From the Archive: The hunt-for-bin-Laden film, “Zero Dark Thirty,” portrays torture as a key element in that search. But the filmmakers distorted the facts and ignored the reality that torture is illegal, immoral and dangerously ineffective, wrote Marjorie Cohn.
The movie “Lincoln” was a dramatic depiction of the political fight to end American slavery with the 13th Amendment – and presented a rare sympathetic portrayal of anti-slavery Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, played by Tommy Lee Jones. This offered a belated chance to reconsider this courageous fighter for freedom, says William Loren Katz.
The lethal-drone debate’s focus on the legality of killing Americans in al-Qaeda obscures the larger problem of waging war indiscriminately and thus creating new enemies. In that view, President Obama has stretched his legal authority past the breaking point, says Independent Institute’s Ivan Eland.
After the 9/11 attacks, the smart response might well have been to denounce the killings as a monstrous crime and treat al-Qaeda as outlaws to be brought to justice. But President Bush’s tough-guy response was to declare the crime a “war” and ensnare the U.S. in a conflict with no end, as Lawrence Davidson explains.
President Obama’s defenders note he ended the Iraq War, is drawing down forces in Afghanistan and has resisted a new war in Syria. In other words, they say drone attacks on al-Qaeda suspects have ratcheted down the levels of violence left behind by President Bush. But critics say the drone attacks are still war crimes.
President Obama’s lethal drone program raises many troubling questions, such as the quality of evidence used to justify the killings and the lack of judicial review. But another concern is simply its effectiveness, whether it creates more terrorists than it eliminates, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar writes.
Exclusive: CIA Director-designate John Brennan stumbled through less-than-challenging questions at his Senate confirmation hearing, struggling to square the circle of his past ties to abuses in the “war on terror” with his future promises to be a force for openness and reform, as ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman notes.
Confirmation hearings for John Brennan to head the CIA will give Congress – and the American people – their first chance for some public airing of the secret drone program that has struck at suspected al-Qaeda terrorists, including U.S. citizens, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.
Exclusive: President Obama is finally giving the congressional Intelligence Committees a look at a Justice Department legal opinion justifying the killing of Americans in senior al-Qaeda positions plotting attacks on the U.S. The disclosure comes as the Senate considers John Brennan to be CIA director, notes Ray McGovern.
Exclusive: The Obama administration is under fire for its secret policy of using drone strikes to kill alleged al-Qaeda terrorists, including Americans. But the public suspicion is heightened by frustration over decades of excessive government secrecy and deception, says Robert Parry.