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Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry | Syndicated columnist

Killing has never been so discriminating, so urbane, so cool.

The New York Times and Newsweek both ran long, largely admiring articles about how President Barack Obama selects individual terrorists to terminate with extreme prejudice. The administration’s “smart power” isn’t working out so well, but smart killing is a smash success.

Obama’s national-security team — as well as his top political adviser, David Axelrod — gather on “Terror Tuesdays” to go over an expanding “kill list” that the president examines with the aid of capsule biographies of the terrorists, or “baseball cards.” Then the president decides who lives and who — if we get him in our sights — dies.

Needless to say, had Dick Cheney consulted “baseball cards” to decide in weekly meetings attended by Karl Rove who deserved to have close encounters with drone-fired missiles, Nancy Pelosi would have drafted the articles of impeachment herself.

The Obama killings vindicate the core premises of the Bush war on terror: This is a war, and the protections of our criminal-justice system don’t apply to the enemy. In light of the kill list, it’s a wonder anyone ever objected to Bush-era detentions or interrogations. If we can pick someone off a roster of names and sentence him to death without due process, surely we can capture and hold that same person.

If we can execute someone — and any of his associates who happen to be in the vicinity — from on high, surely we can keep him awake at night and otherwise discomfit him should he fall into our hands.

The New York Times notes that “Mr. Obama’s record has not drawn anything like the sweeping criticism from allies that his predecessor faced.” True enough. It hasn’t been subjected to a highly politicized assault at home and abroad by people desperate to put it in the worst possible light and even make it a war crime.

With a few exceptions, the left has retired from the field when it comes to smearing the executive branch for prosecuting the war. If the left was still in the game, it would insist on always calling the actions assassinations, demand congressional authorization and judicial sign-off, excoriate the secret proceedings and pour scorn on the entire notion of enemy combatants standing outside the criminal-justice system.

It would call the assassinations a “terrorist recruiting tool,” as indeed they are, because almost anything we do to combat al-Qaida will offend some sympathizers of al-Qaida.

For most of the left, the highest principle of just war theory is licet si Obama id faciat (it’s OK if Obama does it). This is how Gitmo, formerly a standing repudiation of all that we hold dear as a nation, becomes an afterthought when it is owned and operated by one Barack Obama. As it happens, the president holds exactly the same Obama-centric view. So long as the kill list is overseen by him as judge and executioner, it’s beyond reproach.

The press tends to agree. The Newsweek article reports, “The choices he faces are brutally difficult, and he has struggled with them — sometimes turning them over in his mind again and again.”

Really? He thinks about who he is deciding to kill? The nation is blessed to have such a scrupulous leader. The Times maintains that the president parses the kill list as “a student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.” If no anecdotes have yet emerged about Obama justifying a particular kill with reference to the Summa Theologica, it’s probably only a matter of time.

In authorizing the strikes, the president is to be commended for his coldbloodedness, although no tactic is perfect or without costs. The war in Yemen is sliding the wrong way, and relations with target-rich Pakistan are at a low ebb.

But there should be no doubt now that the commander in chief possesses fearsome powers in the war on terror. All it took for Democrats to accept that was for President Obama to begin exercising them.


Rich Lowry can be reached at comments.lowry@nationalreview.com.

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(65) comments

Michael Welch

The "outrage" is "banked" by the prospect of a Romney presidency in tandem with a Republican-tea bagged house AND senate.

Also the wars wind down under Obama while McCain scarcely lets a day go by without calling for "intervention." Romney pledges a "tougher" (hmmm) foreign policy than the uh "wimpy" Obama but forgoes saying HE would bomb Iran, invade Syria and pick as many fights with China as possible but what IS his "plan"?

Obama is as I've said over an' over an' over an' over again my friend, hardly a "leftist" but the tea baggage has him practically "Joe Stalin Jr" -- after he wasn't born in Kenya but in RUSSIA eh???!!!

My chief worry is that extremist Repub congress, house and senate, with a compliant GOPper prez who "owes" them. Owes them what? The Ryan budget for one and war -- a NEW war? -- "somewhere"?...

