If you needed a reminder that the U.S. is still at war, here’s one: on the eve of the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, an airstrike killed al-Qaida in Yemen’s number two leader, Saeed al-Shihri. It’s unclear if the the U.S. or Yemen initiated the attack.
Regardless of who was behind it, al-Qaida is a shell of the organization it was a decade ago. Much of this is due to President Obama’s embrace of unmanned drones that fly over Pakistan and Yemen and fire deadly missiles at terrorist masterminds. According to the New America Foundation, between 2004 and 2007 there were just 10 drone strikes in Pakistan. In 2010, there were 122.
President Obama’s joystick-operated offensive has helped strengthen the Democratic party’s reputation on national security. In a Washington Post/ABC News poll released today, President Obama scored 11 points higher than Governor Romney on the question of which candidate is better on handling terrorism. This is a change from just four years ago, when polls showed voters viewed Republicans as stronger on issues of national security.
But the question remains as to whether success is coming at the expense of our values and future security. Just this past week, a federal judge overturned an Obama Administration rule that denied legal counsel to Guantanamo Bay inmates not looking to overturn their detention.
And on the issue of drone strikes, the ACLU’s Hina Shamsi warned that they are “deeply unpopular in nations that we seek to make allies with; they are leading to animosity against the United States; and there have been killings of innocent bystanders that really call into question whether or not America has been applying the law it helped write in the years after World War II.”