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Success! Now Tell Schieffer and Others to Follow Up on Monday Night's Drone Question
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 25 October 2012 - 10:31am
Just Foreign Policy supporters urged Bob Schieffer to ask a question on drones—and he did!
During Monday night's presidential debate, moderator Bob Schieffer asked a direct question on a candidate's drone strike policy, which is more than had been raised in any previous debate this election season. Unfortunately, Schieffer only asked Mitt Romney the question—and let President Obama completely off the hook.
But that doesn't mean that the question was a failure. Simply raising the issue during the debate has led to a wave of media interest in US drone strike policy. Perhaps the most notable discussion occurred on MSNBC's Morning Joe when Joe Scarborough, the host and a former Republican congressman, challenged Joe Klein's defense of US drone strike policy with a passionate and well-reasoned argument against drone strikes.  And that's a true victory.
If Morning Joe can have a substantive debate about drone strikes, then other top news talk programs ought to be able to do so as well.
We learned at least one thing from Bob Schieffer's drone question: Mitt Romney supports President Obama's drone strike policy, and would continue it as president. However, Schieffer didn't press the point with Obama, claiming that “we know President Obama’s position on this.”  Schieffer's failure to ask Obama a question on drones was the topic of an article in the Washington Post,  and the lack of substantive debate on the issue inspired an article in Time detailing the real controversy drones have caused in Pakistan. 
Civilian casualties were also an issue. On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough expressed disgust over a policy that indiscriminately kills innocents, particularly children, who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Joe Klein went on the defense by stating that “the bottom line in the end is: whose four year-old gets killed? What we're doing … is limiting the possibility that four year-olds here are going to get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror.”  As Glenn Greenwald noted in the Guardian, Klein's defense of the Obama administration's policies was exactly the sort of argument terrorists use to justify their own killing. 
Possible abuse of drones was another preoccupation in the media, including during the drone debate on Morning Joe. When Scarborough said that US drone policy would cause problems for the US, Klein rebutted by saying it could cause problems “if it is misused, and there is a really major possibility of abuse if you have the wrong people running the government.”  Obviously, Klein doesn't think the Obama administration is the “wrong” people. But as Glenn Greenwald pointed out, Klein ignored the fact that power is legitimized in the US by precedent, and if nothing is done now to limit drone powers, people like Klein will only have themselves to blame if and when the “wrong” people do come into power. 
Abuse was also the topic of an Atlantic article published Tuesday in response to Monday's debate. The article discussed a number of worrisome ways the Obama administration has been unscrupulous in conducting its drone strike policy—and what a dangerous precedent this has set for presidents to come. 
One thing that all of these media commentaries had in common was that they called for more US debate on this issue. If Morning Joe can do it, so can other top news talk shows.
Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,
Megan Iorio, Chelsea Mozen, Sarah Burns and Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy
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1. A video clip of the debate, along with a transcript, can be found here: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1325
2. "Why Didn't Bob Schieffer Ask Obama A Question on Drones?" Megan Iorio, Just Foreign Policy Blog, October 23, 2012, http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1324
3. “Presidential Debate: Schieffer's Drone Question Failed,” Erik Wemple, Washington Post, October 22, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/post/presidential-debate...
4. “Drones: A Non-Issue in U.S. Presidential Debate Riles Pakistan,” Krista Mahr, Time, October 23, 2012, http://world.time.com/2012/10/23/drones-a-non-issue-in-u-s-presidential-...
5. A video clip of the debate, along with a transcript, can be found here: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1325
6. “Joe Klein's sociopathic defense of drone killings of children,” Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, October 23, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/23/klein-drones-morning...
7. A video clip of the debate, along with a transcript, can be found here: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1325
8. “Joe Klein's sociopathic defense of drone killings of children,” Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, October 23, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/23/klein-drones-morning...
9. “What If Mitt Romney Inherits Obama's Killer Drone Fleet?” Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, October 23, 2012, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/10/what-if-mitt-romney-...