Michael Gerson: Obama's drone policy necessary for self-defense

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  • Anti Bush-Obama Washington, DC
    Feb. 9, 2013 11:23 a.m.

    Roland Keysers comment says it all. That is something everyone should read.

  • Anti Bush-Obama Washington, DC
    Feb. 9, 2013 11:17 a.m.

    Quit blaming the tyrant George Bush. Obama has been in office for 5 years. If he was any better than Bush he would've have quit with these strikes. It's like me going out and killing someone and then justifying my actions by blaming it on Ted Bundy.

  • Anti Bush-Obama Washington, DC
    Feb. 9, 2013 11:14 a.m.

    I guess it doesn't matter that 170 children were killed in these drone strikes. I wish Obama would've brought that up when he was hiding behind that sandy hook children.

  • the old switcharoo mesa, AZ
    Feb. 9, 2013 8:27 a.m.

    Bush did use drone strikes. And to the innocent that are killed it doesn't matter if it was a cruise missile, C-130 or a drone that did it.

    When there are drones above that occasionally lob off drones at the supermarket, you will understand.

    Panetta actually said that drone strikes are NOT for acts already commited, they are to keep future acts from happening. Minority Report anyone?

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 11:12 p.m.

    It's only wrong when a demo does it. Repubs had no objection to using drones when bush was president.

  • Christian 24-7 Murray, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 9:51 p.m.

    @spring street

    The whole point of my post is that the memo released says that there doesn't need to be an imminent threat to order a strike. That is problematic to me. I do think there needs a standard for a significant threat to order a drone strike, and an elevated standard to specifically strike to get a US citizen. The loosy-goosy version that is being defended in the memo uses words like 'suspected terrorist', and 'no imminent threat required' to specifically attack a citizen of the USofA. These open the door to imperial assassinations for political gains, a door that I don't think Americans want to open, not even for their chosen guy.

    That is a far cry from initiating and attack on a known terrorist base consisting of people from countries who hate us, who are violently occupying some territory. Obviously there is documentation about what these guys are doing in Mali, per the DN Wed edition. That would justify a drone strike. Safer for the locals than letting Al-quaeda stay in charge.

    The language of the memo sounded more like the terrorists' creeds than the USofA.

  • WHAT NOW? Saint George, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 6:23 p.m.


    The slipery slope comments by republicons are expected.

    republicons have learned their lessons well from the likes of dick, condie and karl et al..

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 5:39 p.m.

    @spring street

    My point was we should not be killing non convicted criminals unless they present an immediate threat. Simply being in a "terrorist camp" is not an immediate threat. An immediate threat is a terrorist with a bomb strapped to him ready to carry out detonation.

    Unless there is that immediate threat, they should be apprehended, charged, tried and convicted as required by the Constitution. "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury... nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 4:18 p.m.

    So let me be clear I do not think at the end of the day drone attacks or even further military action is going to end terrisom and we need to be taking a hard look at how we need to react differently to the people that are most likely to sympathize with and may turn to terrorism
    having said that let me ask those of you that are so outraged about the death of the 16 year old, why was he in that terrorist camp to begin with? there was a significant gap between when his father died and he went to and stayed in the camp with the people the drone was targeting.

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 4:06 p.m.

    Sorry that was suppose to be a t darell not giseppe

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 3:43 p.m.

    So if we know they are actively working to be a part of taking action to harm others but we do not have idirect access to them and likely will not do we just sit on our hands?
    we also kill alleged not convicted violent criminals when they posse a threat to us so what is your point?

  • GiuseppeG Murray, Utah
    Feb. 8, 2013 3:08 p.m.

    re Tolstoy: That guy's 16 yr old son was killed a month after his dad was killed. Not in the same strike. Otherwise I agree with Badgerbadger & Darrell.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 2:48 p.m.

    The issue is not drones, it is the targeted assassination of American citizens who are only suspected of being terrorists. No proof, no due process, just suspected.

    We treat illegal immigrants better. They get some measure of due process, and if they it is probable they are guilty of something, we send them back to their country.

    If a policeman shoots a suspect, there is a thorough investigation. If they shoot an innocent person, they are charged with the appropriate crime.

    But not for drone assassinations. The president can order them, and there is no follow-up to make sure it was warranted. The memo argues for the president to have absolute power to order a hit on a citizen if he wants to.

    I wonder if talk radio folks are on the suspected terrorists list, or conservative congressmen? All the president has to do is get them out of the country, call them terrorists, and kaboom, they are gone. Creepy and Scary!

    So let's not pretend this is about drones, or that it is a partisan issue.

    Those drones should be used, on terrorist amputating butcherers in Mali, instead of on our citizens.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 2:31 p.m.


