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Drone Killings, Cyber Attacks, War on Whistleblowers: Does Obama Think He Is Above the Law?

The United States rains Hellfire missiles down on its enemies, with the president alone sitting in judgment of who will live and who will die by his hand.
 
 
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White is black and down is up. Leaks that favor the president are shoveled out regardless of national security, while national security is twisted to pummel leaks that do not favor him. Watching their boss, bureaucrats act on their own, freelancing the punishment of whistleblowers, knowing their retaliatory actions will be condoned. The United States rains  Hellfire missiles down on its enemies, with the president alone sitting in judgment of who will live and who will die by his hand.

The issue of whether the White House leaked information to support the president’s reelection while crushing whistleblower leaks it disfavors shouldn’t be seen as just another O’Reilly v. Maddow sporting event. What lies at the nexus of Obama’s targeted drone killings, his self-serving leaks, and his aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers is a president who believes himself above the law, and seems convinced that he alone has a preternatural ability to determine right from wrong.

If the President Does It, It’s Legal?

In May 2011 the Pentagon  declared that another country’s cyber-attacks -- computer sabotage, against the U.S. -- could be considered an “act of war.” Then, one morning in 2012 readers of the  New York Times woke up to headlines  announcing that the Stuxnet worm had been dispatched into Iran’s nuclear facilities to shut down its computer-controlled centrifuges (essential to nuclear fuel processing) by order of President Obama and executed by the US and Israel. The info had been leaked to the paper by anonymous “high ranking officials.” In other words, the speculation about Stuxnet was at an end. It was an act of war ordered by the president alone.

Similarly, after years of now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t stories about drone attacks across the Greater Middle East launched “presumably” by the U.S., the  Times (again) carried a remarkable story not only confirming the drone killings -- a technology that had morphed into a policy -- but noting that Obama himself was the  Great Bombardier. He had, the newspaper reported, designated himself the final decision-maker on an eyes-only “kill list” of human beings the United States wanted to destroy. It was, in short, the ultimate no-fly list. Clearly, this, too, had previously been classified top-secret material, and yet its disclosure was attributed directly to White House sources.

 

Now, everyone is upset about the leaks. It’s already a real Red v. Blue donnybrook in an election year. Senate Democrats  blasted the cyberattack-on-Iran leaks and warned that the disclosure of Obama’s order could put the country at risk of a retaliatory strike. Republican Old Man and former presidential candidate Senator John McCain  chargedObama with violating national security,  sayingthe leaks are "an attempt to further the president's political ambitions for the sake of his re-election at the expense of our national security." He called for an investigation. The FBI, no doubt thrilled to be caught in the middle of all this, dutifully  opened a leak investigation, and senators on both sides of the aisle are planning an  inquiry of their own.

 

The high-level leaks on Stuxnet and the kill list, which have finally created such a fuss, actually follow no less self-serving  leaked details from last year’s  bin Laden raid in Pakistan. A flurry of White House officials vied with each other then to expose ever more examples of Obama’s commander-in-chief role in the operation, to the point where Seal Team 6 seemed almost irrelevant in the face of the president’s personal actions. There were also “high five” congratulatory  leaks over the latest failed underwear bomber from Yemen.

 
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