Buggs Raplin

Bin Laden died in December 2001. The man the Seals murdered in cold blood was not bin Laden. That's why they had to dump the body in the ocean.

Jobaba

old dirt - Right out of the Trib today.

Al-Libi took the second-in-command spot when Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahri took charge of al-Qaida after bin Laden's death. As al-Qaida's de facto general manager, al-Libi is responsible for running the group's day-to-day operations in Pakistan's tribal areas and manages outreach to al-Qaida's regional affiliates.

If al-Libi is confirmed killed, he would be the latest in the dozen-plus senior commanders removed in the clandestine U.S. war against al-Qaida since Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden last year.

Doesn't sound like your President Cheney was involved?

olderthandirt

Obama is such a wimpy guy, that he feels like a stud when commanding the military to do attacks that he takes credit for. He is a joke. If it were not for Bush's interrogating policies, Osama Bin Laden, would never have been killed. Making a movie about it and supplying information to Hollywood, is just an indicator of Obama's celebrity wanna be mentality!

Buggs Raplin

It's very sad to hear comments like anonangel's on 9/11. It shows the extreme gullibility of a large segment of the populace to government lies. If anonangel examined the evidence, he/she would conclude 9/11 was, indeed, an inside job. Instead, anonangel simply dismisses the tragedy in a most arrogant fashion. I'd bet he/she is probably one of those many people who are simply afraid to look into the matter because the truth would absolutely crush their world view-their comfortable outlook on life would be shattered, and they'd rather not deal with that. The fantasies created by the media are preferable.

Anonangel

And the way things are going it seems that no one is happy with anything anymore. If you have a better plan for a better society then let's hear it ! We know, or at least seem to know, what the problems are. Now we need the solutions. People can complain all day long, but if you don't take steps to correct the problem then we are still in the same boat.

Anonangel

New breed of criminals call for a new plan of action. You have no idea what these groups have done, and are capable of doing. And if they had the chance they would take out your familes and light up a smoke on the burning bodies and laugh. But if everyone is so carebear why don't you write a letter to your congressman or to the White House and ask them to leave the little terrorist alone. And 9/11 was not an inside job, seriously people ? The media covers too much, and releases way too much info. Please go back to watching tv or drinking beer and continue to live your American dream, and leave the Freedom fighting to the experts, nothing to see here)

LAX

Of course, if Cheeney were pres, Lowry would jumping for joy over ANY killing....I want to know who the he__ donated a heart to Cheeney? Should have let well enough alone for that old bas_____d.

Jobaba

Cheney is old. Maybe he thought he was gonna get drafted and heard transplant recipients can't be drafted?

eagle rock

crocodile tears are not that convincing

if we cared at all about protecting our liberty

we would not have our innards photographed to get on airplane

we fear filled ....making bad choices at every turn

seeking the impossible........safety.......it does not exsist

Jobaba

What the writer misses is the fact that president Cheney involved us in an oil war that mis-spent the good will of the world. Of course Cheney was criticized! Our country killed and maimed and our soldiers died and bled for nothing.

Obama got us out of Iraq and that foolish waste of money and blood. He has focused on keeping America safe. He has pursued and killed terrorist that have vowed to bring or country down. He is pursuing a policy that doesn't include the costly invasion of sovereign nations and has instead gone after the guilty and given them their just rewards.

This writer is politically motivated to attack Obama on the worst of justification and is in fact scribing anti-American drivel. There can be no doubt that Obama will also get us out of Afcrapistan and continue to punish those that would attack us. in his short time in office he has made America safer.

Gambrinus

Obama did not get us out of Iraq. In 2008, the Iraqi parliament ordered us out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Although Obama campaigned that he would get the US out of Iraq immediately, he told us we could bank on it, he dallied and removed troops only one month before the deadline. He lied. Not only that, but he was negotiating to extend our stay there. Iraq refused his terms. He expanded the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, bombed Libya, started bombing Yemen, and has entered boots on the ground in Yemen and Central Africa. Maybe you could explain why we are still in Afghanistan besides mission creep. We entered to roll back the Taliban and get Bin Laden. Then please explain whey Obama put some troops into Central Africa. What vital national interest explains that?

tower

Gambi, stop with the BS. We have 100 troops in Central Africa, mostly Special Forces. The rest are intelligence. We have SF troops in many countries, so what?
We also have about the same number in Yemen. Big deal.

