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from The Great Debate:

Drones: From bad habit to terrible policy

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) recently lambasted legislation that may prevent the White House from transferring the lethal drone program from the CIA to the Defense Department. The provision is in a classified part of the bill, so the public may never know what it says.

This culture of secrecy underscores the reality that real drone reform is on the verge of conclusively failing to launch. Despite months of political fury and negative press, the drone program and its worst impulse -- to kill without accountability for who is killed and why -- are poised to become a permanent part of the way the United States conducts counterterrorism.

If there is to be any real reform on drone strikes, it must come this year -- while the revelations over National Security Agency surveillance are keeping heat on the White House. Secrecy is the common denominator of the criticism the White House faces on both issues. President Barack Obama’s rhetoric on transparency and reform will always trigger cynicism so long as his administration’s practices of official secrecy continue.

In May 2013, the White House responded to criticism about secrecy -- including a filibuster by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) -- by releasing a “fact sheet” on its “policy standards” for drone strikes. It detailed the administration’s aspirations for a contained drone program. But the document does nothing to allay concerns that when push comes to shove, the United States will bend the legal rules: using elastic and unconventional legal definitions to permit expansive and potentially unlawful killings.

from The Great Debate:

Prying open drone secrets

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A federal appeals court rebuffed the Obama administration's drone policy on Friday, ruling that the CIA stretched its considerable secrecy powers “too far.”  The stinging decision may be the biggest news in the war on terror that you've never heard about.

The ruling lays down a key marker for a significant shift in counterterrorism policy. Under President Barack Obama, the United States has moved from detaining suspected terrorists to killing many of them in targeted attacks. There were 10 times as many drone deaths in 2010 as 2004, according to the Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative.  This is why there are now fewer pressing questions about detention or Guantanamo, a vestige of post-September 11 battles. The United States hardly ever captures any new terror suspects.

from Tales from the Trail:

Senator: Is there enough money on planet to subsidize healthcare?

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All the government subsidies in the world will not be enough to make health insurance premiums affordable for Americans without more cost control and competition in the proposed sweeping reform backed by President Barack Obama, one Senator says.

No that's not a Republican talking, it's a Democrat.

USA/As congressional Democrats work to narrow their differences over healthcare reform some are worried that people will be unable to afford the premiums on the medical coverage they will be required to buy.

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