DOJ Memo: Obama Administration Claims Broader Authority To Kill Americans

PresObamaWe have previously discussed the President’s “kill list” policy under which Obama claims the right to be able to kill any American based on his sole judgment and discretion. A confidential Justice Department memo now sheds more light on that policy and states a broader basis for such killings than previously suggested by the Administration. It is also not clear why this memo was kept secret by the Administration since it deals only with legal interpretations — not classified operational information.

Last March, Attorney General Eric Holder appeared at the Northwestern University Law School to present the new policy, claiming that the President did not need any conviction or even a charge to kill an American citizen. While he stressed that this was based on a rationale that the citizen posed “an imminent threat of violent attack,” I noted at the time that any such limitation was purely discretionary under the theory of executive power being advanced by the Obama Administration.

It now appears that the Administration lawyers reached the same conclusion. The memo notes that there does not need to be an imminent attack in terms of an unfolding plan or operation: “The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”

In plain language, that means that the President considers the citizens to be a threat in the future. Moreover, the memo allows killings when an attempt to capture the person would pose an “undue risk” to U.S. personnel. That undue risk is left undefined.

The memo, entitled “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qa’ida or An Associated Force,” is a tour de force of an imperial presidency. It was provided previously to both Democratic and Republican members of Congress on the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees. However, those members did nothing to stop such an extreme assertion of unilateral presidential power or to alert the public that the president was claiming far greater latitude in ordering the killings of citizens.

In an Orwellian twist, the memo insists “A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination.” It is more like a very pointed expression of presidential displeasure.

Here is the memo: 020413_DOJ_White_Paper

Source: NBC

395 thoughts on “DOJ Memo: Obama Administration Claims Broader Authority To Kill Americans

  1. If the killing takes place on a battlefield or if the individual is setting up an ambush or is dumping poison into a reservoir, etc., then I would say killing the person is self defense.

    What is the threshold for killing? Can I get mad and say I wish someone would level DC and start all over?

    Oh, sh1t I see a fla…………………………….

  2. When I heard this on the radio this morning, I had to pull my car off to the side of the road and calm myself down. The insistence of this administration that it has the power to assassinate citizens of this country and “does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.” is simply disgusting. Every single American should have already been screaming about this at the top of their lungs as WRONG. On so very many levels. Unfortunately for the future of this nation, I fear too many will simply raise their head and say “what?” and then put it right back in the sand.

  3. I heard a new term last night that I’m going to apply to this issue.

    It is “fractally wrong” meaning “wrong at every scale of analysis no matter how you look at it”.

  4. It’s time for our next evolutionary step in, something better suited to withstand the rising temperatures in this boiling pot.

    The human backbone has got to go. Dead weight. Or at least it needs to curve more, like in frogs.

  5. It is hardly Orwellian at all. The fact is that any person does not have to wait until a crook pulls his gun out in your home to be able to shoot in self defense. The fact is that these individuals make NO bones about taking part in terrorist actions. They are far removed from the control and authorities of the countries in which they operate, so there is NO other means the US has to disrupt their terrorist activities. Thus the concern that this means the US can kill any person they wish in any foreign country is BS. The US is NOT using drones in western Europe or other countries which DO have law enforcement in ALL of their territory.

    The fact that the US Senators knew of this and had NO objections is quite sufficient for me to ally any fears about unwarranted killings. LIncoln used far worse means and violated the US Constitution in many more ways IN THE US. He went so far as to arrest and deport a sitting US Rep. I think that he was quite justified in those conditions of civil war. As history has PROVEN his actions did NOT lead to a dictatorship, even though they went against the Constitution.

    I agree that we have to keep in mind the dangers of such a course, and I am glad that people ARE concerned about this possibility. Thus I do support this questioning and debate over this.

  6. look at this story in light of the DHS looking to purchase M-16’s and tens of millions of rounds of ammunition and you have to start wondering. Patriot Act has got to go, that should be the mantra for the 2014 elections. Fuk the economy, abortion, left, right; the elimination of the Patriot Act should be every citizens number one concern.

  7. Makes one wonder if there is anyone in DC who is not insane? OR did Congress know about these presidential options? What about the DOJ? Am I mistaken in the belief that the purpose of the Justice Dept is to enforce our laws (made by elected officials) and not make their own laws?
    I’m beginning to think that Adolph Hitler is turning in his grave with envy that he didn’t think of things like this.

  8. randyjet,
    if any action violates the Constitution, it is illegal. The scary part of this is what would stop any President from ordering the killing of an American citizen in the United States by alleging that he/she is an Al Qaida operative?

  9. Constitutional scholar my ass.

    The ‘center’ that continues to not be upset over this abrogation of executive restraint gets smaller by the day, although I doubt the Obamabots will ever relinquish their voluntary blindness. Which tells me it’s time for the administration to crank up another imminent threat to the national security to scare most back into line.

  10. Not just the president hs the ability to order killings:
    “The report, by Michael Isikoff of NBC News, reveals that the Obama administration believes that high-level administration officials — not just the president — may order the killing of “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or an associated force even without evidence they are actively plotting against the U.S.
    “A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination,” states the Justice Department white paper quoted by Isikoff.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/doj-drones-paper_n_2619582.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmaing5%7Cdl2%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D266012

    Akin to that :Extraordinary Rendition Report Finds More Than 50 Nations Involved In Global Torture Scheme Sweden, Canada, UK included in list countries went along.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/extraordinary-rendition-torture-report_n_2617809.html

  11. Let’s see… We have issues with…. The way the Chinese dispose of the elderly…. The Russians…. Get rid of dissonants ….. The Arabic/ Muslim treat the women…. Castro…. Treated its citizens….. The Gestapo dealt with it sworn enemy…… The SS…. Dealt with its targets….. And the way POWs were treated during WWII….. And the Virtnam conflict…..

    Wait a min….. I’ve got it….. The psychopaths are in charge and have become immune to crimes against humanity……and or….. They are just doing business as normal…..

  12. “It was provided previously to both Democratic and Republican members of Congress on the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees. However, those members did nothing to stop such an extreme assertion of unilateral presidential power or to alert the public that the president was claiming far greater latitude in ordering the killings of citizens.”

    We have elected representatives in Congress. Make this issue a condition for their re-election. If Congress passes a law against such actions by a President then in order to take such actions the President must disobey a law enacted by Congress which sets up a Constitutional crisis. Hold Congress accountable through your vote or else we will continue to see the rule of law replaced by the rule of people and we all know from our own experience and the experience of history that people will use every bit of latitude the law allows.

    Will the numbers necessary to take action through their vote show up at the booth? No … not since history assigned the name “Monroe” to the doctrine his Secretary of State (J Q Adams) produced thus beginning the imperialism of the office of President have the people understood the mechanisms used to co-opt their revolution.

  13. No time to worry about real issues -This is where their concerns lie:
    http://www.aol.com/video/women-in-dia-told-not-to-be-plain-jane/517662624/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmaing5%7Cdl32%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D265854
    Women in the Defense Intelligence Agency were give some unexpected tips on dressing for success. According to “Fox & Friends,” they were told to consider wearing makeup and skirts along with painting their nails. DIA officials were quick to respond, saying it was not a mandatory event. According to Talking Points Memo, the director of the DIA called it “highly offensive” in a letter to employees

  14. @ randyjet “Thus the concern that this means the US can kill any person they wish in any foreign country is BS. The US is NOT using drones in western Europe or other countries which DO have law enforcement in ALL of their territory. ”

    Just keep telling yourself that none of this represents a serious erosion of democracy.

    And by the way, what gives you the vaguest idea that it would even be thinkable for the US to operate drones over Western Europe? I suppose a abiding belief in American exceptionalism — which is now becoming a government mantra — might do it.

  15. rafflaw, There are wide areas of the Constitution that have gaps for interpretation such as the power to suspend the writ of habeus corpus. Lincoln took it to mean that as the President, he had that power and could and DID jail those who he thought were a danger to the US government in conditions of civil war. I think he was quite correct in that.

    It is absurd to say that this memo extends to the US or other countries which have governmental power over ALL of their territory. This applies ONLY to ungoverned areas which are outside of the US and the limits of the US Constitution. The US Constitution does NOT give every person on Earth the SAME rights and privileges of US citizens overseas.

    Let us use a thought experiment as Einstein liked to do. During WWII there was a Brit who broadcast as Lord Haw Haw for the Nazix. If the Brits had a drone, would it have been a violation of his rights if the US had jurisdiction to kill him in Berlin? I don’t think so. At wars end when they got their hands on him he got a trial, and was executed.

    Or we could use the case of Pound, who broadcast for the fascists during WWII from Italy. If the US had a drone at the time, would it be a violation of the US Constitution to drop a bomb on his house to kill him? Again, I do NOT think so, and most people I think would agree.

  16. “Washington, D.C. – As the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence prepares to consider White House national security official John Brennan’s nomination to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Al Franken (D- Minn.) have sent a letter to President Obama seeking the legal opinions outlining the President’s authority to authorize the killing of American citizens during the course of counterterrorism operations.

    These legal opinions issued by the Department of Justice have remained hidden from the general public and have been withheld from members of Congress, inhibiting Congress’ ability to conduct necessary oversight. Several requests for these opinions have been either ignored or denied in the past, most recently a request by Senator Wyden made directly to Mr. Brennan several weeks ago.

    “It is vitally important, however, for Congress and the American public to have a full understanding of how the executive branch interprets the limits and boundaries of this authority,” the Senators said in the letter, “so that Congress and the public can decide whether this authority has been properly defined, and whether the President’s power to deliberately kill American citizens is subject to appropriate limitations and safeguards.”

    In the letter, the Senators expressed their understanding that the authority to use lethal force against Americans exists in certain circumstances, but added that the limits and boundaries of that authority should be understood by the public and at the very least by members of Congress. They noted that the President has made statements in the past expressing the need for just this kind of transparency and about the value of well-informed oversight by Congress and the judicial system.”

    The Senators stated that transparency on this issue will be important as the Senate considers national security nominees.” Ron Wyden’s website

  17. leejcaroll,

    F*cking unbelievable!!

    “Employees at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C. received some blunt fashion advice this week on how to look their best at the office.
    A presentation on grooming and appearance for staff suggested females use makeup and nail polish and opt to showcase their femininity in skirts rather than pant suits.
    An agency spokesman has called the dressing tips ‘inappropriate,’ saying the DIA regrets the informal briefing ever took place.

    The presenter, who was not identified, said women should be sure to pay attention to good grooming.
    ‘Makeup makes you more attractive’ they were told, and the advice included a reminder on the importance of painting fingernails.
    ‘A sweater with a skirt is better than a sweater with slacks,’ the presenter recommended, adding ‘no flats.’
    ‘Don’t be a plain Jane,’ attenders were told, in addition to ‘brunettes have more leeway with vibrant colors than blondes or redheads.’

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2272435/Paint-nails-dont-plain-Jane-U-S-intelligence-agency-doles-fashion-advice-employees.html#axzz2K2beP8kl

  18. Thanks Blouise…. Clicking the heels, while right arm and hand extended straight at a 45 degree angle while chanting in unison Der Furher can do no wrong. We must abide by the supreme decisions as the nation as a whole suffers if we don’t do our part…. Sig Heil….

  19. randyjet, your sophistry is truly impressive and smacks of baiting. I’m tempted to wonder if you are ‘of counsel’ for DOJ, obfuscation and incredible rationale branch.

  20. I read the memo. Let’s strip it of its fancy language. The killing of a U.S. citizen at the discretion of the executive branch without charges or a trial is a lynching without the mob.

  21. Mr. Appleton,

    Your words speak volumes of truth. It is truly a sad state of affairs when one has the power to do something as drastic as this without public redress.

