Thursday, November 7, 2013
26 years ago the hit movie RoboCop envisioned a near-future where humans and machines would come together to create the police force of the future and save the world. It’s a half-man, half-machine story that spawned two sequels, a TV series, two animated TV series, a mini-series, video-games and a slew of adaptions/crossovers. The essential idea that the good guys need to be super-human, a combination of the best of machinery and the best of humanity to beat back the evil bad guys. It’s a classic Hollywood story and makes for an amusing way to while away time. Life is now trying to imitate fiction.
Drone warfare (half-human, half-machine) is a missile remote controlled by people and has been quite effective at eliminating scores of people. President Obama is quoted in the new book Double Down by Mark Halperin and John Heilman. In CNN’s review the President ”once told aides that he’d gotten ‘really good at killing people.’”
The President keeps a kill list. He holds meetings but he alone determines who will live and who will die – American, non-American, doesn’t seem to matter. No evidence needed because there’s no trial. It's not public because we're "at war." The President is judge, jury and executioner. Prior blogs have examined the legality, morality and prudence of this policy. The fact is that the President’s aggressive use of his self-appointed right to kill people is U.S. policy and nobody in the Legislative nor the Judicial branches are challenging it. But let's be absolutely clear: It is beyond stunning to have the President of the “free” world acknowledge that he’s “really good at killing people.”
The review goes to great lengths to frame the comment in a context where the President wasn’t boasting, and, in fact how he might even be “regretful” at how skilled he had become using drone technology. I have not read the book, and at the risk of commenting on something out of context, it matter nil whether he was boasting or was bemoaning the fact. He spoke the truth. He is very good at killing people. And that should shock, anger…nay infuriate the American public.
Republicans and the political chattering class are beside themselves that President Obama said repeatedly that “if you like your health care plan, keep it” and now it turns out the health insurance companies are canceling plans left and right. It was not the most accurate thing the President has ever said, and it may even have been a deliberate obfuscation. Anybody who has ever dealt with insurance knows that the company renames and redoes plans every year. Annoying? Yes. Deceitful? Perhaps. Worse than killing people without due process? Not by a longshot.
The National “Security” Administration has vacuumed up bits of data including telephone calls, emails, texts and a whole array of digital footprints on Americans and all of our friends and enemies around the world. The President, Congress and the Supreme Court have aligned on this strategy. Legal? Apparently. Deceitful? Absolutely. Worse than killing people without due process? Not by a longshot.
Exporting American film, television and digital content is one of the few industries that have a positive trade balance for the United States. As good as that is for the American economy (direct cash and indirect impact on global culture) – let's not have The Kill List adapted for the screen. It’s time for President Obama to become more man than machine. That would save the world...or at least due process.