The “Kill List” Is a Shiny Object

I recognize the term “Kill List” has some political advantages. It’s a concise way to convey the cold brutality of our use of drones. Launching a petition for a Do Not Kill list–on the White House’s own website!–is a clever use of social media.

But the “Kill List” is a shiny object.

That’s because it propagates the myth that everyone we’re killing is a known terrorist. It propagates the myth that the outdated vetting process John Brennan wants to publicize to convince the American public we use a very deliberative process before killing people with drones covers all drone killings. It propagates the myth that the government plans out each and every drone strike so thoroughly as to have the President sign off on it.

Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war.

It propagates the myth that the only innocents killed in drone strikes–19 year old Yemeni farmer Nasser Salim killed in the Fahd al-Quso drone strike, the girl Baitullah Mehsud had just married, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki–had the poor judgment to stand next to one of the named people on one of America’s Kill Lists.

The reference to and focus on a Kill List hides precisely the most controversial use of drones outside of Afghanistan: the targeting of patterns, not people.

There is absolutely no reason to believe, for example, that Obama–or even John Brennan–knew the identity of the up to 8 civilians who were killed by a drone in Jaar, Yemen, on May 15. All anyone knew about them, according to reporting, is that they ran out after an earlier drone strike to look at the impact site. Boom! They were never on any Kill List, but they are nonetheless just as dead as Quso is.

At precisely the moment the press reported the White House had embraced signature strikes in Yemen and pulled control of those strikes into the White House, John Brennan rolled out a propaganda campaign to focus on the deliberation that goes into the Kill List–that is, into drone killings not covered by the new signature strike policy.

The effort, very clearly, is an attempt to distract attention from those drone killings that don’t involve the kind of deliberation so carefully portrayed by the NYT.

A shiny object. One that is working.

Tweet about this on Twitter61Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook37Google+0Email to someone

22 Responses to The “Kill List” Is a Shiny Object

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz People can talk+squawk ignorantly about the border, and control thereof, but they are politically motivated jackasses http://t.co/XVTrzpC9pB
2mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz You want horror of Juarez, go see @dcbigjohn feed of last 24 hrs. If you think that is representative, get your head out of your ass. #NOT
6mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz It was easy for @RubenGallego who I unconditionally supported, to be progressive, will he be so now? @downwithtyranny @ralonzo #TimeTells
18mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Will_Bunch One of these teams may arguably have better pitching than the other.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @nicholsong I may join, cause I currently have no dental plan #ThanksObama
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @nicholsong Also, al-Qaida and ISIS, right?
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @nicholsong And, heck, parenting is HARD. I mean that. But this shit is just too much.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @nicholsong Meh, I have no issue with that. These are not great parents that thought this a good idea.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @nicholsong Different times and places though. I would be dead if I had learned to drive where we live now.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @nicholsong Hey, my daughter turns 19 tomorrow and has never sought her driver's license. I had my first accident at age 14.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @nicholsong This was a freaking UZI pistol with lame stock, at best!
2hreplyretweetfavorite