President Obama Acknowledges Existence of Pakistan War

Predator firing missiles

For the first time, President Obama has officially acknowledged that the USA is waging war in Pakistan. It’s sometimes difficult to keep in mind that almost everything we know about drone strikes is based on anonymous sources. The U.S. government until now has refused to address the subject on the record. David Dayen on FDL:

It’s a sad commentary on our media that the President had to answer questions yesterday about drones for the first time, and the questions didn’t come at a White House press briefing or major print interview, but in a virtual YouTube town hall with members of the public.

The L.A. Times has more:

“I think that we have to be judicious in how we use drones,” Obama said Monday, adding that they have been used for “very precise, precision strikes against Al Qaeda and their affiliates.”

Obama went on to say that “obviously a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA,” the acronym for Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas, and for “going after Al Qaeda suspects who are in very tough terrain along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“This thing is kept on a very tight leash,” Obama said. The U.S. does not use drones “willy-nilly” but in a way that avoids more intrusive military actions.

He described the attacks as carefully targeted. But drone attacks known as “signature strikes” — which are not aimed at specific individuals but against vehicles, camps or houses believed to be used by militants — have expanded dramatically during his presidency.

Now that our government has admitted waging war in Pakistan, the next step is to ask how these attacks, and the hundreds of civilian casualties, can be justified. Maybe the Washington press corps will start asking some questions now that this is out in the open.

  1. #1 by Sponge Bob on January 31, 2012 - 4:33 pm

    “I think that we have to be judicious in how we use drones,” Obama said Monday, adding that they have been used for “very precise, precision strikes against Al Qaeda and their affiliates.”

    So says the war criminal. Unfortunately there is a ratio of collateral damage that is rising some pretty good hatred of the US.

  2. #2 by Nathan Erkkila on January 31, 2012 - 8:17 pm

    You can argue about how justified it is, but at the end of the day, Obama is way more effective at counterterrorism than Bush ever was.

  3. #3 by cav on January 31, 2012 - 8:40 pm

    If the warring shrinks to the size of a drone force, that’s a step in the right direction. Still we are challenged by the fact that such a sizable chunk of our present economy will need to be re-purposed to non-war activity – which will be resisted, and of course, take time.

  4. #4 by brewski on January 31, 2012 - 10:01 pm

    Yes, President George W Obama has been much more effective than Barack Hussein Bush.

  5. #5 by Nathan Erkkila on February 1, 2012 - 12:11 am

    Brewski. Bush didn’t even touch the War on Terror. He even tried to sell East Coast ports to Arabs. Obama on the other has been assassinating enemies left and right. He killed off the Taliban Hierarchy and pushed for the removal of Gaddafi. Whether you agree with his methods or not isn’t really the argument. Obama has been way more effective.

  6. #6 by brewski on February 1, 2012 - 8:42 am

    Nathan,
    I have complimented Obama before on his success for killing OBL and others. Obama also adopted Bush’s Iraq strategy and timeline, and then copied and pasted Bush’s Iraq strategy onto Afghanistan. So Obama’s strategy could be called Bush on steroids.

  7. #7 by Richard Warnick on February 1, 2012 - 8:59 am

    Nathan–

    Where did you get your information about the demise of the Taliban? Last year was the most violent year so far in the war in Afghanistan. The Quetta Shura Council has shadow governors in every province of Afghanistan. There is a stalemate, which is likely to continue as long as the USA backs the Karzai government in Kabul.

    brewski–

    If you think we can pay the Afghan insurgents to stop shooting at our forces the way it was done in Iraq, that won’t work. The closest analogy is the money paid through middlemen to the Taliban to let our supply convoys through.

    US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10% of the Pentagon’s logistics contracts – hundreds of millions of dollars – consists of payments to insurgents.

    America’s longest war looks like it can keep going indefinitely unless we accept that it’s unwinnable and decide to spend our money on something else. Maybe to help people keep their homes out of foreclosure, or for college scholarships.

  8. #8 by Richard Warnick on February 1, 2012 - 9:29 am

    KABUL, Feb 1 (Reuters) – The U.S. military said in a secret report the Taliban, backed by Pakistan, are set to retake control of Afghanistan after NATO-led forces withdraw from the country, raising the prospect of a major failure of western policy after a costly war.

  9. #9 by cav on February 1, 2012 - 10:25 am

    SIFU&BS. But, you know, they are sitting on our minerals.

