Posted by: quiscus | July 13, 2012

July 13, 2012

1. “Why New Calls for Military Conscription and a National Service Draft Make Neither Moral Nor Economic Sense

Advocates neither defend the value judgments implicit in the policies nor suggest that people in their age cohort should be conscripted.”

2. “Excuses for assassination secrecy

A high-level defender of Obama’s drone secrecy says “it’s not to cover up wrongdoing.” Let’s see if that’s credible

And then he proceeded to explain why transparency was a goal difficult , if not impossible, to achieve, even when a simple acknowledgment would go a long way toward expiating the sin of killing an innocent American teenager in the course of a counterterrorism strike.

State secrecy, the man on the phone said, exists for a reason, and it’s generally not the reason that the Glenn Greenwalds of the world think it is — it’s not to cover up wrongdoing. It’s to protect two essential things: the sources and methods of the intelligence community, and something called “the requirement of non-acknowledgement”. . . .

Secrecy isn’t always the main driver here. Sometimes diplomacy is. “The requirement of non-acknowledgement” is. It’s very common for cooperation and consent to be drawn from other countries only if you don’t acknowledge something. They say, You can do this, but you can never acknowledge that you’re involved.

The source’s first justification for total secrecy even when it involves extrajudicial killing of citizens — we need to protect sources and methods – is easily dispensed with, and Junod does so easily:

But nobody’s asking the Administration to reveal sources and methods here, I said. Nobody’s asking for anything but the ability to hold the administration accountable when it kills an American citizen, in a manner that is absent of due process, especially when the killing is apparently a mistake, as it was in the case of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. Surely, there’s a way to challenge the inevitable sense of license that attends an administration carrying out killings in secret without revealing intelligence sources and methods.

Of course, the right way to provide “accountability” when the President wants to execute a citizen is for him to have to show evidence to a court that the execution is warranted — at the very least, to obtain an indictment — and have a court provide oversight (exactly the way progressives spent the entire Bush years vehemently demanding be done for mere eavesdropping and detention, let alone assassinations). But the Obama administration vehemently resists any such due process, so at the very least, some sort of post-assassination accountability (did you mean to kill this person? why? what’s the evidence that it was justified?) is vital, for obvious reasons. But, as the defender’s justifications make clear, the administration just as vehemently resists even this woefully inadequate post hoc form of accountability.

The other profferred justification — non-acknowledgment is necessary to preserve our diplomatic deals that let us bomb people in other countries – is a bit more subtle, but even more pernicious. Junod makes the crucial point in response:

The issues we are facing when we consider the implications of the Lethal Presidency have always seemed to me the largest possible. The power that the administration has claimed and strenuously defended — the power to identify and kill the nation’s enemies, from a remove of secrecy — is the power of kings, and it’s one of the powers the elemental principle of due process exists to address.

And so, yes, I have to admit that this one man’s informed explanation sounded trivial. I have to admit that it sounded as if large principles are being sacrificed not only to small nations but also to smaller principles. I have to admit that it sounded antique and arcane, as though the administration had decided to put aside the Constitution because France had decided to revoke the Edict of Nantes.

That point is, by itself, dispositive of the source’s proferred justifications, in my view. But several others are worth making:

First, this defense of total secrecy is intellectually corrupted because it only counts one side of the equation. Specifically, this “non-acknowledgment” argument recognizes the ostensible value that comes from executing the policy in question (namely, executing people whom President Obama decides should be dead), while completely ignoring the costs of the policy. The costs should be clear to any rational person.

Those costs come from vesting in the President what is literally the most extremist power a political ruler can seize, the true hallmark of authortarianism: namely, the power to order even his own citizens executed without a whiff of due process or accountability and in total secrecy — far from any battlefield.”

3. “In closing I am reminded of the following –

One day an old Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson. He said, “There are two wolves fighting inside all of us – the wolf of fear and hate, and the wolf of love and peace.“

The grandson listened, then looked up at his grandfather and asked, “Which one will win?”

The grandfather replied, “The one we feed.”

Peace and Joy”


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