  22. That is BS. Let us ground your objections in reality. The FACT is that Al Qeada killed over 3000+ people and destroyed billions of dollars in property. The FACT is this organization is at war with the US. The FACT is that any person or group that does such things is outside the bounds of US justice system and ANY person who is affiliated with them are in FACT enemy combatants. As such, they are subject to being killed at any place or time under ANY law system.

  23. randyjet 1, February 5, 2013 at 11:03 am

    “This applies ONLY to ungoverned areas which are outside of the US and the limits of the US Constitution.”

    And that is clearly stated in the memo… where?

    Funny, I thought the US constitution, with some limited exceptions, follows the flag where ever US officials and personnel are posted, dispatched or deployed.

  24. DOJ can take you into custody and then coerce you to admit something and then kill you as long as they take you outside the U.S. right?

  25. It is constitutional to kill an american citizen during a time of war such as a spy or sabatour. I think the only problen Obummer has is that it has to be a declared war.

  26. This fails to address the aspect of “associated forces”–which opens the door to nearly infinite interpretations. That issue, to me, is even more frightening.

  27. Well DonS,

    Just wait…. The need for eye shades and ear plugs will be needed…. You’re just not being sensitive to feminine rights…. Just forget about the fact that drones don’t target one individual… They take what’s down around…. Now sniper fire…. Words, bullets etc can come from all directions…. You feminatzi you….

  28. None of the mass murders were N.R.A. members , but they were all connected with the Democrats, either registered or have parents that are registered Democrats.

  29. BFM The US Constitution does NOT apply to US officials overseas. In FACT occupied Germans and Japanese did NOT have the same rights as US citizens even though the US controlled part of Germany and all of Japan.

    The US has murdered US citizens abroad for many years as standard ops. In FACT, the US courts have ruled that US citizens killed by the US government have NO legal redress under US law. I will cite some cases. Ben Linder was a civil engineer who was working on a hydroelectric project in Nicaragua, and the CIA targeted him and he was murdered by the Contras as a warning to other Americans who would go to Nicaragua to aid the Sandinistas. Charles Horman who was an American journalist who inadvertently found out the extent of US/CIA involvement in the coup in Chile was murdered with the approval of the CIA and US government. You can see the movie MISSING to see that story.

    The court case that was thrown out was the case of US journalists who were severely injured when they were at a press conference with a Contra leader Eden Pastora that the CIA bombed. Turns out Pastora had become a thorn in the side of the CIA and the Contras since he refused to work with the criminal thugs of the Contra leadership, and the CIA decided to solve that problem by bombing the press conference and blaming it on the Sandinistas. The journalists found out who it was planted the bomb, and he confessed to being a CIA asset. The US courts ruled that the US government had immunity from lawsuits in such a case.

  30. Mike, immunity implies that the person who does the deed can’t be sued under Bivens and can’t be criminally prosecuted either. Now, thousands and thousands of government employees can claim immunity for murder and deprivation of rights under color of law.

  31. What is your position on that guy in Alabama who was holding the kid in the underground bunker? Ok to kill him when he had the kid but not ok when he was sitting out on the veranda with the rifle threatening to round up kids. If only Alabama had a drone before all this happened. The guy kind of looked like al qaeda.

  32. from what I can tell, it wasnt a “people’s” revolution until Andy Jackson busted the banks and the monopolies [granted by government] were defeated in Gibbons v. Ogden.

    We are right back to rule by the patrician class we had before Jackson.

  33. Mike While they are different they are related. The sovereign immunity as I understand it applies only to lawsuits arising from legal governmental acts that unintentionally result in a tort. The example is when a USAA B-25 hit the Empire State Building in 1945 killing some people. Then Congress passed the Federal Torts Claim act which allowed some lawsuits for damages, voiding the immunity. The government does NOT have immunity when it does ILLEGAL acts. If they did, then the whole concept of law is destroyed since there would be NO check on the government ignoring all laws and simply doing as it wished.

    Thus I think that the ruling against the journalists was FAR more damaging to the rule of law and forcing the US govenment to obey it than this memo. There is NO question that placing a bomb in a press conference is illegal under ALL laws, not only US. Yet the court ruled the US is immune from even ILLEGAL acts, and can do whatever it choses to do. At least Obama is trying to codify when and where the US forces may take lethal military actions in defense of the USA.

  34. randyjet 1, February 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Yet the court ruled the US is immune from even ILLEGAL acts, and can do whatever it choses to do. At least Obama is trying to codify when and where the US forces may take lethal military actions in defense of the USA.
    =======================================
    Does that mean US forces can take lethal military action against you if Obama tells them to?

  35. Kill List Exposed: Leaked Obama Memo Shows Assassination of U.S. Citizens “Has No Geographic Limit”

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/2/5/kill_list_exposed_leaked_obama_memo

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: The Obama administration’s internal legal justification for assassinating U.S. citizens without charge has been revealed for the first time. According to a secret Justice Department document obtained by NBC News, the Obama administration claims it has the legal authority to target citizens who are, quote, “senior operational leaders,” of al-Qaeda or “an associated force” — even if there’s no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.

    In September 2011, a U.S. drone strike in Yemen killed two American citizens: Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. The following month, another U.S. drone strike killed al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was born in Denver.

    AMY GOODMAN: The document obtained by NBC News is described as a “white memo” that was provided to members of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees as a summary of a classified memo prepared by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Last month, a federal judge denied a request by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times for the Justice Department to disclose its legal justification for the targeted killing of Americans.

    The Obama administration’s secrecy around the drone program is expected to be a top issue at this week’s confirmation hearing of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to be director of the CIA. Brennan has been dubbed by critics to be Obama’s “assassination czar.”

    Joining us now is Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU and director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy.

    You’ve looked at the white memo. This is something you’ve been asking for for quite some time, Jameel. Talk about its significance. Go through it with us point by point.

    JAMEEL JAFFER: Sure. Well, it’s a very significant document, and it’s a remarkable document, and it’s something that everybody really ought to read, in the same way that everybody ought to read the torture memos from the last administration. It sets out, or professes to set out, the power that the government has to carry out the targeted killing of American citizens who are located far away from any battlefield, even when they have not been charged with a crime, even when they do not present any imminent threat in any ordinary meaning of that word. So it’s a pretty sweeping power that’s been set out. And the memo purports to provide a legal justification for that power and explain why the limits on that power can’t be enforced in any court.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: The confidential Justice Department white paper that you’re talking about, Jameel Jaffer, introduces a more expansive definition of “self-defense” or “imminent attack” than any articulated by the U.S. government before. It reads, quote: “The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.” Can you talk about the significance of that and how exactly “imminent” is defined in this document—

    JAMEEL JAFFER: Sure.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: —or not defined?

    JAMEEL JAFFER: Yeah, well, I mean, I think you—you know, you have to start with the acknowledgment that there are circumstances in which the government has the authority, and maybe even the responsibility, to use lethal force. Even if you think about it domestically—somebody is running down the street, waving a gun around, threatening civilians—the government doesn’t have to go to a judge beforehand to seek a warrant to carry out that use of lethal force. But that’s a situation in which the threat is imminent, in the ordinary meaning of the term: There’s not time to go to a judge; there’s not time for deliberation.

    But the kind of imminence that the government is defining here, or the way that the government has defined the term here, is much, much broader. They’re talking about situations in which the person presents no immediate threat, there’s no known plot. These people are located far away from any actual battlefield, so you’re not talking about a situation in which there are battlefield exigencies that the government has to worry about. You’re really talking about something that looks a lot more like a law enforcement context. And in that context, the traditional rule is the government has the authority to use lethal force only in very narrow circumstances. And this memo really redefines those circumstances entirely.

    AMY GOODMAN: Let’s turn to Attorney General Eric Holder, a comment he made last March when he outlined what the White House billed as the legal rationale for its claimed right to kill U.S. citizens who belong to al-Qaeda or associated forces.

    ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: It is an unfortunate but undeniable fact that some of the threats that we face come from a small number of United States citizens who have decided to commit violent attacks against their own country from abroad. Based on generations-old legal principles and Supreme Court decisions handed down during World War II, as well as during this current conflict, it’s clear that United States citizenship alone does not make—does not make such individuals immune from being targeted.

    AMY GOODMAN: Jameel Jaffer, respond to Attorney General Eric Holder.

    JAMEEL JAFFER: Well, it’s not a question of immunity. This is kind of a straw man. Nobody is arguing that Americans are entirely immune from the government’s use of lethal force. The question is: Under what circumstances can the government use lethal force? And again, for a very good reason, those circumstances have traditionally been defined very narrowly. Now what the government is doing is creating an extremely broad category of people who can be targeted without judicial review before the fact, without judicial assessment of the evidence after the fact. It’s a very dangerous thing that the government is doing.

    And I think that at some level, I think the people who have written this memo and the people who are exercising this authority in the Obama administration must be convinced of their own trustworthiness. But even if you accept that the people who are now in office are trustworthy in this sense, this power is going to be available to the next administration and the one after that, and it’s going to be available in every future conflict, not just the conflict against al-Qaeda. And according to the administration, the power is available all over the world, not just on geographically cabined battlefields. So it really is a sweeping proposition.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: But what does it mean, though, that it’s not an official legal memo, it’s a white paper? Does that have any legal significance or implications?

    JAMEEL JAFFER: Well, you know, some people have been saying that this is a kind of transparency that the administration, through these kinds of leaks, is giving the public the ability to assess the strength of the administration’s legal arguments. And the truth is that this is really just a briefing document, it’s not a legal memo. It does tell us a little bit about the authority that the government is claiming, but the actual legal memos are still secret. We’ve been litigating for those memos now for 18 months or two years. The administration has refused to release them. We have just appealed one case to the 2nd Circuit here in New York, to the appeals court here in New York.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: Can you explain the case? What is the case that your organization, the ACLU, is—

    JAMEEL JAFFER: So, there are two—there are two Freedom of Information Act cases that we’re litigating right now. One is—one is here in New York, and the other one is in D.C. One of them is an effort to get the legal memos. We’re litigating that case with The New York Times; they have a parallel request. The other case, which is in D.C., is about, principally, civilian casualties, the question of who has been killed in these—in these drone strikes, because the administration has not released numbers. And we’re reliant on the work of very good organizations outside the administration to do that kind of work. We think that the administration should release its own numbers. So—

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: And “who has been killed,” you mean U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizen who have been killed.

    JAMEEL JAFFER: Right, absolutely. So, most of the people who are being killed in these drone strikes aren’t U.S. citizens, right? There have only been four U.S. citizens—three in 2011, one in 2002. The rest have been noncitizens killed, some of them in Pakistan, some of them in Yemen, some of them in Somalia. According to the figures of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the U.K., we’re now talking about somewhere on the order of 4,000 people who have been killed with these drones.

    And the administration still hasn’t released the legal memos that purport to justify that program. So, one of the cases that we’re litigating, the one here in New York, is the effort to get that justification. This memo, this briefing paper, provides us a little more information about that justification, but it’s not the justification itself. For the same reasons that the government was right in 2009 to release the torture memos, we think the government should release the targeted killing memo.

    AMY GOODMAN: Let’s get specific. I saw you in Sundance at one of the premieres of Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley’s film called Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield. And it tells the story, among others, of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, 16-year-old kid born in Denver, killed in a drone strike two weeks after his father was killed in a drone strike in Yemen. Talk about his case and how this relates.

    JAMEEL JAFFER: Right.

    AMY GOODMAN: When does the U.S. stop? What is the justification for killing this 16-year-old boy?

    JAMEEL JAFFER: Well, so two things about that. First, I think one of the most chilling aspects of the power that the government is claiming here is that they’re claiming the authority to do all of this in secret, not just keep it secret from the courts or keep their justification secret from the courts, but keep the exercise of this power secret, so they can carry out these killings of American citizens, among many others, without even acknowledging to the public or to any court that they have exercised that authority. And that really is a chilling proposition. But that’s one thing, and that’s one of the things that they’ve done in the Abdulrahman case: They have failed to acknowledge that they actually carried out this killing, although everybody knows it to be true.

