Running to the Left of Obama on "Kill Lists"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 17 2012 5:33 PM

Running to the Left of Obama on "Kill Lists"

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The photo above was taken as I walked past a throng of people at Hofstra University, watching a live MSNBC taping. Abdulraham, and his father Anwar al-Awlaki, were killed in a September 2011 drone strike. The targeted killing was approved by the president, as we learned in a leak-rich New York Times story that coined the term that covered decisions like this: "the kill list."

Neither drones nor the list has come up in the 270 minutes of prez/vice prez debating we've see so far. Instead, we've heard the president and vice president win rounds on foreign policy by promising, explicitly, to hunt down and kill terrorists. I only heard one post-debate question about these killings, when a reporter for a left-leaning organization posed it to Tom Ridge. What, if Mitt Romney was elected, was he going to do with the kill list?

To my surprise, Ridge banked left. "Well, listen, I was with President Bush at daily briefings every day," he said. "And I daresay, never once in my presence did I see the president target an individual or individuals. That's left up to the military, that's left up to the intelligence community. So I'm not going to speak for Gov. Romney, but I doubt very seriously he's going to take in his own hands life and death decisions about people. The only one President Bush had was Osama bin Laden."

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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