How Freedom Dies

This way:

For four years, Mr. Obama has benefited at least in part from the reluctance of Mr. Bush’s most virulent critics to criticize a Democratic president. Some liberals acknowledged in recent days that they were willing to accept policies they once would have deplored as long as they were in Mr. Obama’s hands, not Mr. Bush’s.

“We trust the president,” former Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan said on Current TV. “And if this was Bush, I think that we would all be more up in arms because we wouldn’t trust that he would strike in a very targeted way and try to minimize damage rather than contain collateral damage.”

Dear Ms. Granholm, I have a clue for you:  You have allowed the precedent to be set, which means everyone in the future who occupies the White House will claim this same power, whether you trust them or not.  I personally think you are insane to have some special trust that Obama is minimizing collateral damage, particularly given his Orwellian refusal to acknowledge innocent deaths as innocent.  What is he doing, steering the drones himself?   But it is more insane to give the government power solely because the person who occupies the White House this micro-second is someone in whom you have particular faith.  What happens in the next micro-second?  Sorry, doesn't matter, it will be too late.


  1. Rick C:

    " personally think you are insane to have some special trust that Obama is minimizing collateral damage"

    What are you talking about? When the President does it, it isn't illegal.

  2. Charles Rice:

    That is simply astounding.

  3. mesocyclone:

    To expect consistency from the left is silly. The modern progressive movement takes from Leninism the maxim that anything is justifiable in order to win. Much of the opposition to Bush was just "useful idiots" ginned up by the left and the leftist press - pure fools with no clear vision. It should come as no surprise that they left the left get away with things they would be excoriating the right for.

    Those of us on the right have lived with this double standard for decades.

  4. LarryGross:

    it's a pretty simple proposition. Drones are better and cause less collateral damage than boots on the ground or shock and awe planes and cruise missiles and drones are preferred to torture.

  5. Eric Hammer:

    Fantastic point, and a great find. It frightens me how people never seem to grasp that power which can in one hand arbitrarily do good can arbitrarily do harm in other, and how close those hands really are.

  6. LarryGross:

    I think what is simply amazing about this current narrative is the apparent belief on the right that torture and drones are similar things and that if one is opposed to torture - they have to be opposed to drones?

    Now I ask... what kind of "thinking" is this?

    no one with half a brain actually buys the premise except the whackos parroting this tripe.

    should there be "rules" on the use of drones? sure.. what rules do you want? the same "rules' we have when we send a seal team in to take out someone or when we shoot a cruise missile at a target? what rules do you want and do you want those rules to apply to any/all use of lethal force against known terrorists?

  7. Matthew Walker:

    If the next president is a Democrat, they'll still not want any criticism. If he's a Republican, they'll be happy to have a stick to hit him with.

    In no case will they ever give a damn about a few brown people getting killed.

    If you pay attention to what people do rather than what they say, they make a lot more sense. What they do is sincere. Talk is cheap.

  8. LarryGross:

    how many "brown" people are killed when we invade a country to "nation-build" it? It seems like we are arguing against limited targeted actions but what would would we do instead? Back to invading countries and futile attempts to nation-build them and the deaths of thousands and hundreds of thousands of innocents?

  9. john mcginnis:

    Two wrongs do not lead to a eventful right.

  10. john mcginnis:

    Name names of who is parroting what you say on the right.

    The narrative I am hearing is -- The Left was up in arms about waterboarding under Bush but are totally mute about carte blanche killing people. The latter option has finality to it that the former does not.

  11. john mcginnis:

    You don't know what the hell you are talking about here. The preferred ordnance of an armed drone to date is a hellfire missile. A hellfire has an effective blast radius of a 200' on open ground, a solider with a AR simply what he points at, which can be a single individual.

    Guess you will just have to experience it to understand the difference.

  12. What the...:

    Stumbled on this. I think it sums it up quite well (and gave me a laugh).

    Things Democrats would have freaked out about it Bush had done them ...

  13. nehemiah:

    Which would you choose Larry? A drone dropped on your house, while you are home or a couple of sessions on the water board?