    But we have other litigation which we’re doing with the Center for Constitutional Rights. It’s a constitutional case on behalf of the three U.S. citizens who were killed in 2011, including Abdulrahman, the 16-year-old. And that’s a case in which we are raising claims under the Fourth Amendment and the Fifth Amendment, the due process clause, arguing that the government does not have the right, again, except in these extremely narrow circumstances, to carry out targeted killings without judicial review. And the government’s response to that lawsuit has not been to defend their authority on the merits. They’re not actually saying, “We have the right to do this.” They haven’t actually filed any of those arguments in court. Instead what they’re arguing is: This question of whether the government acted lawfully or not is a political question committed to the political branches, and the judges have no role to play, no role whatsoever to play, in assessing whether the killing of an American citizen was lawful or not.

    AMY GOODMAN: How does it stop? Where does it stop? You kill them in Yemen, American citizens and others—no trial, no charge. What about in the United States?

    JAMEEL JAFFER: There’s no line. You know, if you look at the memo, the briefing paper that was released yesterday, there’s no geographic line. And you can remember how most of the country reacted when President Bush declared the authority to hold American citizens detained in the United States: Most of the country said, “You can’t be serious. You’re going to treat the United States as part of the battlefield. You’re going to detain American citizens inside the United States as enemy combatants.” And now, the Obama administration—you know, if you accept the memo on its face, you accept the briefing paper on its face, the Obama administration is making, in some ways, a greater claim of authority. They’re arguing that the authority to kill American citizens has no geographic limit.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: I want to turn to comments made by John Brennan, John Brennan who is Obama’s counterterrorism adviser and now his pick for CIA director. He made these comments last May and publicly confirmed that the United States has used drones to conduct targeted killings overseas.

    JOHN BRENNAN: President Obama believes that, done carefully, deliberately and responsibly, we can be more transparent and still ensure our nation’s security. So let me say it as simply as I can: Yes, in full accordance with the law, and in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and to save American lives, the United States government conducts targeted strikes against specific al-Qaeda terrorists, sometimes using remotely piloted aircraft often referred to publicly as “drones.” And I’m here today because President Obama has instructed us to be more open with the American people about these efforts.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: That was Obama’s nominee for CIA director, John Brennan, speaking last May. Jameel Jaffer, your comments on what he said about drone attacks?

    JAMEEL JAFFER: Well, this is—this is, I think, you know, in some ways, good timing for the release of this briefing paper, because, you know, as you mentioned, John Brennan has been nominated to head the CIA. There’s going to be a vote on his nomination later this week. And some senators have said that the nomination should not go forward unless the administration is more forthcoming with its legal analysis, unless they release the OLC memo. And I think that’s exactly right. The administration should release that memo. There are also open questions about the role that Brennan played in the torture program, and those questions, too, ought to be answered before the vote goes forward. So, you know, I think it’s good timing. There are some very serious questions that ought to be asked by—

    AMY GOODMAN: Do you think the Democrats will be asking these questions of a Democratic administration?

    JAMEEL JAFFER: Well, you know, there were a group of senators yesterday that wrote to the administration asking for the release of the legal memo and seeming to connect the release of the legal memo to—to these votes, to the Hagel vote and to the Brennan vote. And I think that that’s an important thing. And it was a group led by Senator Wyden. So I think that there—you know, there are definitely senators who think this is important. And if people can make it known to their senators that they think it’s important, I think that would be a very good thing.

    AMY GOODMAN: And your thoughts on John Brennan being the CIA pick? Already, four years ago, when President Obama wanted to do it the first time around, he was forced to withdraw his name because there was such outcry.

    JAMEEL JAFFER: Well, right. I mean, I definitely have reservations about it. I think that there are these questions, these important questions about his role in the torture program. And also, you know, people have said that John Brennan is an advocate for transparency about the drone program. If that’s true, now is the right time to release the OLC memo, the legal counsel memo. And I think that the debate about his nomination should be informed by whatever’s in that memo.

    AMY GOODMAN: We had a report in headlines about Open Society Justice Initiative—and you’re a fellow at the Open Society right now, on leave from the ACLU—putting out a new report that’s revealed a detailed look at global involvement in the CIA’s secret program of prisons, rendition and torture since 9/11. The initiative says 54 countries aided the CIA until President Obama stopped the program in 2009. It’s called “Globalizing Torture,” also reveals at least 136 people were held by the CIA during those years—the largest tally to date. How significant is this?

    JAMEEL JAFFER: I think it’s a hugely significant report. I think it’s the most comprehensive report thus far about the people who are held by the CIA and what happened to them, and also the complicity of other countries in the CIA’s program. Some of those other countries have begun to grapple with the question of accountability for their role in that program. As you know, the United States has not. The Obama administration has interfered with civil suits that seek to hold officials accountable for their role in that program, and it has failed to bring criminal charges against senior officials who supervised the program. But I think it’s a very important thing, what the Open Society Justice Initiative has done here, and I think that it will create pressure not just on other countries to begin to grapple with that question of accountability, but on the United States, as well.

    AMY GOODMAN: Final question on this issue of targeted killings: Is this President Obama’s answer to attempting to close Guantánamo? You don’t need prisons if you kill people before they go to prison.

    JAMEEL JAFFER: I hope not. You know, without more information about who it is that the administration is killing and on what basis, it’s difficult to make—to draw a conclusion on that question. But I think when you see the kinds of authority that the government is claiming in briefing papers like this, it certainly raises the question about to what extent this program, the drone program, is in fact a substitute for detention.

    AMY GOODMAN: And as you said, don’t they say—don’t the documents say that they will kill someone if it puts U.S. personnel at risk?

    JAMEEL JAFFER: That’s right. I mean, I think that one of the—you know, one of the really troubling things about the document is the way that it defines this phrase, “Capture is infeasible,” because once you see that phrase in the first paragraph, “Capture is infeasible,” it sounds like a real restriction on the government’s authority to use lethal force. But halfway through the memo, they redefine the phrase, “Capture is infeasible,” to mean something more like: “Capture is inconvenient.” And once you redefine the phrase in that way, then you’ve opened up the possibility of the use of lethal force much more broadly. And again, it does raise the question of whether they are using the use of lethal force as a substitute for detention, and even if they’re not, whether that possibility is open for another administration in the future.

    AMY GOODMAN: Jameel Jaffer, I want to thank you for being with us, deputy legal director of the ACLU, director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy. Coming up later in the broadcast, we’ll speak with Dan Ellsberg, famous whistleblower for the Pentagon Papers. We’ll also speak with Jacob Appelbaum, who just lost a case. He does not have the right, says a federal court, to know when the government is taking his Twitter information or email information.

  36. As near as I can tell what they are claiming is that if there is a shred of government paper supporting a violation of rights that those who do it can claim immunity. This means not only no compensation but also no evidentiary hearing.

  37. randyjet,

    1. No war has been declared. The U.S.A. is not in a state of war. Congress has been too cowardly to declare war since WW II.
    2. The memo states that any “informed, high-level official of the U.S. Government who has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States…” can order any U.S.A. citizen killed. So, basically, anyone who works for the U.S. government, then, can just order you killed, right?

    This can be done without any charges against the citizen, without trial, and without telling the citizen who’s been targeted.
    This is so far from Constitutional that it defies belief.

    3. “The fact is that any person does not have to wait until a crook pulls his gun out in your home to be able to shoot in self defense.”

    Why, do you live in Florida? If someone’s in your home, and you decide he’s a crook, you can just shoot him to death? How about asking him if he’s a crook, first? I really hope you’re not a gun owner. You’re really itching to do someone in.
    This sounds a lot like the U.S. government official, deciding that you should be killed. Shoot first, ask questions later.
    Life isn’t a John Wayne movie.

  38. Chilling legal memo from Obama DOJ justifies assassination of US citizens

    The president’s partisan lawyers purport to vest him with the most extreme power a political leader can seize

    by Glenn Greenwald

    guardian uk, Tuesday 5 February 2013 10.56 EST

    Excerpt:

    5. Converting Obama underlings into objective courts

    This memo is not a judicial opinion. It was not written by anyone independent of the president. To the contrary, it was written by life-long partisan lackeys: lawyers whose careerist interests depend upon staying in the good graces of Obama and the Democrats, almost certainly Marty Lederman and David Barron. Treating this document as though it confers any authority on Obama is like treating the statements of one’s lawyer as a judicial finding or jury verdict.

    Indeed, recall the primary excuse used to shield Bush officials from prosecution for their crimes of torture and illegal eavesdropping: namely, they got Bush-appointed lawyers in the DOJ to say that their conduct was legal, and therefore, it should be treated as such. This tactic – getting partisan lawyers and underlings of the president to say that the president’s conduct is legal – was appropriately treated with scorn when invoked by Bush officials to justify their radical programs. As Digby wrote about Bush officials who pointed to the OLC memos it got its lawyers to issue about torture and eavesdropping, such a practice amounts to:

    “validating the idea that obscure Justice Department officials can be granted the authority to essentially immunize officials at all levels of the government, from the president down to the lowest field officer, by issuing a secret memo. This is a very important new development in western jurisprudence and one that surely requires more study and consideration. If Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan had known about this, they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble.”

    Life-long Democratic Party lawyers are not going to oppose the terrorism policies of the president who appointed them. A president can always find underlings and political appointees to endorse whatever he wants to do. That’s all this memo is: the by-product of obsequious lawyers telling their Party’s leader that he is (of course) free to do exactly that which he wants to do, in exactly the same way that Bush got John Yoo to tell him that torture was not torture, and that even it if were, it was legal.

    That’s why courts, not the president’s partisan lawyers, should be making these determinations. But when the ACLU tried to obtain a judicial determination as to whether Obama is actually authorized to assassinate US citizens, the Obama DOJ went to extreme lengths to block the court from ruling on that question. They didn’t want independent judges to determine the law. They wanted their own lawyers to do so.

    That’s all this memo is: Obama-loyal appointees telling their leader that he has the authority to do what he wants. But in the warped world of US politics, this – secret memos from partisan lackeys – has replaced judicial review as the means to determine the legality of the president’s conduct.
    6. Making a mockery of “due process”

    The core freedom most under attack by the War on Terror is the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process. It provides that “no person shall be . . . deprived of life . . . without due process of law”. Like putting people in cages for life on island prisons with no trial, claiming that the president has the right to assassinate US citizens far from any battlefield without any charges or trial is the supreme evisceration of this right.

    The memo pays lip service to the right it is destroying: “Under the traditional due process balancing analysis . . . . we recognize that there is no private interest more weighty than a person’s interest in his life.” But it nonetheless argues that a “balancing test” is necessary to determine the extent of the process that is due before the president can deprive someone of their life, and further argues that, as the New York Times put it when this theory was first unveiled: “while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.”

    Stephen Colbert perfectly mocked this theory when Eric Holder first unveiled it to defend the president’s assassination program. At the time, Holder actually said: “due process and judicial process are not one and the same.” Colbert interpreted that claim as follows:

    “Trial by jury, trial by fire, rock, paper scissors, who cares? Due process just means that there is a process that you do. The current process is apparently, first the president meets with his advisers and decides who he can kill. Then he kills them.”

    It is fitting indeed that the memo expressly embraces two core Bush/Cheney theories to justify this view of what “due process” requires. First, it cites the Bush DOJ’s core view, as enunciated by John Yoo, that courts have no role to play in what the president does in the War on Terror because judicial review constitutes “judicial encroachment” on the “judgments by the President and his national security advisers as to when and how to use force”. And then it cites the Bush DOJ’s mostly successful arguments in the 2004 Hamdi case that the president has the authority even to imprison US citizens without trial provided that he accuses them of being a terrorist.

