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NYT: Obama administration hurried to draft rulebook governing drone strikes in case Romney won the election

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By Doug Powers  •  November 25, 2012 01:27 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Growing uneasy with the thought of unilateral kill list authority being inherited by a successor whose mantel doesn’t sport a Nobel Peace Prize, the Obama administration spent some time during the campaign season drafting unmanned drone strike rules just in case Mitt Romney won the election:

The president’s team wanted to provide Romney a set of “clear standards and procedures” for drone strikes, a practice that thus far has been the cause of many behind-the-scenes debates, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

While Administration officials openly say that the decisions to carry out drone strikes were both legal and done with great care, there was a sense that rules to govern the use of drone strikes should be institutionalized.

According to the Times, a drone rulebook was being drafted because a lack of set standards governing the strikes could have been dangerous… in the hands of a potential Romney administration:

“There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands,” said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity. With a continuing debate about the proper limits of drone strikes, Mr. Obama did not want to leave an “amorphous” program to his successor, the official said. The effort, which would have been rushed to completion by January had Mr. Romney won, will now be finished at a more leisurely pace, the official said.

The reasoning apparently being that amorphous programs are best kept in the hands of amorphous administrations.

In early September, this question was asked to people attending the Dem convention: Can Mitt Romney be trusted with Obama’s kill list? Sensing they could be hit by an oncoming freight train of hypocrisy, top Dems in Charlotte responded with a resounding “no comment.” However, the White House’s position was obvious: Vague standards and unclear procedures in the hands of anybody except the administration that promised to toughen and clarify standards and procedures could have disastrous consequences.

**Written by Doug Powers

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