side, as well. Sanitary war, is bombs from a B-17 or a drone, and the close-up and personal nature of war is out of sight, out of mind.
Wyden and the dems on the intell committee were not opposing the use of drones, they were opposing the lack of official reasons in written form to how the drone policy is justified and how it is operated. Wyden seemed pleased with the official release of a white paper from the admin.
I can’t think of a single dem that outright opposes use of drones to target members of AQ, on either side of the isle. There are a few that rightfully hemmed and hawed about its sloppy protocols and large numbers of civilians getting killed. As well as withholding of relevant documents to congress members designated to see them for oversight purposes. But that has changed, at least regarding the leaked white paper, and now to be official. I don’t get the gist of this post, nor any importance given to a question for polling like
The 24 percent that said yes are likely those who follow closely these things , and picked up the unspoken relevance to fighting AQ. This obsession on drone use in general, or against US citizens, is a marketing decision for those activists on both sides who are opposed to things it is connected to. Such as the GWOT in the first place, or war at all. Or those who oppose BO for any number of reasons. Or that just don’t trust, or can’t trust their own government. And see subterfuge behind every government rock. All of these things are or could be worthy for dissent in and for themselves, but the media and activists are deflecting from using those time worn topics, to exploit a new one(s). Evil dronze and illegal whacking random US citizens with them.
The entire political debate is corrupted and lost in ever increasing news cycle loopity loops, fueled by the internet frontier and its cable news doppelganger. or vice a versa.
@chopper: Ha, beat me to that. I’d have expected it to be 100% yes.
I disagree on Bengazi and to a lesser extent Fast and Furious.
Conservatives made a category error. Bengazi wasn’t a scandal, it was a fuck-up. They weren’t satisfied with that, it had to be WORSE, Rice had to be part of a “cover up”, when it would have been much more effective to go after the admin. on competence, tgey went running after scandal. Just stupid.
In a way they gave the admin. cover on Bengazi, because they claimed scandal and then it was proved to be a fuck up.
Words have meaning. “Scandal” implies dishonest or cover up. They can’t just label every failure a scandal.
Of all the reasons to dislike our current policy of using drones to engage in targeted killing, the one I hate the most is the one that has now become the most popular to focus on — that different rules should apply to U.S. citizens than non-citizens. In just about any other context, I think die-hard liberals would strenuously oppose the idea that the U.S. government should treat non-citizens less favorably than citizens in the conduct of its military operations, or that citizens are entitled to more due process than non-citizens. I also can’t believe there would be much rejoicing if Obama tomorrow said he was going to exempt U.S. citizens from the targeted killing policy.
And as far as the OLC memos, I had thought that Obama was releasing them, but now am not sure. But if he isn’t, this is not some kind of new thing. Those are considered work products of internal deliberations with legal advice coming from several departments and gov sources. OLC memos are maybe the most important of such legal opinion, and traditionally they have been binding, but they are not legally binding to any president. But it has never been decided by the SC, whether these documents constitute attorney client privilege, and exempt.
The OLC is not an elected branch, nor does it have any basis of independence in the constitution. It is a governing tool for a president, albeit a very important one, that president go against at their own peril. I have no doubt they concluded in this case, that both use of drones in a declared war is legal, as well as targeting US citizens that have joined the enemy in a public way, like Awlaki did.
And the reason deliberative documents have always been excluded is because most pres decisions are gleaned from all sorts of advice from all sorts of sources, for the pres to consider when making his or her final decision. If every scrap of paper and electronic comm is going to be made public, then that would tend to corrupt the wide open and honest nature of these folks giving their opinion. It is insane, as some here recently have demanded to in practical effect, crawl inside the presidents head to evaluate his thought processes on major decisions. The decision is what it is, and should be made public with basic qualifications given with questions asked all about it. And judged from that.
All I know is my 2nd Amendment rights are being oppressed since I can’t go to the local pawn shop and buy a drone with Hellfire missiles.
On another national security front, and somewhat related to the earlier discussion of Dr. Strangelove, via BooMan:
Gin & Tonic
@Baud: But “in just about any other context” a US citizen in, say Yemen, *does* have different rights than a non-citizen. S/he can, for instance, walk into the US Embassy just by showing his/her passport.
