“I don’t talk about national security questions in that way.” That’s what President Barack Obama a reporter for an Ohio Fox affiliate on Monday, regarding allegations that the administration had ordered the deaths of American citizens in Yemen.
“First of all, you’re basing this on reports in the news that have never been confirmed by me,” the president said, echoing the Justice Department’s claim that the administration had never “officially acknowledged” any role in the death of Anwar Al-Aulaqi, a dual citizen of Yemen and the United States.
Obama’s brief interview with FOX19’s Ben Swann took place a day before the official start of the Democratic National Convention, but it set the tone for what was to come. Two days into the convention, civil liberties concerns have been conspicuously absent from the agenda.
That absence is perhaps most conspicuous in the 2012 Democratic platform, released on Tuesday, the first day of the convention. According to Adam Serwer of Mother Jones, the Democrats either softened or entirely excised much of the civil liberties language left over from their 2008 platform. For example, whereas the 2008 platform forcefully condemned indefinite detention and warrantless wiretapping, the 2012 version does not mention either issue at all.
That’s not because either of those issues have gone away; according to the New York Times, the National Security Agency’s continued its warrantless spying on Americans into the Obama administration. And in December 2011, Obama approved a law making it legal for the military to indefinitely detain Americans suspected of terrorism.
However, for civil libertarians, drone strikes and targeted killings appear to be the major issue of the Obama era. According to the nonpartisan New America Foundation, drone deaths in Pakistan spiked sharply after 2008, peaking in 2010. Additionally, Wired reports the administration has ramped up drone strikes in Yemen recently, launching four attacks in eight days, while press attention was drawn towards the Republican and Democratic conventions.
According to The American Conservative’s Michael Tracey, Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett declined to comment on the strikes when he confronted her at the convention. And though demonstrations at the DNC have focused on corporate greed for the most part, some anti-drone protesters were reportedly present.