Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On the al-Awlaki killing, the New York Times gives Obama too much credit

The Obama administration apparently spent months considering the legal implications of targeting Anwar al-Awlaki, the American citizen who was killed in Yemen last month after being accused of being a terrorist organizer. It prepared a detailed and cautious memorandum to justify the decision — a refreshing change from the reckless legal thinking of the Bush administration, which rationalized torture, claimed unlimited presidential powers and drove the country’s fight against terrorists off the rails.

I dunno. The Bush Administration also managed to obtain legal memos justifying its acts during the War on Terror—that's why we know (and in many cases, revile) the name of John Yoo. I understand the Times editorial board's reflexive sympathy to Obama, but I'm not sure what the distinction is here.

In any case, the Times argues the memo isn't enough: There should be a "closed-door court similar to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, before anyone, especially a citizen, is placed on an assassination list." I agree. But the Obama Administration hasn't placed that on the agenda. The Times tries to give Obama some credit, but it doesn't appear he deserves it.

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