@Cassidy: How will you defend against government drones if you don’t have your own drones?
Why not ask:
@Gin & Tonic:
Of course citizens have different rights than non-citizens in a variety of areas. But we don’t have different rules of procedure in death penalty cases — or any type of case — for citizens and non-citizens. I don’t like the precedent that says that “due process” should vary based on citizenship. In the long run, that seems to narrow the constitution rather than broaden it.
that different rules should apply to U.S. citizens than non-citizens
Good point. I think the popularity gap between the two in the polling comes from the fog we walk around in with the current level of transparency. Wyden and others have asked for the memos pertaining to drone strikes several times, and still haven’t got them.
Why should the public be any better informed about who, whether American or not, is being targeted? Are they terrorists (which seems to be the impression americans have about the non-citizens they approve of killing with drones)? If the public wasn’t so sure of their status as Terrorist, they might back off the approval.
I thought Wyden finally got the memo.
I not generally with the anti-drone folks, but I am sympathetic to the call for greater transparency. I’m not sure where the line should be, but where it is now seems overly restrictive.
@kay: They’re increasingly desperate to pin something, anything, on Obama. They just have to beat him in some way, so they focus like lasers on
jobsfinding any potential weakness or flaw they possibly can, and when they think they’ve found something they chomp down on it and refuse to let go. They’re just hoping that out of all the tons of shit they’re throwing against the wall on Benghazi, something somehow will actually stick.
I thought Wyden finally got the memo.
You are correct. The senators have been able to review them, but Obama banned senate staffers from looking at them. Wyden saw them and I saw him this morn on Chucky Todd, say he was satisfied with the effort.
Now I guess we will be treated for a news cycle on why staffers were left out, and maybe their wives and husbands, aunts uncles, and personal Rasputins/
That’s something I’ve noticed about the true wingnut. Sometimes there is a kernel of truth, or even more than a kernel, to their paranoid theories, for example, about the role of banks. But they always go for teh stupid, thus ruining and obscuring whatever truth there may be in the situation.
Now why is that? Could it be because wing nuts are not only “wing”, but also “nuts”? Could it be because they are attracted to bright, shiny objects — the shinier the better?
They’re just dumb at this point. They start at character attacks. Bengazi was a big fuck up, but compared to “Rice lied to cover up blah blah blah” the fuck up ends up looking minor.
I was amazed at that hearing. Clinton’s strength is competence. Yet they ended up looking like fools because rather than attack that, where she might have been vulnerable, they attacked her character. They’re deranged. They can’t even launch a competent political attack because they have to find MALICE or LIES.
Most times it’s not a crime OR a cover up. It’s a fuck-up. A competent political party could use that effectively without making shit up, but they have to embellish and go for max drama, every time.
@The Moar You Know: Here’s my explanation. Obama has been given a pass for carrying on Bush’s foreign policy because “Republicans can’t object to the worst and most controversial foreign policy decisions of the Obama administration, and most elected Democrats won’t.” The politics behind the calculus for both parties are changing, swiftly.
For the GOP, they’re just waiting for the next bombed wedding party or other fcuk-up to hang on Obama. Anytime the Muslims are rioting and protesting the U.S. is a good one for GOP politicians. Just because Benghazi didn’t gain traction doesn’t mean that a drone-related screw-up won’t do the trick. A lot of Republicans aren’t as bellicose as they’ve been acting for the past few years; as memories of the Bush foreign policy recede, GOP pols will be able to (justifiably) tie the drone policy directly on Obama.
For Dems, the Iraq War lesson was learned. Obama was the first prominent Dem to take advantage of his opposition to the Iraq War. The drones issue allows Dem presidential contenders to separate from a policy that makes most Dems queasy. If you believe, as I do, that the policy is a disaster-in-waiting, a smart Dem will stake out the anti-drone position to gain liberal bona fides.
Thx. Now when shall we be able to see the memo?
@danimal: yeah, but I don’t think that’s gonna work for the dem officeholders who aren’t saying anything now.