    Imagine if they thought the water in the great lakes belonged to them.

  10. #10 by brewski on February 1, 2012 - 10:35 am

    Obama knows this and that is why his drawdown will be after the election. He knows Afghanistan will be an utter failure. He knows Obamacare will be an utter failure. That is why he puts off everything until after the election. He just wants to get his second term secured and then he will implement his failed policies. That is also when he is going to raise taxes and it won’t just be on the 1%. After the election. He’ll come back with some line about how they needed to recalibrate and adjust given the new information about how bad the economy is.

  11. #11 by Richard Warnick on February 1, 2012 - 12:41 pm

    I really want President Obama to allow all of the Bush-Obama Tax Cuts For The Rich expire at the end of this year. But he keeps saying that $250K a year is “middle class,” which raises the possibility of keeping a lot of those budget-busting cuts.

    What is the motivation for pursuing policy failures? Well, some failures were inherited from Bush and some are self-inflicted. Some “failures” alleged by the GOP like the ARRA and the bailout of the auto industry weren’t objectively failures at all.

  12. #12 by brewski on February 1, 2012 - 1:19 pm

    They were totally objectively failures. I don’t what object you are looking at.

    As for taxes, he should just adopt Simpson Bowles and be done with it.

  13. #13 by brewski on February 1, 2012 - 1:22 pm

    Thus, of the total $862 billion, 0.3 percent has been spent on federal infrastructure projects.

    Objectively bullshit.

  14. #14 by cav on February 1, 2012 - 2:48 pm

    Simpson Bowles?? Are you nuts?

  15. #15 by brewski on February 1, 2012 - 2:59 pm

    No. The tax proposal was a pretty good cut at it. For one thing, it would cause Mitt’s own taxes to nearly double. Are you against that?

  16. #16 by Richard Warnick on February 1, 2012 - 3:46 pm

    The Catfood Commission is over. They never made a formal recommendation. So-called Simpson-Bowles or Bowles-Simpson is nothing but a rump proposal that was never even voted on by the full commission. If the right-wing catfooders couldn’t even adopt it, why should anyone care?

  17. #17 by cav on February 1, 2012 - 3:47 pm

    Somehow I knew you wouldn’t address my real concern.

    On another topic, If you double Rmoney’s and all the other rich folks taxes, and measure that against the Bush tax-cuts, you’d still have all of the rest of the terrible flack the cat-food commission failed to agree on. Failed to agree on for a very good reason: it was, and is a bunch of Bullshit.

    On the other hand, there ought to be a peace dividend in this insane mix; rightfully due the citizenry – which ought to be spent on jobs that fix the infrastructure, converting it as well to peaceful endeavors and providing a better safety net.

    Then we can talk more about fair taxes for the under-taxed.

  18. #18 by brewski on February 1, 2012 - 4:43 pm

    why should anyone care?

    Because the tax reform proposal is an infinite improvement on what we have now.

    Somehow I knew you wouldn’t address my real concern.

    Which is?

    If you double Rmoney’s and all the other rich folks taxes, and measure that against the Bush tax-cuts, you’d still have all of the rest of the terrible flack the cat-food commission failed to agree on. Failed to agree on for a very good reason: it was, and is a bunch of Bullshit.

    So what? You’d still have a far better tax code than we have now. Why are you against that?

    So you only want to talk about raising Mitt’s and Warren’s taxes and lowering taxes for lots of lower income people if you get some other unrelated wish?

  19. #19 by Richard Warnick on February 1, 2012 - 5:18 pm

    Why not simply let tax rates revert to what they were during the Clinton administration? Do that first, then we can talk about a millionaire’s tax and other changes to the loopholes enjoyed by the 1 Percent.

  20. #20 by Larry Bergan on February 1, 2012 - 5:22 pm

    As far as I’m concerned, the “cat food commission” was just a tactic to tear down the barriers of talking about something as ridiculous as attacking social security for destroying our economy when the war profiteering and low taxes on the greedy are the real problem. Simpson was used because he still retained his folksy image. I don’t know if he still has that allure now.

    I’ll never understand why Paul Ryan was willing to seriously discuss the issue and become such a hated figure in America.

  21. #21 by brewski on February 1, 2012 - 6:31 pm

    Why not simply let tax rates revert to what they were during the Clinton administration?

