Other Ten Percent 2/21/13

Feb 21 2013

When the aliens first read Conor Friedersdorf’s proposal to give president Obama the power to kill with his mind they were somewhat confused as to why he’d need it. Earth was facing a rapid shift in its climate, few could agree on how to direct and control the rapid pace of technological development, and worst of all most of its major forms of government were grinding to a halt as people exploited fundamental imbalances of power inherent in democratic and representative systems of government. In short, Earth was stepping up to a confluence of events that killed 99% of intelligent civilizations in galactic history and so the obsession with religious conflict seemed odd to say the least.

Stil, like any caring beings witnessing such an event the aliens wanted to do what they could to help. So, when they intercepted digital information that told them that most Americans would support granting Obama telekinetic assassination skills they decided to grant Barack Obama telekinetic assassination skills. It was, as best they understood the issue, a way to help.

They appeared to him while he slept; slipping past the White House’s defenses and appearing in his bedroom while the First Lady was out of Washington. President Obama is an unusually rational man who, when confronted by aliens in the dead of night who tell him he can kill anyone he wishes with his mind, is more likely to believe he’s had an especially vivid nightmare than that he’s been gifted with extraordinary powers. Some part of him however couldn’t help but try at his morning security briefing. When shown a live image of a mid-level terrorist in Afghanistan who had authorized attacks on Americans abroad he stared at the screen, thought about it, and made the man fall over dead.

The President immediately ordered most of the junior staff members out of the room for fear of what they would think. He hesitantly, but thoroughly, explained to the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the dream he’d had last night. He assured them that he remained skeptical, but asked that another high-priority target with confirmed kills be brought to him with a live video feed. Within an hour he had yet another video, concentrated yet again, and yet again saw a terrorist fall to the ground dead.

At 10:32 A.M. the president arrived at George Washington University Hospital for treatment.

Two hours later, after the most most advanced medical imagery tests known to man the staff at the hospital declared there was nothing unusual in any of the president’s medical scans. Yet, by the end of the day the president was able to kill another 3 confirmed terrorists and so, slowly, uncomfortably, the military came to believe that the president now had the power to instantly kill any target they could get a visual of on the face of the earth.

It took a few days for them to gather a coherent strategy around the president’s ability to kill any enemy of the country he could look at on a television screen but, in their defense, it only took them a few days to gather a coherent strategy around the president’s ability to kill any enemy of the country he could look at on a television screen. Rapidly, two separate schools developed. The first and most popular felt that with the new ability to target opponents with no collateral damage the wisest move was to try and keep the president’s new powers secret for as long as possible. After all, the less the terrorists knew of their remarkable new power to destroy enemies in even crowded areas without any collateral damage the longer they could use their newfound tactical powers with no problem.

But a second group also emerged that felt that the need for secrecy was now a detriment to national security. Testing had shown that it took the president only two minutes to kill a target and by the country’s best estimates there were barely 400 Al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Given those numbers the wisest strategy, at least according to the second group, was to go public with their new powers and strike all at once. Killing as many officials as possible with their newfound ability before the enemy could react was the most militarily and politically advantageous move.

The best point the more conservative branches of the pentagon at the CIA could make was that the public would likely, and rightly, be alarmed that there were in fact extra-terrestrial beings and that they could, without the knowledge of the US government, grant the president the ability to kill people with his mind. But, the president was largely sympathetic to the more open elements of the military and so a compromise was reached.

The president would organize a coordinated strike on as many terrorist officials as we were able to monitor at once and would explain to the public what we were now capable of. The actual mechanism for the attack however would be explained away as a new, highly advanced drone system capable of precision sniper shots from ten to fifteen thousand feet.

So, barely two weeks after the president was visited by extra-terrestrials, the president killed every major official we had eyes on in the length of his usual security briefing. Within a week every terrorist official of any note in Afghanistan or Pakistan was dead.

Of course, the new system drew a great deal of criticism. You don’t kill over 100 people in a week without somebody taking you to task. But, among the more experienced members of the Washington press corps, an even more disturbing trend was taking place. They were asking questions about how and not just why.

With most of the high-value targets eliminated in one week the president’s daily kill-list dropped back down to the single digits which led to a certain laxity in keeping Obama’s powers secret. Eventually the truth came to light. Memos and mid-level sources within the Pentagon revealed that the president could kill terrorists with his mind. While the press found that hard to believe the evidence was soon so overwhelming that they went to print with their reports anyway.

An initial wave of denials from the military followed. When the news didn’t die down the White House felt the best move was to simply come out with the truth. While the public panicked over the news that aliens were real and panicked even more that they could grant the president psychic assassination skills with no real difficulty, they were, on the whole, supportive of the operations themselves. The president was defeating our enemies and he was killing less people while doing it.

To be sure the program had its opponents. Newsweek ran a cover asking if Obama was our first mass-murdering president. Slate meanwhile had a continuing series on “Obama’s Death Notes” based upon the Anime series with a shockingly similar premise. In general though, the war on terror continued much as it had for the last few years. The president’s ability to eliminate confirmed targets with zero risk of collateral damage was indeed a powerful asset in the War on Terror but terror, seemingly, had failed to notice.