    The reason this is so fitting is because, as I’ve detailed many times, it was these same early Bush/Cheney theories that made me want to begin writing about politics, all driven by my perception that the US government was becoming extremist and dangerous. During the early Bush years, the very idea that the US government asserted the power to imprison US citizens without charges and due process (or to eavesdrop on them) was so radical that, at the time, I could hardly believe they were being asserted out in the open.

    Yet here we are almost a full decade later. And we have the current president asserting the power not merely to imprison or eavesdrop on US citizens without charges or trial, but to order them executed – and to do so in total secrecy, with no checks or oversight. If you believe the president has the power to order US citizens executed far from any battlefield with no charges or trial, then it’s truly hard to conceive of any asserted power you would find objectionable.

  39. Nick,

    You know Obama can do nothing wrong. He follows the constitution to the t…. He gives everyone what they need…. He is the most popular president ever of all… He has a mandate…..

    Now when I wake up… Will any of it still be true…

  40. “Various tea party activists, libertarian websites and other conspiracy-minded Obama haters are claiming that Russian security forces have discovered that Obama is about to unleash “death squads” across America to assassinate defenders of the Second Amendment. According to Liberty.com, one of the sites perpetuating this latest story, Russian intelligence has outlined the whole nefarious plot in a memo for President Vladimir Putin, detailing the Obama’s administration’s dispatch of “VIPER teams…which is the acronym for Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response Team, a programme run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and whose agents terrify millions of Americans with Nazi-like Gestapo tactics on a daily basis at airports and who report to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).” Mother Jones

  41. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave…”

    EXCLUSIVE – Petraeus: the Plot Thickens

    By Douglas Lucas and Russ Baker on Feb 5, 2013

    http://whowhatwhy.com/2013/02/05/petraeus-the-plot-thickens-1/

    Excerpt:

    Was the ambitious General David Petraeus targeted for take-down by competing interests in the US military/intelligence hierarchy—years before his abrupt downfall last year in an adultery scandal?

    Previously unreported documents analyzed by WhoWhatWhy suggest as much. They provide new insight into the scandalous extramarital romance that led to Petraeus’s resignation as CIA director in November after several years of rapid rise—going from a little-known general to a prospective presidential candidate in a stunningly brief time frame.

    The Turf War

    Control over US policy in Yemen was at stake, and General Petraeus was right in the midst of it. The CIA and the Pentagon had competing objectives in Yemen. The CIA was pushing Obama to authorize the agency to deploy its pilotless drones against radical Islamist forces, while the military wanted to train and supply Yemeni special forces to handle the country’s problems. Debate raged over whether US drone operations—which often involve civilian casualties—were not just further alienating the local population and thereby playing into those Islamists’ hands. Both sides were leaking information to the press to try to influence the White House, and Petraeus himself was one of the leakers. (Later, as CIA director, Petraeus would advocate for increased use of drones.)

    Email-ID 1204569, sent September 4, 2010, while Petraeus was CENTCOM commander, contains Stratfor analyst Bhalla’s report of a discussion over hookah (“sheesha”) with her “Yemeni diplomat source” and two younger sons of President Saleh.

    She mentions “leaks from a couple weeks ago on CIA recommendations to the [Obama] administration to carry out drone strikes in Yemen,” and says: “There’s a huge turf war between CIA and JSOC over this, which is why all these leaks are coming out,” and notes that

    CENTCOM leaked their rec for $1.2 billion assistance funding for Yemeni special forces (this was all Petraeus, who has a very good relationship with the Yemenis and goes to the Yemeni ambo’s house pretty regularly for dinner.) The Yemenis are nervous about [General James] Mattis taking over Centcom. They could deal well with Petraeus, whom they consider a ‘diplomat.’ Don’t know yet how to read Mattis. …continues…

    (Wikileaks has promised to release additional documents/information early this year… The world is waiting.)

  42. Dredd,

    Have you ever noticed when Turley or the Presdent is about to comment on something….. This blog get jacked by antiobama and Turley supporters…..

    Well the converse is true….. When someone says something even truthful about Obama…. The thread gets jacked…. You think it’s a coincidence?

  43. As contemporary biographer Edward Grim attributed to Henry II, “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?”

    Miserable drones. How appropriate.

    Who needs four knights when one drone will do the job?

  44. Definition of Corrupt-to-the-Core:

    “The government can neither confirm nor deny that any such secret law exists as that under the authority of which you have just died for reasons which neither you or anyone else can ever know unless you can posthumously demonstrate otherwise.”

  45. I think I’m generally fine with the legality of killing Al Queda guys using drones. But, it seems to me that being a US citizen changes the legalities and that US citizens abroad have rights that non-citizens lack. One is the right to not be deprived of life without due process of law. It’s inconvenient and hampers our ability to protect against terrorist attack if we cannot strike US citizens of Al Queda the same way we can non-citizens. However, that’s the price we sometimes pay for having legal rights and following the rule of law that protect us from a tyrannical government. So, just as I support criminal procedural rights even if that means that sometimes the guilty go free, I support protections for US citizens allegedly members of Al Queda. This accumulation of power in the hands of the presidency is too much and too risky.

  46. As much as Obama talks about rejecting the concept of “perpetual war” he’s providing, and institutionalizing, a blueprint for it.
    -Spencer Ackerman

    How Obama Transformed an Old Military Concept So He Can Drone Americans

    By Spencer Ackerman
    02.05.13

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/02/obama-imminence/

    Excerpt:

    “Imminence” used to mean something in military terms: namely, that an adversary had begun preparations for an assault. In order to justify his drone strikes on American citizens, President Obama redefined that concept to exclude any actual adversary attack.

    That’s the heart of the Justice Department’s newly leaked white paper, first reported by NBC News, explaining why a “broader concept of imminence” (.pdf) trumps traditional Constitutional protections American citizens enjoy from being killed by their government without due process. It’s an especially striking claim when considering that the actual number of American citizens who are “senior operational leader[s] of al-Qaida or its associated forces” is vanishingly small. As much as Obama talks about rejecting the concept of “perpetual war” he’s providing, and institutionalizing, a blueprint for it. …continues…

  47. “The problem is that to accept this position, you have to put complete trust in the competence, wisdom, and ethics of the president, his underlings, and their successors. You have to believe they are properly defining and inerrantly identifying people who pose an imminent (or quasi-imminent) threat to national security and eliminating that threat through the only feasible means, which involves blowing people up from a distance. If mere mortals deserved that kind of faith, we would not need a Fifth Amendment, or the rest of the Constitution.” Jacob Sullum

  48. The Animal Constitution states: “All Animals Are Equal” (under the law).

    The Obama Administration interprets that commandment to mean: “Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others” (so who needs laws?)

  49. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2010/05/obama-drone-joke-was-it-offens.html?hpid=artslot

    “Jonas Brothers are here, they’re out there somewhere. Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming. You think I’m joking?”

    El Presidente for Life[?]

    “You have to wonder why in the world the president’s speech writers would think it was a good idea to throw a joke about predator drones into the president’s speech during the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, given that an estimated one-third of drone casualties, or between 289 and 378, have been civilians,” wrote Adam Serwer at the American Prospect.

  50. b
    1, February 5, 2013 at 11:45 am
    DOJ can take you into custody and then coerce you to admit something and then kill you as long as they take you outside the U.S. right?

    —————————————————————————-

    Since they don’t have to tell anyone … why take the target out of the United States? Or I suppose they could take the target anywhere close to the northern or southern border then toss them over the line once the job is done. Congress isn’t going to stop ’em and I’m sure a smart DOJ or White House lawyer can write a memo justifying the action if necessary.

  51. http://my.firedoglake.com/davidswanson/2013/02/04/first-city-in-u-s-passes-resolution-against-drones/

    First City in U.S. Passes Resolution Against Drones
    By: David Swanson Monday February 4, 2013 9:43 pm

    Charlottesville City Hall. The city just became the first in the USA to pass a resolution restricting the use of drones.

    Shortly after 11 p.m. on Monday, February 4th, the City Council of Charlottesville, Va., passed what is believed to be the first anti-drone resolution in the country. According to my notes, and verifiable soon on the City Council’s website, the resolution reads:

    WHEREAS, the rapid implementation of drone technology throughout the United States poses a serious threat to the privacy and constitutional rights of the American people, including the residents of Charlottesville; and

    WHEREAS, the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia have thus far failed to provide reasonable legal restrictions on the use of drones within the United States; and

    WHEREAS, police departments throughout the country have begun implementing drone technology absent any guidance or guidelines from law makers;

    NOW, THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED, that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, endorses the proposal for a two year moratorium on drones in the state of Virginia; and calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court, and precluding the domestic use of drones equipped with anti-personnel devices, meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed-energy (visible or invisible), or other device designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being; and pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones.

    The same City Council passed a resolution on January 17, 2012, calling for an end to drone wars, as well as ground wars, excessive military spending, and any possible attack on Iran.

    The wording of Monday’s resolution comes largely from a draft suggested by the Rutherford institute. An initial line was deleted and two amendments were made to the final paragraph, one endorsing a two-year moratorium on drones (something that had passed in committee in both houses of the Virginia legislature as of Saturday in the House and Monday in the Senate), the other committing the City not to use drones for surveillance or assault.

    The wording was not as comprehensive as the draft that had appeared in the City Council’s official agenda for Monday’s meeting, a draft I had authored. See it here in the city agenda or on my website.

    At the previous meeting of the City Council on January 7, 2013, I and a few other residents had spoken in support of a resolution, and three of the five city council members agreed to put it on the agenda for the February 4th meeting. Some of the public comments were excellent, and the video of the meeting is on the city’s website.

    On Monday, citizens speaking in favor of the anti-drone resolution dominated the public speaking period at the beginning of the meeting, shortly after 7 p.m. Many were quite eloquent, and the video will be available soon on the city’s site. The council members did not discuss and vote on the matter until shortly after 11 p.m. The discussion was quite brief, coming on the heels of hours devoted to other matters.

    The same three city council members who had put the item on the agenda voted in favor of the resolution, passing it by a vote of 3-2. They were Dave Norris, Dede Smith, and Satyendra Sing Huja. Norris and Smith negotiated the slight improvements to the Rutherford Institute’s draft with Huja, who initially favored passing that draft as it was written. Norris and Smith favored banning the City from purchasing drones, but Council Member Kristin Szakos argued that there might be a positive use for a drone someday, such as for the fire department. Kathy Galvin joined Szakos in voting No.

    Norris has been a leader on the City Council for years and sadly will not be running for reelection at the end of his current term.

    Following the January meeting, I submitted my draft to the city, asked people to phone and email the council members, published a column in the local daily newspaper, and organized an event in front of City Hall on Sunday, the day before the vote. Anti-drone activist John Heuer from North Carolina delivered a giant model drone produced by New York anti-drone activist Nick Mottern. Our little stunt produced coverage on the two television channels and in the newspaper. I asked people to commit to attending the meeting on a FaceBook page. The room ended up packed, and when I asked those who supported the resolution to stand, most of the room did so.

    No organized pro-drone lobby ever developed. We met and confronted the argument that localities shouldn’t lobby states or Washington. And, of course, some people are opposed to drones in the United States but eager to see them used however the President may see fit abroad. Charlottesville’s City Council ended up not including the section in my draft that instructed the federal government to end its practice of extrajudicial killing. But there was no discussion on that point, and several other sections, including one creating a local ordinance, were left out as well. The problem there, according to Smith, was that “we don’t own the air.”

    Yet, we should. And Oregon is attempting to do so with its draft state legislation.

    In the past, Charlottesville has passed resolutions that have inspired other localities and impacted federal and state policies. Let us hope this one is no exception.

  52. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/02/05/city-in-virginia-becomes-first-to-pass-anti-drone-legislation-

    Charlottesville, Va., has become the first city in the United States to formally pass an anti-drone resolution.

    The resolution, passed Monday, “calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court,” and “pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones.”

