Drone court (aren’t they all?)

The poker-faced Times reports:

Debating a Court to Vet Drone Strikes

Since 1978, a secret court in Washington has approved national security eavesdropping on American soil — operations that for decades had been conducted based on presidential authority alone.

Now, in response to broad dissatisfaction with the hidden bureaucracy directing lethal drone strikes, there is an interest in applying the model of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court — created by Congress so that surveillance had to be justified to a federal judge — to the targeted killing of suspected terrorists.

… Many Americans are uneasy that a president can use secret evidence to label a citizen a terrorist and order his execution without a trial or judge’s ruling. Hence the idea of court oversight for targeted killing.

“Uneasy” is good, isn’t it? We need to raise our comfort level with this stuff. And having some drone in a robe mumble a benediction in bad Latin — nihilo obstanti, dronendi fiant — over this week’s kill list from Obie’s bloody desk would presumably be just the thing to do it. Oh, well, a judge signed off on it? What a relief. That’s all right, then.

And that’s only for ‘citizens’, of course. For the lesser breeds without the Law, it’s always open season. Obie can kill as many of them as he wants. The more the better, in fact. Too many of those non-citizens out there as it is.

Being sarcastic about this stuff feels so feeble it hardly seems worth doing. It reminds me of Tom Lehrer’s wonderful remark that he stopped writing political satire when Henry Kissinger got the Nobel peace prize.

Oh and about that Secret Snooper court, the shining example of judicial oversight:

Eleven judges from around the country sit on the court, but one is on duty at a time, hearing cases in a special high-security courtroom added to Washington’s federal courthouse in 2009. In 2011, according to the most recent statistics, the court approved 1,745 orders for electronic surveillance or physical searches, rejecting none outright but altering 30.

Oversight is really the right word, isn’t it, though perhaps not in the intended sense.

One wonders what sort of ‘alterations’ the FISA court makes, and what analogous ones the drone court might require. Blow the guy up on Tuesday, not Monday? Use a different explosive? Make sure his kids are in school when you pull the trigger? Wouldn’t want to traumatize the little tykes. As the Mafia boss genially observes in The Godfather, “We are not Communists, after all.”

Liberals really eat this stuff up, don’t they? It’s all about process. Snuffing towelheads, for any reason or none at all, is fine as long as you fill in all the right forms.

12 thoughts on “Drone court (aren’t they all?)

  1. And now it begins: drones for a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.


    Send in the drones, and the shrinks as well:

    “Last night, Brian Levin, a psychologist and professor of criminal justice at Cal State University, San Bernardino, said: ‘We’re talking about someone who basically perceives that a tremendous injustice has been done to him that took his life and identity.

    “’Now he is, quite literally, at war.’”

    Oh, yes, quite.

  2. “As the manhunt for him broadened across numerous police jurisdictions, police mistakenly shot and wounded a mother and daughter delivering newspapers in a pick-up truck similar to Dorner’s.

    “That incident, in the LA suburb of Torrance, was astonishingly followed two hours later by another in the same area, when police again opened fire on a pick-up.”

    Will flesh-and-blood police have to fear for their jobs? They seem to have the same penchant for noncombatants (“soft targets”).

  3. Eleven judges from around the country sit on the court, but one is on duty at a time, hearing cases in a special high-security courtroom added to Washington’s federal courthouse in 2009.

    For some reason, this reminds me of the game show scandals back in the fifties. The supergenius is sitting in a hermetically-sealed booth while someone whispers the answers into their ear.

  4. Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”

    “When you rely on a particular tactic, it starts to become the core of your strategy — you see the puff of smoke, and he’s gone,” said Paul Pillar, a former deputy director of the CIA’s counterterrorism center. “When we institutionalize certain things, including targeted killing, it does cross a threshold that makes it harder to cross back.”
    “We didn’t want to get into the business of limitless lists,” said a former senior U.S. counterterrorism official who spent years overseeing the lists. “There is this apparatus created to deal with counterterrorism. It’s still useful. The question is: When will it stop being useful? I don’t know.”

    So yes, we have become later 1950s-on Guatemala, right down to the death lists. [But no bananas to speak of]

    Bravo – tune up your hacking skills.

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