Gambrinus

How many troops did Kennedy put into Vietnam? It wasn't many. Best to stay out of things that do not concern us like chasing around in the jungle for some local bad guy. Sometimes a trickle becomes a torrent.

tower

And sometimws that torrent is just the drizzle. I agree with minding own our business (most of the time) but that wasn't what you talking about.

Jobaba

The troops came back under Obama just as surely as they did under Nixon from Nam.

We have troops in many countries under treaties and agreements to observe, train and assess. When allies ask for help, the pentagon evaluates along with the state department and others. Boots on the ground does not mean combat.

The men and women that perform these tasks provide invaluable information to update and assess America's own security. We also have foreign troops in our country learning from our military. It does not mean there is combat here.

This administration has a better grasp of world issues than the last two.

Gambrinus

You ignore the facts that Senator Obama campaigned that he would bring the troops home immediately if elected president, that he disingenuously tried to take credit for bringing the troops home within a timeframe that was required by the Iraqi parliament during the Bush administration, and then tried to extend the stay of US troops in Iraq. You make the article's point about where is the left's outrage over Obama trying to rationalize the actions of this warmongering President. You are an enabler.

Mr BlueCollar

Apparently some people cant use google so here is a link to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firemans purchase of 22 fighter jets for "surveillance"

http://www.comeandtakeit.com/fedbatf.html

And here is one for American Drones flying over Nebraska to "watch the cattle"
http://patriotsforamerica.ning.com/forum/topics/drones-over-america-1


Those of you who cant see the writing on the wall are simply to afraid to face the truth!

otherwise

comeandtakeit displays a swastika....and websites which call themselves "patriots" generally aren't fair and balanced either.

LiberalAlways

Bluecollar. You can't be serious. As I've said before, you need help, seriously.

Buggs Raplin

No, Liberal, you're the one who needs to open his eyes.

otherwise

Buggs, if you're now endorsing websites like THAT, your judgment is reaching new lows.

tower

Jobaba, ever see the "Harry's Law" about a drone spying into the bedroom window? Harry blows it out of the sky with a shotgun. Very funny.

Jobaba

Bad news - there will be drones over America and it will be the police that use them - because they "need" them.

Mack

Obama is executing the war on terror with surgical precision vs. the sloppy and over-use of Tomahawk missiles used by Bush resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Just because Republicans do not see any value in the 'little people', in truth, they likely have more value than the richest of the rich.

Gambrinus

Mack, No wonder liberals have become so sanguine about all the wars. You use terms like "surgical precision" to feel better about blowing apart people. Personally I like the term "collateral damage' because it seems insignificant and unintended. Unfortunately, the number of surgeries has increased under Obama. We now have troops in the Central African Republic and Yemen. The war in Afghanistan and Pakistan have expanded under Obama. Let's not forget about the President's war by executive order on Libya either. I'm not suggesting that Romney would be an improvement in such matters but you exemplify the point the author is making.

tower

You forgot Gambi about our troops in the Phili, Ethiopia, Kenya, and a few other places. So what? None of our troops in those locations, including the two you mentioned exceeds more then 1000 special forces. They also are in S America and Australia. Again, so what? Again, I ask which American kids would you like to send in their place? Name a few. Bet none are sons of the chickenhawks who love to wave the flag.

Gambrinus

Tower, You illustrate the author's point in the article. I didn't know there was a war going on in Australia. Ron Paul served, Obama didn't. I don't hold that against Obama but wasn't quite sure who you were talking about. I wouldn't send any kids to the Central Africa Republic nor would I bomb Libya. That's what you voted for; not me.

Seriously Now

"Obama authorized the use of drones in America, blah, bhah, blah" I'm calling you out as a liar. Please prove me wrong by supplying us with a verifiable site for these fake "facts." And, please, not a birther site! Otherwise, please quit posting fringe nonsense.