    1. Because under that system millionaires still avoided paying taxes then the way they do now.

    2. Because the we don’t’ live in a vacuum and the rest of the world has reformed their tax codes and we have not. Just look at Canada and how their corporate tax rate is 18%.

    3. Clinton’s tax code collected about 18% of GDP. That would still yield trillion dollar deficits today.

  22. #22 by cav on February 1, 2012 - 7:03 pm

    ‘Which is?’

    Your mental health. Numbers overload.

  23. #23 by Larry Bergan on February 1, 2012 - 7:41 pm

    brewski says:

    1. Because under [Clinton's] system millionaires still avoided paying taxes then the way they do now.

    Well, not exactly, but it was pretty damn close. I think the wealthiest of the wealthy felt a lot safer around here when they were paying 90% AND living in the lap of luxury too.

    I agreed with Kennedy though. 90% was a bit high. What was it under Clinton? 39%?

    Also, what is this thing about your wife. Did somebody insult your wife?

  24. #24 by Larry Bergan on February 1, 2012 - 7:46 pm

    And now – back to our original programming. The “news” media – none of it – has asked Obama anything about the warmongering in Pakistan.

    Richard is a better journalist then any of them!

  25. #25 by Larry Bergan on February 1, 2012 - 8:09 pm

    It’s amazing that YouTube was the vehicle that forced Obama to fess-up for the first time about Pakistan, but I’m also disturbed that Google is going to be using the same, (YouTube), to connect-the-dots of my preferences on the internet.

    I mean, how many creepy, (secretive anti-internet), congressional bills, personal twitters and googles will it take to expose me as a threat to powers? I’m always trying to be as transparent as I can. Isn’t that enough?

  26. #26 by brewski on February 1, 2012 - 8:32 pm

    Larry,
    Millionaires under Clinton didn’t pay at 39.6% because under the Clinton tax code there will still lots of ways to avoid recognizing ordinary taxable income at all. So 39.6% x 0 is still 0. The left seems to have some sort of fetish with the published marginal rate even if millionaires don’t pay that rate due to all the ways of avoiding it. So when the Democratic Congress created the loophole for carried interest in the 1970′s, and the Harry Reid preserved that loopholes recently, it means that those millionaires and billionaires were not paying the published rate, if any taxes at all. So the point of tax reform is to enact wholesale simplification so that there are no ways of avoiding recognizing taxable income. So if you make money you pay tax on that. So all of the criticisms of the Simpson Bowles tax proposals are quite uninformed, to be perfectly blunt. Simpson Bowles works because the loopholes will be closed and the millionaires and billionaires will actually pay taxes. I don’t know why you all seem to be against that. You would rather collect taxes of 39.6% x 0 than 25% x $1 trillion. Baffles me.

    Yes, Glenden went way way way over the line.

  27. #27 by Larry Bergan on February 1, 2012 - 9:11 pm

    brewski:

    I know you can’t translate that into English because tax laws and taxes themselves are designed to be unintelligible to the people who have to work for a living, yet, can’t afford to have an expert-textpert finagle finances to their liking as Romney Reagan does.

    Maybe I should ask you the same question I’ve tried and failed to ask of our newest right-member; RightKlik. Are you part of the 1% or the 99%. You don’t even have a name. Should be an easy answer, no?

    Hell, if Romney only has 250 million, doesn’t that make him part of the 99%. I’m not great at math, even though I had to learn base 16 to program a computer program. Maybe you can tell me.

  28. #28 by brewski on February 1, 2012 - 9:24 pm

    I am very much part of the 99%.

    I am unemployed now. My last employer went bankrupt because the CEO was embezzling money and committed tax fraud. I wish he were hung in a public ceremony in Washington Square.

    I am looking for work. No luck so far.

    The point of my post is that people pay the tax rate times what their “taxable income” is. So the trick for rich people is to not have “taxable income”.

    Ways to avoid having “taxable income” include get paid more in non-taxable benefits and not cash. Get stock option grants which are not taxable at the time of grant. Invest in municipal bonds which are tax free. Defer recognizing income by only “borrowing” money from your company as though you will someday pay it back, and not take a salary. Life insurance proceeds are non taxable. Take every deduction you can including your mortgage interest on your 20,000 square foot Deer Valley mansion which is your 3rd home, etc.

    So super millionaires don’t pay taxes not because of the tax rate. They don’t pay taxes because they avoid having “taxable income” at all.

    I think $250 million counts as the 1%-ers.