  53. Pakistan Warns U.S. Drone Strikes Are ‘Red Line’

    Posted: 02/05/2013 12:35 pm EST | Updated: 02/05/2013 3:41 pm EST

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/05/pakistan-drone-strikes_n_2623262.html

    Excerpt:

    “Rehman repeated the objections to the drone strikes frequently voiced by Pakistani officials and critics around the world: that they create deep resentment on the ground in Pakistan and elsewhere; that they radicalize people who had tried to stand against terrorists; that the al Qaeda leadership is decimated anyway; and that in the long term it harms U.S. and Pakistan efforts against terrorists.

    “We don’t see drones as productive at all,” she said.

    But asked directly how her government would handle a demand from the Pakistani general staff to be allowed to shoot down the drones, she shot back: “Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on that wall!””

  54. In 2002-2008 left leaning individuals went crazy about GWB and indefinite detentions and harsh interrogation techniques. I attended an Obama speech in Feb 2008, here was a man that was going to change it all and respect civil liberties. I smelled a faker. So this Obama gets elected and the left rejoices in praise that the evil days of GWB are over. So now instead of capturing people, asking a court for an indictment, we just kill them.

    And the roar from the civil liberties on the left is? Shhh, I can’t hear them….I said please quite down I want to hear the left screaming about the evils of the Obama administration and their KILL policy….I’m waiting…

  55. http://www.utahsheriffs.org/USA-Home_files/2nd%20Amendment%20Letter.pdf

    “We respect the Office of the President of the United States of America. But, make no mistake, as the duly-elected sheriffs of our respective counties, we will enforce the rights guaranteed to our citizens by the Constitution. No federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them what the Bill of Rights — in particular Amendment II — has given them. We, like you, swore a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and we are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation.”

    I called, they actually sent this letter.

  56. Bron,

    Thanks for the link.

    Excerpt:

    “I felt like I was in a warzone.” Jerrals said. “It was nonstop. I was terrified.”

    Turns out, it was a multi-agency training drill that Jerrals wished would have come with warning.

    “They could have done a better job in notifying the neighborhood,” Jerrals said.

    The Army did not give any details of what the training is for. Some people we spoke to needed no explanation.

    “If it’s to protect our kids, I’m all for it,” neighbor Glenn DeWitt said. ”

    (We’re in a whole world of trouble… If I told you what I know, you wouldn’t believe it.)

  57. Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta: Lawsuit Challenging Targeted Killings

    February 4, 2013

    http://www.aclu.org/national-security/al-aulaqi-v-panetta

    Excerpt:

    The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) have filed a lawsuit challenging the government’s targeted killing of three U.S. citizens in drone strikes far from any armed conflict zone.

    In Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta (Al-Awlaki v. Panetta) the groups charge that the U.S. government’s killings of U.S. citizens Anwar Al-Aulaqi, Samir Khan, and 16-year-old Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi in Yemen last year violated the Constitution’s fundamental guarantee against the deprivation of life without due process of law.

    The killings were part of a broader program of “targeted killing” by the United States outside the context of armed conflict and based on vague legal standards, a closed executive process, and evidence never presented to the courts.

  58. @ AP

    “As much as Obama talks about rejecting the concept of “perpetual war” he’s providing, and institutionalizing, a blueprint for it.
    -Spencer Ackerman”

    Bait and Switch

    Smoke and Mirrors

    If the president does it it’s legal

    The rhetoric vs the substance

    You can fool all of the chumps all of the time

    Really, really we’re winding down wars. Keep clapping louder.

    I need these powers, but i will never use them, but I am using them, so I must need them

    ————————–

    hey, how about a nice bipartisan impeachment charge?

  59. Statistically a US citizen and most other citizens in most other countries – including Israel – have more chance of being killed by lightning than by a terrorist act of violence. So given this dire, perpetual, heart pounding existential threat, (not like that fluffy one time shot of an all out civil war at home where we lost only around 620,000 soldiers – more than in any other war up through Vietnam- where Lincoln very briefly and apologetically suspended Habeas Corpus), it goes without saying that in this case where the last president (“They don’t have a word for ‘entrepreneur’ in French” – that one) scrambled to find the weapons of mass destruction under his own desk, it goes without saying in this hailstorm of national threat that the current President must turn the Constitution upside down and inside out. Oh well, on the bright side, if the President kills you before the terrorist does, he has, by the logic of the lesser of evils, saved you from the evil doer bad guy boogey woogy , opps, boogy-man terrorists.

    There is no more thorough way of preventing the terrorists from attacking our civil liberties and our laws than by eliminating them before they get a chance.

  60. “In an Orwellian twist, the memo insists “A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination.” It is more like a very pointed expression of presidential displeasure.”

    ***********************

    Not sure how Orwellian this statement is since it is an accurate statement of international law. I urge everyone to read Professor Gary Solis’ book, The Law of Armed Conflict in which this topic is discussed in detail. This is not some willy nilly decision by the President but involves a defined procedure as to when a person represents an imminent threat. Rafflaw and I have discussed the issue on another thread and it bears repeating here:

    rafflaw:

    “I agree with much of what you are suggesting, but how do you reconcile the ability to kill American citizens without due process? That is a big deal for me and I support Obama.”

    ************************

    I suppose the short answer is that timing and context are everything. The targeted killing of enemies in an armed conflict does not require due process as most legal scholars accept. The killing of American Anwar al Aulaqi is the most cited case for the opposition like Professor Turley but there have been a few others. al Aulaqi was a senior leader in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

    The distinction I and many others draw is between “targeted killing” during armed conflict and “peacetime assassinations” (PTAs). PTAs are never constitutional and are a domestic and international crime. On the other hand, targeted killings during war time are not crimes internationally or domestically.

    Congress authorized the President to levy war on those nations and persons who attacked us on 9-11. The language is “all necessary and proper force” against those “he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” The purpose of this authorization is to “prevent any future acts of
    international terrorism against the United States by such nations,
    organizations, or persons.” The President also enjoys plenary military power under Article II of the Constitution to defend the nation. (“The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States….”)

    To accomplish that end, the President is invested with the power to identify and attack enemies detailed in the authorization. One of the methods employed is targeted killing of persons which is not the same as indiscriminate killing. It has five specific criteria that would not apply in PTAs of Americans or anyone else. They are:

    1. a on-going international or non-international armed conflict specifically authorized by a legitimate act of Congress;
    2. a specific individual must be targeted and not some indiscriminate group of persons or civilians who have not taken up arms against the US or directly aided those who have;
    3. The targeted person who has engaged in hostilities must be beyond the normal arrest power of the US or beyond a reasonable possibility of arrest;
    4. The person authorizing the targeted killing must be a senior military officer;
    5. The targeted person must be directly participating in hostilities as a continuous combat function or as a spontaneous, unorganized act.

    Thus targeted killing is not some wild-eye response to terrorism by the Executive but a set protocol that is utilized in response to the authorization of Congress to levy war under it’s Article I powers.

    Professor Gary Solis does a good job of explaining the law in his book, The Law of Armed Conflict.” I think it is “must reading” on the topic.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=6FKf0ocxEPAC&pg=PA542&dq=%22targeted+killing%22&hl=en&ei=WJnrS4_NE8KB8gbTm_zQBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CDYQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=%22targeted%20killing%22&f=false

    To target an American, the President must also find that such an action is necessary to prevent an concrete, imminent threat to US security.

    There is a Vanderbilt Law Review note that also helps understand the issue:

    http://www.vanderbilt.edu/jotl/manage/wp-content/uploads/mckelvey-pdf.pdf

    You know my philosophical basis for not opposing these measures as we’ve discussed many times. I just wanted to give you the particulars of this issue’s resolution in my mind.

    ~Mark

  61. The problem Mark is that the AUMF is an overreaching overbroad grant that violates the Separation of Powers Doctrine in the first place. It wasn’t meant to be a grant to circumvent the Bill of Rights though, but that is precisely how it is being used.

  62. Legal Justification for Drone Attacks on Citizens

    Gerard N. Magliocca

    I read the DOJ’s White Paper on the legal rationale for killing American citizens who are alleged senior Al-Queda operatives overseas with great interest. While I think that the memorandum is well-reasoned, I do not agree with the legal “trigger” that the DOJ identifies.

    The White Paper says that a citizen is eligible for death-by-drone when “an informed, high-level, official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.” In my opinion, this threshold is too low. First, who counts as a high-level official? The CIA Director? The Ambassador to Pakistan? An analyst at Langley? This is not clear at all. Second, suppose that the majority view in the intelligence community is that someone does not pose an imminent threat. The standard for death, I gather, is met so long as ONE informed, high-level person thinks that a suspect poses an imminent threat. I submit that the President can always find one “senior-enough” person in his Administration with that view, so in reality the DOJ standard just gives the White House carte blanche.

    Personally, I would prefer that Congress create a statutory regime for such decisions that would require the National Security Council to sign off on each of these citizen attacks before the President can proceed. But until then, the President is, I think, acting within his constitutional authority to conduct such attacks. Balkinization

  63. Mark, thanks for the repost.

    I have no doubt that Obama, or any like minded ‘commander-in-chief ‘would have no problem whatsoever (along with the oh so-convenient OLC in checking off all the appropriate boxes to fall within the lovely criteria you enumerate. To my mind that really doesn’t change a thing as far as an illegitimate grasp of executive power. As for boy Bush’ declaration of war on those who committed 911, that failed from word one in many respects, particularly since they were primarily non-state actors, and if one were to mostly closely tie the actors to a state that state would be SA which, contrary to all logic is our staunch ally.

    Can anyone with a straight face actually posit that there will not be a time in the foreseeable future when the US will not be in a ‘state of war’, though not really a declared-by-congress war, with just about anyone we choose? We have shown zero regard for world public opinion; the US peace movement is moribund; and the defense industry needs continued places to dispose of it ordinance.

    This is, as they say, a slam dunk.

    I’m glad you feel comfortable that we are operating within constitutional bounds — which bounds are seemingly written by the exec branch out of whole cloth whenever they need tweaking. I don’t.

    To your point on reading up on international law and the law of war — an actual course I took in law school — it’s all very praiseworthy and indeed in the right direction. And, of course, has been ripped to shreds by the US govt which has acted little better than some rogue insurgents.

  64. DonS,

    I took a lot of international comparative law including some of the law of war and I have to agree with you that it has been sorrily abused by the Executive. I would say as if not more abused than the liberties they’ve taken in circumventing the Constitution.

  65. couple of edits:

    “MOST closely tie the actors to a state that state would be SA which”

    “Can anyone with a straight face actually posit that there WILL be a time in the foreseeable future when the US will not be in a ‘state of war’”

  66. Gene H:

    I think the Vanderbilt Note does an exceptional job of pointing out the problems you mention and providing solutions. The issue is undecided in the courts and some clear guidance needs to be established by the courts who can rule on the issue of imminence. As the Note correctly points out such an inquiry is not a political question. We need to stop the inflammatory rhetoric and decide how we can deal constitutionally yet effectively with American citizens who are engaged in treasonous acts and who are beyond the reach of traditional law enforcement. This is not an academic debate. It has real constitutional and national security dimensions.

  67. The USA is a democracy the envy of the world – right?

    So we can do something about this, to stop this – right?

    Oh sorry – actually we can’t really.

  68. By the way, Gene, I agree the AUMF is problematic on several fronts not the least of which is the stated object of the lethal force which is those “he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” It would be hard to argue that drone attacks now seek out those who ” planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” However the purpose of the AUMF “prevent any future acts of
    international terrorism against the United States by such nations,
    organizations, or persons,” could arguable be enabling language to close the gap.