Buggs Raplin

Blue Collar, I am well aware of 9/11 hero William Rodriguez, who was decorated for bravery for saving lives on 9/11. He is on record as saying there was a huge explosion in the basement of one of the towers BEFORE it was hit by a plane. Another hero is Barry Jennings, who stated there was a huge explosion in the lower floors of Building 7 the morning of 9/11. Building 7 was not hit by a plane. It collpased late in the afternoon of 9/11 in near free fall. Government experts concluded that fire caused the collapse. Google video of the collapse of Building 7 and only a blind fool could swallow that one. Building 7 is the Rosetta Stone for understanding the truth on 9/ll.

Mr BlueCollar

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qNouhEo4V0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da0oEBAqtmY&feature=related

LiberalAlways

I apologize for being off topic, I've been waiting for a thread on the economy but I need to get this off my chest, bear with me. During my daily routine Friday, as I drove around Phoenix, I as usual listened to the chief bloviator, Rush Limbaugh, rant about the May job numbers and the economy. In case you missed it, the economy only added 69,000 private sector jobs in May. Also, the March number was revised down to +143,000 and April to +77,000. Is the economy in great shape? Heck no. Everyone would like to see a faster pace of recovery, that's a given. Limbaugh ranted about everything. In the midst of it all he said "I told you, I saw this coming in January 2009 when Obama was inaugurated". Well, ok, lets take a look back at January 2009. The economy lost 598,000 jobs in 01/09. It had lost 577,000 in 12/08 and 597,000 in 11/08. The day after the Obama inauguration, the Dow stood at 8228.10. Even after Friday's big sell-off, the Dow closed at 12118.57. Home sales and home values are both up 10+% over May 2011. Auto sales are surging, up 26% over 2011. Total manufacturing is up 5.2% over May 2011. The talking heads on the right would have you believe that everything is headed down, that the economy is in total freefall like it was under Bush. They are lying. Obviously, what happens with the EU going forward will have an effect on the American economy. How much control over that Obama has is unknown. Still, to steal from Walker, it's working. OBAMA2012.

tower

Please LA, dumb it down a little. The dimwit conservatives can't absorb all that information so fast. Try using terms like "the USA, we're open for business" or "we have created 33,000+ jobs in the US" or "We fixed the problem". All are simple and easy to understand.

otherwise

LA- thank you for correcting Rush's gushes about how wonderful Rush was back in January 2009. In reality, Rush was saying "I hope he fails" before Obama was even sworn in, demonstrating the folly of Rushian Limpbawls. Rush had amassed so much money that he didn't care in January 2009 that more than half a million jobs were being lost per month. He's the perfect blowhard mouthpiece for the right wing "I got mine" ideology.

Buggs Raplin

For the umpteenth time, 9/11 was an inside job by Bush and the neo-cons to provide a causus belli to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. The alleged hijackers were patsies; a number of them received training on our military bases; and a number of them were found to be still alive after 9/11. I can say with 100% certainty that 9/11 was an inside job. 100%. The evidence allows for no other conclusion. So, when the poor misguided commentators go on and on defending drone attacks, they are doing so in the belief of the government fairy tale that Muslims attacked us on 9/11. They didn't.

tower

What Buggs is really saying is that Bush WAS worse then Obama because he fiendishly planned and executed the 9/11 attack. Gee, if al Qaeda had nothing to do with 9/11 why did they take credit for it and continue to attack the US? I know I am beating a dead horse here but hey what the heck. Buggs fails to see that it takes two sides to make a war. I would suggest that if al Qaeda would tell us they would stop shooting at us and trying to be such a disruptive force in the world we would let them walk silently into the night. Just a suggestion.

Buggs Raplin

Al-Qaeda is, for all intents and purposes, a branch of the CIA. The upper echelon no doubt still takes it orders from the CIA; the underlings believe in the cause of fighting the Great Satan. The phony war on terror needs an enemy. The CIA provides one. 9/11 was an inside job. There can be no doubt, unless

tower

No worries buggs, the jailer will be right there to give the meds ordered by the upper echelon of the CIA for you personally.

