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DRONE WATCH: Playing God in Pakistan

One of the U.K.’s leading newspapers, The Guardian, takes on President Obama’s drone policy in an editorial this morning:

"Thomas Aquinas, Augustine and John Brennan – two saints and a counter-terrorism adviser – may give the counsel a president feels he needs before adding another al-Qaida suspect to his kill list. But whatever else these authorities do, they do not constitute due process – and Barack Obama's administration knows it. It is doing everything it can to avoid scrutiny. It is refusing to publish its standards for putting people on terrorist or assassination lists. What are the target limits? When is a last resort truly a last resort, particularly in areas well back from recognised battlefields? And who is providing independent oversight?"

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DRONE WATCH: Former CIA Official Warns of Terrorist Safe Havens

Robert Grenier was CIA station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 9/11. He then played a key role in coordinating covert operations in Afghanistan, and was head of the CIA's Counter  Terrorism Center. In a recent interview, he spoke about the Obama administration’s drone program:

"It [the drone program] needs to be targeted much more finely. We have been seduced by them and the unintended consequences of our actions are going to outweigh the intended consequences. … We have gone a long way down the road of creating a situation where we are creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield. We are already there with regards to Pakistan and Afghanistan."

Grenier went on to express particular concern about Yemen, saying that the popular anger being generated by drone attacks could lead to “the creation of a larger terrorist safe haven.”

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DRONE WATCH: Drone Attacks Will Continue

Yesterday, the government of Pakistan once again expressed its opposition to U.S. drone attacks on its territory as being against international law. This morning, speaking in neighboring India, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta responded:

"Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is delivering a strong defense of the U.S. use of drones to kill insurgents in Pakistan, telling an audience next door in India on Wednesday that America has made it clear to Islamabad it will continue to target al-Qaida leaders in that country."

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DRONE WATCH: Pakistan Protests Drone Strikes

Following three U.S. drone strikes in the past three days, the government of Pakistan is not happy, and it has made it officially known.

"Pakistan's foreign ministry summoned Washington's deputy ambassador to Islamabad, Richard Hoagland, to "officially convey the government's serious concern regarding drone attacks in Pakistani territory". A statement repeated the stance that drone strikes were "unlawful, against international law and a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.""

Meanwhile, U.S. officials claim to have confirmed that Monday’s strike killed the #2 leader of Al Qaeda, known as Abu Yahya al-Libi, along with 15 other people. News reports say that

"Abu Yahya was among al Qaeda's most experienced and versatile leaders - operational trainer and Central Shura head - and played a critical role in the group's planning against the West, providing oversight of the external operations efforts," one official said."

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An Agnostic President?

Keli Goff asks is America would be better off with an agnostic President:

"It's always refreshing when religious leaders strive to embody the very best values their faith has to offer. I have been reminded of this often over the past year, which is shaping up to be banner one for Christian leaders in the "practice what you preach" department."

Read her full article here

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A Political Impasse on the Economy

David Horsey writes in the Los Angeles Times:

"The best thing that can happen is that one party or the other wins both the presidency and control of Congress in the November election. It may have made sense in a more civil era, but divided government no longer works; the divide is simply too great. We desperately need a coherent national economic policy, and even a flawed one that is fully implemented may be better than one that is permanently stalled."

Read more here

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Are the Candidates Talking Enough About Poverty?

Writing for The Huffington PostJeffrey P. Colin argues:

"With election campaigning in full swing now, many of the us from the 99% made famous by the Occupy Wall Street protests, are concerned that neither candidate is paying adequate attention to the issue of poverty. We are concerned that, while much is being made of impending debt ceiling debates, and geopolitics, the plight of a large percentage of the people living in the American heartland is being almost completely ignored."

Read his article and answer his poll here

 

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DRONE WATCH: Domestic Use of Drones? Bad Idea

USA Today has a weekly opinion column featuring Cal Thomas, a conservative columnist, and Bob Beckel, a liberal Democratic strategist. As longtime friends, they can often find common ground on issues that lawmakers in Washington cannot. This week’s dialogue was on the domestic use of drones.

"Cal: Do we want our government collecting a constant stream of information on our whereabouts? Drones equipped with Tasers and beanbag guns could fly over political demonstrations, sporting events and concert arenas. The ability of these machines to collect information is almost unlimited — and if we allow it to happen, we will have accepted the Orwellian vision of Big Brother. Trying to recover liberties after losing them is like trying to regain your lost virginity.

Bob: In fact, drones have already been deployed to assist local police departments, which on its face may seem like a good idea. But local police don't control the drones; that's done by trained drone pilots in the U.S. military. So police departments may request assistance on a local crime issue, but who knows what other information is being collected by the U.S. government while the drone is flying over a particular area? On the subject of using drones for domestic purposes, Cal, we have found complete common ground."

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DRONE WATCH: Sympathy for Al Qaeda

The escalating campaign of drone attacks in Yemen is having the opposite effect from what the U.S. intends:

"Across the vast, rugged terrain of southern Yemen, an escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes is stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants and driving tribesmen to join a network linked to terrorist plots against the United States. After recent U.S. missile strikes, mostly from unmanned aircraft, the Yemeni government and the United States have reported that the attacks killed only suspected al-Qaeda members. But civilians have also died in the attacks, said tribal leaders, victims’ relatives and human rights activists."

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Time for the Next Generation to Form New Economic Agenda?

Writing for The Daily Beast today, Joel Kotkin argues:

The developed world’s youth shouldn’t expect much help from an older generation that has preserved its generous arrangements at the cost of increasingly stark prospects for its own progeny. Instead the emerging generation needs to push its own new agenda for economic growth and expanded opportunity.

Read more here

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