  69. AP, yeah I’ve been a bit too intense on a couple of sites myself including Greenwald on Brooklyn College; NYT on budget cutting and the military budget; and NYT “At War” blog on this sniper guy Kyle fiasco. (as well as FDL on same), I think the Times shitcanned a couple of my ‘contributions’ for some reason. They never tell you, just keep you guessing. I hadn’t thought I crossed any lines. I wrote to some email address but haven’t heard back. Oh yeah, the Guardian scrubbed one which I thought was perfectly ok (and it was garnering lot’s of thumbs up before it disappeared) — I wrote to Glenn, he responded, that helped, though he has nothing to do with moderating and says he’s tried to push for more freedom in comments.

    Unfortunately my physical condition is still limiting the kind of activity I usually do, so it’s all to easy to slide into some rant or other at the computer, and I’ve had some doozies. Interesting to observe how that works in me.

  70. DonS:

    I find your comments lucid and well in keeping with most anyone’s civility standards. You occasionally wade into the area of hyperbolic rhetoric but don’t we all?

  71. Dear President Obama, My 9th grade algebra teacher annoyed me a great deal so I am sure it was a plot against the US for Al-Quaida (the fact that this was in 1974 just shows how far they will go).

  72. “imminent threat” I get it, under the concept of ‘we are at war’ an imminent threat is a potential danger to you, and I, and potentially all of us but without war (and I agree it seems we are perpetually at war whether declared or not)and maybe even with, this concept presupposes guilt, an antiAmerican concept, or at least I used to think so.

  73. “We need to stop the inflammatory rhetoric and decide how we can deal constitutionally yet effectively with American citizens who are engaged in treasonous acts and who are beyond the reach of traditional law enforcement. This is not an academic debate. It has real constitutional and national security dimensions.”

    And it’s a question that can also be validly asked about both the previous and current administrations that goes directly to the rule of law. Bush and Cheney arguably committed treason by protecting the Saudis and starting a war for their own personal profits in addition to violation the Constitution and Obama has certainly done his part to violate the Constitution as well – whether that amounts to treason or simply high crimes sufficient for impeachment is debatable. That’s not “inflammatory rhetoric” but a valid legal question. The President is not above the law nor are lackeys doing his bidding.

    As for these American citizens who are engaged in treasonous acts and who are beyond the reach of traditional law enforcement?

    That’s what SEAL teams are for as well as black bag operations. Being able to shoot someone from a mile away is the scalpel approach. Using drones? While an advantageous technology from a tactical standpoint, they are far too indiscriminate in targeting and are turning out to be a PR and international relations nightmare that is going to bite us on the ass at some point. He’s using a hammer on a job that calls for a screwdriver at a minimum and optimally a scalpel.

    However, that being said, killing a citizen without judicial due process is simply counter to the wording of the Constitution. It violates their civil rights and it violates the Separation of Powers Doctrine between Executive and Judiciary. If they are to be killed without attempts at apprehension and a trial proper they should at a minimum be tried in absentia in a FISA court. “Just because the President and his advisers said so” isn’t good enough.

    We also need to be seriously worried about this in combination with the drive to bring drones to the domestic theater. No good will come of that other than to make us more of a surveillance state than we’ve already become. Not all slippery slope arguments are invalid.

    The unitary Executive is an anathema to the Constitution and not confronting the government on this problem now will lead to Constitutional crisis or worse down the road. And maybe not that far down the road.

  74. Congress Considers Putting Limits On Drone Strikes

    by The Associated Press
    February 05, 2013 6:07 PM

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=171148221

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Uncomfortable with the Obama administration’s use of deadly drones, a growing number in Congress is looking to limit America’s authority to kill suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens. The Democratic-led outcry was emboldened by the revelation in a newly surfaced Justice Department memo that shows drones can strike against a wider range of threats, with less evidence, than previously believed.

    The drone program, which has been used from Pakistan across the Middle East and into North Africa to find and kill an unknown number of suspected terrorists, is expected to be a top topic of debate when the Senate Intelligence Committee grills John Brennan, the White House’s pick for CIA chief, at a hearing Thursday.

    The White House on Tuesday defended its lethal drone program by citing the very laws that some in Congress once believed were appropriate in the years immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks but now think may be too broad.

    “It has to be in the agenda of this Congress to reconsider the scope of action of drones and use of deadly force by the United States around the world because the original authorization of use of force, I think, is being strained to its limits,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said in a recent interview.

    Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said Tuesday that “it deserves a serious look at how we make the decisions in government to take out, kill, eliminate, whatever word you want to use, not just American citizens but other citizens as well.”

    Hoyer added: “We ought to carefully review our policies as a country.”

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee likely will hold hearings on U.S. drone policy, an aide said Tuesday, and Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Bob Corker, both have quietly expressed concerns about the deadly operations. And earlier this week, a group of 11 Democratic and Republican senators urged President Barack Obama to release a classified Justice Department legal opinion justifying when U.S. counterterror missions, including drone strikes, can be used to kill American citizens abroad.

    Without those documents, it’s impossible for Congress and the public to decide “whether this authority has been properly defined, and whether the president’s power to deliberately kill Americans is subject to appropriate limitations and safeguards,” the senators wrote.

    It was a repeated request after receiving last June an unclassified Justice Department memo, which fell short of giving the senators all the information they requested.

    First detailed publicly by NBC News late Monday, the memo for the first time outlines the Obama administration’s decision to kill al-Qaida terror suspects without any evidence that specific and imminent plots are being planned against the United States.

    “The threat posed by al-Qaida and its associated forces demands a broader concept of imminence in judging when a person continually planning terror attacks presents an imminent threat,” concluded the document.

    The memo was immediately decried by civil liberties groups as “flawed” and “profoundly disturbing” — especially in light of 2011 U.S. drone strikes in Yemen that killed three American citizens: Anwar al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old-son and Samir Khan. Al-Awlaki was linked to the planning and execution of several attacks targeting U.S. and Western interests, including the attempt to down a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009 and the plot to bomb cargo planes in 2010. His son was killed in a separate strike on a suspected al-Qaida den. Khan was an al-Qaida propagandist.

    White House spokesman Jay Carney, echoing comments Brennan made in a speech last April, called the strikes “legal, ethical and wise” and said they are covered by a law that Congress approved allowing the use of military force against al-Qaida.

    “And certainly, under that authority, the president acts in the United States’ interest to protect the United States and its citizens from al-Qaida,” Carney said Tuesday.

    “It is a matter of fact that Congress authorized the use of military force against al-Qaida,” Carney said. “It is a matter of fact that al-Qaida is in a state of war against us and that senior leaders, operational leaders of al-Qaida are continually plotting to attack the United States, plotting to kill American citizens as they did most horrifically on September 11th of 2001.”

    Three days after 9/11, Congress approved a law authorizing the military to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against al-Qaida and other groups believed to be helping or harboring the global terror network, including the use of drone strikes. In the decade since the attacks, U.S. intelligence officials say, al-Qaida has splintered into a number of affiliates and allied sympathizers. That means the current laws could allow military force against thousands of extremists across the Mideast and North Africa who have limited or no ability to strike the United States.

    Currently, both the CIA and the U.S. military are authorized to remotely pilot unmanned, missile-carrying drones against terror suspects. It’s unknown exactly how many strikes have been carried out, but experts say that drone attacks in Pakistan are conducted by the CIA, while those in Yemen and Somalia, for example, are by military forces.

    The drones have strained diplomacy between the U.S. and the nations where the strikes are carried out, as civilians have been killed alongside the targeted terrorists, even though most nations have given Washington at least tacit agreement to carry out the attacks.

    A Middle Eastern diplomat said that in Yemen, for example, an uptick of U.S. drone strikes last month have killed dozens of people and upset the local public, leading some leaders in Sanaa to reconsider how often they should be used. The diplomat spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity to avoid political retribution from the Obama administration.

    The Pentagon is also considering basing surveillance drones in Mali to monitor on burgeoning extremist violence in North Africa, but it’s not clear if they will be armed. Scaling back the use of drones also would hamper war plans in Afghanistan after combat troops are scheduled to withdraw in 2014. Drones represent a major thrust of the post-troops campaign to help the limited number of special forces units that remain there keep the Taliban from regrouping.

    Brennan, who currently serves as the White House counterterrorism czar, has signaled he is prepared to turn the CIA from carrying out lethal drone strikes and hand over those missions to the U.S. military. Sen. Ron Wyden, a senior Democratic member of the Senate Intelligence panel, declared himself unsatisfied Tuesday with the Justice memo and said he will press Brennan at the confirmation hearing about the administration’s current policy.

    The drone debate puts Obama — himself a former civil rights lawyer — in the awkward position of carrying out lethal attacks in secret and bucking his political allies in the Democratic Party. Democratic lawmakers were incensed by the refusal of the Republican administration of President George W. Bush to hand over classified Justice Department opinions justifying the use of waterboarding, the harsh interrogation tactic that critics call a form of torture. Obama repudiated those methods — and released those opinions — when he took office in 2009. The use of drones proved to have no political cost to Obama in his re-election campaign.

    House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., defended the use of deadly drones, calling it “a lawful act of national self-defense.”

    “When an individual has joined al-Qaida — the organization responsible for the murder of thousands of Americans — and actively plots future attacks against U.S. citizens, soldiers, and interests around the world, the U.S. government has both the authority and the obligation to defend the country against that threat,” Rogers said in a statement.

    But Rep. Keith Ellison, said the new Justice memo could spur lawmakers into taking a fresh look at deadly drones, and what he called an outdated policy guiding them.

    “We are sort of running on the steam that we acquired right after our country was attacked in the most horrific act of terror in U.S. history,” said Ellison, D-Minn. “We have learned much since 9/11, and now it’s time to take a more sober look at where we should be with use of force.”

  75. Gene H:

    “However, that being said, killing a citizen without judicial due process is simply counter to the wording of the Constitution. It violates their civil rights and it violates the Separation of Powers Doctrine between Executive and Judiciary”

    ********************

    Let’s look at a case of domestic terrorism from our history. How would we apply due process protections to American citizens who take up arms against American soldiers on a traditional battlefield?

    Elements of Gen. James Longstreet’s First Corps are meticulously advancing from the tree line uphill through the meadow of Bliss Farm approaching the Emmitsburg Road. Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock ( a personal hero of mine in the battle along with Brig. Gen.John Buford. I’m a big Longstreet fan, too, as you can probably tell) sitting astride his horse near the Copse of Trees and in command of the U.S. Second Corps has a constitutional decision to make. Re-institute the artillery barrage or afford protections due the Confederates under the U.S. Constitution. How should he decide?

    It may seem an reductio ad absurdum example, but is it really in the context of modern warfare and the capabilities of homegrown terrorists?

    Can we extrapolate from there?

  76. Thanks for the encouragement !

    —————————-

    Gene, one of my International Law courses at GW, 2wasw taught by WT Masllison, back when the trollies still ran in DC. His special focus was legal rights of the Palestinians under international law. Opened my eyes to the issue. Had some enemies around town of course, but he was a genial guy, very tall drink of water, and kept on plugging.

  77. The USSR is gone. The “Other Super Power”. “The Evil Empire” actually seems to have kept American values to a higher bar. When the USSR was in its’ heyday the USA propaganda machine warned us about its terrible policies and repression of its’ citizens.
    The USA could not claim tactics similar to the USSR during the cold war. The Soviet Politburo was anathema to Democracy.
    Who Da Thunk I would miss the good old USSR. It is now gone, the fear mongering against it is gone, the media coverage of its repressive policies is gone.
    The bar of our Democracy versus their socialist repression is gone.

    WooHoo American Oligarchy, the path to a new world Corporatism is now open. The USA does no longer have to demonize USSR “civilian control tactics”
    As a matter of fact these formerly “evil civilian control tactics” seem to be quite conducive to promulgating greater corporate controlled hi-jacking of our constitution.

    Who Da Thunk I would miss the good ole USSR. …. As my earlier post intended, We in too many ways are becoming them.

