Sunday, February 10, 2013

Drone war drones on

It's long past time we get to the bottom of this disgraceful story. The world is waiting.

John Brennan is a former Bush official who has defended torture and is now inexplicably President Obama's nominee to head the CIA. As Brennan's confirmation hearings slog on, the public is learning a little more about the CIA's decade-old drone program.

Fact is, not many people give a shit if a drone strike kills a known terrorist. That's simply where most folks stand. But when this drone war kills innocent civilians, that ought to be a different story. It wasn't until relatively recently that the government even acknowledged that the drone war exists. There's still no clear answers on how many innocents have died or been maimed from it.

The embattled Brennan said the CIA should admit when its drone war kills civilians. But he misses the point. Why is a program that threatens so many innocents even being carried out at all? One of the most shameful developments of war is the acceptance of civilian deaths. It's an old problem, so we ought to know better by now. Some of the more forthright history books tell us that government leaders long ago pulled excuses out of thin air to justify attacks that killed countless civilians - while not admitting the real reasons for the attacks.

Make no mistake: I blame the CIA for the drone crusade. I'm not a strong Obama partisan, but I believe blame lies squarely in Langley. (Remember, the drone war began before Obama took office.) The drone war reinforces everybody's fears of the CIA. These fears are well-founded. The CIA's modern history includes lying to Congress about waterboarding, plus other activity from the same tarnished spy kit.

Like the Iraq War, the drone war is bound to result in national embarrassment, not glory. Obama ought to just yank Brennan's nomination and tell the CIA to shove its drone war up its ass. If this can't be accomplished, the main thing it proves is that the CIA is an out-of-control organization that just does whatever it wants.

Time to close this chapter.