Buggs Raplin

...as I was saying...unless you have 'faith' in the government. If you do, I feel sorry for you because you've obviously lost your critical thinking skills.

Mr BlueCollar

To Buggs point look at this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL_x9NsxJlg&feature=related Then there's this http://truthandshadows.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/explosions-before-plane-impact-the-911-account-of-william-rodriguez/

Buggs Raplin

Jefferson, please review comments from two liberals here: Liberal Always and tower. They make my case that most liberals are still on board with Obama, turning a blind eye to the similarities of Obama to Bush's evil.

tower

Jesus Buggs, don't you ever understand anything written here. I never said I turned a blind eye to what Obama has done. I said that as far as the drone attacks I agree with him.
I do so with eyes wide open. Have another martini and try to understand the written word.

tower

Buggs does have a thread of truth here. Obama did continue the drone program started under Bush Bush wasn't worse in this area. What chaps my butt is this constant BS that Obama is WORSE because he continued to snuff out our enemies. It seems that Buggs is the one playing one is worse then the other. I didn't have a problem with the drone attacks under Bush either. In fact, I would have preferred them to sending thousands to invade a country randomly picked to make us feel better. I would have preferred a war fought without conventional armies.
I bet about 6000 families would prefer it more right now too.

Jefferson Paine

BS Bugs......liberals haven't done that at all. We are saying that doing the same stuff as Bush is as bad as Bush.... and that Bush was doing all of this stuff before so right wingers can't criticize these actions by Obama if they didn't criticize Bush.....

Hope that clears up your manufactured confusion....

Buggs Raplin

Again, the liberals here get into a meaningless debate on who is worse, Obama or Bush, and fail to see that these two people are evil, that they are working together, that Bush handed the baton to Obama. The sad thing is that in 2008, Obama was elected as a repudiation of Bush, and has since then simply been an imitation.

LiberalAlways

SN is on the right track. The use of the drones minimizes our loss of blood and treasure while eliminating those who would do us harm. Richie and others on the right want you to believe that the Obama Administration indiscriminately chooses targets based on a whim. I'm on board with the program because I am confident that potential targets are thoroughly vetted, many voices have input in the decision and that in the end, anyone deemed a target presents a risk to American security interests.

'lilevil

There is a website called Tomdispatch.com that regularly takes the Obama administration to task over his policies. Just try once to look for the truth. Just once. Here are some stories.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175546/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_the_road_to_amnesia/#more

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175547/tomgram%3A_andrew_bacevich%2C_the_golden_age_of_special_operations/

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175535/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_a_global-profiling_president

tower

I always love when a hypocrite tells someone else they are a hypocrite. Where was this clown when Bush started two wars, one a total shame in which we were the aggressor? Strangely silent at best and usually being a cheerleader for the administration. Bush has killed more American citizens needlessly then Richie blames Obama hoping for. I don't like everything Obama has done but the drones aren't one of them. Like the old saying of when you play with the big boys you have to accept big boy rules. I agree with SN on this one.
Name me the kids you want to send to Yemen and Pakistan to arrest these people. I bet none of them have a last name of Cheney, Lowery, Bush or all the other chickenhawks out there.

Mr BlueCollar

So Tower, you support Obama's use of drones in America? Flying over Nebraska claiming to be watching the cattle. Or the ATF purchasing 22 fighter jets for "surveilence" after all the bone headed blunders they have on record? Guns going to Mexican murderers?

tower

Are you sure you ever lived here BC? I also doubt I ever knew you or any of your family. As someone on the web calls people, you are bats*** crazy. I think you have lived in the fantasy world of TX a little bit too long.

Mr BlueCollar

Obama authorized the use of drones in America, right through the heartland and claims it is the EPA watching cattle. He allowed the ATF to purchase 22 fighter jets for Survielence in America. NDAA, NDRP, ect. Under Obama America lost 129,000 millionaires in 2011, 49,000,000 people on food stamps ect. There isn't enough room here to describe why he is just as bad if not worse than bush. Obama has to go. What I find amazing is how many of you dont see how good for this country a Ron Paul presidency would be.

