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Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates endorses ‘drone courts’

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Former US defense secretary Robert Gates on Sunday endorsed the idea of having a special court review drone strikes as a check against a president’s power to, in effect, execute Americans.

The issue came to the fore last week during a Senate hearing to confirm John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s counter-terrorism chief, as director of the CIA.

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Gates, a former CIA director who served as defense secretary under both Obama and former president George W. Bush, said the rules followed by the Obama administration “are quite stringent and are not being abused.”

“But who is to say about a future president?” he said in an interview with CNN’s State of the Union.

“I just think some check on the ability of a president to do this has merit as we look to the longer-term future,” he said.

Gates referred to the targeted killings as “being able to execute in effect an American citizen, no matter how awful,” and said some third party should have a say in it, with the intelligence committees of Congress kept informed.

He noted that there is already a foreign intelligence surveillance court that approves the use of electronic surveillance of American citizens, and something similar could be created to review targeted killings of Americans.

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“Something that would give the American people confidence that there was, in fact, a compelling case to launch an attack against an American citizen,” he said.

During Thursday’s confirmation hearing, Senator Dianne Feinstein said she would introduce legislation to create such a court to review drone strikes.

Missiles fired from unmanned aircraft have become the administration’s weapon of choice in its secret war against suspected Al-Qaeda plotters.

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The administration’s legal rationale for the targeted killings were leaked to the media ahead the Senate hearings.

It allows the use of drone strikes against US citizens suspected of being senior Al-Qaeda operatives, even if there is no evidence they are actively plotting an attack.

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Among the most controversial drone strikes were the September 2011 killings in Yemen of Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, whose deaths stoked concern because they were US citizens who had never been charged with a crime.


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Trump’s legacy in the GOP is one of ‘crybaby conservatism’: conservative columnist

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Writing in the Washington Post this Wednesday, columnist George Will slammed President Trump as a "practitioner of crybaby conservatism."

Citing Trump's disputing of reports that his inauguration turnout was lower than Barack Obama's, Will says Trump's presidency began with a "wallow in self-pity" and will probably end "in ignominy when he slinks away pouting, trailing clouds of recriminations..."

According to Will, the Trump era has caused the Republican Party to "eagerly" surrender its self-respect. "And having hitched its wagon to a plummeting cinder, the party is about to have a rendezvous with a surly electorate wielding a truncheon."

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2020 Election

‘Humiliating self-own’: Trump mocked after touting binder full of his ‘accomplishments’ — but photo shows blank page

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday tweeted photographs of his press secretary delivering a binder full of his purported accomplishments to CBS News reporter Lesley Stahl.

“Kayleigh McEnany presenting Lesley Stahl (@60Minutes) with some of the many things we’ve done for Healthcare. Lesley had no idea!” the president tweeted.

However, many Twitter users noticed that one photograph showed Stahl opening the binder – revealing a blank page.

"Are there Nobel prizes for most humiliating self-owns? If so, Trump definitely deserves one for presenting Lesley Stahl with a blank book and claiming it's some huge gotcha moment," remarked author Steve Silberman.

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2020 Election

Here’s how The Christian Post ‘sold its soul’ to Trump — according to its former politics editor

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Political analyst Napp Nazworth watched as The Christian Post (CP) made its "gradual descent" from being anti-Trump to pro-Trump, often questioning whether or not he should jump ship from the publication. But what happened on Dec. 23, 2019, made the decision painfully clear.

"I was told by Michelle Vu, my boss at The Christian Post, to publish a pro-Trump op-ed as an editorial, meaning it was to express the position of the media organization," Nazworth wrote at Arc Digital. "'It can’t be an editorial,' I explained, 'because I don’t agree with it and I’m an editor.' Vu said she would call me back."

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