Sunday, February 10, 2013

A "drone court" could actually end the war on al Qaeda

For over a year now I've been suggesting that it is President Obama's intention to end the war on al Qaeda. You can read a summary of remarks by the President and people in his administration about that here.

But one question has always come up about that: How do you deal with the 2001 AUMF that gives open-ended authorization for a president (Obama and those who follow him) to prosecute that war?
...the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
Perhaps we're finally seeing an answer to that question...create a drone court. Apparently there is a discussion going on now about how to do that.
First, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, who is chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she would review proposals for establishing such a court. Her remark got a strong second from Senator Angus King of Maine, an independent...

An administration official who spoke of the White House deliberations on the condition of anonymity said President Obama had asked his security and legal advisers a year ago “to see how you could have an independent review” of planned strikes. “That includes possible judicial review.”

“People on the national security staff and the legal side took a hard look at it, and the discussions are still going on,” the official said. “There are a lot of complexities. You’d need legislation and probably a new judicial body.”
If Congress and the Judiciary are successful is developing such a court - it would, by design, nullify the authorization given to the President in the AUMF. Both President Obama and future presidents would still have the capacity to deal with potential terrorist threats on an ongoing basis. But the Commander-in-Chief powers granted under the AUMF would be replaced with ongoing judicial review. In other words, the war on al Qaeda that started in 2001 would be over.

It is clear that the Obama administration has been provoking Congress to have just such a conversation over the last few months - especially with the recent speech by former General Counsel to the Defense Dept. Jeh Johnson and the release of the white paper last week on targeted killing.

Developing such a system will be difficult and complex. But, as the article I linked to above indicates...its time.
Today, with Al Qaeda’s core in Pakistan hugely diminished and Osama bin Laden dead, the terrorist threat is far more diffuse than it was a decade ago. Most drone-fired missiles now kill not high-level terrorists plotting to attack the United States, but a mixed bag of midlevel militants and foot soldiers whose focus is often more on the Pakistani or Yemeni authorities than on the United States.
And so we look back on President Obama's speech on this topic back in 2009 and see another promise in the midst of being kept.
Now this generation faces a great test in the specter of terrorism. And unlike the Civil War or World War II, we can't count on a surrender ceremony to bring this journey to an end. Right now, in distant training camps and in crowded cities, there are people plotting to take American lives. That will be the case a year from now, five years from now, and -- in all probability -- 10 years from now. Neither I nor anyone can stand here today and say that there will not be another terrorist attack that takes American lives. But I can say with certainty that my administration -- along with our extraordinary troops and the patriotic men and women who defend our national security -- will do everything in our power to keep the American people safe. And I do know with certainty that we can defeat al Qaeda.

2 comments:

  1. Brilliant. I wish people like Maddow, Shultz et.al would see the long view here. Again, PBO is the smartest adult in the room.

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    1. If there were viewers and money to be had by promoting the long view, they would. The money and the viewers only come from promoting conflict and outrage. And ideology. Maybe if we had a smokin' hot blond who could retain viewership no matter what she said and she happened to be a pragmatist, then our message could get some air time.

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