  78. Waldo, I guess you would have objected to the police killing Bonnie and Clyde too then. They simply set up an ambush and opened fire. I have no problem with what they did, even though they are supposed to take them alive if possible. Given the circumstances, I don’t think most folks would denounce the cops for simply killing them. Nor would they fear that the cops would go around killing all citizens they suspected of being crooks.

  79. Michael Murry
    1, February 5, 2013 at 3:27 pm
    Obama DOJ to Courts: “Due Process” does not mean judicial proceedings.

    Courts to Obama DOJ: “OK, if you say so.”

    Sorry to keep talking about my life but in fact DOJ pled in my federal lawsuit that the Prisoner Tracking System requires only a judicial proceeding not a criminal proceeding. They actually took their own notice in the Federal Register about the purpose of the PTS and changed “criminal” to “judicial”.When I put this as part of a motion to admit facts, federal Judge Bates, a long time DOJ employee, wouldn’t allow my motion to be put on PACER and dismissed it in a rush. Then he wouldn’t allow my Rule 52 motion to amend and correct facts to be put on PACER. And he didn’t find facts or state conclusions of law as required by Rule 52a for a judgment on partial findings. DOJ didn’t protest that even though I asked them to.

  80. mespo,

    You put forth an interesting viewpoint that I had not thought of before. Lincoln and the US Congress took the position that the confederate states were still part of the USA. Therefore, all Confederate soldiers were still US citizens under the Constitution, but were at the same time enemy combatants. A Constitutional conundrum if there ever was one. I can certainly see the parallels. If an American citizen is on a battlefield, taking up arms against the USA, then have they waived their rights. Keeping in mind that all drone strikes so far have been halfway around the world. In the Civil War, the enemy combatants were US citizens, on US soil, only miles from Washington, DC in many cases.

  81. Brooklin Bridge, I suggest you learn US history about LIncoln. He did NOT suspend habeus corpus regretfully or briefly. In FACT Congress passed a law enabling that suspension for the duration of the war. Lincoln also put Vallandingham into prison, as he did MANY OTHERS who simply voiced support for the rebellion.

  82. mespo,

    Hancock didn’t have drones to do his bidding and we aren’t talking about organized militias in the sense of the Confederacy. Technology and the nature of asymmetric warfare have changed a lot since the days of the CSA. There is also the difference of openly declared hostilities and secret assassinations without trial based on secret evidence. The example is not only reductio ad absurdum, but facile as well. The memo’s vagueness on issue of imminence is simply unacceptable and doubly so given that the Executive has done all of this without consulting either Congress or the Judiciary – instead relying upon their own organelles, the DOJ and the OLC, to provide unchecked rationales for their unilateral action. What makes you think they’d consult anyone let alone the courts at this point? The Executive is making it up as they go along and they are doing so without challenge or check. Clearly, there are times to act and there are times to hedge, but burning the Constitution to save it is the definition of Pyrrhic victory. In becoming not just the world’s bully but bullying our own citizens we have shown the world that perhaps the criticisms of the groups that would oppose us – including terrorists – just might have merit. Moral high ground, unlike tactical high ground, is almost never regained once sacrificed.

  83. OS You forget that Al Qeada in Yemen sent one of their operatives to Detroit with a bomb in his underwear that he tried to detonate. I have NO problem at all with the drones killing all the SOBs in the training camps and other facilities. If you are there, you are NOT on vacation or Spring Break on the wonderful beaches that they have there. So you consort with our ARMED enemies who have created a huge amount of destruction on the US, you get what you deserve if you get killed by a drone. My only complaint is that they did not do it soon enough, and that they died too quickly.

  84. randyjet:

    ” Lincoln also put Vallandingham into prison, as he did MANY OTHERS who simply voiced support for the rebellion.”

    *************************

    Clement Vallandigham did quite a bit more than merely voice support for the rebellion. An active proponent of slavery and states rights, he met with Confederate emissaries in Canada to undermine the war effort, encouraged the invasion of Pennsylvania, and sought to form a Northwestern Confederacy. As military governor of Ohio, General Ambrose E. Burnside issued General Order Number 38 after Lincoln issued the order suspending habeas corpus which Congress authorized in March 1863. It was Burnside who ordered the arrest of Vallandingham, not Lincoln. When ol’ Vall snuck back into the US after his expulsion to the South, Lincoln did not arrest his old foe.

  85. Old Val did none of what you said before he was arrested. He did that AFTER Lincoln PERSONALLY ordered him expelled to Confederate territory. While Abe did not do the original arrest, he sure as HELL APPROVED IT! He also arrested others who did similar things in speech and print. I think Lincoln was right and as we all know the US did NOT become a dictatorship as a result.

  86. Genen H:

    I find the analogy apt and so likely would a tribunal. While we might argue the differences in weapons,geography, and tactics we can’t avoid the enemy’s symmetry of citizenship, threat, and motive. Likewise, our enemies today have made no secret of their intentions or their means to effect those intentions and we have not made any promises not to use force to repel them. Those are the deciding factors and not whether the Executive’s actions were sufficiently fettered by Constitutional protections for the aggressor. Hancock properly instructed General Henry Hunt’s batteries to fire. Had he not he would have been properly courts-martialed for treason and not exonerated by protecting the constitutional rights of his foe. I see little difference today except perhaps the marked lack on honor or humanity of our opponents now.

  87. randyjet:

    I’m not sure being arrested and deported gave Ol’ Vall the right to commit treason. it would have been an interesting defense if he actually had been tried for treason as justice would have required, but which he avoided. Karma must have been around then however since he died by his own hand in a shooting accident.

  88. randyjet:

    There is no evidence that Lincoln even knew about ol’ Vall’s arrest. He would have likely opposed it to avoid giving the Copperheads a martyr. That’s why he commuted his sentence. Here’s the history:

    “Vallandigham was so opposed to the order that he allegedly said that he “despised it, spit upon it, trampled it under his feet.” He also supposedly encouraged his fellow Peace Democrats to openly resist Burnside. Vallandigham went on to chastise President Lincoln for not seeking a peaceable and immediate end to the Civil War and for allowing General Burnside to thwart citizen rights under a free government.
    In attendance at the Mount Vernon rally (on May 1, 1863) were two army officers under Burnside’s command. They reported to Burnside that Vallandigham had violated General Order No. 38. The general ordered his immediate arrest. On May 5, 1863, a company of soldiers arrested Vallandigham at his home in Dayton and brought him to Cincinnati to stand trial.”

    “Lincoln, who learned of the affair from the papers, now faced a dilemma. He understood that both Burnside and Vallandigham had made foolish moves and brought the touchy subject up during a meeting with his cabinet on May 19, whose thought processes Burnside heard about. Ten days later, Burnside told the president that he knew that Vallandigham’s arrest was “a source of Embarrassment” and tendered the commander in chief his resignation. Later that day, Lincoln responded that “being done, all were for seeing you through with it.”

  89. Woah, my life has just gotten bigger.

    “Fractally wrong.” My life has just gotten richer.
    “Fractally wrong” is helping me understand some things that I did not understand well enough to actually verbalize them — until now.

    “Fractally wrong”! WOW! Thank you!

  90. Interesting to see the name of General Ambrose Burnside pop up. Probably the most incompetent general officer the US military has ever had. I read a book about some of his exploits several years ago, but the title escapes me. Burnside epitomized the military philosophy of how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The battle of the crater was probably his crowning achievement.

  91. Otteray Scribe, I find this quote of yours interesting:

    ”If an American citizen is on a battlefield, taking up arms against the USA, then have they waived their rights.”

    Is the American citizen on the battlefield one who is a US patriot who loves his country and his Constitution? And is the USA he/she is fighting, the government who has hijacked our Constitution and our country? Who has waived their rights? The people going by the Constitution for their country? Or the people who have hijacked and stomped and shredded the Constitution and the citizens which they have sworn to protect?

    My understanding from the veterans I hear, is that they have gone to war to protect OUR CONSTITUTIONAL rights. The PEOPLE’S Constitutional rights.

    This government has ”waived” the Constitutional rights of its own citizens.

    Are people ever going to care about that? Cuz from where I sit, it looks like nobody cares that our rights are being systematically stripped from us. Oh sure, some people complain about it. Big whoop! Has that accomplished anything? What can we do to get our country and our Constitution and our rights back? I write my Congressmen till I’m blue in the face. Does absolutely NO good! They don’t give a goldurn. THEY don’t care about our rights.

    Ron Paul fought for the people. But one person wasn’t enough to get us anywhere. And now people who are Constitutionalists are labeled as domestic terrorists by Homeland Security. I keep wondering where it was that I missed the big turnaround here, where the Constitution went from good, to evil. When I was in school, the Constitution was GOOD! I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and everything is going to be normal again. But so far . . .

  92. Malisha,

    You’re welcome, but in all fairness, the credit for the term goes to a mathematician friend of Slartibartfast’s.

    _______________________

    mespo,

    All of that begs the question that we are engaged in civil war. We are not. Yet. It’s a totally different situation and far more asymmetrical. However, it is compounded by the issue – as you admit – that issue of imminence. Left nebulous the way the memo is currently written, it makes everyone and anyone a potential target based on secret evidence and no due process. Quite simply, f*ck that. As you yourself have said, the Constitution isn’t a death pact and I for one didn’t sign up to live under a dictatorship where the life of a man is left to Imperial Presidential fiat. What if the next President, or even the current President, decides that the leaders of OWS are an imminent threat? Or gun owners. Or any group that says enough with the expansion of undue unearned and unconstitutional power by the Executive (or any other) branch of government? It’s only hyperbole until some power drunk narcissist or sociopath with penis envy decides to act that way. All under self-generated cover of the unchecked Executive in the guise of the DOJ and OLC. As Mike A. notes, there is a difference between legal and immune from prosecution.

    Nowhere in the Constitution is the President given the right to do an end run around civil rights except in the very explicit exception or insurrection or rebellion.

    This country by the terms of the core of our legal principles is a democracy or it isn’t and if the citizens say “enough”? Who is to say what this kind of nebulous power to murder at will without consequence will result in? It’s too much power vested in one place without the consent of the people where true political power is supposed to rest in a democracy.

    This policy is a recipe for eventual domestic disaster left unchecked and unchallenged as it is.

  93. “Finally, it should be noted that the OLC “white paper” was leaked to Isikoff, not formally released. I’m not going to be dishonest and say I’d like the policies it describes any more had it been voluntarily disclosed, but at least it would be a gesture toward transparency by the administration. We also don’t know if this is indeed the rationale the president used to justify killing the al-Awlakis; there’s evidence that it is not, and that the specific legal case was outlined in another still secret memo. The worst thing about this policy is that it’s been pursued with zero checks, balances, accountability or transparency. That, at least, should change in the months to come.” from the Joan Walsh piece linked above.

  94. Gene H:

    I agree it’s not a civil war in the true sense but it certainly involves American citizens taking up arms against the lawful government of the US as our 19th Century southern brothers surely did. I see no reason to treat the newly mentioned ideologues any differently. Is railing against perceived US corruption and greed and hegemony really any different than railing against perceived regional oppression and anti-slavery laws? Like you, if I believed these measures were instituted in peacetime or in wartime against those over whom the government had law enforcement access I’d be up on the ramparts with you. I just see this as a unique situation whose resolution has been endorsed by both political parties and an overwhelming majority of US citizens.

    “The sharpest edges of President Obama’s counterterrorism policy, including the use of drone aircraft to kill suspected terrorists abroad and keeping open the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, have broad public support, including from the left wing of the Democratic Party.”
    ~Washington Post
    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-02-08/politics/35445649_1_drone-program-support-for-drone-strikes-drone-policy

    “But a recent poll, as Benjamin noted, puts American civilian support for drone strikes at 62 percent. An earlier poll taken by the Washington Post found that a stunning 83 percent of Americans support U.S. drone policy.”

    http://mondoweiss.net/2013/01/warfare-civilian-produces.html

  95. I think that Gen Banks was the most incompetent Union General. A prof who taught at VMI and who was a friend of the family opined that Banks was in effect Lee and Jackson’s quartermaster. I think also Grant can be blamed for the crater disaster since he pulled off the Negro troops who HAD trained for the assault, and subsituted green white troops who had not.

