Thursday, January 24, 2013

Live by the drone, die by the drone?

Admiral Dennis C. Blair
Those of us ordering drone strikes risk falling victim to a drone strike according to Admiral Dennis C. Blair, former Director of National Intelligence.  The Admiral shared this fear on January 22 during an interview hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations.
. . . what I do fear the most, though, is that a terrorist -- and let me say I don't fear too much other nation- states that gain this capability. It's very -- you know if another country has it and is using it against you and then you can use the full -- the full array of both defensive systems and of retaliation to keep it from being used against you effectively.  
I do fear that -- and if al-Qaida can develop a drone, its first thought will be to use it to kill our president, senior officials, senior military officers. And it's possible, without a great deal of intelligence, to be able to do something with a drone that you can't do with a -- with a high-speed -- with a high-powered rifle or with -- driving a car full of explosives or the other ways that terrorists now use to try to kill senior officials. 
Had we better, on this account, think twice before firing missiles from drones at terror suspects? Admiral Blair doesn't think so:
And I think that there are ways to deal with that -- but it -- and I also think that whether we use them or not -- the way in which we use them or not won't affect the zeal of terrorists groups to be able to get them and to be able to kill senior officials for all of the reasons that we are familiar with.
Admiral Blair does not believe U.S. drone strikes stoke the "zeal of terrorists groups" to get drones and kill us. Although trusting the Admiral would allow staff to sleep easier, we find the counter-arguments compelling:
  1. Drone strikes may cause survivors to hold grudges against the department.  They help terrorist groups attract recruits to their cause.
  2. Every time we kill a terror suspect in a drone strike, we lose an opportunity to interrogate someone who might have had knowledge of an impending drone attack.  We're always assassinating people we should be torturing.
  3. We massively fund the development of drone technology, some of which is easy to copy.  
  4. We have set ourselves up to lose the propaganda war.  If the terrorists killed a senior official in a drone strike, would the department get sympathy or would people be shaking their heads saying, "Live by the drone, die by the drone"?
Admiral Blair said that if the terrorists are aiming to take out senior staff with drones, "there are ways to deal with that."  As the department tweeted earlier this week, we know how to address the threat of drone terrorism:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

We would have jailed Martin Luther King Jr. under NDAA

In a powerful speech Thursday, left-wing menace Dr. Cornel West put our power grab under the Obama administration in historical perspective,  explaining the damage we might have inflicted on the Civil Rights Movement.  In an address to Tavis Smiley Presents Poverty In America the African-American leader said he:  
  • Shares conservatives' suspicion of the department. 
  • Suspects we would have jailed MLK Jr. under NDAA if the law had existed then.  
  • Posits that a Culture of Fear prevents people from challenging our authority. 
You can watch the whole speech on CSPAN [update: we have posted it below].  Following is a transcript by department staff.

Dr. Cornel West: I don't want to be in that [White House] meeting either. 
Moderator:  I don't think you're going to be invited. 
Dr. Cornel West: I wouldn't go. I wouldn't go.  Because as a Jesus-loving free black man I would go to a crack house before the White House.  And the reason why I would is at least the crack addicts are honest about their addiction.  [applause] The White House is addicted to power. 
They're addicted to power. That's why you've got to bring power to bear.  But my calling is not just about power.  My calling is about love and justice.  And love and justice is always weak.  That's precisely why the black prophetic tradition in the history of this nation has been the leaven in the American democratic loaf.  Because we recognize that first you have to have a suspicion of government.  This is why I resonate with my conservative brother.  And the reason why is Martin Luther King Jr. was under the FBI surveillance from January 1956 to the day he died.  Governments can be repressive, viscous, ugly, violate your rights, violate your liberties, crush your people, generate the propaganda.  We need that sensibility too. Governments can also be affirmative if they're helping poor and working people.  Governments can use their power to support corporate elites. That's the beginning of crypto-fascism, when they come together with no accountability whatsoever. Not just politically but economically.  That's in part where things are moving. 
Let me say this: Martin Luther King Junior, today, could be taken to jail without due process or judicial process under the National Defense Authorization Act.  Because he had a connection with a freedom fighter who was called a terrorist named Nelson Mandela.  He just got off the Terrorist List -- in 2008 -- of America, let's be honest about that.   Because he had a relation to a "Terrorist." And under the present administration you can assassinate Americans, you can take them to jail without due process. That's a repressive side of the government that the Black Freedom Movement has always been suspicious of.  We got black political prisoners right now in America.  And they're in there precisely because the repression came down so hard and their love was such that they were willing to tell the truth.  That was a threat to the status quo.  And we don't even talk about them
That's why the Culture of Fear is not just silence, I don't think, my dear brothers and sisters. People are afraid. They're afraid to lose their jobs, they're afraid to lose their status, they're afraid of not going to the nice tea parties, they're afraid of not going to the White House.  You can't have a Culture of Fear and generate a movement.  That's why it's not just about justice.  Any justice that's only justice will soon degenerate into something less than justice.   We gotta talk about love. Martin was a tiding of love. If you're not talking about love and willingness to sacrifice, all this is just sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. We're not going nowhere.  We're not going nowhere.  You've got to hit the streets, you got to go to jail and be willing to die.  That's what the movement's about.  If you're not willing to do that, then keep your job and drink your tea.  That's what we're talking about.  
Note:  Although we haven't had time to transcribe it, the video posted above also includes further harsh remarks by Dr. Cornel West.  The civil rights leader is outraged by our decision to appropriate the spiritual legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. for the inauguration of President Obama.