It is surprising to me that neither the Washington Post nor the New York Times nor the Wall Street Journal has yet to run an editorial reacting to John Brennan’s extensive and thoughtful speech on drones last week.
A senior White House official publicly acknowledges a controversial (at least in Pakistan and among some human rights groups) and previously secret program in which the U.S. has reportedly conducted nearly three hundred drone strikes in four different foreign countries, killing several thousand militants (and some civilians), and explains the domestic and international legal basis in considerable detail, and the three major U.S. newspapers of record have no reaction at all? My hope would have been that the editorial pages of these papers, which are important in shaping both domestic and international public opinion, would have welcomed the remarks and noted their significance, even if they had taken issue on some policy or legal points. Perhaps the editorials are still in the making?
I do note that the New York Times found time last week to criticize the Ninth Circuit for deciding that John Yoo could not be sued for an opinion he had written while serving in the Office of Legal Counsel. I had many differences with John Yoo while we served together, and my intent is not to defend the opinion in question, but I do not think he should be able to be sued for legal opinions he wrote in an official capacity. One wonders whether the New York Times editorial board also believes that the drafters of the reported Obama Administration OLC opinion justifying the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki should be subject to suit by al-Awlaki’s family?