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Debra J. Saunders
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If You Cover Your Ears, You Can't Hear the Bomb Go Off

Comment

"Barack Obama of 2007 would be right down here with me arguing against this drone strike program if he were in the Senate," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., declared in the course of his 13-hour Senate "talking filibuster," which delayed a confirmation vote for now-CIA chief John Brennan.

That's the thing; the Obama of 2007 no longer exists.

Obama 2007 opposed enhanced interrogation techniques that the CIA used on al-Qaida leaders under President George W. Bush. Obama 2013 banned the use of those techniques. Now he orders others to just kill al-Qaida terrorists.

The imperious president has an attorney general who, when Paul asked whether it is constitutional for the president to authorize a drone strike against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil without a trial, would not respond with an unequivocal "no." In a letter addressed to Paul on Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder even wrote that it is possible "to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate." Paul then chose to filibuster the Brennan vote until the administration gave him a clear response.

On Thursday, finally, Holder gave a simple answer: "No." The Senate then voted 63-34 to confirm Brennan.

If the White House won with its CIA pick, then it also lost in the process. Rand's filibuster clearly was rooted in principle, whereas the president's liberal use of drones clashes with his pre-White House posture. The guy who opposed allowing interrogators to so much as shove 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed during questioning was dragging his feet when asked about domestic drone strikes.

Rand's rhetoric united the Libertarian-leaning right with the far-left Codepink, which furiously sent out tweets with the "StandWithRand" hashtag into the wee hours.

One Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, joined Rand in his "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" moment. Quoth Wyden: "Every American has the right to know when their government believes that it is allowed to kill them."

Worse, for the administration, Wyden announced that both he and Rand "feel that this is just the beginning of this debate."

The Brennan vote saw 13 Republicans join Democrats in supporting Obama's pick. "I was going to vote against Brennan, until the filibuster," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Roll Call. "I thought Brennan was arrogant, a bit shifty. I am going to vote for Brennan now because it's become a referendum on the drone program."

I disagree. One can support the 2011 drone attack that killed American-born Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen and still welcome a debate about the appropriate use of drones. The power to kill one's enemies by remote control is so seductive that it should not be used absent rigorous self-examination.

Besides, why did it take days for Holder to just say no?

Three men who belong to the Senate Democratic Caucus — Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Pat Leahy and Bernie Sanders of Vermont — voted against Brennan. It can't be easy to see yourself as strong on civil liberties when your party's top cat has such a schizophrenic approach — waterboarding bad, drones good — to human rights.

To me, the big question is: Why did Obama change from waterboard foe to drone devotee? Once in office, did he realize he was wrong about Bush policies — in which case he should say so — or has he come to believe that he is so darn wonderful that he can do no wrong?

Email Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@sfchronicle.com. To find out more about Debra J. Saunders and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

1 Comments | Post Comment
Ma'am;... There is a mystery for you: Why does life change people and power corrupt??? I hate it too... Mr. Bush the lesser could not see himself through the lens of history, and thought history was written after you are dead... People write history with every action of their life, and to be conscious of ones past is to have the ability to learn from it...I am not saying Mr. Bush learned nothing... He likely figured out where they kept the toilets...
Mr. Obama has been institutionalized, and has begun to see his actions in the frameworks of American History, or American Idealism, or of American Interests... Okay; so he his not all that sharp, but if he were he would not have sought the prize he did, but the larger prize, the human prize of a good life lived well up to its moral potential; and who does that???
It does not matter what those people do to get into office, or why they get into office... They always see in office what they want to do in the light of what they can do, and never see human good in its own light...The moment they find that for political considerations that some one must die, their eternal souls are lost to them...Consider the response of Dr. Faustus to the promises of Mephisophelese... For this I should give up my immortal soul???
We don't elect people in this country because the are pure, or honorable...Look at how many votes Mr. Romoney got though he would not honor the public with his tax returns... What did he have to hide??? He got more votes giving the country a big effeue than if he had bowed down to their right to have some good character before them...We don't want people of good faith to bargain in good faith... We want villians who will demonize those we will destroy... The only thing you have in common with Mr. Obama is that he is human, currupt and corruptable, and you are hypocrit enough to abuse him for the qualities that elected him...
You know; I never abuse a person of God... The Jehovha witnesses seem to have given up on me as a dry well... Not one of those people will come here with praise of their lord on their lips with less of a kind word from me and offer of something to quench their thirst... But while I will never be other than what I am, I must rank the morals of the Jehovha Witness better than all others combined... They at least trust in their God sufficiently to stay out of politics and who would not who cares for their virtue for it is a toilet well used with no handle...
I do not want to disagree with you about the subtle or seductive powers to kill... Have we not all wished some miserable person dead and seen them die at some point??? Do wishes kill, or do people??? What if no one wished anyone dead??? Would we all live forever??? We define violence in such fashion that it excludes most deliberate homicide...What if you buy some particular product that results in a predictable illness and death??? What if some one makes an economic choice that will wipe out a culture, or decimate a whole nation, and does it slowly, almost imperceptibly except for those who have the sense from seeing it all happen before... Violence is a matter of intent, or purpose, and has nothing to do with the suddeness of the end...If you look at one of the great prophets of our age of irrationality: Sigmond Freud, or his philosphical father Nietzsche, you will learn of Thanatos, the wish for death that is so much the gratified human experience...How did D.H. Lawrence express it in regard to American Literature: It is all about death... So is our economy... Life is put into it on one end with our hopes and dreams on on the other end we crank out with human effort some spare change and fortune cookie telling us another day is shot and we are that much closer to death...
What we offer the man upstairs, what we elect him for is what we most enjoy vicariously in the ability to kill with impunity, and what we most desire is to the power to distill all of our frustrations and rage at the unfairness of life into some powerful potion that would turn others of our choice to dust... The president does our will every time he kills... We do not elect him to be better than us and we would hate him if he tried... Why do you think America has elected such dolts and clowns as Mr. Bush in our past... We have the sense to fear intelligent men, but not the moral courage to take charge ourselves...
Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:04 AM
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