The piece is about our oh-so-secret-now-not-so-secret drone launchpad in Djibouti, but I want to talk about something else.
Notice the focus on “painstaking debates” and tough moral choices. All of the Post articles in the “Permanent War” series say this in one way or another. Never mind that these “painstaking debates” are about murdering human beings - accused of “suspicious activity” or some other insidious behavior (gleaned from secret “intelligence” “Just trust us!”) but not charged, maybe guilty of something, maybe not - without due process, without congressional oversight, without public scrutiny - no judges, no evidence. Trust our leaders though, for they are debating these murders, painstakingly - their zeal for death tempered by “moral rectitude”.
Look at this from part 2 of the Post series:
For each of Brennan’s critics, there are many associates who use the words “moral compass” to describe his role in the White House. It is Brennan, they say, who questions the justification for each drone attack, who often dials back what he considers excessive zeal by the CIA and the military, and who stands up for diplomatic and economic assistance components in the overall strategy.
Brennan’s bedrock belief in a “just war,” they said, is tempered by his deep knowledge of the Middle East, Islam and the CIA, and the critical thinking forged during a classic Jesuit education.
Some White House aides describe him as a nearly priest-like presence in their midst, with a moral depth leavened by a dry, Irish wit.
To which Arthur Silber (who has been on a tear lately) responds:
… Brennan’s murder program “is tempered by his deep knowledge of the Middle East, Islam and the CIA, and the critical thinking forged during a classic Jesuit education.” Well, thank God for that. We wouldn’t want a maniacal psychopath who was a pathetic, illiterate ignoramus running a murder program. Jesus Christ. Do people realize how deeply insane this is?
And, echoing my thoughts from above:
The stories all emphasize that, while the murder program systematically targets and slaughters increasing numbers of human beings — and does so on the basis of highly dubious, mistaken, or even nonexistent information — the government brings profound and solemn dedication to its task. Our leaders genuinely value life, and only destroy it after the most careful weighing of moral factors of the greatest import. And so on. […]
The Post article describes in grisly, horrifying detail how the United States government, and John Brennan in particular, run a program of routine, systematic murder which targets innocent human beings. But, we are told, the State commits these murders of innocent human beings with all required solemnity, directed by “strong moral values” and “moral rectitude.”
We might summarize the theme this way: The United States government regularly murders significant and steadily increasing numbers of innocent human beings — but it does so in a profoundly moral and thoroughly admirable manner.
You are not to wonder that the preceding sentence makes absolutely no sense. And miracle of miracles: almost no one does wonder about it.