Obama on Drones: I'm No Dick Cheney

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 14 2013 10:22 AM

Obama Tries to Ease Democrats' Drone Fears By Telling Them He's No Dick Cheney

President Barack Obama leaves the U.S. Capitol after a meeting with the House Republican Conference March 13, 2013 on Capitol Hill

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Congressional intelligence committees got a look at the Obama administration's drone strike-justifying legal memos earlier this year only after they threatened to hold up the confirmation of CIA director John Brennan. Lawmakers without a seat on one of those powerful panels, however, are still waiting to set eyes on the Justice Department documents. Understandably, quite a few aren't exactly happy about that, something Sen. Jay Rockefeller took the opportunity to point out to President Obama during his closed-door meetings on the Hill yesterday. The president's answer probably didn't reassure them quite as much as he hoped. Here's Politico with the details:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

In response to Rockefeller’s critique, Obama said he’s not involved in drafting such memos, the senators told POLITICO. He also tried to assure his former colleagues that his administration is more open to oversight than that of President George W. Bush, whom many Democratic senators attacked for secrecy and for expanding executive power in the national security realm.
"This is not Dick Cheney we’re talking about here," he said, according to Democratic senators who asked not to be named discussing the private meeting. ... The president noted that he would have “probably objected” over the White House’s handling of this issue if he were still a senator, they said. But, according to the sources, he noted his viewpoint changed now that he occupies the Oval Office — not a room in a Senate office building.

As headline-ready as the Dick Cheney-mentioning quote is, it's important to remember it's coming second hand (Obama to the senators to the reporter), greatly increasing the chances that it's not a word-for-word quote. Rockefeller and the White House declined to comment on the exchange, but Politico cites two senators—unnamed as they may be—confirming its authenticity, suggesting that at the least the quote is a fairly accurate paraphrase of what the president said.

(Of course, it's worth noting that it was only yesterday that another lawmaker, GOP Rep. John Carter, either misunderstood what Obama said about the proposed Keystone pipeline in a similar closed-door meeting, or was misunderstood by the Buzzfeed reporter he spoke to afterward.)

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***



The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.