Obama’s moral code and the terrorist ‘kill list’
President Barack Obama, in the process of saluting, participates in a ceremony at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware on Tuesday, August 9, 2011, for the dignified transfer of U.S. and Afghan personnel who died in Afghanistan on August 6.
The “kill list,” as it has become known within the White House, is presented to President Obama so he can have the final say on whether or not a known terrorist gets elevated to “kill or capture” status, according to a feature in The New York Times.
As the story explains, the capture element of the designation is mostly in theory, as the attack option of choice has been to bomb from drones.
An excerpt from the long feature:
It was not a theoretical question: Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.
Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.
The newspaper interviewed dozens of current and former advisers to the president, offering unique insight into his perspective on morality, law and how they pertained to specific cases, such as the decision to kill an American cleric in Yemen.
Asked what surprised him most about Mr. Obama, Mr. Donilon, the national security adviser, answered immediately: “He’s a president who is quite comfortable with the use of force on behalf of the United States.”
What do you think of this often deadly decision making process and how it has formed during Obama’s first term?
Source: The New York Times