In that sense, Bob Cesca nails it.
So war is the context...That's exactly the issue I've been highlighting for quite a while now.
After reading the memo, I’ve reached the conclusion that one of two things must happen: either we end the war on terrorism and rescind the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, or we place serious restrictions on how drones are to be used in perpetuity.
I also think the Obama administration has been signaling where they're headed on this. For example:
The very first step President Obama took was to dismiss the Bush/Cheney frame that we were engaged in a war on terror and instead focused it as a war on al Qaeda.
We will always seek to delegitimise the use of terrorism and to isolate those who carry it out...Yet this is not a global war against a tactic – terrorism – or a religion – Islam.In January 2012 when President Obama and Def. Secretary Leon Panetta announced reductions to our defense budget the President said:
We are at war with a specific network, al-Qaeda, and its terrorist affiliates who support efforts to attack the United States, our allies, and partners.
Now we’re turning the page on a decade of war...In his May 2012 speech from Afghanistan, President Obama said:
...the tide of war is receding.
My fellow Americans, we have traveled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. The Iraq War is over. The number of our troops in harm’s way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al Qaeda...Last December, former General Counsel to the Dept. of Defense Jeh Johnson said this:
This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end.
The U.S. military campaign against al Qaeda should not be seen as a conflict without end, the Pentagon's chief lawyer said on Friday in a speech that broached a rarely discussed subject among U.S. officials...And finally, in his inaugural address last month, President Obama said this:
"There will come a tipping point," he said in the speech, "a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al Qaeda and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States," that al Qaeda will be "effectively destroyed."
"At that point, we must be able to say to ourselves that our efforts should no longer be considered an 'armed conflict' against al Qaeda and its associated forces."
We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.I'd suggest that President Obama and his administration have been pretty clear...this war against al Qaeda will end.
But here's where I disagree with Cesca. I think these statements, along with AG Holder's speech last March and the recently released documents, are preparing the country for a conversation about how to deal with terrorism once that war is over. The potential for a terrorist threat will not end. And so unlike the president's war powers and the authority given to her/him under the AUMF to target those threats during time of war, dealing with them will require codified oversight.
That's the long game folks...the President isn't necessarily defending his actions - he's leading us to the next stage of the process.