That’s when the president noticed something remarkable. Due to the incredibly ambiguous language in Friersdorf’s article he didn’t even need a video feed to kill his target. After he was told a general description of a high value target our intelligence agencies were unable to locate by satellite (unable to even confirm the true name of in fact) the president found himself idly wondering about the terrorist in question. Suddenly, he had a very clear picture of the man’s name and location and, after two minutes of concentration, was able to kill him. It took the CIA three days to confirm the kill but it seemed that the president’s powers had expanded once again.

The discovery that the president could now effortlessly visualize the location and actions of every human being on Earth from just a general description raised any number of privacy concerns on the left. How long, The New Republic asked, until Obama turned these powers on American citizens? But it also raised a possibility for the War on Terror that hadn’t really been considered since it began: winning it. Suddenly, the president had the power to end the life of every terrorist on Earth and he could do so without any of the concerns that had plagued his drone assassination program for years.

Gone were the concerns over the expansion of executive authority since the aliens had gifted only Obama with these abilities. Likewise, concerns that other governments might abuse the precedent were eliminated since the was no precedent, only a superpowered US president. Finally, now that terrorists were essentially unable to act in secret Obama was able to publicly explain each of his targets in a transparant manner with no risk to American troops, ending the secret tribunals that had caused so much controversy.

That didn’t eliminate all objections of course; there were legitimate pacifist reactions against Obama killing our nation’s enemies. Obama himself had to concede that, at least occasionally, killing a terrorist resulted in their friend or family member becoming a radical terrorist themselves. But, for the first time in human history, a superpower was able to kill its enemies with absolutely no risk of collateral damage so the public overwhelmingly supported the president’s actions.

Soon however the sheer scale of the problem began to overwhelm the administration. Rough estimates of the total number of terrorists on Earth varied anywhere from 300,000 to 1.1 million. Given that it took the president two minutes to kill each terrorist, ending terrorism might take every remaining moment of Obama’s administration. As the musical Rent taught us in what may be its only lasting contribution to society there are 525,600 minutes in a year, and Obama planned to use as many of them as possible to fight terrorism.

After a meeting with leading constitutional scholars along with several members of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Obama decided to try and exploit a loophole in the powers granted to him by the aliens. He had been told that his powers expired at the end of his administration but he gambled that abdicating the day to day responsibilities of the presidency to Joe Biden using Section 3 of the 25th amendment would not technically end his term. It turns out he was right and Obama dedicated his life, full time, to concentrating on enemies of the United States and murdering them with his mind.

Obama managed to identify and kill almost 100,000 terrorists before they all decided to attempt to wait out his presidency. He was able to identify a few more confirmed targets despite their lack of identifiable terrorist activity thanks to worldwide intelligence reports. Still, killing every open terrorist on Earth took him only six months.

His task completed for the moment and his legacy assured Obama faced a radically changed global landscape where world leaders now sought to prevent the reemergence of terrorism rather than minimize its threat and, increasingly, viewed Barack Obama himself as the greatest threat to global security. But Obama shocked the world once again. Mentally broken by six straight months of killing people with his mind Obama resigned his term of office, formally making Joe Biden the actual, rather than acting, president of the United States and destroying the mental gifts he was granted by extra-terrestrials. While it didn’t totally destroy terrorism on Earth it struck a blow from which most modern terrorist organizations would never recover.

In his remaining days Obama and his family retire to Hawaii but Michelle comments privately that she thinks she’ll never get her real husband back. Sasha Obama eventually writes a memoir, My Two Fathers, about how the experience of killing so many men (undeniably evil though they may have been) irrevocably changed Barack.

And, somewhere in Venice, California, Conor Friedersdorf feels like an idiot.
– – – – –

I got bored tonight and this article pissed me off so this is what I wrote instead of OTP. There are any number of legitimate arguments against Obama’s program to kill people via UAV using secret tribunals. If somebody wanted to yell at me that the program was wrong and should stop I’d have basically no way to disagree with them. As a result though the continued existence of articles that seem to argue that the fact that drones kill less people is somehow a huge sin rather than the main feature of the program drives me crazy. We should be having a grand debate about executive authority and secrecy in this country instead of having commentators show off their skills in ethical philosophy by trying to argue that less death is worse than more death when it isn’t traditional warfare. The fact that giving the president superpowers has jack shit to do with any of that makes me even madder and made me go off on this article in particular. Should we be mad the president has the power to fly thanks to Air Force One or that he has X-Ray vision with a simple visit to the doctor’s office?

All the numbers in here are ballparked but I think they’re the right order of magnitude. I gave sources where I could and where I couldn’t you should assume I averaged a few sources or just made shit up. I’m not a columnist on terrorism anywhere and if you think I made a huge mistake I probably did. Given that I had less than 5 hours to research a story about the President gaining psychic powers I don’t think that’s that bad. We’ll see if I still enjoy this tomorrow or just decide I was insane to write this in the first place.

My apologies for all the spelling and gramatical mistakes that are probably in here. I finished this barely an hour before I needed to send it out so God knows how many titles and documents vital to United States history I incorrectly and inconsistently capitalized. My sins against the comma are, as always, innumerable. If anybody ever gives a fuck about this I promise I’ll clean it up.

No responses yet

Leave a Reply