  29. #29 by Larry Bergan on February 1, 2012 - 9:33 pm

    brewski:

    Thanks for the honesty. It’s a real sewer, isn’t it?

    You don’t THINK Romney is a 1%er, but you’re not so sure.

    I can tell you – for sure – that his kids aren’t. It’s the very definition of a conundrum.

    Talk about a generation divide, eh? :)

  30. #30 by Larry Bergan on February 1, 2012 - 9:41 pm

    Are you sure Romney’s kids weren’t on the car’s roof with that dog?

    OK, I’ll settle down, Romney’s kids are looking forward to a future life in the very considerable Romney dynasty which will guarantee life in the 1%. Patience is a virtue worth pursuing. Especially if polygamy is legalized; for some.

    That ought to get the attention of the evangelicals, eh?

    Go Newt!

  31. #31 by brewski on February 1, 2012 - 9:48 pm

    Sort of like Chelsea Clinton. For someone who is pro affirmative action (whose entire pretext is that white people need to step aside and let people of color get some of those advantages of education and jobs) she has done pretty well at Stanford, Oxford, Columbia, NYU, McKinsey and now NBC. And then marries a Goldman Sachs bankster. I’m sure it’s all due to her good looks.

  32. #32 by Larry Bergan on February 1, 2012 - 10:01 pm

    brewski:

    I think Chelsea Clinton is a beautiful young woman. McCain took a huge hit on the internet for saying otherwise. Don’t make the same mistake.

    [Sorry, I forgot: you don't have a name :(]

    I don’t believe in dynasties, including Clintonesque or Bush leaning ones. That’s what makes the OWS movement so strong. Everybody has the obligation to stand up and lead in their own way.

    And the acronym is already known; the world around.

    Remarkable!

  33. #33 by brewski on February 2, 2012 - 8:47 am

    It is not relevant whether she is a beautiful young woman. What is relevant is that they are all hypocrites.

  34. #34 by Richard Warnick on February 2, 2012 - 9:19 am

    brewski–

    Hope you can get back into employment soon. I was out of a job until a year ago.

    I think we can agree hypocrisy is bad, however being a member of the 1 Percent while favoring policies that help the 99 Percent isn’t hypocrisy.

    This is where Willard gets it wrong. We don’t care how rich he is. We are worried that he wants to go to Washington to represent the interests of millionaires at the expense of everyone else.

    What is hypocrisy is when Willard says he’s a member of the middle class, and then we find out about Swiss/Cayman accounts.

  35. #35 by brewski on February 2, 2012 - 9:38 am

    Let’s talk about affirmative action specifically.

    If Stanford has 1,900 places for freshmen, then is has 1,900 places for freshmen. It only has room for 1,900. Now we know that white people have had an unfair advantage and have been overrepresented for decades, so now we need to make sure that more of this 1,900 places are reserved for non-white students. So that means that some super well qualified white and Asian people will be told they can’t come. So if you are in favor of affirmative action then that means you are in favor of telling some super well qualified white and Asian people that you can’t come here. So the question is, which of the super well qualified white and Asian people have to sacrifice to make room for the underrepresented groups? Since we want to be fair and provide opportunities not just for the wealthy and the well-connected, but for people of all backgrounds, it seems as though that we ask the most well-connected and advantaged to be the ones who sacrifice. But we don’t. In fact we do the opposite. So when we are deciding which of those super well qualified people we ask to sacrifice, the well connected are the very ones who get to stay. It is the white and Asian children of the non-connected farmers, mail-deliverers and shopkeepers who are told “gee, it really was great of you that you were valedictorian of your public high school, and that you passed 6 AP tests, and your charity work at the clinic in Mexico certainly is impressive, but you see, we need to keep places open for rich kids who went to the most expensive elite private schools in the country like Hockaday, Choate and Sidwell Friends. You see, their parents can pick up the phone and call our University President and know them on a first name basis. So basically, you’re screwed.”

    So it isn’t just about being in the 1% and favoring policies to help the 99%. It is about the situations when there is a finite number of positions, a finite number of jobs at McKinsey. The question is, are you willing to sacrifice or do you just like the policies which makes someone less well connected to sacrifice.

  36. #36 by Rico on February 2, 2012 - 9:55 am

    So if you are in favor of affirmative action then that means you are in favor of telling some super well qualified white and Asian people that you can’t come here. So the question is, which of the super well qualified white and Asian people have to sacrifice to make room for the underrepresented groups?

