Panetta: The Drone Strikes Will Continue Until Morale Improves

For years, the United States has danced around the fact that it has repeatedly enter the sovereign territory of other countries with drone attacks and in some cases small unit attacks without the permission of countries like Pakistan. Such acts violate international law and would be viewed by the United States as an act of war if committed on U.S. territory. This week,Defense Secretary Leon Panetta finally responded directly to those objections and said that the attacks would continue unabated. Panetta essentially stated that we can invade other nations because we can and that countries will have to come to accept that — using the same concept as “floggings will continue on ship until morale improves.”

Panetta insisted this is really not them (other countries) but us. Speaking in India, he proclaimed “This is about our sovereignty as well.” As for Pakistan, which has repeatedly objected to attacks on its territory, Panetta said “It’s a complicated relationship, often times frustrating, often times difficult. They have provided some cooperation. There are other times when frankly that cooperation is not there.” Strangely, we would not view the relationship as complicated if Mexico sent drones into Texas to take out suspects or landed Mexican special forces in Arizona to kill enemies. We would treat it as a matter of war.

Panetta has finally made “American exceptionalism” official policy. We do these things simply because we can; because we are the United States. From torture to military tribunals to hit lists, the United States is above the legal standards that we impose on others. The greatest danger is that our hypocrisy abroad is turning into hypocrisy at home where we continue to claim to be the “land of the free” while stripping citizens of basic rights and expanding unchecked presidential and police powers.

Obama has expanded drone attacks to an unprecedented level while expanding his claimed authority to kill citizens without a charge or trial. Now the most common image of the United States abroad is not our Constitution but our drones. For many people around the world, Panetta’s speech will be viewed as adding unrestained arrogance to unrestrained power.

Source: ABC

297 thoughts on “Panetta: The Drone Strikes Will Continue Until Morale Improves”

  1. Concerning veteran suicides, 12,000 a year attempt suicide. An average of 18 per day succeed. American veterans kill more of themselves each year than all enemies combined kill over the last ten years.

    A 9th Circuit panel had said:

    On an average day, eighteen veterans of our nation’s armed forces take their own lives. Of those, roughly one quarter are enrolled with the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) health care system. Among all veterans enrolled in the VA system, an additional 1,000 attempt suicide each month.

    Common Sense v Shinseki, 644 F.3d 845 (9th Cir. 2011). The majority of the panel held for Common Cause, Judge Bybee dissented.

    The en banc 9th Circuit Court reversed the panel, saying the exclusive remedy was administrative appeal, or to the Federal Circuit, and awarded costs to the defendant VA.

  2. I707, we are all friends here and occasionally have something to tell each other that is not blog related. Turn off your antennae.

  3. Mesposer: “By the way I didn’t misrepresent your argument. I researched it, corrected it, and presented it better than you did since you missed the applicable code section. I then corrrected myself. Something you are loathe to do.”

    I missed the applicable code section? I see; so tell me, how does 8 USC 1481 materially prove or disprove the following assertions?

    Mesposer: “Traitors give up citizenship by their act of treason.”

    Mesposer: “Traitors, as you know give up citizenship, by their actions. I feel these people regardless of their place of birth, hell-bent on our destruction by their own manifest words and deeds, are entitled to no due process.”

    To which I argued

    Me: “There you go again Mark, substituting your ‘feelings’ for the rule of law.

    Gee Mark, doesn’t look like there’s anything in the Constitution or the U.S. Code that says your ‘feelings’ about alleged traitors shall substitute for the requirement of due process. In fact the Constitution is quite clear on the requirement of a conviction of treason, through due process of law analytically, before any punishment is meted out.”

    How does 8 USC 1481 become “the applicable section” in an argument that says you can’t kill people you’ve simply accused of treason, sans conviction through due process of law, simply because you ‘feel’ like it.

    You didn’t correct my argument, you intentionally obfuscated and misrepresented it in a feeble attempt to escape in a puff of sophistry.

  4. OS,

    Out rounding up the posse, are you?
    Don’t you know the villain always escapes. Otherwise what would all the white hats have to keep themselves occupied?
    You did seem in an irritable mood today. Making your
    demonstrative exit is new to my eyes.
    But you’ve got all the slack the blawg allows, and hope you will permit me the same.

    Unattained hopes save no man. I said that, and sll else under my avatar.

  5. GeneH.
    Saw your post and since it was a golden opportunity, I reappear:

    Your question to Mespo, housed in your beautifully simple analogies is great´, just great.

    But, and here comes the but… it relevant to pose such a question when our USA has simply said: “To hell with sovereignity, se don’t NEED to play by those rules anymore.”

    I can’t see tha facts with my eyes) and not conclude that such a decision was not made a long time ago.

    If you concur, any ideas on when the decision was made?

  6. Mespo,

    I share your declared intention, but not your conclusions.

    you said:
    The debate is the thing. Not just reaffriming what you and everyone around you believes”

    And I who thought all your ass-k*****g (collective your) had the opposite goal. Hmmm.

    It is definitely not like my evening class was at Pasadena College:
    “We are not here to ask questions and debate, we are here to learn.”
    Could not be combined apparently. You and I think it can.
    But how shit casting aids debate and ev learnigg escapes me. And acrimony to use your word.

    Of course I am perfect as all know, who has an eye in his head. Eller hur, mina herrar?

    Good night all. Even goblins must sleep.

  7. anonymously 1, June 8, 2012 at 2:21 pm


    So Huff Post understated the count and I posted it, without checking the numbers. Thanks for the correction.

