001 Should drone killing data be made public?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

001 Should drone killing data be made public?

I'll cut right to the question: Should the government be required to release information about how it makes its decisions to attack someone overseas with a drone aircraft?

The ACLU thinks it should.

Two New York Times reporters agree and filed a 2011 request under the Freedom of Information Act that sought any documents in which Department of Justice lawyers had discussed the highly classified "targeted-killing" program.

The requests concerned a drone strike in Yemen that killed an al-Qaida leader, Anwar Al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki was born in the U.S. and some law scholars and human rights activists argue that, away from the battlefield, it is not legal for the U.S. to kill American citizens without a trial.

The demands for documents were turned down on the grounds that releasing any details about the program would harm national security. The judge said she had no authority to order them released (she was not happy about it).

The issue is puzzling in a way because the same laws which allow the government to decide that it is legal to take such actions also allow the government to keep the reasons for doing it secret.

Your comment?


Pat Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

NO! The media harms national security more than our enemies do. They should never be in a fighting zone. If they had had access in World War ll like they have now we would probably be speaking Japenese or German.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Ah, but what about those hit here in the states, if such should happen? Just thinking ahead.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Agree with you, Pat. The whole idea of classifying information is that there are some things we don't get to see because if we see them so can the enemy.

You should have seen us over there in the embassy in Pakistan while the U-2 program was going on. I lived in an Air Force staff house with five other NCO's. All of us had top secret clearances and were doing one thing or another that was highly classified. We'd be eating dinner and someone would say, "Hey, Sam, was that you I saw driving a jeep out past PAF Mauripur last night?"

We had a famous reply for something like that. "That's neither here nor there."

Everytime someone said it we all chuckled. It meant, "Oops! You saw something you weren't supposed to see."

One time during Vitenam (1962) I was on Guam during Operation Great Shelf, which for some reason no one could get was classified secret, when all it was was a training exercise in the Phillipines. We had spent 11 days getting in-transit aircraft in and out of Anderson AFB filled with GI's, parachutes, jeeps, guns, small tanks, and god knows what else. Then they started coming back--filled with old WWII scrapped jeeps, guns, and whatnot. I was the NCOIC and one day as i looked at all that junk I said, "What the hell is going one? We sent out a couple of hundred aircrfat loads of new stuff and we're getting back trash."

The Army Lieutenant who was in charge of the group at the moment looked at me and said, "Sh-h-h-h-h, Garrett! That's what's classified." I took him aside and enlightened him. "If you don't tell the men what NOT to talk about that's exactly what they WILL talk about." He hard a hard time absorbing the concept, but he finally realized that he had missed something in ROTC.

As to what Allan says, it's a legitimate concern, and I don't doubt that another Nixon or Donald Regan may come along some day, but as leaky as the walls are in Washington we're probably safe. Anyway, we'd lose a lot more by telling the press anything, even how many hemorrhoid cases we treat at Bethesda in a year. All they care about is shaking the trees for "news," eg: scandals. They don't care what else shakes out.


Rex Hinshaw 3 years, 11 months ago

Tom, Who is Donald Regan...and why should I be concerned about another one =)


Pat Randall 3 years, 10 months ago

I am not Tom but there was a Donald Regan that was Sec. of Treas. from 1981 to 1985 and Chief of Staff 1985 -1987


Tom Garrett 3 years, 10 months ago

Right, Pat. Donald Regan was Ronald Reagan's chief of staff.

At the time that he was asked to resign all we really knew about it was that people wanted him out of there, but we really didn't know why until after the Iran-Contra investigations were concluded. Even so, there were mixed messages because Regan wrote a book and claimed that he was dumped because he could not get along with Nancy Reagan, and because she was so nutty about horoscopes that she interfered with with her husband's decison making. At the time, some people in the press said that the cause of Regan's leaving was that he was a petty tyrant who thought he was a power in the government. I believe then, and believe now even more, that it was true, but there was a complicating factor** that makes it hard to make some judgments.

Having just read nancy Reagan's book, I now see how much worse it was than we knew at the time. Apparently Don Regan saw "chief of staff" to be a politically empowered position, not what it actually is--the person who runs the office staff in the White House. Regan kept many congressmen and others from even seeing Ronald Reagan. He even refused to allow some of Reagan's own cabinet in. The staff complained bitterly about it, but Don Regan had the President completely fooled. The clincher is that even George H. W. Bush, the Vice President, asked that Don Regan be fired.

What complicated matters is that the Iran-Contra thing was happening at that time. At first, people suspected Reagan was covering up, but when he said he didn't know a thing about it he was telling the truth. We know that because both commisions set up to investigate what happened concluded that there was no evidence that Reagan knew anything about the illegal use of money gained through weapons sales to Iran to support the Contras, and no one on his staff, or who was involved in it ever said that he knew a thing about it (one exception**). The logical conclusion is that someone stopped that information from getting to him. The obvious choice is Donald Regan. Who else could have intercepted it? Regan's actions are summed up by wikipedia, and I agree with them.

"As Chief of Staff, Regan was closely involved in the day to day management of White House policy, which led Howard Baker, Regan's successor as Chief of Staff, to give a rebuke that Regan was becoming a "Prime Minister" inside an increasingly complex Imperial Presidency."

**The exception. In an attempt to hide what he had done, Oliver North shredded so many documents related to the Iran-Contra affair that the shedder actually jammed. He then claimed that his orders came from the President, but the jury decided otherwise. Who knows? He might have thought that his orders came from the President if someone between him and the President said they did. We will never know if that happened, but it is clear that not one word of evidence has ever shown that Reagan knew.


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