Last week the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on the CIA torture program that was used to extract information from alleged terrorists. The report revealed a disturbing pattern of unlawful activities that failed to produce much, if any, useful intelligence.
The resulting controversy ignited a much-needed debate on the questions of law and humanity. Most conservatives and Republicans were outraged that the report was made public. In fact, they were more upset with the publishing of information derived from taxpayer-funded investigations than they were with the revelations that our national security apparatus was flagrantly violating the standards of decency as well as international and domestic law. And lacking any reasonable argument to defend the actual practice of torture, they attempted to divert the discussion to the public exposure of it.
Another diversionary tactic taken up by the right was to seek an equivalency between the torture program that was mainly advanced by the Bush administration and other programs with similarly questionable methods that could be attributed to President Obama. To that end, Fox Nation posted an article sourced to the Washington Examiner that asked “Liberal Hypocrisy: Why No Soul-Searching On Drones?”
That would be an excellent question except for the fact that its premise is so far removed from reality you have to wonder where these quibblers have been for the past six years. The article complained that…
“President Obama and his allies are quick to denounce harsh interrogation techniques as torture, framing the renewed scrutiny of Central Intelligence Agency methods as crucial to restoring U.S. moral authority on the global stage.
“They are less eager, however, to apply the same standard to the administration’s reliance on remote-controlled, targeted killings, a drone campaign that critics say invites natural comparisons to extreme interrogations employed during George W. Bush’s presidency.”
How they surmised a lack of eagerness on the part of liberals to renounce drones is a complete mystery. Liberals were the first, and most vociferous, critics of Obama’s drone policy. There is ample evidence that goes back to the very first days and weeks of his presidency. These early critics came from the most staunchly progressive media outlets and were expressing their consistent opposition to practices that demonstrated a lack of respect for human life and suffering. For example:
- Democracy Now: Peace Activists Arrested After Protesting US Drones in Nevada
- Mother Jones: 6 Unanswered Questions Obama Drones
- Esquire: The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama
- The Guardian: 41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground
- ThinkProgress: Sixteen-Year-Old Malala Yousafzai Warns Obama: ‘Drone Attacks Are Fueling Terrorism’
- ACLU: Public Kept in the Dark About Drone Strikes
- MSNBC, Melissa Harris-Perry: Obama’s Drone Presidency
- Truthdig, Ralph Nader: Reining in Obama and His Drones
- Washington Post, Eugene Robinson: President Obama’s Immoral Drone War
These are typical of the harsh judgments aimed at the drone programs implemented by the Obama administration by liberal persons and institutions. It has never been ambiguous where progressives stand on this issue. And while there have been some critics of drones on the right, for the most part the same wingnuts who favor torture have been supportive of drones.
In addition to those listed above, filmmaker Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films directed and released a full length documentary blasting drones titled Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars. And some the favorite targets of conservative wrath – comedians – were also among the most biting critics. Stephen Colbert took on the drone issue, as did his colleague Jon Stewart in “Romancing the Drone.” Perhaps the most searing (and hilarious) beating the drone issue has taken was delivered by John Oliver in an extended and entertaining harangue. Sit back and enjoy the show. And don’t let the phony protestations of Fox News fool you into thinking that liberals never took aim at any drones.
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