Unrestricted drones for me but not for thee?

posted at 8:51 am on November 26, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

One of the tertiary issues that never got much attention during the presidential campaign was the use of drones to conduct the war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates in places like Pakistan, Yemen, and other loci of Islamist terrorist networks.  It didn’t get much attention because Mitt Romney’s position on the use of drones didn’t provide much contrast from Barack Obama, and it seemed clear that the US would have continuity in this one area of policy regardless of who won the election.

That frustrated human-rights activists on the Left, who want the US to seriously curtail these attacks or stop them altogether, but have gained no traction with the Obama administration during his first term in office.  Obama has remained determined thus far to keep the drone attack as a tactic open to him as he sees fit, acting as Commander in Chief.  That probably wouldn’t get a lot of opposition from Republicans and hawks in both parties.

However, it seems as though Obama does have an objection to anyone else but him having that discretion.  The New York Times reported yesterday on a ghastly hypocrisy within the White House, which tried to impose limits on the use of drones, limits that would activate if Obama lost the election:

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.

Great!  So they’re going to put these restrictions forward for their own use now, right? Er ….

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.

So they still don’t know how they’d like to use the drones, but they were apparently sure that Romney shouldn’t have the leeway to make that decision for himself.  That’s quite a double standard — or more accurately, a standard for everyone else and no standard at all for themselves.

Should we restrict the use of drones to a last-resort measure, considering the collateral damage that occurs when drones are deployed?  Ironically, Obama may have made that argument himself with his bragging about the Osama bin Laden mission.  We successfully brought justice to bin Laden, as Obama likes to put it, without blowing up any surrounding houses.  If we can do that with OBL, why not with terrorists lower down the ladder than the founder of al-Qaeda?  Thanks to Obama’s rush to impose such limits on Romney, his argument for continued unrestricted use of drones has been even more badly damaged than before.


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Under Obama, we are all drones.

coldwarrior on November 26, 2012 at 8:54 AM

I don’t think anything Obama will do will ever be seen in a bad light. He is the teflon President. His entire Presidency is a walking, talking double-standard; and that will never change…

RedSoxNation on November 26, 2012 at 8:57 AM

I can’t wait until he clears them for use against ‘the opposition’ here in the States.

Washington Nearsider on November 26, 2012 at 8:59 AM

Perfect tag line Ed

They’ll impose those restrictions on jan 20, 2016

cmsinaz on November 26, 2012 at 8:59 AM

Can you imagine if Bush…oh, what’s the point. If the GOP is ever going to regain some footing at the national level, it better begin bringing the fight (and fight is the right word) to the place where we really need to fight: the culture space (i.e. college campuses, newsrooms, editorial boards, movies, Jon Stewart, television, etc.).

RedSoxNation on November 26, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Thanks to Obama’s rush to impose such limits on Romney, his argument for continued unrestricted use of drones has been even more badly damaged than before.

I do think there needs to be discourse exactly how we use this technology. The ROE for employing it. The implications vis-a-vis international laws and treaties- particularly if civilian casualties are a possibility. Etc.

What really angers me about this story is that it is clear the rat-eared wonder was getting ready to cripple the Romney administration if he lost the election. This isn’t open and legitimate discourse, it is more partisan politics from a bunch of criminals, socialists, communists, atheists, and thugs.

Happy Nomad on November 26, 2012 at 9:00 AM

As if, what, Romney would have been bound by whatever Obooba came up with?

Akzed on November 26, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Sabatage.

astonerii on November 26, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Spot on redsoxnation

cmsinaz on November 26, 2012 at 9:01 AM

The left sold their souls.

CW on November 26, 2012 at 9:01 AM

Comments at the Times are – of course – closed.

Washington Nearsider on November 26, 2012 at 9:02 AM

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

Oh. I thought you meant THAT double standard.

Ben Hur on November 26, 2012 at 9:02 AM

BUCK FARACK.

Nutstuyu on November 26, 2012 at 9:03 AM

I still think that Obama thought he was going to lose the election. I think he was just as shocked as a lot of us at the way things went.

dczombie on November 26, 2012 at 9:04 AM

The left sold their souls.

CW on November 26, 2012 at 9:01 AM

I’m not sure they’ve got the right equipment.

Washington Nearsider on November 26, 2012 at 9:04 AM

I get the point, but:

If we can do that with OBL, why not with terrorists lower down the ladder than the founder of al-Qaeda?

Come on.

BKeyser on November 26, 2012 at 9:04 AM

I can’t wait until he clears them for use against ‘the opposition’ here in the States.

Washington Nearsider on November 26, 2012 at 8:59 AM

While visiting family in rural MN this Thanksgiving, we had a great time trying to shoot down those hobby rockets. Good practice I suspect.

Nutstuyu on November 26, 2012 at 9:05 AM

That’s quite a double standard — or more accurately, a standard for everyone else and no standard at all for themselves.

