Dianne Feinstein Commits the Drone and/or Targeted Killing Fallacy

I’m not sure whether Dianne Feinstein is this dumb, or this exchange — from follow-up questions to John Brennan’s confirmation hearings — is just an effort to trick people like Rand Paul into believing that the Administration doesn’t believe it can kill imminent threats in the US.

Could the Administration carry out drone strikes inside the United States?

The Administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so.

Obama offered a similar answer in a Google hangout last night, so this must be a developing authorized line.

There has never been a drone used on an American citizen on American soil.

The white paper that has everyone so worried about drone strikes in the United States is titled — and is about — “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or An Associated Force.”

Lethal is lethal, whether it comes from a drone or a gun or a poison pill.

And thus far, the Administration has fallen far short of denying that it has used lethal force — targeted killing — inside the US.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

6 replies
  1. karenjj2 says:

    could we please call assassination by its true name? and torture, and corporations (corps for short), etc. i feel like i’m living in Orwell’s 1984.

  2. GKJames says:

    In context of the discussion — assassination by drone — the answers make sense, at least with respect to past acts. It doesn’t answer the more fundamental question: Does the government, based not least on the arguments it advances in the White Paper, believe that it has the legal authority to off — by drone or other means — a US citizen in the US? By the definitions spun up by DOJ, it does.

    This highlights, of course, the classic Washington game of framing a public question narrowly so as to avoid mention of the broader issue. Drones are a tool. There are many tools. A discussion, for example, of the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command activities — outside as we’ll as IN the US — would have been interesting.

  3. Reality Check says:

    For breaking news on Feinstein and cronies:


    And plenty more, e.g. did you know the actor playing Joe Biden is the same actor who plays Jimmy Page?

    Who was Walt Disney? Did someone mention the Roosevelts??

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