The Internet is making itself sweaty talking about Touré, the liberal MSNBC TV host, who, on Tuesday, defended President Obama’s targeted killing policy to the disbelief of his MSNBC colleagues (and Twitter). In his own words, Touré’s position:
We’re at war with al Qaeda right now, and if you join al Qaeda, you lose the right to be an American. You lose the right to due process. You declare yourself an enemy of this nation, and you are committing treason. And I don’t see why we should expand American rights to people who want to kill Americans, who are working to kill Americans, who are committing treason. This is not criticizing the United States. This is going to war against the United States.
As the segment progresses, it becomes apparent that Touré isn’t familiar with the nonpartisan criticisms of Obama’s assassination policy. For instance, when Salon’s Steve Kornacki asks him about the killing of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the Denver-born 16-year-old son of radical (New Mexico-born) cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, Touré responds, “What do you mean what about the 16-year-old who was killed?” and then “We’re not talking about civilian casualties.” And when his co-hosts continue to press him on the consequences of a small group of individuals determing who deserves to die without a shred of oversight, Touré dismisses them by saying, “Al Qaeda attacked this nation. We are attacking al Qaeda back.” On Twitter Touré simply said, “He’s the Commander in Chief.”
Obama continues to suppress dissidents, whistleblowers:
It isn’t the first time such information has been suppressed. In 2005, bowing to the White House, the New York Times for months kept confidential the fact that the Bush administration had been carrying out warrantless wiretapping. The revelations eventually provoked Congress to pass a new law.
Reports on the U.S. drone program, also based on leaks, have described how Barack Obama’s administration has become ever more dependent on remote-controlled killing. Obama himself reportedly signs off personally on each target.
The American public has been largely unconcerned with the program, except when the person killed has been an American citizen. (The U.S., unlike many other countries, accords its citizens special protections from government intrusions.)
That is the focus of the latest leak. The “white paper” in today’s story appears under the arid title “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qaeda or an Associated Force.”
The term “senior operational leader” appears to be key. An American citizen who is a low-level fighter would appear to enjoy a legal immunity that does not extend to foreign nationals suspected of planning or involvement in attacks on Americans.
As the Post story rather dryly notes, “The number of attacks on Americans is minuscule compared with the broader toll of the drone campaign, which has killed more than 3,000 militants and civilians in hundreds of strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.”
There is an accompanying article today on the astonishing fact that 54 countries, including Canada, have participated in or enabled the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program of sending suspected militants to be interrogated, sometimes under torture, in secret prisons and by totalitarian regimes worldwide.
Twelve years ago, reporters had a different term for that sort of thing, too: kidnapping.