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Drone wars, Guantánamo and "homeland security", from Obama to Trump
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As Donald Trump prepares to take office, Barack Obama's presidency has been under serious scrutiny. Below is a selection of articles examining Obama's legacy in relation to drone killings; the research, development and deployment of "homeland security" policies and technologies; and Guantánamo Bay.

Drone wars

Trump, Obama and the future of targeted killing (TBIJ, link):

"Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy is often discussed in terms of things he didn’t do: intervene in Syria, reset with Russia, get out of Afghanistan.

In one area however, Obama developed and expanded a defining policy architecture which his successor Donald Trump now inherits: the ability to kill suspected terrorists anywhere without US personnel having to leave their bases.

While his administration lauded the drone programme for being so “surgical and precise” it could take out the enemy without putting “innocent men, women and children in danger”, human rights groups lambasted it for doing just that – hundreds of civilians were reported killed outside active battlefields during Obama’s eight years in power.

As his presidency progressed, Obama put restraints in place aimed at reducing civilian casualties – but experts are now worried those limitations will be swept away by Trump in favour of an “anything goes to get the bad guys” approach."

And: Obama’s covert drone war in numbers: ten times more strikes than Bush (TBIJ, link)

Homeland security

Trump’s Homeland Security Team Likely to Emphasize Facial Recognition and Biometric Surveillance (The Intercept, link):

"The backgrounds of the members of the team that President-elect Donald Trump is picking to shape the Department of Homeland Security suggests he will aggressively pursue surveillance using the latest technological advancements."

Written prior to Trump's election: How the War on Terror Fuels Trump (Jacobin, link):

"If a constituency exists for Trump’s extreme anti-terror agenda it’s because Republicans and Democrats alike have spent the last fifteen years cultivating paranoia, secrecy, and deference to executive authority — while vastly overstating the threat of attacks on American soil.

For fifteen years, the US government has waged a war on terror premised on the idea that the extraordinary threat of global terrorism demands extraordinary measures, that the effective prevention of terrorist plots demands sacrifices of civil liberties, and that rooting out terror across the globe necessitates an expansion of what is permissible under traditional norms of war. For fifteen years, the state has been “playing to the edge” and beyond — enabling the emergence of a candidate who doesn’t know or care where the edge is.

Foreign policy elites made their own bed; now Trump is sleeping in it."


Obama’s Real Legacy at Guantánamo (one small window, link)

"As Barack Obama’s second term as US president comes to an end, much has been said and written about his achievements, or in the case of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp, his failure to close it. One of his first actions upon being elected president for the first term in early 2009 was signing an executive order to the effect that Guantánamo would close within one year. Over 40 prisoners remain as he leaves office."

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