The New York Times has a very lengthy article today on President Barack Obama's war on terrorism policy. Obama himself, at his weekly "Terror Tuesday" meetings, "[insists] on approving every new name on an expanding 'kill list,' poring over terrorist suspects' biographies on what one official calls the macabre 'baseball cards' of an unconventional war," the Times reports.
But perhaps the oddest revelation in the news story is this: David Axelrod attended Obama's "Kill List" meetings. As the Times notes:
David Axelrod, the president’s closest political adviser, began showing up at the “Terror Tuesday” meetings, his unspeaking presence a visible reminder of what everyone understood: a successful attack would overwhelm the president’s other aspirations and achievements.
"[A] successful attack would overwhelm the president’s other aspirations and achievements" is how the Times explains Axelrod's presence. So are we to believe that President Obama seeks success in killing terrorists off his list because it will help his political goals? Apparently so.
David Axelrod spent two years in the White House in his role as a senior political adviser--"the president's closest political adviser." He is now a senior campaign adviser, working out of Chicago and spending his days trying to get President Obama reelected, so presumably he does not still attend these "Terror Tuesday" sessions, though the Times article is not clear about this. But by all accounts he remains close to the president.
This revelation comes 4,000 words into the article, but it perhaps suggests more about the President Obama's "principles and will"--what the article is ostensibly about--than the other elements of the piece, which tries to explain how the liberal former law school teacher takes a nuanced approach to killing terrorists.
The Times reports:
Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.
These are the hard decisions Axelrod watched over.