Terrorism

Obama Makes a Mockery of Due Process, DOJ Memo Justifies Targeted Killing

Imagine that you live in a country that is run by a powerful handful of people that can order the death of any of its citizens, at any time, for any given reason without ever pressing charges against that citizen or bringing him or her to justice.

Imagine that this country you live in has apologists picked by the democratically elected president telling you and your family that what the president decides to do, should be done, whether you like it or not. They claim that his decisions should be supported by you, whether you think that what he’s doing is right or not, or even if what he chooses to do doesn’t represent you or your loved ones in the slightest.

This country is the United States of America, and the handful of people ruling our resources and citizens have a hit list of Americans and non-Americans they can kill at any given time, for any given reason, without due process.

The president’s apologists also want you to believe that that’s okay, he knows exactly what he’s doing and you shouldn’t be afraid.

According to a Washington Post report, President Obama’s hit list, which goes by the title “disposition matrix,” included at least three Americans. During President George W. Bush’s administration, an intelligence official claimed that he “did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing.” Under Obama, at least three American names are known to have been part of the hit list.

White House unwilling to restrain the NSA anytime soon

The USA Freedom Act, which is cosponsored by 102 House members, would correct some issues with the Patriot Act by curbing the National Security Agency’s ability to administer communication sweeps and ensuring that searches of data of Americans would not be performed without warrants.

In spite of the great support this bill has been receiving, President Obama recently decided to maintain a previous arrangement that allows a single military official to direct the National Security Agency while also directing the military’s cyberwarfare command. This follows a recent statement delivered by President Obama himself concerning his commitment to restrain the spying agency’s power.

The Obama Administration decided to maintain the controversial arrangement despite criticism, showing that it might not be inclined to restrain the NSA’s activities anytime soon.

Top U.S. intelligence officials urged the administration to maintain the Cyber Command and the NSA under separate leadership due to accountability concerns. The administration was also warned that problems could stem from the undue concentration of power in case it decided to uphold the arrangement.

The administration vaguely described its decision to maintain one person as the NSA director and the Cyber Command commander as “the most effective approach to accomplishing both agencies’ missions.”

Rand Paul Introduces Bill to Obstruct U.S. Aid to Syrian Rebels

In light of recent reports concerning a bill introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that would hinder President Barack Obama’s efforts to provide weaponry to rebel armies in Syria, Syrian government officials told reporters that America’s support would do little to help put an end to the country’s three-year civil war.

The bill would keep the United States Department of Defense or the Central Intelligence Agency from supporting any military or paramilitary campaign in Syria. According to Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), “any military involvement in Syria, including the arming of Syrian rebels, needs to be authorized through Congress, where concerns can be publicly debated and the American people can have a say.” Sens. Lee, Tom Udall (D-NM), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) are also co-sponsoring the bill.

President Obama’s decision to put arms in the hands of Syrian rebels could prolong the war and encourage terrorism, according to the Syrian Foreign Minister. The CIA was ordered earlier this month to station several distribution points across Turkey and Jordan. Arms would be distributed with the help of Americans stationed in the neighboring countries in order to offer support to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is the most organized rebel faction in the country fighting against the government’s forces. The U.S. has already provided Jordan with 700 American troops, a F-16 fighter unit, and a battery of Patriot anti-ballistic missile systems, all furnished by the Pentagon under a military exercise completed by both U.S. and Jordanian troops.

Your Ox Will Eventually Be Gored

It seems logical that every American, regardless of political affiliation/philosophy, race, religion or creed, would be concerned about the revelations concerning domestic spying on the part of the NSA. If the Obama administration can spy on and mistreat the Tea Party and other right wing causes, the next Republican administration could spy on and mistreat Occupy Wall Street and other left wing causes.

As it turns out, this is not necessarily the case. According to an article by David A. Love, the black community has largely greeted this news with a shrug and a yawn.

Is this lack of concern because many blacks do not want to be critical of the first black* president? This might account for some of this shrugging but Love suspects that there is something much deeper at work here:

The black community has decades of experience being monitored, so this type of surveillance is nothing new. Given the long history of being spied upon, many blacks already assume they are being monitored by the government […]
[…]
African-Americans are no strangers to surveillance, as their activities were highly regulated through the slave codes, laws which controlled both slaves and free blacks.

The mistreatment of blacks did not end when slavery was abolished, of course. Love goes on to describe several other atrocities such as the Tuskegee experiment, J. Edgar Hoover’s illegal spying on Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, and others.

Your Secrets Are Not Safe with the Government

government secrets

During a recent show, Chris Hayes, host of All In with Chris Hayes, made some very important points worthy of sharing here about government secrecy and the government’s inability to keep secrets:

As of the end of 2011, there were 1.4 million people with top secret security clearance […] just one of the 1.4 million people is on trial for leaking a heck of a lot of secrets. Bradley Manning is the 25-year-old soldier accused of turning over files to Wikileaks including reports from Afghanistan and air strikes to killed civilians. His trial got under way and he faces prison. He is viewed as a hero and others see him as a villain and a traitor. What he is is proof that the government cannot keep secrets. If 1.4 million people had access, that access is not a secret in any real way.

