So, I just finished reading the eight page exposé in the New York Times about the Obama administration drone program. From my interpretation of the piece, it seems like the writers were trying to be unbiased, but it came off near the end as if they were in support of the administration’s drone strike program:
Aides say that Mr. Obama’s choices, though, are not surprising. The president’s reliance on strikes, said Mr. Leiter, the former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, “is far from a lurid fascination with covert action and special forces. It’s much more practical. He’s the president. He faces a post-Abdulmutallab situation, where he’s being told people might attack the United States tomorrow.”
I feel the overwhelming majority of people that were quoted were either a) members of the administration, b) supporters of the program, or c) people who seemed critical for a brief moment, but then ended up rationalizing the choices of Obama and his administration.
A colleague to the U.S. ambassador said that “he didn’t realize his main job was to kill people.” If only this was talked about more. The writers just went on the discuss the moral dilemma that Obama was facing and to be honest, made him look like the victim trying to minimize war by only focusing on knocking out Al-Qaeda members and suspected militants and trying to avoid looking soft on terrorism to the Republican party. I personally cannot rationalize this victimization.
Mr. Blair, the former director of national intelligence, said the strike campaign was dangerously seductive. “It is the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no U.S. casualties, gives the appearance of toughness,” he said. “It plays well domestically, and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.”
But Mr. Blair’s dissent puts him in a small minority of security experts.
First of all, that quote from Mr. Blair does not make it sound like he harbors any dissent towards the program. If anything, it sounds like he admires it. Second, it was the sentence I bolded that really threw me for a loop. I think it’s interesting that the writers say “small minority” when both words can be used for the same purpose. They just doubled up on two similar words to overemphasize that a very small number of “security experts” are critical of the drone program.
In eight pages of a seemingly in-depth look at the Obama administration’s counterterrorism program, did I miss who these dissenters are? I know they exist, but it looks as if they were conveniently left out. Better yet, the writers acknowledge that these dissenters exist, but there are just very few of them and they are not worth mentioning or interviewing.
People quoted in the New York Times exposé:
- President Barack Obama
- Thomas E. Donilon, the president’s national security adviser
- John O. Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser
- A colleague of Cameron P. Munter, U.S. ambassador to Pakistan
- Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani American who attempted the May 1, 2010, Times Square car bombing
- Dennis C. Blair, director of national intelligence (fired in May 2010)
- William M. Daley, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff in 2011
- John A. Rizzo, the C.I.A.’s top lawyer
- former Vice President Dick Cheney
- Jeh C. Johnson, a campaign adviser and now general counsel of the Defense Department
- "a top White House adviser"
- Michael V. Hayden, the last C.I.A. director under President
- "one official, who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program"
- an unnamed administration official
- Gen. James L. Jones, former Obama national security adviser
- an unnamed participant of the video conferences run by the Pentagon
- Mitt Romney
- Harold H. Koh, for instance, as dean of Yale Law School
- Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia
- Mr. Johnson, the Pentagon’s chief lawyer
- Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General
- Michael E. Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center
- Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State
- John B. Bellinger III, a top national security lawyer under the Bush administration