  14. HenryBowman419:

    As Glenn Greenwald writes

    That many Democratic partisans and fervent Obama admirers are vapid, unprincipled hacks willing to justify anything and everything when embraced by Obama - including exactly that which they pretended to oppose under George W Bush - has also been clear for many years.

    With few exceptions, politicians have no principles whatsoever. It is plain that the next step in this story is the use of armed drones on U.S. soil in order to take out undesirables.

  15. Daublin:

    We should pull back.

    The U.S.A. is not an appropriate institution to go around the world enforcing good governance and human rights. The people we're attacking with bombs and drones are not a major direct threat to U.S. security. They don't have armies, nor do they have significant capability with ICBMs.

    It's not a war in any traditional sense. We're just roughing up people that consider themselves enemies of the current administration. Which, if you think about it, is a category that also includes half the population of our own country.

  16. LarryGross:

    what is the effective blast radius of a cruise missile or a daisy-cutter or a battalion of US soldiers with automatic weapons?

  17. LarryGross:

    comparing water boarding to drones is comparing torture to drones and for a lot of people they are not the same thing - not equivalent at all. Those whose premise is that they are equivalent are just plain dead wrong.

  18. LarryGross:

    the question is how are you going to project force in a combat scenario? There are lots of different options including sending in to seal team or dropping bombs or a cruise missile or a blackhawk helicopter, etc. but comparing force projection tactics to waterboarding is just plain dumb.

  19. LarryGross:

    do you think if we use cruise missiles or blackhawk helicopters on combatants overseas that we use them here? cruise missiles, daisy cutters, etc? How do you think that?

  20. LarryGross:

    it's not two wrongs .. it's mixing apples and oranges... on one side is waterboarding and on the other are various methods of attacking enemy combatants. Somehow the right has once again deluded themselves into thinking that just because someone is opposed to torture than they would also be opposed to killing enemy combatants. The "logic" of the right is downright comical on this.

  21. HenryBowman419:

    I think that the continued use of armed drones as assassination vehicles means that it is inevitable that such will be used on U.S. soil. I think believing otherwise is remarkably naïve.

  22. LarryGross:

    we send CIA operatives and Navy seal teams to assassinate bad guys over seas - right? Does that mean we will "inevitably" use them to hunt down folks in the US?

    come on guy.. are we talking about black helicopters now?

  23. me too:

    Larry WTF are you talking about? Warren's post is about critics saying it's ok for democrats to have the same power that they don't want the republicans to have. You're dribbling on about water boarding vs drones and something about nation building.

  24. LarryGross:

    are they talking about drones? I do not think Dems every had a problem with drones. They had problems with torture and invading countries on false pretenses and squandering the lives of thousands of our young people on arrogant "nation-building" efforts.

    Dems don't have a problem with killing bad guys - not with drones and not with Seal teams or a variety of other weapons... available...

    they just don't believe in kidnapping people, holding them in secret without charges and torturing them and telling the SCOTUS it's none of their business and then we find out later some were actually innocent.

    the perspective that Warren is using is basically a right-wing narrative that has been making the rounds lately claiming that Dems would let Obama use drones but not Bush. I do not recall any great outcry against drones to start with but now the right is sounding the alarm that Obama would use drones on US citizens even on US ground when they would never go along with that idea with Bush. Some of these narratives equate the use of drones with torture which is totally whacky but par for the course with the far right these days.

    At some point you're dealing with anti-Obama black-helicopter folks.. on this.. and it reflects far more on the folks who are promoting this message than any others.

  25. john mcginnis:

    Actually the logic of the left is dictating that belief, not the right.

  26. Zachriel:

    Heh. You trust the president with a nuclear arsenal, but not with drones. In
    any case, there should be some mechanism of accountability.

  27. Steve Walser:

    One rule might be to have an independent judiciary review and rule on those American citizens who are designated fair game by an anonymous bureaucrat. I know that due process and all that clap trap is quite an inconvenience when we can just rely upon the good will of those in charge, but since we did have a revolution over just this sort of "nonsense" perhaps we should indulge the "whackos" until a new Bushitler returns to office at which point you, also, can become outraged.

