New York Times, 26 June 2014
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s embrace of targeted killings using armed drones risks putting the United States on a “slippery slope” into perpetual war and sets a dangerous precedent for lethal operations that other countries might adopt in the future, according to a report by a bipartisan panel that includes several former senior intelligence and military officials.
The group found that more than a decade into the era of armed drones, the American government has yet to carry out a thorough analysis of whether the costs of routine secret killing operations outweigh the benefits. The report urges the administration to conduct such an analysis and to give a public accounting of both militants and civilians killed in drone strikes.
The findings amount to a sort of report card — one that delivers middling grades — a year after President Obama gave a speech promising new guidelines for drone strikes and greater transparency about the killing operations. The report is especially critical of the secrecy that continues to envelop drone operations and questions whether they might be creating terrorists even as they are killing them.
“There is no indication that a U.S. strategy to destroy Al Qaeda has curbed the rise of Sunni Islamic extremism, deterred the establishment of Shia Islamic extremist groups or advanced long-term U.S. security interests,” the report concludes.
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The panel instead reserves the bulk of its criticism for how two successive American presidents have conducted a “long-term killing program based on secret rationales,” and how too little thought has been given to what consequences might be spawned by this new way of waging war.
Phi Beta Iota: The lack of thinking is characteristic of all US government endeavors — stovepiped, dominated by special interests, and lacking in decision support to strategy, policy, acquisition, and operations. The President desperately needs a new idea…such as the Open Source Agency under the oversight of the Vice President.