More oversight and disclosure on drones
By Editorial Board,
AFTER SEN. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) held the Senate hostage Wednesday in order to warn that American citizens could be targeted by drone strikes on U.S. soil, he was rightly taken to task for gross and irresponsible mischaracterizations of the Obama administration’s policy. We’ve got another complaint: Mr. Paul and his followers are distracting attention from the real issues raised by the administration’s secret warfare.
Mr. Paul’s filibuster was triggered by the response of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to the question of whether the president “has the authority to order lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without a trial.” Mr. Holder’s unremarkable answer was that the administration had no intention of ever using such force but that “in an extraordinary circumstance,” such as the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it would be “necessary and appropriate” for the president to order military action inside the United States…”
Cassi Creek: I find Rand Paul to be poorly informed for the position he holds. His recent filibuster was a waste of Senate time. The Washington Post’s description of him as “paranoid” is a gross understatement.
The drone wars provide a means of gathering intelligence, tracking and locating enemy combatants, and to a lesser degree, eliminating those enemies without risk, or with minimal, to U.S. forces.
I would be more comfortable if the strike functions were controlled by the DOD and its various branches. I’m somewhat uncomfortable with the CIA carrying out as many strikes as they have. However, I realize that much of the drone strike program must be compartmentalizes and somewhat shrouded from the general public. The nature of covert operations is that they are not intended to be public knowledge. The success and safety of people involved in such operations as the bin Laden execution depend upon secrecy. Even Congressional oversight committees must be prevented from full knowledge in some matters until the operations are underway. Recall that the opportunity to capture bin Laden in 2001 was blown by a member of Congress spilling the fact that we had cell phone captured location information that would have resulted in rapid resolution.
There is much about UAVs that promises benefit to the general public. Their long loiter time makes them well suited for SAR purposes. Whether or not it becomes widespread practice, they will become standard equipment in many military units and public safety services. Their wide variation in size and in carrying capacity will further define their functions. Currently, I believe that their good outweighs their bad, unlike much of the Congress that will eventually try to control and define their uses. The djinn are out of this bottle, too. It’s not going back in. It behooves us to find the leading role and maintain it.