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The Inconvenient but Vital Drone Debate -

The Inconvenient but Vital Drone Debate NYTimes com


Stashed in: Drones

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Some think not. In a report released last week by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Tara McKelvey, who has done her share of significant reporting on the issue, suggested that during Mr. Obama’s first term, “the media fell short in its coverage” of the drone program.

She applauded the increased attention to the issue, saying in a survey that coverage in five major media outlets had almost doubled since the start of that term, rising to 625 stories in 2012 from 326 in 2009.

Maybe we are asking the wrong question. Journalists at The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The New York Times and The New Yorker have done a remarkable job on pulling back the blankets on a covert program overseen by an administration that is very aggressive in protecting secrets.

If the Congress — and perhaps the public — doesn’t know about the drone program, it isn’t for lack of coverage. Perhaps the reason so many people are in the dark is because they want it that way. After all, if the bad guys are on the run without risking legions of boots on the ground, what’s not to like?

For many people, of course, there is plenty not to like. Michael Isikoff of NBC News obtained a 16-page white paper outlining when the government contends that it is legal to kill Americans who join Al Qaeda. His reporting helped make the drone issue part of the confirmation hearings, leading to this statement on Thursday to the Senate Intelligence Committee from Mr. Brennan, which sounded like a parody of Washington doublespeak: “What we need to do is optimize transparency on these issues, but at the same time, optimize secrecy and the protection of our national security.”

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