  28. Steve Walser:

    As far as I know even Obama has not claimed the unilateral right to nuc Americans.

  29. Steve Walser:

    Here is another "simple proposition" for you Larry, it is much "better" to find criminals guilty before they commit crimes and I am sure the proper "well informed" bureaucrat can do so with remarkable alacrity. No use going through all that due process crap when we can do "better"!

  30. Zachriel:

    Truman nuked Americans in Hiroshima (though they weren't the target).

    The U.S. president has the power to kill Americans if they are waging war against the U.S. If they are captured, then they have the right to due process, as do all prisoners accused of crimes.

  31. LarryGross:

    do U.S. soldiers bother to find someone guilty before executing them? How about when police in the US say "drop your weapon" then put 3 slugs in your heart for not complying? I'm not advocating this - only pointing out that people do get killed right now without a trial.

  32. ChazNugent:

    "they just don't believe in kidnapping people, holding them in secret without charges and torturing them and telling the SCOTUS it's none of their business and then we find out later some were actually innocent."

    Yeah man - way better to just kill them and then find out the were innocent rather than inconvenience them for a few days.

  33. LarryGross:

    I really think there is a problem here with different philosophies. Some folks think killing is different from torture and they are fine with killing the enemy but not with torture - of anybody for any reason, including those you'd kill.

    It's like disabling an attacker rather than killing them so as to be able to torture them instead. It's a morally worse thing - to some folks and I'll grant - not to other apparently but I think this points out this blind spot for some in their inability to understand how others feel when they do equate killing with torture. They're just different things to some people and it seems to be more so with liberals than conservatives.

  34. Eris Guy:

    People like Granholm always trust the Duce/Fuhrer/General Secretary/Leader. They are products of their education and ambition, utterly unselfconscious in their avarice and slavery.

  35. drB:


    if US soldiers EXECUTE someone they will be court-martialed. If they kill someone in battle it is obviously OK. Drones are more akin to execution, sanctioned by Obama - as the execution of a 16-yr old US citizen showed.

    Besides, I can not recall us being in any declared wars - if I am wrong, please remind me.

  36. bigmaq1980:

    @larry - whether one agrees with the use of drones or not, I think Warren's bigger point about how freedom is eventually lost is spot on.

    I've been saying for some time that the struggle is not a left/right struck, but one of freedom vs not freedom. Taken in a left/right view, what we see is an incremental escalation of the tools of power that one side or the other justifies under various rationales. Those tools remain in place and because of the "precedent", with the turn of elections, they get used by the "other side" only to encourage further escalation/extension.

    In generations, powers (by law, or by precedent) of government that were once thought of as "unthinkable" or even squarely "unintended" are the norm.

    If we need reminding of any example, one minor minor as to show the level of encroachment and the kind of thinking that must behind the individuals making the law vs the individuals the law is aimed at....Bloomberg's limit on soft drink serving sizes! If that is deemed important enough to govern over people's lives, there is virtually nothing that isn't.

  37. LarryGross:

    how can you tell the difference between soldiers executing someone and killing someone thinking they are the enemy? When you send troops in with a license to kill - they're going to do just that - even with "rules".

    and does it matter in terms of soldiers carrying weapons and shooting perceived bad guys whether the war has been "officially" declared or not?

    All I'm trying to understand here is the REAL difference between sending soldiers, or helicopters, or shooting cruise missiles or dropping daisycutters - or sending a drone. If anything a drone is much more precise but some seem to think if the weapon is not precise but kills hundreds "accidentally" that - that is permissible but if you send a smarter weapon that more precisely targets - then that's bad because then the rules become more important.

    double standard depending on weapon? does anyone really know what the "rules" are when the POTUS sends in a seal team to take out bad guys? Should seal team missions have the same higher/stricter rules that some say drones should have? How about when you shoot a cruise missile and crank in gps coordinates? Should there be some kind of review of the POTUS to ensure he is not doing something that breaks the "rules"? Isn't the POTUS, Commander in Chief ? Who would you have review his decision?

