The Post has just released some new polling that demonstrates very strong support for Obama’s counterterrorism policies, including 83 percent of Americans approving of his use of drone strikes against terror suspects overseas.
This finding, however, is particularly startling:
What if those suspected terrorists are American citizens living in other countries? In that case do you approve or disapprove of the use of drones?
The number of those who approve of the drone strikes drops nearly 20 percent when respondents are told that the targets are American citizens. But that 65 percent is still a very big number, given that these policies really should be controversial.
And get this: Depressingly, Democrats approve of the drone strikes on American citizens by 58-33, and even liberals approve of them, 55-35. Those numbers were provided to me by the Post polling team.
It’s hard to imagine that Dems and liberals would approve of such policies in quite these numbers if they had been authored by George W. Bush.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its refusal to release information regarding the drone strike program. The lawsuit demands documents detailing the legal rationale for the fact that “media reports reveal that at least three American citizens have been killed over the last four months by unmanned aerial vehicles — commonly known as `drones’ — on the basis of unilateral decisions made by the executive branch.”
As Glenn Greenwald has been pointing out, the Obama administration has responded with the Orwellian argument that it can’t honor the ACLU’s request, because even the answer to the question of whether such documents exist is classified info. As the above polling demonstrates, the uncomfortable truth of the matter is that the administration doesn’t have to worry about public opinion on these questions at all.
All of which is to say that the cause of defending the rights of suspected terrorists, even if they’re American citizens, isn’t a very popular one. But whatever your view of the legality or appropriateness of such drone strikes, we should be glad the ACLU is taking it on anyway.