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June 1, 2012

House, Senate candidates divide on Obama drone stand

A detailed description of President Obama's penchant for unilaterally deciding on drone strikes as the administration works its way down a "kill list" of terrorist suspects has been read with concern by the incumbent Democratic congressman from the 6th District, his Republican opponent and the leading candidates in the state's U.S. Senate race.

Congressman John Tierney described himself as having "serious questions" about whether targeted killing and drone use "comports with the relevant international and domestic laws."

Meanwhile, Tierney's opponent, Republican Richard Tisei, said that "no president, of either party, should have a blank check when it comes to the use of American military power."

Tierney and Tisei, as well as Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, the leading Democratic challenger to Brown's re-election in November, provided the Times with their reactions to a nearly 7,000-word report in The New York Times. The report described how Obama, over the course of his three-plus years in office, has morphed from a candidate who promised to close the Guantanamo prison facility and end torture into the president who issues death sentences based on risk profiles, weekly debate between White House and various national security officials and unpublished legal memoranda.

Neither Brown, who in 2010 captured the seat vacated by the death in 2009 of Edward M. Kennedy, nor Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, expressed any disagreement with the president's policy of killing terrorist suspects or risks by drone attack, as described in the story that was published Tuesday.

The same story explained that the Obama presidency has effectively reduced the collateral civilian damage by counting all military-age males killed in the strike against the target to be "combatants."

Brown, a lawyer, former municipal official and former state senator who has cast himself as a nonideological unifier, and Warren, a political neophyte and self-proclaimed anti-Wall Street populist, have been locked in a virtual dead heat.

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