  38. LarryGross:

    not when Warren starts off like this: " For four years, Mr. Obama has benefited at least in part from the reluctance of Mr. Bush’s most virulent critics to criticize a Democratic president. Some liberals acknowledged in recent days that they were willing to accept policies they once would have deplored as long as they were in Mr. Obama’s hands, not Mr. Bush’s."

    that's not about "freedom". It's partisan as hell and it basically launches into a generalized anti-govt rant with Obama as evidence. Like so many that we see now days.

  39. drB:

    Execution is if someone surrenders and then they shoot him. It is different from killing enemy in battle or throwing a bomb on them.
    And I happen to think that if we do not have a DECLARED war we should not send drones, soldiers, bombs...etc. Mr. Obama Droner is exactly the same as Bush in this respect, and left has shown in highly hypocritical face here.

  40. m1shu:

    The problem is that these drones don't just kill enemy combatants.

  41. LarryGross:

    re: " And I happen to think that if we do not have a DECLARED war we should not send drones, soldiers, bombs...etc. Mr. Obama Droner is exactly the same as Bush in this respect, and left has shown in highly hypocritical face here."

    did you have that same belief when Bush/Cheney were in charge?

    How about Grenada and Panama? same with those also? Bosnia?

  42. LarryGross:

    this is true - but when you compare a drone's collateral damage to other weapons how does it stack up? no weapon has zero collateral damage but drones seem to be among the smaller.

    no? yes?

  43. drB:

    Yes, I had the same belief. Going into Iraq was wrong, and the only reason Bush went there was OIL. I think going into Grenada, Panama, and Bosnia was also wrong, and so was going into Vietnam. The question is, why do the left nowadays are not in streets protesting Obamas Bush-like policies? Most (not all) of the Left reeks of hypocrisy.

  44. LarryGross:

    boots on the ground , kills 10, 20, 100 times as many people, man of whom are innocents...

    that kind of "collateral" damage seems to far, far exceed any you might see with a drone.

    wouldn't - all things considered .. a drone be less damaging than boots on the ground or even cruise missiles or blackhawk helicopters or other mass casualty weaponry?

  45. bigmaq1980:

    "partisan as hell"

    I don't see that...The article referenced was clear that Bush was guilty of overreach.

    The quote from the article hits on a key point...that the critics who were quick to attack Bush on "presidential overreach" are selectively applying their criticism to Obama, thus reinforcing and likely encouraging more of this abuse (e.g. recess appointments).

    If one disagrees that Obama is engaged in overreach, then perhaps one could argue that this is a "biased rant". Better to argue why accusations of overreach are overblown or unfounded.

    I think it plain to see with both Presidents and think it is iniquitous for us as citizens, as stated in my prior post.

  46. LarryGross:

    well we're comparing apples to oranges. Bush engaged in kidnapping, renditions, torture, holding people in secret without charges, - and folks are comparing that to the use of drones - which is dumb.

    Drones are a weapon - like a cruise missile or a backhawk helicpter or a bunker buster or a laser guided smart bomb.

    sending a drone to take out a bad guy - or any other weapon - does have the potential to cause collateral damage but compared to sending boots on the ground and/or to use the other weapons - the comparative damage is much less - yet we say Obama is over-reaching for using them and as far as I remember not a soul had a problem with Bush using them.

    All of this proves basically one thing - the main thing - those who dislike Obama are going to use this and other things as excuses...

    that's what Warren was doing - and has been doing over time - when the opportunity arises to use an issue as opposition to Obama whom he clearly never cared for from the get go.

    there is no issue here. It's one that is pushed by those with an anti-Obama agenda, plain and simple.

    And no, I do not think the man is a saint or close to it. He's human. He has and does make mistakes but this kind of thing is so obvious it's funny.

  47. LarryGross:

    let me give you a direct example. Take the A-10 Thunderbolt II aka the warthog. It's a close ground-support weapon. It saves the lives of US soldiers but it also can and does cause significant collateral damage.

    would you have been opposed to it's use when it first came out because of being considered "overreach" of a POTUS?

    how can the use of a weapon system under the cognizance of the POTUS as commander in chief be considered "overreach" to start with?

    do you want Congress to start laying down rules for how any/all weapon systems can or not be used rather than the Commander in Chief?

    and why - until now - this has not been a real issue until this particular POTUS?

