CNN's Brooke Baldwin and Esquire magazine writer Tom Junod discussed a new article of Junod's called "The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama" on Monday.
The article has been making waves with its dissection of Obama's program of drone strikes. Junod also appeared on "Morning Joe" to talk about the piece.
Junod's article devotes considerable space to laying out what he sees as the troubling parameters of the drone strikes:
More than any other president you have made the killing rather than the capture of individuals the option of first resort, and have killed them both from the sky, with drones, and on the ground, with "nighttime" raids not dissimilar to the one that killed Osama bin Laden. You have killed individuals in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, and are making provisions to expand the presence of American Special Forces in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In Pakistan and other places where the United States has not committed troops, you are estimated to have killed at least two thousand by drone. You have formalized what is known as "the program," and at the height of its activity it was reported to be launching drone strikes in Pakistan every three days. Your lethality is expansive in both practice and principle; you are fighting terrorism with a policy of preemptive execution, and claiming not just the legal right to do so but the legal right to do so in secret. The American people, for the most part, have no idea who has been killed, and why; the American people -- and for that matter, most of their representatives in Congress -- have no idea what crimes those killed in their name are supposed to have committed, and have been told that they are not entitled to know.
Junod also focuses on the killing of 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. An American citizen, he was killed in a drone strike in Yemen two weeks after his father, alleged terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, even though, as Junod says, the boy had not been accused of any crimes.
On Monday, Baldwin brought up Abdulrahman al-Awlaki as a way to ask Junod about the Obama administration's claims of deep precision and review when it comes to drone strikes.
"How do they have time to sign off on each person when you say your number is thousands, killing thousands of people with these drone strikes?" she asked.
Junod said that this was one of the main points of his article. He added that al-Awlaki's son's killing appeared to have been an accident, and that this "sort of contradicts this narrative that they put out that every killing is done with great care and great precision."
"They have been mute as you point out when it comes to these mistakes, this young man's name, you say in your piece, is probably a name the president has never uttered," Baldwin said.
"Yes," Junod said. "He has definitely not uttered the name of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki." He added that he was worried about putting so much lethal power in a president's hands.
"One of the things that they have been saying all along is that this procedure, that this process is moral because they are moral men involved in it," he said. "And our Constitution is sort of built to sort of guard against that very presumption."
"Do you, Tom - do you believe President Obama, through his control of the drone program, murdered this boy?" Baldwin asked as a last question.
"I think that he killed him with a program that has expanded the use of killing in a reckless manner," Junod said.