Friday, June 01, 2012

Colbert takes on Obama’s secret kill list

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There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding the apparent revelation that President Obama and his administration preside over a secret “kill list” of alleged terrorists to wipe out without any hint of due process. (And I say “apparent” because it’s only news to anyone who hasn’t been paying any attention these last few years.) The good news is that word is getting around, and The Colbert Report did a typically amusing yet incisive segment on it:

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Transcript: (click the [+/-] to open/close →) []

STEPHEN COLBERT: Now, folks, we all know that Barack Obama has been working hard to kill our economy. But it turns out there’s something he’s working even harder to kill.

FOX NEWS ANCHOR 1 [05/29/12]: Another senior al-Qaeda taken out.

FOX NEWS ANCHOR 2 [05/29/12]: Al-Qaeda’s number two in Afghanistan has been killed during a weekend air strike.

COLBERT: That’s right. We took out al-Qaeda’s number two. And it’s not the first time. In 2011, 2008 and 2006, we also took out al-Qaeda’s number twos. Right now, that must be kind of a tough position to fill. “A promotion to number two? Oh, Mr. Al-Zawahiri, I’m flattered … but I promised I’d coach my son’s buzkashi team and it’s my turn to bring the headless goat carcass.”

Now, al-Qaeda operatives aren’t just afraid to move up. They’re afraid to look up, because Obama has carried out more than five times as many covert drone strikes as George Bush. So what’s behind the President’s righteous kill spree? Could it be he’s just gunning for another Nobel Peace Prize? (Good luck, sir.) Or, could it be moral authority?

You see, the President campaigned on the promise that he would shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but that turned out to be real hard. So, rather than sending prisoners to Gitmo, he is taking the high road by sending them to their maker. As The New York Times puts it, “Mr. Obama has avoided the complications of detention by deciding […] to take no prisoners alive.”.

It’s brilliant! He doesn’t have to worry about habeas corpus, because after a drone strike, sometimes you can’t even find the corpus. The only problem is occasionally, our drones kill civilians. But you know what they say: To make an omelet, you’ve gotta kill a few civilians.

COLBERT: Unfortunately, killing civilians hurts America’s moral standing. But the administration has a solution, and it’s the subject of tonight’s Word: Two Birds with One Drone.

Folks, to make sure only terrorists are killed, the White House has set rigorous standards for who gets targeted. As counterterrorism advisor John Brennan explained: “We only authorize a particular operation against a specific individual if we have a high degree of confidence that the individual being targeted is indeed the terrorist we are pursuing. […] This is a very high bar.

Yes; it is comforting to know that the administration has set the bar at the high level of “killing the right person”.

NOTE: “Higher Standard Than Texas”

COLBERT: But folks, here is how the President picks who he will kill.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER [05/29/12]: He sits there with what they call the “baseball cards”, and he chooses who lives and who dies.

COLBERT: Yes; Obama gets “baseball cards” with pictures and stats on suspected terrorists – and, of course, a stick of stale gum, which he gives to Biden. Eventually, the process must work, because “a senior administration official said that the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under Mr. Obama was in the ‘single digits’”. That’s impressive, because those bombs are huge.

NOTE: “Not "John Carter" Huge, But Still”

And the administration has developed a brilliant system for ensuring that those building-engulfing explosions don’t kill non-combatants. They just count “all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants”. They reason that al-Qaeda is an isolated fanatical group, so anyone with them is probably al-Qaeda, the same way that anyone at Comic-Con is probably a virgin.

NOTE: “Saving Themselves For Buffy”

COLBERT: Now, folks, this isn’t just the President executing innocent people around the world by fiat. There is an appeals process: The men are considered terrorists “unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent”. In which case, I assume, there is a legal process that un-kills them.

NOTE: “Ali, Ali, Oxen Free!”

COLBERT: Now, best of all, keeping civilian casualties down by saying that civilians don’t really exist could solve the President’s Gitmo problem once and for all. Because you know what that place is full of?

NOTE: “(Redacted)”

COLBERT: It is full of known terrorists. He should shut that place down with some drone strikes.

NOTE: “Guanta-no-mo’”

COLBERT: Now, of course, that might take out some guards, but using the President’s own standard, they are “military-age males” spending time with terrorists. They must be guilty of something. And if we just keep using logic like that, none of us have to feel guilty about anything. And that’s the Word.