    Being in the military, there are Rules of Engagement, and the police are bound by similar rules. There are clearly defined rules when a policeman can even point a gun at someone, and even tighter as to when they can fire.

    The police are only allowed to fire if they believe there is an IMMEDIATE threat to themselves or others near by. As soon as the threat is gone, use of deadly force is no longer authorized. I.E. if someone was shooting at me, and then they lay down their arms, deadly force is no longer authorized.

    "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" - 5th Ammendment.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 2:26 p.m.

    @david king
    Is it assassination to kill an violent criminal that posses a threat to society if they are held up here and the police kill them and that persons son gets killed? It is sad and every step possible needs to be taken to avoid it but calling it an assassination seems more like rhetoric then anything else to me.
    I agree it is time to take partisan blinders of in that same vain I have to ask why call just those that call bush worse and not going after those that supported bush but don't support Obama? Maybe you need to remove your own blinders as well.

  • David King Layton, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 2:11 p.m.

    Assassinating American citizens without charges or a trial, especially in the case of Anwar Al-awlaki's 16 year old son, is wrong. I echo the sentiments of Roland Kayser, although I'm very disappointed that so many of the regular commenters here just want to make this a partisan issue, or about how Bush was worse, or somehow tie it to guns. It's time for many of us to take the party blinders off and really think about the principle of the U.S. government claiming the power to assassinate its own citizens without ever charging them with a crime.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 1:28 p.m.


    do you feel the same way when a violent criminal is held up and the police have to kill them to protect the general public? I have serious concerns about how we decide who to target but to claim that their rights are being taken away seems a bit of a stretch.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    Feb. 8, 2013 12:47 p.m.

    And yet --

    This morning, I listened to Glenn Beck tell his listeners that the U.S. had drones over Benghazi and that Obama did nothing.

    So, WHICH is it? - 9/12, Tea-Party, Republublican, we hate everything Obama-ites?

    Anything to whipe up the masses,
    scare them into buying something.

    Bush drones good.
    Obama drones bad.

    Petty Politicals.

  • CLM Draper, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 11:51 a.m.

    Drones kill countless more civilians than terrorists. Despite the administration's claims of few civilians killed, multiple independent reports show otherwise. Exact numbers are impossible to obtain, but a recent study from Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute reports that civilian deaths are "significantly and consistently underestimated", while as much as 98% of drone strike casualties are civilians--which works out to 50 innocents killed for every "suspected terrorist".

    Not only do these numbers indicate the lack of effectiveness of drone strikes to protect the United States and eliminate terrorists, but even more important, drone strikes that leave dozens of innocent people dead creates a new set of enemies and a situation rife with blowback--creating far more potential "terrorists" furious for revenge--and rendering drone warfare hugely counter-productive as well as ineffective.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 11:09 a.m.

    Drone strikes began in 2001.

    Obama was elected President in 2008.

    Have a good day.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 10:23 a.m.

    @ Roland Kayser,

    Very well said. What I find most disturbing is the ordered killings of US Citizens overseas. To me that is a blatant neglect of the 5th Amendment. The Constitution makes no provision for "unless they are suspected of terrorism."

    I was horrified at the suspension of habeus corpus and warrantless wiretappings of the previous administration. I was glad Obama campaigned on doing away with those and disappointed he has not.

    Maybe it boils down to being easy to criticize the President when are applying for the job, and then something changed when he realized that he his personally responsible for our safety as a nation. That does not give him a free pass, but it's the only thing that really makes sense.

  • LDS Aerospace Engineer Farmington, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 10:05 a.m.

    The 1st U.S. military drone was developed 100 years ago in 1913.
    "Fire and forget" technology has been military standard for 50 years.

    The whining and crying we hear is that when Bush [or any other Republican] does it, it's GOOD.
    when Obama or any Democrat does it, it'd BAD.

    Petty Politics.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 10:00 a.m.

    The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a drone is a good guy with a drone.

    Let's put drones in every classroom.

  • SteveD North Salt Lake, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 9:40 a.m.

    This is more of the same hypocracy that we see by the ideological politicians and talking heads all the time. But one thing is certain, if this was a Republican president in office, the main media outlets would be a thousand times more vocal.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Feb. 8, 2013 8:41 a.m.

    Alternives to drone strikes include more troops on the ground to go after a target. What's the fuss over just one of many effective weapons in our arsenal? It gives us an option in a world where the U.S. military has a vital role to play against hostile threats.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 8:34 a.m.

    When it comes to politics we all suffer from a team mentality. What our team does is good, what the other team does is bad. Democrats complained loudly about Bush's war on terror policies, while Republicans defended them. Obama largely continued those same policies, whereupon Democrats shut up and Republicans started criticizing.

    The team mentality probably can't be changed, but we should all analyze our own positions to see if we really justify them, or if we're just supporting the team.