The neocons have lost ground within the Executive Branch, but continue to wield great influence in Congress and Washington opinion circles. That sway is revealed in the framing of debates on President George W. Bush’s power to torture and President Obama’s use of lethal drones, notes ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley.
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.
Many Americans are still shocked that Wall Street bankers who ruined the economy escaped any serious punishment from government regulators. But one problem is that many of those regulators, including the new choice to head the SEC, have been rotating through the golden revolving door, say Bill Moyers and Michael Winship.
In his State of the Union, President Obama vowed to continue the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan, much as he did in Iraq. But his reliance on lethal drone attacks to kill suspected terrorists has raised many other concerns, as Bill Moyers and Michael Winship note.
Exclusive: The State of the Union offers President Obama a high-profile opportunity to finally close the deal with Iran over its nuclear program by accepting the need for U.S. concessions on sanctions, but there are doubts he will seize this Nixon-to-China moment, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes in this appeal.
President Obama has indicated that he wants a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran, especially limiting its nuclear program, but he has hesitated taking the kind of positive steps that President Nixon did in his opening to China more than four decades ago, Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett observe.
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: Though false intelligence was at the center of the disastrous Iraq War, CIA Director-to-be John Brennan played fast and loose on Iran’s nuclear program in his Senate testimony, a troubling sign he might undermine the principle of honest analysis just like his mentor, George Tenet, warns ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.