  48. bigmaq1980:


    To paraphrase: Bush engaged in X, Y, if Obama engages in A, B, or C, he does not need to be questioned or criticized because those things are "different".

    The point of Warren's post is that HAD Bush done A, B, or C, he would be soundly and profusely criticized, while Obama is not.

    Drones is only one example. Your point that it is just a tool ignores the basic direction that this technology is heading and the potential for abuse we never had before. It is deserving of a public debate.

    There are many, many examples in the past 4+ years of issues / questions of this nature and consequence being ignored.

    The fundamental issue is that our freedoms erode when the media picks favorites and selectively ignore potential issues by not asking the tough does not matter who the POTUS is.

    Bush needed to be challenged...Obama equally so on these types of concerns.

  49. LarryGross:

    there may be other examples.. would like to see...

    but in terms of using weapons - we do not tell Bush he could not launch a cruise missile because we feared collateral damage of innocents but now we want to hold Obama to that standard.

    let's keep the comparisons apples to apples.

    the drone is a weapon system - a highly accurate one but not perfect. You could say the same about laser-guided or GPS-guided weapons but as far as I know we never said that because they were so accurate but still not accurate enough to not cause the death of innocents that we needed some kind of rules and review before use.

    I read Warren's words to be referring to the use of weapons and collateral damage... then he launched into a rant about liberals not holding Obama to the same standard as Bush to which I was thinking WTF since we did lose over 4000 young Americans as well as a hundred thousand or more deaths of civilians ... and now there is this big kerfuffle over a couple of innocents being killed in a drone strike? WTF?

    I never had a problem with Bush using drones nor cruise missiles or laser bombs or bunker busters, wart hogs, etc, et al.. even though I did not agree with the invasion but once we were there - the weapons we had were available for use.

    since when are we going to tell the POTUS he cannot use available weapons?

  50. bigmaq1980:

    Larry, you are kidding of course...other examples?

    Lack of budget since 2009 (illegal btw), level of debt, level of unemployment (despite $1T+ deficits, claiming progress despite labor force drop outs), use of executive orders (e.g. non-recess appointments), Obamacare costs that were not supposed to be, raising taxes on the middle class and poor (payroll) when advertising for taxes against the rich, Obamacare sold as not raising taxes but argued in SCOTUS that fee was a tax, not closing down GITMO, Benghazi incident and Obama's involvement, knowledge or lack thereof, etc, etc, etc..

    With drones we are into a new game of weapons - remote deployment (implying we have some deliberative opportunity prior to deployment), cheap (and getting cheaper), small (and getting smaller), are using them in states that we have not formally declared war against (e.g. in Yemen), are not transparent in the process of targeting and use of these weapons against US citizens, with questionable accountability for the decision maker. What are the guiding principles and limitations? Will this apply when the weapons can be (will be?) ubiquitous because they can be made so cheaply and can be virtually undetectable because of their size (insect?)? Since the decision is not made by a "disinterested / objective" party (e.g. as we do with SCOTUS when reviewing the application of law), how do we assure that these tools don't get abused for political reasons?

    I understand that the "war on terror" is not like a war against nation states. I understand (if we are to believe what we are told - and right now I have no reason to doubt it) that the individuals now targeted have made a conscious choice to engage with a group of people set on harming the USA. And, in war we cannot treat these people like we do common criminals. We may even happen to agree that they are needed and that they should be used as they have.

    However, with the nature of the war and the nature of the weapon being rather different from past wars, we ought to have some reflection on the types of questions, a few of which I outline above.

    The fact that our media are silent on it, allows the precedent to be set without challenge. Is that a good thing? I think not.

    The fact that much of our media are silent on so many serious issues shows that they are selectively MIA when it comes to protecting our freedoms, despite proclaiming that as their role for us. Take a look at Argentina as a recent era example for how that goes for society.