    Wow brew, what is the underlying assumption in your comment? I’ll tell you: it’s that Stanford and other top educational institutions “sacrifice” super well qualified white and Asian people to make room for unqualified (or less well qualified) dark people. Feel free to disabuse me of that notion if my reading of your comment in inaccurate. In the meantime, have you thought about the type of name-calling a comment like that might invite?

  37. #37 by totally not racist on February 2, 2012 - 10:01 am

    You don’t see the hundreds of thousands of white kids on the streets and in prison? What are fing blind?

  38. #38 by Rico on February 2, 2012 - 10:41 am

    To quote the chicken farmer from Napoleon Dynamite:

    “I don’t understand a word you just said.”

  39. #39 by brewski on February 2, 2012 - 12:37 pm

    Rico,
    Please tell me how affirmative action works at the most selective colleges.

    In you answer please cite the following study:

    African-American applicants receive the equivalent of 230 extra SAT points (on a 1600-point scale), and being Hispanic is worth an additional 185 SAT points.

    http://www.princeton.edu/~tje/files/Opportunity%20Cost%20of%20Admission%20Preferences%20Espenshade%20Chung%20June%202005.pdf

    As for name calling. What name would you give to a law which requires Stanford to favor some races over others? How about “apartheid”, “unconstitutional” or “immoral”.

    Actually, one could easily make the case that the law itself is racist, since the “underlying assumption” is that “dark people” (as you say) need a special law in order to get into Stanford. Any un-racist law would be require race-blind policies.

    She recognized that she had been privileged by affirmative action and she was very comfortable with that

    Verna Williams, friend and Harvard Law classmate of Michelle Obama

  40. #40 by Richard Warnick on February 6, 2012 - 9:58 am

    Via Glenn Greenwald, we learn that President Obama’s “judicious” use of missile-firing drones routinely includes killing rescuers responding to help victims, and mourners attending funerals of victims. Clear-cut war crimes, if anyone is keeping track.

  41. #41 by cav on February 6, 2012 - 10:43 am

    Well, since it’s all being done in our names, and with our money, why, yes. Yes, in fact, we are keeping track. And it shames us to no end.

  42. #42 by Sponge Bob on February 6, 2012 - 11:14 am

    O’bomber very bit as brazen as bush, all the same…but for the style, and truly bush was a great deal funnier..onward with bush’s 3rd term..if bush deserves the Hague dock, then obama shall get it as well…Sieg Heil obama!!

  43. #43 by Richard Warnick on February 6, 2012 - 1:36 pm

    I guess it’s an open question: Who is worse, a blundering commander-in-chief perpetrating war crimes indiscriminately, or a smarter one doing it more deliberately on a smaller scale?

  44. #44 by brewski on February 6, 2012 - 2:09 pm

    What makes you think Obama is smarter? What evidence do you have?

  45. #45 by Richard Warnick on February 6, 2012 - 2:30 pm

    President Obama switched to a counter-terrorism strategy in Afghanistan-Pakistan. What evidence? Osama bin Laden in Davy Jones’ locker.

    I wish he had done it sooner, but I think for political reasons he wanted the counter-insurgency “surge” strategy to fail first (to shield himself from criticism). So he gave Generals McChrystal and Petraeus the reinforcements they asked for, and the predictable failure played out.

    It was cynical as all hell, and a waste of our military, but Obama always seems more concerned with trying to appease his right-wing critics above all else. Anyway, we’re on the right track now.

  46. #46 by Larry Bergan on February 6, 2012 - 4:07 pm

    brewski says:

    What makes you think Obama is smarter [then Bush II] ? What evidence do you have?

    I’ll be right back; I have to bleach my eyes.

  47. #47 by brewski on February 6, 2012 - 4:35 pm

    I don’t think that W is smart. I just see no evidence that H is either.

  48. #48 by Larry Bergan on February 6, 2012 - 5:32 pm

    Which one can speak English?

  49. #49 by brewski on February 6, 2012 - 6:43 pm

    I know a lot of people who can speak English who aren’t very smart.

    Show me his Columbia grades.

  50. #50 by Shane on February 6, 2012 - 6:46 pm

    Thank you for that comment.

    I will now return to laughing so hard that tears roll down my cheeks…

  51. #51 by cav on February 6, 2012 - 7:13 pm

    Welcome to the never-ending theater of illiterate dismissal of cited scholarship among the internet savants.

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