The standardless presidency.

rbj on November 26, 2012 at 9:08 AM

the GOP would take out Planned Parenthoods and birth control factories first, then expand to a general bombing campaign on groups of women everywhere. Bed Bath & Beyond, nail salons, health spas, Red Hat and extension Clubs across America.

Slade73 on November 26, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Who’s going to join me at the massive Code Pinko/MorOn.org rally in DC tomorrow? We’re going to ask that Bark be declared a war criminal, parade around in orange jumpsuits, and threaten to arrest and handcuff Leon Panetta because of our fierce moral urgency.

Bishop on November 26, 2012 at 9:14 AM

These freedom fighters/protesters bravely demonstrate peacefully alongside their children.

racquetballer on November 26, 2012 at 9:14 AM

Obama won… he owns the drones…

Khun Joe on November 26, 2012 at 9:14 AM

LOL…come on, Ed. You guys have been beating around the bush about Obama for 4 years. The only thing that keeps Obama from going all “Morsi” on America is that he hasn’t finished building his army of civilians, just as well armed as the military, to back him up. But he’s getting close, and its turning into a religious thing. ‘OUR LORD AND SAVIOR BARACK OBAMA’

When are you guys going to start connecting the dots instead of calling these types of things “hypocrisy?” Being snarky doesn’t seem to be getting the job done.

genso on November 26, 2012 at 9:16 AM

Bishop on November 26, 2012 at 9:14 AM

make it a va jay jay suit and I’m in

Slade73 on November 26, 2012 at 9:18 AM

the GOP would take out Planned Parenthoods and birth control factories first, then expand to a general bombing campaign on groups of women everywhere. Bed Bath & Beyond, nail salons, health spas, Red Hat and extension Clubs across America.

Slade73 on November 26, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Absolutely CONCUR with BB&B… went shopping there on the morning of Black Friday for a citrus juicer, but since all they were offering was the same 20% discount I get in their mailer, I passed…

Khun Joe on November 26, 2012 at 9:18 AM

As if, what, Romney would have been bound by whatever Obooba came up with?

Akzed on November 26, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Not that he would have been bound by it, but it would allow for the anti-war left to claim that Romney was violating the well established guidelines whenever he used drones in ways they didn’t like.

We could go on and on about how Obama did it to, but the answer would be “Obama tamed Bush’s cowboy drone policy, and Romney is trying to take us back to those days!”

Timin203 on November 26, 2012 at 9:23 AM

Slade73 on November 26, 2012 at 9:13 AM

What flavor is the koolaid today?

katablog.com on November 26, 2012 at 9:24 AM

The left sold their souls.

CW on November 26, 2012 at 9:01 AM

I’m not sure they’ve got the right equipment.

Washington Nearsider on November 26, 2012 at 9:04 AM

Whatever the equipment it came cheap…some food stamps and contraception.

CW on November 26, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Why would Obama need to be bound by policy when he is smarter than any of the policy writers? Policy is needed only to capture the essence of his brilliance before he departs. Good thing there is still time.

STL_Vet on November 26, 2012 at 9:30 AM

NEWSFLASH: the takers have elected this boob President for 4 more years……good luck to the makers in this country as by year 8, we won’t exist and stuff like this won’t even make the top 1000 events of this Dicktatorship.

SDarchitect on November 26, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Absolutely CONCUR with BB&B… went shopping there on the morning of Black Friday for a citrus juicer, but since all they were offering was the same 20% discount I get in their mailer, I passed…

Khun Joe on November 26, 2012 at 9:18 AM

That has “Dude!” written all over it.

Bishop on November 26, 2012 at 9:32 AM

I don’t think that we will live to see it, but a Conservative President could have so much fun if the first day in office he signed an EO that stated every law that relies on anything other than the most restrictive interpretation of the 10th Amendment and the Commerce Clause will be held on abeyance. Now that would be funny and possibly save the country.

rgranger on November 26, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Bishop on November 26, 2012 at 9:14 AM

make it a va jay jay suit and I’m in

Slade73 on November 26, 2012 at 9:18 AM

I’m in. Just finishing up making giant marionettes of Barry Obama, Hillary Clinton and George Soros, and maybe, I’ll make a little tiny George Boooosh puppet just to fit in*!

*I’m also going to hit myself in the head with a ball peen hammer. I really want to fit in with the moveon crowd and Code Pink ladies.

Fallon on November 26, 2012 at 9:42 AM

What flavor is the koolaid today?

katablog.com on November 26, 2012 at 9:24 AM

exsqueeze me? I suppose you’re a big supporter of sarc tags/

Slade73 on November 26, 2012 at 9:42 AM

Isn’t Code Pink just a little sexist? Women don’t like Red now? How about Green or Blue? Buncha misogynist Maroons.

Slade73 on November 26, 2012 at 9:45 AM

exsqueeze me? I suppose you’re a big supporter of sarc tags/

Slade73 on November 26, 2012 at 9:42 AM

You should have gone with it, played that string out a bit; I’d be extolling the virtues of communism at this point and having one hell of a fishing expedition.

