2,500 Kills Later The Obama Administration Still Figuring Out Policy On Drone Strikes


Before the election there was some urgency in the Obama administration to set down firm policy on when lethal drone strikes were warranted and legal:

Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.

Unfortunately, now that Obama has won re-election to a second term, the urgency to create firm policy on drone strikes seems to have disappeared:

The matter may have lost some urgency after Nov. 6. But with more than 300 drone strikes and some 2,500 people killed by the Central Intelligence Agency and the military since Mr. Obama first took office, the administration is still pushing to make the rules formal and resolve internal uncertainty and disagreement about exactly when lethal action is justified.

Mr. Obama and his advisers are still debating whether remote-control killing should be a measure of last resort against imminent threats to the United States, or a more flexible tool, available to help allied governments attack their enemies or to prevent militants from controlling territory.

Agree with the decision to order these strikes or not, shouldn’t the administration have figured out the legalities of ordering the strikes before they started killing people?

And that’s just taking the executive branch into account. Where do Congress’ war powers rest when it comes to these strikes? No doubt the Obama administration, a proponent of expansive executive powers for obvious reasons, feels they have the authority to unilaterally order the death of foreigners but nobody in Congress is willing to stand up for the legislative check on executive war powers?

Some might argue that these drone strikes aren’t a “war” per se, but if we’re firing missiles and killing thousands of people, what else is it?

The Constitution requires the assent of Congress before we go to war to specifically prohibit the President from using the military as a sort “king’s army” to do with as he pleases. It seems these days that’s happening, and Congress has little interest in stopping it.

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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