Is Obama the Real One-Man Death Panel for Alleged Terrorists?
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
President Obama and John Brennan (photo: Pete Souza, White House)
When it comes to authorizing the killing of terrorists, including American citizens by U.S. forces, the buck really does stop with President Barack Obama.
John Brennan, Obama’s counter-terrorism chief, has been portrayed recently as the one-man death panel responsible for deciding who belongs on the government’s kill list. But Brennan’s decisions ultimately are only recommendations given to Obama, who must authorize the Central Intelligence Agency or Special Forces to carry out the assassinations.
Obama, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, reportedly has fully embraced this responsibility, according to a lengthy expose in The New York Times.
The one-time “liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture” has transformed into someone who insists “on approving every new name on an expanding ‘kill list,’ poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre ‘baseball cards’ of an unconventional war,” reported the Times.
Obama’s national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, told the newspaper: “He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go.”
Obama’s most high-profile assassinations have been those of Osama bin Laden and the U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Many of Obama’s targeted killings have been accompanied by civilian deaths.
In June 2011, Brennan claimed that not a single noncombatant had been killed in Pakistan in almost a year. At the time, many observers considered this statement bizarre since there was overwhelming evidence that civilians had been killed. What they didn’t realize is that the Obama administration counts any military-age male in a strike zone as a combatant.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will (by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, New York Times)
Drones: How Obama Learned to Kill (by Daniel Klaidman, Daily Beast)
The One-Man Death Panel: Obama’s Counter-Terrorism Advisor (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Obama’s Secret Assassination Program (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Unnamed U.S. Official Denies Drones Have Killed 168 Children in Pakistan (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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