Drone Strikes: Questionably Legal, Certainly Not Ethical, and Most Unwise

Above, watch Obama Administration Press Secretary Jay Carney explain that the drone strikes are “legal”, “ethical”, and “wise.” This has got to be one the biggest loads of crap I have heard since Obama was elected in 2008.

The legality of these drone strikes is highly questionable, as Doug Mataconis notes over at OTB. I fully expect court challenges to these strikes. Whether or not they succeed is a matter of speculation for people far more trained in the arcane arts of the law than I.

They are certainly not ethical. There have always been deep ethical qualms about killing human beings. In the modern era, we have notions such as due process, trials, courts of appeal, and judicial oversight, as well as punishment for those who kill wrongly. In combat situations, we accept homicide as par for the course, with both sides shooting at each other to kill. But this is not the same situation. This is picking an individual and raining missiles on him via robot death kites. This is not war. This is assassination. There are no restraints nor oversight. If you have a code of ethics that allows you to just kill people, on a whim, without any restraint whatsoever, you are a deeply troubled person and should be committed to a mental hospital. When will Obama go?

They are most definitely not wise. If anything, the drone strikes have only hardened al-Qaeda against us, and have turned us into enemies to the locals there, killing and maiming at will. Is it wise to “double-tap” targets and blow up emergency responders? Is it wise when only one in fifty of our victims are actually bad guys? No, this is not wise. This is most certainly unwise.

Obama’s Secret Power To Kill Anyone, Anywhere, at Any Time

drones

Naomi Wolf—eeeeeeek! I know, I know, but bear with me, please—had a very interesting column in the Guardian about a new independent documentary called Dirty Wars, tracking the use of secret assassins by the US government. It neatly dovetails with the recent release of a DOJ memo outlining the legal case for drone strikes on Americans. Together, the two items reveal that we are living in a very different world, one where the American president has unlimited power to kill anybody, without any sort of legal repercussions whatsoever.

Wolf writes:

The film Dirty Wars, which premiered at Sundance, can be viewed, as Amy Goodman sees it, as an important narrative of excesses in the global “war on terror”. It is also a record of something scary for those of us at home – and uncovers the biggest story, I would say, in our nation’s contemporary history.

Brandon Raub: Not A Martyr, But Still A Victim

I’m going to have to disagree with my colleague Kevin on the Brandon Raub case. Sure, I get that he is no martyr. (First of all, he isn’t dead. Yet.) But neither is there any cause for the man to picked up by the FBI and involuntarily put in custody for “psychiatric evaluation.”

We all know the comments on his Facebook wall. Kevin listed some of them. Yes, they looked like Mr. Raub was deeply frustrated with this country, and they were, I admit, a bit threatening. (“I’m coming for some heads,” “There will be justice,” etc.). But is that grounds for arresting him? I find that very doubtful.

If my mother had posted what she had said to me on a daily basis as a kid to a Facebook wall, she would no doubt be arrested. That’s because, half the time I did something very stupid and aggravating, she would shout “I’m going to kill you!” Now that’s a statement many would take as one of intent to kill. But did my mother ever intend to murder me? Of course not. (She might say otherwise, but really, she never wanted to hurt me.) Yet some overzealous law enforcement officer or child protective services agent might have seen that and had my mother locked up, for really no good reason.

Judge Rules NDAA Unconstitutional

Well, at least a part of it. From the Associated Press (via Newsday):

A judge on Wednesday struck down a portion of a law giving the government wide powers to regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists, saying it left journalists, scholars and political activists facing the prospect of indefinite detention for exercising First Amendment rights.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan said in a written ruling that a single page of the law has a “chilling impact on First Amendment rights.” She cited testimony by journalists that they feared their association with certain individuals overseas could result in their arrest because a provision of the law subjects to indefinite detention anyone who “substantially” or “directly” provides “support” to forces such as al-Qaida or the Taliban. She said the wording was too vague and encouraged Congress to change it.

“An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so,” the judge said.

She said the law also gave the government authority to move against individuals who engage in political speech with views that “may be extreme and unpopular as measured against views of an average individual.

“That, however, is precisely what the First Amendment protects,” Forrest wrote.

In the words of our forefathers, Hallelujah.

Iran and America’s Nuclear Hypocrisy

Despite the heavy news coverage of the Republican primary race—known in these circles as “The Farce Seen ‘Round The World”—came news of Obama’s stance on Iran, and his statements to Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu of Israel in a meeting over the past week. From ABC News:

Amid rising concerns about the prospect of the Iranian government making a nuclear weapon, President Obama today assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “the United States will always have Israel’s back when it comes to Israel’s security.”

In contrast to the tense Oval Office meeting of last May, when the president and prime minister were more focused on the stalled Israel-Palestinian peace process Obama and Netanyahu today sounded united, though behind the scenes they are working through some contentious issues on how to best discourage Iran from continuing with any plans to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

Echoing remarks he delivered Sunday to the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Obama argued that diplomacy is the best way to resolve the issue but that all options, including military action, are on the table.

“We will continue to tighten pressure when it comes to sanctions, I reserve all options. And my policy here is not going to be one of containment. My policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons,” Obama said. “When I say all options are at the table, I mean it.”

 


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.