Friday, September 14, 2012

Reason #256: Classified

Were I a religious man, it would be my opinion that Barack Obama will probably go to hell.

But perhaps I should back up a bit.

As a dyed-in-the-wool liberal coming of age during the post-9/11 Bush Era, you would think I'd have a very clear understanding of the lines that should not be crossed by the government in the name of peace and security. And indeed, I definitely do believe that a lot of what the previous administration got up to, from the Iraq War to waterboarding, was inhumane at worst and counter-productive at best.

But I also think--and hey, maybe Bush colored my view of this as well--that part of the president's job is to perform--within reason--evil acts. It would be great if we lived in a world where drone strikes, for example, were unnecessary, but in the pantheon of horrid ways the United States has chosen to carry out its overseas military objectives, the innocent casualties of a drone strike don't add up to a hill of beans.
Not only do I believe that being the leader of the USA at this point in time requires one to willingly accept a black mark upon their own soul, but I think--and this is where I'm really gonna lose some people--that it's also their job to keep that from us as much as possible.

Personally speaking, I don't want to know the details of the Bin Laden raid. If "Mark Owen", the ex-Navy SEAL whose new book No Easy Day has gotten him into hot water with the Pentagon, did indeed release classified information about the operation, I am fully behind him being prosecuted for it. From what news coverage I've seen thus far, the only thing I know now that I didn't know already is that "Owen", who wrote the book under a pseudonym, claims to have put a few bullets into Osama Bin Laden's body himself, despite someone else having already shot him to death before Owen was in the room. That, already, is a messy notion, and I have no desire to hear about it.

The red line, as I see it, is between "messy" and "felonious".

Waterboarding, as I understand it, is a deliberate cruel act performed on suspected terrorists that produces little to no helpful results. Iraq was the same thing on a drastically larger scale. But Bush using his executive power stupidly isn't an argument for executive power never being used at all. Short of direct, one-on-one assassination, drone strikes seem like the absolute lowest-impact method possible of taking out terrorist leaders--which, with organizations like Al Qaeda, means taking out or crippling entire networks.

Getting back to my original point, none of that is to say that I agree with Obama's extensive use of drone strikes. "Felonious", after all, is a legal distinction, not a moral one. Killing innocent civilians in a drone attack is an immoral act, one I could not personally instigate--and it's for that reason, and many others, that I have no desire to be president.

But someone has to be.

Further Reading

Obama Talks Drone Strikes

Pentagon Tells Ex-SEAL He Could Face Legal Action Over Osama Bin Laden Raid Book, 'No Easy Day'

Panetta Blasts Ex-SEAL Who Wrote Osama Bin Laden Raid Book

Obama’s 262 Drone Strikes in Pakistan

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