Thursday, September 27, 2012

Drones And Torture: None Of The Above Is Still My Only Choice

Conor Friedersdorf lays out the case against voting for Obama:
1.Obama terrorizes innocent Pakistanis on an almost daily basis. The drone war he is waging in North Waziristan isn't "precise" or "surgical" as he would have Americans believe. It kills hundreds of innocents, including children. And for thousands of more innocents who live in the targeted communities, the drone war makes their lives into a nightmare worthy of dystopian novels. People are always afraid. Women cower in their homes. Children are kept out of school. The stress they endure gives them psychiatric disorders. Men are driven crazy by an inability to sleep as drones buzz overhead 24 hours a day, a deadly strike possible at any moment. At worst, this policy creates more terrorists than it kills; at best, America is ruining the lives of thousands of innocent people and killing hundreds of innocents for a small increase in safety from terrorists. It is a cowardly, immoral, and illegal policy, deliberately cloaked in opportunistic secrecy. And Democrats who believe that it is the most moral of all responsible policy alternatives are as misinformed and blinded by partisanship as any conservative ideologue.
2. Obama established one of the most reckless precedents imaginable: that any president can secretly order and oversee the extrajudicial killing of American citizens. Obama's kill list transgresses against the Constitution as egregiously as anything George W. Bush ever did. It is as radical an invocation of executive power as anything Dick Cheney championed. The fact that the Democrats rebelled against those men before enthusiastically supporting Obama is hackery every bit as blatant and shameful as anything any talk radio host has done.
3. Contrary to his own previously stated understanding of what the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution demand, President Obama committed U.S. forces to war in Libya without Congressional approval, despite the lack of anything like an imminent threat to national security.
There's no reason to believe that Romney will be any better on drones; he'll probably be worse. He also may return to the Bush/Cheney policy that sanctions torture as official government policy. From today's New York Times:
Last September, Mitt Romney’s advisers were so determined to attack President Obama from every direction and to revive long-discredited neo-con theories about interrogation that they actually encouraged the candidate to come out strongly pro-torture in his presidential campaign.

In what The Times’ Charlie Savage describes as a “near-final draft” of a memo, Romney advisers denounced Mr. Obama’s executive order on interrogation (which instructed interrogators to hew to the Army Field Manual, i.e. to legal techniques). They also urged Mr. Romney to pledge that, upon taking office, he would rescind that order.

So far, Mr. Romney has had the good sense not to follow this recommendation–at least not to a T. But in December he said he supported “enhanced interrogation techniques which go beyond those that are in the military handbook right now.” And he has said more than once that he favors waterboarding, a so-called “enhanced interrogation technique” which the United States government considered torture until the Bush administration decided it was not.

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