LiberalAlways

Bluecollar. Please provide a link to info about the ATF purchase of 22 fighter jets. I find absolutely nothing. Put the 129,000 millionaires in perspective. The loss represented about 2.5% of the millionaire population, hardly significant. Their losses occured on Wall Street. They played the game and lost some money, the risk they take. How many are still worth $999,000?

Mr BlueCollar

First LA when ever Americans lose wealth, and we have lost a boat load under this president, it's not a good thing, 2nd here is your link

http://www.comeandtakeit.com/fedbatf.html

otherwise

Little Richie now plays with "baseball cards" and writes that killing has become "...so cool", but Richie writes nothing about the Fort Hood killings or other terrorist plots.

Buggs Raplin

Jefferson, I regularly check out Huffpo. Seems to me they're very on board with Obama.

Jefferson Paine

They have a Jeremy Scahill article posted in which Scahill calls Obama a murderer.....Scahill was the best at exposing Cheney and Bush and Blackwater and secret prisons and is the most trusted. Go to salon.com if you want Obama rage daily in a liberal site.....Glenn Greenwald has been relentless, Sirota now is the same....relentlessly attacking Obama for being too much like Bush.

THIS is the main differences between a Liberal and Conservative...... liberals are principled and will attack anyone deviating from the philosophy, conservatives blindly support power.

Mr BlueCollar

That's where you're wrong, Myself and many other Ron Paul conservatives were just as critical of Bush's wars and spending!
So apparently you liberals aren't as principled as you claim or you wouldn't be lumping conservatives together. It's the same as saying all tea party members are racist when in fact very few are!

Gambrinus

At yesterday's Louisiana state Republican convention, Paul supporters outnumbered the neocons and elected a new chairman. The loser neocon ordered the police to arrest the new chairman. The police managed to wreck his prosthetic hip and broke the fingers of another elected Paul committee chairman while in custody. This is the fight going on in the Republican Party. It sometimes even gets physical when the neocons lose. I don't see this going on in Democratic conventions or when Obama speaks. Everyone takes blue pills and chants 'four more years'. Big difference.

Jefferson Paine

Didn't Bush and Rummy and Cheney have the infamous deck of cards? Lowry is confusing too many things here in his apoplexy...

Gambrinus

Dennis Kucinich was outraged at Obama for bombing Libya in violation of the War Powers Act requirements, without the consent of Congress, not to mention the Constitution. Kucinich said that Obama's Libyan action was an impeachable offense. Dennis was then squeezed out of his congressional district without any fuss from the Democratic Party. There are also liberals intellectuals including Ralph Nader, Naomi Wolf, and Chris Hedges who are willing to take on the Obama administration regarding the spreading wars and attrition of freedoms. So it isn't correct to say that all Democrats have betrayed their principles; just the majority of Democrats following Obama and Hillary.

Tim Russell

The problem is that w/Richie Boy anybody who is not a conservative is a "lefty". There are many people who are niether left or right.
I just love it when either a cnservative tries to tell me what a liberal thinks or a liberal tries to tell me what a conservative thinks.

Jefferson Paine

There is no hypocrisy on the LEFT.....we are in uproar over this ####. Problem is pinheads like Lowry don't bother reading Liberal websites......Please check out The Nation.com......chock full of anti-Obama articles. Salon.com.....steady stream of critical articles.......even the huffpost is full of anti-Obama articles. Our biggest grievances are his use of drones, his continuation of too man Bush era anti-terror policies and this "kill list' nightmare.

Seriously Now

So Richy, whose kid would you prefer like to send it to try to do the job instead of the drone? Mine? Yours (hah..that will be the day)? Some kid graduating from high school this month?

Buggs Raplin

Lowry is absolutely on target. Oh, the hypocrisy of the left...no morality there. Obama can murder people, and, if he feels like it, imprison US citizens without due process. Meanwhile he invites aging rock stars to the White House for gigs. Excuse me now, I'm feeling a bit sick to my stomach.

random annoying bozo

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