Staking out an “anti-drone” policy is stupid. Drones are, in almost every fashion, a vast improvement over what was used previously: jets dropping bombs.
If a candidate wants to talk about our policy for going after Al Qaeda and whether an American passport should be a Get Out of Jail Free card for terrorism, then by all means, go ahead. But confusing a tool for policy will just make me think less of them.
Good question. They already leaked that “White Paper,” so I’m not sure why they are withholding the memo. Maybe the memo discusses some operational details, but those can be redacted out.
This would be the “liberal” Ron Wyden who reached across the aisle to give Paul Ryan’s budget bi-partisan cover, and foot-dragged like a crippled centipede over healthcare reform? Wyden isn’t too terrible, I suppose if you cut the Senate in half he’d fall on the liberal side, but that’s not saying much.
I’d be less appalled if there were more checks and balances on these strikes.
I’d be less appalled if each decision to fire was based on hard evidence and not patterns of behavior.
And I’d be less appalled if there were some way someone a US citizen on the kill list could have a chance to prove his innocence before we incinerated him.
And I’d definitely feel better about the whole exercise if the word ‘imminent’ still meant ‘imminent’.
But I’m not going to bitch about Obama. Bush was worse. McCain would have been worse. Romney would have been worse. It’s ultimately our fault. America lets this happen because we don’t want to know about it and because we don’t want the responsibility of knowing about it.
@Baud: The “white paper” was in a lot of hands before leaking, making it difficult to find the culprit.
By allowing just the senators to see the OLC memo, a leak will be far easier to find.
I assumed that the White Paper was leaked intentionally by the administration. Maybe it was a scoop?
Rather than saying “Eric Holder messed up Fast and Furious” they went off into this crazy unproveable theory that was so complex they couldn’t even explain it.
It’s as if they’ve decided to put people on trial for dishonesty once a month. I’m with Clinton. I’m with “what does this MATTER?” I don’t even know what they’re trying to prove anymore. Are they establishing that everyone in that admin is of low moral character or something? Then what?
I think they are looking for (1) a plausible impeachable offense and (2) a plausible way to spin Obama as worse than Bush.
The white paper doc had NBC watermarks all over it from Michael Issikoff.
What is the significance of that, other than it was leaked to NBC?
Davis X. Machina
Not my fault.
I didn’t vote at all.
I’m too good for that.
You won’t catch me participating in anything that mainstream.
It’s sort of like ‘No Logo‘, on a grand scale.
And right now I’m listening to a band you’ve never heard of. Hell, you never will hear of them.
They’re that good.
As long as Obama doesn’t try to confiscate the targeted citizen’s guns before the drone launches it’s hellfire missile, I don’t see conservatives objecting much to this.
But popular bloggers have taught people too look at this issue entirely through drones.
How great when the US govt kindly makes transparent or even stops the drone program … when they find something even more heinous with which to find/attack terrorists.
They never have, until Obama released the torture memos from the Bushies. The OLC is an Office, and though it has a director, a final decision like on the drones is almost certainly a matter of a collaborative effort with a number of lawyers in that office.
The reasons are likely what I said before about deliberative documents, but also the fact we have a representative democracy, not a direct one. Meaning the peeps elect folks to represent them, and not personally get to sign off on, or vote on every governing decision made. If we didn’t, we could end up a nation of Californias. Mob rule barely contained. And utterly fucked up fiscally, top to bottom.
I suspect they believe there are sources and methods in the documents, or more likely don’t want to expose themselves to bad faith scrutiny concerning their deliberations and thought processes. From people like you, that are hard left loons that oppose everything, because that is what gets them out of the bed in the morn. Or from the republicans trying to make pol hay out of every morsel of minutia.
But you can take solace that Obama is really not as bad as Bush, when Bush wouldn’t give the dem congress in 2007 the time of fucking day.
Now who will be first calling me an authoritarian asshole from this festering sewer of rotting coconuts?
I am getting kind of tired of the endless drone about drones in the blogosphere.
Drones are necessary, because they are cheap, easy to build, and soon everyone will have them. The more we know about how to operate the damn things, the better.