Bishop on November 26, 2012 at 9:53 AM

heh. time restraints

Slade73 on November 26, 2012 at 9:54 AM

It didn’t get much attention because Mitt Romney’s position on the use of drones didn’t provide much contrast from Barack Obama

I was a bit surprised Romney didn’t bring up the drone strike on an American citizen after Anwar Al-Awlaki and two other American citizens were killed by drone stikes in Yemen. I’m not a big Al-Awlaki fan, but once we start assassinating American citizens without being engaged with them in combat, this slope gets pretty slippery. I mean, California is looking more like another country every day. Well, then again, maybe this drone thing isn’t so bad. There are a few terrorist in California, I suppose.

STL_Vet on November 26, 2012 at 9:55 AM

It’s becoming obvious that part of the grand scheme is to just wear us down every day that goes by with a new and improved regulation/EO/declaration/rule/fill-in-the-blank. He truly does get away with every stupid idea he comes up with.

Isn’t that what parasites do?

tru2tx on November 26, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Isn’t that what parasites do?

tru2tx on November 26, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Right up until they kill the host.

Washington Nearsider on November 26, 2012 at 10:09 AM

The left sold their souls.

CW on November 26, 2012 at 9:01 AM

Cant sell what you never had in the first place…..

abnormal_1 on November 26, 2012 at 10:09 AM

Cant sell what you never had in the first place…..

And you can’t have a double standard when you had no standard to begin with.

onomo on November 26, 2012 at 10:28 AM

While visiting family in rural MN this Thanksgiving, we had a great time trying to shoot down those hobby rockets. Good practice I suspect.

Nutstuyu on November 26, 2012 at 9:05 AM

I think the drones will be much higher than shotgun range. Perhaps you should work on a guidance system for the model rockets.

Hill60 on November 26, 2012 at 10:46 AM

The standardless presidency.

rbj on November 26, 2012 at 9:08 AM

Standards are racist.

Solaratov on November 26, 2012 at 10:54 AM

As if, what, Romney would have been bound by whatever Obooba came up with?

Akzed on November 26, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Not that he would have been bound by it, but it would allow for the anti-war left to claim that Romney was violating the well established guidelines whenever he used drones in ways they didn’t like.

Timin203 on November 26, 2012 at 9:23 AM

The playbook on the use of drones is one of the most highly classified documents in the inventory. [It's never emailed or sent via inter/intra-departmental mail, but is always hand-carried by special courier.]
The only way for anyone to ‘complain’ about a violation of the “rules” is to divulge top secret information – a criminal offense.
(which has never stopped this regime in the past, of course)
And, a new president – as commander in chief – is free to set/reset the rules of engagement in any way at any time that he sees fit.

Solaratov on November 26, 2012 at 11:06 AM

I still think that Obama thought he was going to lose the election. I think he was just as shocked as a lot of us at the way things went.

dczombie on November 26, 2012 at 9:04 AM

I do, too. Funny how that worked out, isn’t it?

Alana on November 26, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Obama is a drone.

Schadenfreude on November 26, 2012 at 12:10 PM

Pheh! He didn’t want any of his despot friends killed.

Sterling Holobyte on November 26, 2012 at 12:30 PM

While visiting family in rural MN this Thanksgiving, we had a great time trying to shoot down those hobby rockets. Good practice I suspect.

Nutstuyu on November 26, 2012 at 9:05 AM

I think the drones will be much higher than shotgun range. Perhaps you should work on a guidance system for the model rockets.

Hill60 on November 26, 2012 at 10:46 AM

It’s a sad day in America when we have to figure out how to take out our own military’s devices.

But, it is a sad day.

Sterling Holobyte on November 26, 2012 at 12:32 PM

And here’s where the fog of war collides with the blinding clarity of politics. Obama had already determined to run as the Slayer of Osama bin Laden, and a horde of howling Arabs shouting, “Obama, Obama, there are still a billion Osamas” as they pulled down the American flag in Cairo and attacked us elsewhere was an inconvenient truth that had to be obscured by any means necessary.

With the election safely behind him, the president and his allies are now trying to rehabilitate Ambassador Rice’s shredded reputation, cheerily tossing around the usual charges of “racism” and “sexism” as they smear conservative opposition to her potential nomination as secretary of state in the second Obama term. They’d rather not reopen the Benghazi can of worms.

But reopen it we must — either by open congressional hearings or during Rice’s confirmation hearings — if Chris Stevens and the others are ever to receive justice.

Schadenfreude on November 26, 2012 at 2:22 PM

I think I saw this Barack fellow and a bunch of his relatives in Mars Attack.

claudius on November 26, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Thanks to Obama’s rush to impose such limits on Romney, his argument for continued unrestricted use of drones has been even more badly damaged than before

…and what?…who’s going to do what?

KOOLAID2 on November 26, 2012 at 10:31 PM