The Drone Strike questions that won’t be asked at Monday’s debate

A predator drone from USAF Files

There’s value to following foreign news outlets in order to gain some international perspective on our issues. Since many US media outlets simply won’t touch truly controversial stories, those among us who want to find real news must frequently look abroad. That’s why US residents who want some insight into American war politics should look at the London Guardian today. This morning, American commentator Glenn Greenwald excoriates Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (who is also head of the Democratic National Committee) for feigning complete ignorance about Obama’s Drone Assassination program. Under the program, intelligence experts draw up ‘baseball cards’ of potential targets, listing names and accused activities. from this list, the president chooses (without oversight) who will get a visit from a Predator drone. Targets have included American citizens living overseas, and one victim was a 16 year old American citizen.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, there’s compelling evidence that the drone program is a war crime– a violation of international law and an act of aggressive war that is prohibited by the United Nations Charter and numerous laws. The president’s use of assassination drones could be constituted as a violation of the War Powers act (though Obama would hardly be the first president to violate it). But if such use is a violation of Senate-ratified treaties such as the UN Charter, it could be an impeachable offense. I wouldn’t expect the Republicans to push too hard on this point; we were in serious violation of the UN Charter under the Bush administration, and nobody in the GOP ever cited international law in that case.

Greenwald’s point in his article is that Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz surely knows about the drone strikes (feigned ignorance notwithstanding) and should be able to address questions about the program. But there’s no political gold for the GOP to mine here–Mitt Romney fully approves of the drone strike program. He might have quibbles about the way the Obama administration is running it, but he and his party are if anything even more enthusiastic about a bellicose stance on foreign policy (including a war on Iran). Why would moderator Bob Schieffer ask a question that both candidates will answer in more or less the same manner?

Which underscores the argument for admitting third-party candidates to the debates. Jill Stein of the Green Party wants to talk about the drones. I’ll bet Roseanne Barr, the nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party, has an opinion.

So… we’re going to elect a president who’s jake with notion of presidents having the power to assassinate people on a list made only for him. In the meantime, since your Senator or Congresscreature is also not talking about this, maybe you should join these folks. Or check out the next protest set up by these folks.

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