Fuck, go look in Make Magazine, you can build yourself a Quadcopter in an afternoon if you’re a geeky type. You don’t think terrorists aren’t able to put those together too? Sure they’re stupid, but they’re not THAT stupid.
The reality is that the barrier-to-entry of drones is very, very low. The ones the military are using are the state of the art, but, in general, drones of all kinds are here to stay and aren’t going away anytime soon.
Now, targeting American citizens? Never should be OK. Ever. But you don’t need drones to do that. IIRC there were honest-to-gawd American citizens being held as “Enemy Combatants” without any Constitutional rights during the Bush years, and still may be now. Different issue than drones.
You’re not an authoritarian asshole, but you’re not entirely correct about the OLC. The OLC does provide advice to the government, and many of their opinions are released publicly. I don’t know to what extent the provide advice that is not published (particularly in the national security area), but the practice is not exactly the same as a lawyer providing advice to a private client.
It was a scoop….
Davis X. Machina
@Baud: Obama’s only doing it to save the money, not because it’s the right thing.
This is fortunate, as I am able to continue to despise him as a result.
@fuckwit: Agreed — drones really aren’t the issue, even though it’s being framed as a “are drones legitimate?” question in the media. Forget the damned drones for now. The question is whether or not the president can unilaterally tell the CIA to engage in the targeted, extrajudicial killing of US citizens overseas. Even if this was done with a blowgun and poisoned darts from 10 yards away, the legal/constitutional issue would still be the same.
Does being a “scoop” mean that it couldn’t have been leaked intentionally by the admin.? That was my point; I may have used the wrong term.
@Davis X. Machina:
That was a close one. Admit it, you were worried.
No need to be defensive. I understand representative democracy and I’m not suggesting jth Public is even interested in reading the memos, or knowing their contents like the ingredients to Chicken McNuggets. But it should be a policy wherein the electorate is jacked into the facts of the case. If they can support the drone program with that insight, the Admin will be home free. I suspect the sausage making recipe must remain a secret from the general public, however.
@Davis X. Machina:
I think his rationale is that it’s the “right thing” in the sense that he doesn’t have to risk the lives of an entire manned military mission to apprehend someone on the ground in the wilds of Pakistan or Somalia. They can just push a button and vaporize a guy from 20,000 feet (and a couple of his cousins, two kids, and an old guy in a truck who happened to be driving by at the time, but who’s keeping track…eggs, omelets, etc.)
They sure aren’t treating Issikoff like a whistleblower, so I assume it was leaked intentionally by the Admin.
I read some on it yesterday, and the question of lawyer client status has not been legally decided by the courts, nor the degree of binding precedent OLC opinions have on the executive branch. But it makes sense that non national security decision memos would be released to the public.
Obama has made no secret of his drone program as to its reformed protocols and how targets are determined up to his personal signing off on them.
And the constitutional basis for it all. Compared to past presidents, and especially Bush, this is, or should be considered very open. imo.
I guess I don’t have a big problem with the poll — it mostly lines up with my own thoughts.
I don’t have a problem with drones, or with using them as a delivery method for bombs and missiles. We could use drones or special ops teams or helicopters or fighter jets to do the same thing, and the method of delivery really doesn’t concern me.
What does concern me is the extra-judicial nature of the policy behind the current drone program (which could just as easily also be utilized with special ops teams or helicopters or fighter jets).
If we have enough evidence to justify killing a U. S. citizen (I would go further and say a person, generally, but “citizen” is the clearer case to make) then surely we have enough info to go to a court and get a warrant, and then to post the warrant publicly with the message that the target has X days to submit to justice or else be declared an outlaw. Outlaws are to be captured or killed on sight by any law-loving person.
That’s the way they did things back in barbaric medieval times, before we got all civilized and efficient about murder.
The American govt didn’t have a problem attacking Germany despite the German-Americans who went back to the Fatherland, of which there were a few. The American govt also didn’t have a problem confiscating the property of and interning a bunch of American citizens on our own soil.
Finally, there’s the Civil War.
The idea that the White House (whoever’s in it) couldn’t justify targeting/killing American citizens in wartime w/o due process is naive.