    18 per day. (And how many homeless, how many with PTSD? Any resulting homicides?)
    idealist707 1, June 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm


    I guess you are factoring in ALL vets, including non-active and retired, OR?????
    I was quoting Admiral Mullen, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    Here is another quote and another link, so you don’t have to watch the video:

    The struggles our veterans face are such that 18 of them commit suicide every day, according to recent reports. That is more than 6,500 suicides per year. As of last week, 6,414 U.S. service members have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. In other words, suicide kills as many of our troops in one year as our enemies have killed in the past decade.

    (Washington Post). This is a Pogo moment: “we have met the enemy and it is us.”

    The song “when the truth is found to be lies … you better find somebody to love” by Jefferson Airplane comes to mind.

  8. mespo,

    “My point is limited to ‘states’ who will do nothing to stop terrorists.”

    There is a difference between “nothing” and “what is required” and “something”.

    Consider again the Mexico/Arizona example. Sure, we give Mexico money and resources to fight the “war on drugs” and none of that mitigates that all the while the ridiculous prohibition bolstered profits of the drug trade are fueling an actual para-military threat to the legitimate government of Mexico. Despite numerous pleas to cut off the money to the drug cartels by simply changing our polices (which would result in a cuts to LE budgets and a loss of profits to the private prison industry not so coincidentally enough), the non-action of America to address the root of a problem that is a threat to another country’s sovereignty by a group of criminals could equally be defined as “doing nothing” as we are doing nothing of substantive value to address a nominative allies problem – kind of like allowing for use of airspace but not aiding in the capture of a criminal known (either through intelligence or materials support) to be in the mountainous border regions of a country who shall remain nameless. If that is the criteria, the case for Mexican drone strikes can be made as both justified and rational. We are not doing what is required by an ally to address the root of the problem which is the functional equivalent of doing nothing even if it has the window dressings of doing something. Your actual mileage perception of doing something versus actually doing something may vary, but the analogy is pretty straight forward.

    And so I again say to you, ask yourself what would happen Mexico violated our sovereignty by launching drone attacks into Arizona?

    Sovereignty and the right to self-determination lie at the foundation of international law and diplomacy.

    Playing fast and loose with it because a nominal ally isn’t getting us the precise result we need is counterproductive.

  9. Curious:

    “I absolutely don’t get it. Here is a blog whose primary purpose (at least the most interesting bits) is to show (and ridicule) justice failing in our country.”


    I don’t think we’re a funeral dirge around here. I think we’re here to present and defend opposing points of view. If you want affirmation instead of information you can go anywhere on the blogosphere and get that. We have a spirited debate here with a little acrimony to keep it from being too esoteric or boring. It’s fun unless you take it as an affront to your ego — which I don’t. Most folks here are smart and can present themselves well (you too, Bob, Esq.) and they do.

    This blog is designed to make you challenge your pre-conceived notions and it does. Nothing wrong with that. More people should do it. I agree with Emerson:

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

    The debate is the thing. Not just reaffriming what you and everyone around you believes.

  10. CLH:

    I wish you well in law school. It should be illuminating for you — very illuminating.

  11. anonymously:

    “Ah, that might have been your point, but I was drawing attention to the fact that a 16-year-old American was killed by one of our drone strikes.”


    Don’t blame you for changing the subject. Who would want to defend Anwar al-Awlaki? The death of his son appears to be an accident unless evidence to the contrary arises — which it hasn’t.

    By the way, I’m always wondering why you assume our motivations are evil and theirs are pure? I’d be happy to compare track records with them.

  12. Bob,Esq.:

    Mespo is a squirmy little bastard; isn’t he?


    Nope, no ad hominem from you. Just good ol’ rational argument. Like I said full to the brim.

    By the way I didn’t misrepresent your argument. I researched it, corrected it, and presented it better than you did since you missed the applicable code section. I then corrrected myself. Something you are loathe to do.

    Get over yourself, Bob, Esq. That ego must be hard to carry around all day, especially with that full venom sac.

  13. Curious,
    Curious you ask. And curious it is, and might get more so.

    My guess? The rats are defecting the sinking ship. The
    Kochs won the war without declaring it

  14. CLH,
    You are at the head of your class and you have not started yet.


    I guess you are factoring in ALL vets, including non-active and retired, OR?????

    Well, as to KIAs. are they less than DUI deaths, friendly fire, malfunction of equipment, plain fuckups, etc.?
    How many drone ops did we lose due to falling out of their chairs due to LOL? Or op centers due to some f**k pushing the HOME button when he fell asleep watching the screen.
    “I thought they had promised to set a cover on that one.”

    Anybody know. And who asked Mullen, and why did he answer?

    Answer the last one especially. There’s an erection going on, and that “mistake” was meaningful. They are erecting the gallows for the Kenyan-American. And the last shreds of pop power.

    Go for it guys, is the cry.

  15. According to “Pentagon statistics obtained by The Associated Press.” (from the above Huff Post link)

    WASHINGTON — Suicides are surging among America’s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year – the fastest pace in the nation’s decade of war.

    The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan – about 50 percent more – according to Pentagon statistics obtained by The Associated Press.

    According to Mike Mullen, it is actually 18 per day, 6,570 per year. (Dredd’s source)


    Which count is correct? Or is the true count somewhere in between.

  16. Dredd,

    So Huff Post understated the count and I posted it, without checking the numbers. Thanks for the correction.

    18 per day. (And how many homeless, how many with PTSD? Any resulting homicides?)

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