This is what I was talking about with respect to the OLC:
As a general rule, I don’t think legal justifications for governmental actions should be kept secret. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the administration must release the specific document containing its counsel’s legal advice, but it should provide a legal explanation for its actions.
I can understand why the administration wouldn’t want to explain its legal justification for a program while it was asserting that no such program even existed. But we’ve crossed that bridge, so I think it is not unreasonable to ask them to explain their thinking. Again, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the specific document created by OLC needs to be released (if it is a bona fide attorney-client communications), but something the administration stands behind should be made public, IMHO.
This is really not a continuation of the Bush policy because Bush was focused on land wars and only engaged in drones strikes a few times towards the end of his presidency. Obama when he ran for office promised to go after Al Qaeda with precision strikes and through covert operations.
The President has already ended one war and Afghanistan is coming to a close. He put a ban on torture policies used by the Bush administration, and tried to close GITMO though Congress has continued to block him (including great “Liberals” like Bernie Sanders).
Also this focus on drones is ridiculous. Yes more oversight is needed but what is the alternative ? Putting troops, seals on the ground to go after high profile targets leading to casualties and people complaining about how Obama is creating new land wars. Also drones are more efficient than just dropping bombs from planes which leads too many casualties.
Absolutely, and it should be an open process and not leaked through the back alley to the press. And that is happening.
Obama’s pattern on these things is cautious baby steps to get an idea of the political reaction, and form a plan to explain themselves, and then release the info to the public. I suspect it is identical to the WP leaked, as well as verbal reasons given by the president.
How can that particular question be answered yes/no?
Yes they can?
Yes it’s illegal?
If that’s the actual survey question, it’s poorly written.
And they’re finding out that Obama is impervious to their attacks. They’re considering kryptonite, but he has a lead suit on for that.
This is a false comparison. The question should have been in a series.
Can the U.S. target U.S. citizens living in other countries with drones, or is that illegal?
Can the U.S. target U.S. citizens living in CANADA with drones, or is that illegal?
Can the U.S. target U.S. citizens living in GERMANY OR FRANCE with drones, or is that illegal?
Since you agree the US has the right to target people in other countries, you agree the we can target individuals in Canada, Britain, France, or Mexico…?
Hill Dweller, I am glad to see you make the distinction between average Americans and Americans who join terrorist organizations who only goal to to kill innocent Americans.
I, for one, am sick of this whining and belly-aching about terrorist who are Americans. Let wait for the belly-achers to lose someone to an explosive device carried/planted by an American terrorist and observe the level of so-called moral outrage.
I have not and will not shed a single tear for these good and patriotic American terr’ist.
@lol: because when worded that way , you probably won’t get the desired numbers you are polling for
Somebody needs to sort out why Obama targeting citizns is such a salient issue for the right wing. After all, they regularly fantasize death for domestic opponents and were screaming for Lind (anybody here remember Johnny Lind?) to be dran and quartered just for being in a local militia allied with AQ. I am very sure they would have no problem with a Republican administration targeting US citizens who were in AQ.
Democrats seem to be aware that their ideals may be a bit compromised here. Republicans seem to hqve no clue – Obama droning is unprecedented villainy, as far as they are concerned. Weird.
Here’s the question I would like to see asked…
“If al Qaeda had access to drone aircraft and weapons that can be fired from drones, which of the following would you consider legitimate targets of drone attacks within the United States?”
a. Military facilities that control and support U.S. drone operations
b. Other U.S. military facilities
c. People who work at those facilities when off duty
d. The military chain of command
e. Members of Congress
f. The President
g. Americans who socialize with legitimate targets
h. Americans who live near legitimate targets
i. Americans who happen to be in the same place as legitimate targets
j. Americans who happen to be where al Qaeda believes there might be a legitimate target
k. Corporations that manufacture drone aircraft
l. Corporations that manufacture or deliver other weapons
m. People who work at these companies
American support for drones is premised on a few assumptions
1. Non-state actors won’t get access to drones
2. The war is not coming to the United States
3. That the intelligence about whom to kill is better than it is
4. The strikes are more precise than they are
5. That there’s a goal that kinda makes sense
Take away the assumptions and support for drone warfare drops, I expect.