  96. How will the USA react when some foreign country sends a drone into the USA to kill a person (persons) that that country feels is a terrorists threat? Of course we will react with righteous indignation, attach the offending country and wonder what all the fuss is about. The USA has never acted this way before. Have we? Well this is this little thing where we condemned Germans after WW II about torture then Obama came along and covered his eyes and forgave any tortue we might have done.

  97. randyjet:

    Gen. James H. Ledlie’s could give ’em a run for their money. He was drunk at the Battle of the Crater and got his division slaughtered as he slept it off in the rear.

  98. mespo,

    Maybe you missed this poll.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/31/government-threat_n_2592063.html

    “The percentage of Americans who see the government as a threat to their freedoms is at an 18-year high, according to a poll released Thursday by Pew Research, with the change fueled mostly by conservative Republicans.

    Fifty-three percent of Americans now say that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms — the first time a majority has agreed with that statement since Pew began polling on the question in 1995.”

  99. “Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) issued a tersely worded statement on Tuesday in response to reports of a a secret memo the Obama administration used to claim legal authority to kill an American citizen if that person is believed to be a senior member of al-Qaeda or an associated force.

    “Every American has the right to know when their government believes that it is allowed to kill them,” Wyden said. “The Justice Department memo that was made public yesterday touches on a number of important issues, but it leaves many of the most important questions about the President’s lethal authorities unanswered. Questions like ‘how much evidence does the President need to decide that a particular American is part of a terrorist group?’, ‘does the President have to provide individual Americans with the opportunity to surrender?’ and ‘can the President order intelligence agencies or the military to kill an American who is inside the United States?’ need to be asked and answered in a way that is consistent with American laws and American values.”

    Wyden said he would pose those questions to John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, at a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday. ” TPM It is really starting to heat up.

  100. CIA Operates Drone Base in Saudi Arabia

    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Published: February 5, 2013 at 9:48 PM ET

    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2013/02/05/us/politics/ap-us-cia-drone-base.html?hp

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The CIA conducts lethal drone strikes against al-Qaida militants inside Yemen from a remote base in Saudi Arabia, including the strike that killed the U.S.-born al-Qaida operative Anwar al-Awlaki.

    The location of the base was first disclosed by The New York Times online Tuesday night.

    The Associated Press first reported the construction of the base in June 2011 but withheld the exact location at the request of senior administration officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because portions of the military and CIA missions in Yemen are classified.

    Any operation by U.S. military or intelligence officials inside Saudi Arabia is politically and religiously sensitive. Al-Qaida and other militant groups have used the Gulf kingdom’s close working relationship with U.S. counterterrorism officials to stir internal dissent against the Saudi regime.

  101. mespo,

    And all I can say is “yet”.

    In this matter, as in similar matters before it, I sincerely hope I am wrong about the danger of the kill list and our drone policy and its ever moving domestic creep. However, if history has taught me one lesson it is that where there is potential for abuse of unfettered power someone will eventually rise to the circumstance and yield to temptation and the dark whispering angels of their less than noble nature.

  102. If that is true Gene H then why are we not a dictatorship after the extreme measures that Lincoln and the GOP instituted during and after the Civil War.

  103. Gene H:

    “However, if history has taught me one lesson it is that where there is potential for abuse of unfettered power someone will eventually rise to the circumstance and yield to temptation and the dark whispering angels of their less than noble nature.”

    **********************

    I guess my reading of history is different. From Washington’s refusal of the crown through today, we’ve seen opportunity after opportunity for tyranny to rise missed and missed basically because the people we’ve elected eschewed the chance. I think its cultural. I recall some people here thinking that George W. Bush would stage some kind of terror threat to maintain his Presidency and call off elections. Didn’t happen.

  104. randyjet,

    Fundamentally different circumstance, extraordinary differences in technology available and the fact that was an actual civil war. Also, even with how things followed, it’s not like Reconstruction was exactly a walk in the park. Would it have been worse or better had Lincoln not been assassinated? Who knows, but as things worked out, the South remained the red-headed stepchild of the Union until WWII. But what Lincoln did was also radically different in both assertion of a ultra vires action and in scope and scale. His suspension of habeas corpus and use of military justice are inexorably intertwined with the fact of an actual civil war and despite his doing this, there is no evidence that it initially had any practical value other than to create Constitutional crisis. It was confined to a particular route of travel and many of his officers refused to enforce it. When Lincoln suspended habeas corpus nationwide in 1862, the result was a civil rights disaster with 350 people arrested and detained indefinitely and many of them for nothing more that bad mouthing Lincoln or being unlucky enough to be on the wrong end of a grudge with local law enforcement. It was widely abused and used to oppress dissent. That is nothing, however, compared to the modern scale at which habeas corpus has been vitiated and compounded by the use of torture and now the kill list policy. Also consider the true level of destruction after the Civil War. The Union was in no position to impose a dictatorship and such an attempt would have simply prolonged the war and/or started a second round.

    Despite the adage that history repeats, it doesn’t. Things change. Technology evolves. Circumstances change. Society and its mores evolves. Nothing is static. And what repeats isn’t history. It’s patterns of cause and effect. What we face here is not properly analogous to the post-Civil War period of American history. It’s a slow erosion of civil rights and aggregation and centralization of power into one place – the Office of the President – based upon the idea of “national emergency”. That sounds like a familiar pattern alright. But it isn’t American history.

    “But the Fuhrer needs these powers to protect the Fatherland!”

    Sure he does.

  105. Blouise,
    Fractially is actually a real word, and is derived from the mathematical concept of fractals.

    From the urban dictionary, which explains it in the context of someone being “fractally wrong.”

    fractally wrong >/strong>

    Being wrong at every conceivable scale of resolution. Zooming on every part of one’s world view finds beliefs exactly as wrong as one’s entire world view.

    Dude, you must not join this cult, they’re fractally wrong.

  106. Thanks, Mike A.

    _______________

    Mark,

    An appeal to probability at best. Just because some situation can have a good outcome doesn’t mean it will have a good outcome and historically for every one George Washington there are at least two Augusto Pinochet. To leave such a thing to the whim and foibles of whomever has their hands on the reins (pardon the pun) seems like an unacceptable risk. Nobility and strength of character are admirable, but often an exception rather than the rule. Often those who crave and hold power have the least grace. I’d rather have a strong Constitution, strong checks and balances through the Separation of Powers, and an equitable rule of law rather than a seemingly endless list of excuses to take away liberty and freedom in the name of fighting a noun all for a false sense of security and at the cost of our diplomatic clout and claim to a superior ethical high ground. Might doesn’t make right, it makes force. Right makes right and our claims to be the land of the free and the land of liberty are turning in to empty husks, promise and potential wasted on the pyre of ego, greed and fear. A pretty shell.

  107. When Lincoln suspended habeas corpus nationwide in 1862, the result was a civil rights disaster with 350 people arrested and detained indefinitely and many of them for nothing more that bad mouthing Lincoln

    When Obama or other governmental agencies imprison 350 US citizens, THEN I will be concerned. Your knowledge of history is faulty since such things ARE part of US history. My grandfathers business and home was burned to the ground by a mob in Boston during WWI because he had a German name. He did not even speak a word of German, and fortunately for me he and my grandmother survived. During that same time, tens of thousands of US citizens were imprisoned for even mild criticism of the war or even slight disparagement of capitalism. In Texas a law enforcement officer could arrest and imprison any person if they were suspected of even speaking German in public. When things get that bad, THEN I will get concerned. NOT before.

    While I do see some reason for concern about the powers claimed, it is not so far worth getting upset about.

  108. randyjet,

    “When Obama or other governmental agencies imprison 350 US citizens, THEN I will be concerned.”

    So nice that you are willing to wait for a crime instead of taking preventative action to prevent it. An ounce of protection beats a pound of cure.

    “Your knowledge of history is faulty since such things ARE part of US history.”

    Nothing I have said is historically inaccurate. If you have proof that it is? Present it.

  109. Blouise,
    I get a kick out of obscure words that no one has ever heard of. My daughter says when I am driving I am lousy at staying between the lines.

    When was the last time you used “hangby” in everyday conversation? Or amanuensis? I like to mess with pompous people, and in my business goodness knows I run into enough of them.

  110. OS,

    Had to look up the dictation word.

    I was able to get Scrabble to accept ‘hirple’ which is only one of two words that rhyme with purple. Curple is the other one but Scrabble won’t take it. (BTW … both have their origin in Scot dial.)

  111. Blouise,
    Can you find a word that rhymes with “orange?”

    Do you know the only word that both pronunciation and meaning change simply by capitalizing it? The sole exception to that is if the lower case version of the word begins a sentence.

  112. OS,

    Once had a contest with a friend looking for a word to rhyme with orange and there were one or two but only if one pronounced them improperly. So we finally decided that the only way to do it was to make up a proper name.

  113. Gene,

    Yep, that was one of them but technically speaking, it should be sporangium rather than sporange since sporangia is the plural form of the word.

  114. Boy, am I late, the train has already 175 cars.

    GeneH,

    Thanks for the fractql aspect. But not only analysis. It is wrong on any scale in which it is synthesized or used. From prosecutorial persecution to whole groups of American citizens with constitutional shield removed. It all looks the same at any scale.
    In this case equally wrong. No essential difference. That is why we have a Constitution, to eliminate such possibilities by applying it at all levels.
    Not observed any more, of course.

  115. Blouise,

    “Will the numbers necessary to take action through their vote show up at the booth?”

    If it goes to a R vs D elecrtion, then it is too late. The time to kill undesireables is in the primary. Then even fewer vote, a populist movement would have greater possibility to effect who the machine has to support. Popullism is still news in this country, and shows that the process begins at your home district.

    Not my idea, just loaned.

    Of course we can throw up our hands and say that they can counter this by throwing coffer money in the primary race. Worth a try anyway. .

  116. Barking up this tree is wasted time and breath. I will explain if necessary.
    The body count is much higher in the USA every year. This was a campaign move by Obama.

    This is not new. People are taken out constantly without a trace, and the ev. survivors are offered “deals they can’t refuse” to quote Marlon B.

    Neither is prosecutorial persecution, even that was there when HUAC chased reds in Hollywood.

    Here’s a quote by an actor who gave up his resistance. Hope you are old enough to have seen him. Lee J.Cobb.

    “Lee J. Cobb was one of those actors who was originally blacklisted but eventually cooperated with the HUAC:
    “When the facilities of the government of the United States are drawn on an individual it can be terrifying. The blacklist is just the opening gambit – being deprived of work. Your passport is confiscated. That’s minor. But not being able to move without being tailed is something else. After a certain point it grows to implied as well as articulated threats, and people succumb. My wife did, and she was institutionalized. In 1953 the HCUA did a deal with me. I was pretty much worn down. I had no money. I couldn’t borrow. I had the expenses of taking care of the children. Why am I subjecting my loved ones to this? If it’s worth dying for, and I am just as idealistic as the next fellow. But I decided it wasn’t worth dying for, and if this gesture was the way of getting out of the penitentiary I’d do it. I had to be employable again.””

    http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKmockingbird.htm

  117. The 5th, 6th, and 7th Amendments require presentment of evidence to a grand jury, the return of a true bill, right to bail, defense counsel, access to prosecutor’s exculpatory evidence, a jury trial by peers, confrontation and cross-examination of witnesses, and a unanimous jury guilty verdict prior to the loss of liberty or life.

  118. I was wondering how Mr. obama’s little fan club on here would react to this. Remember how much grief President Bush received about enhanced interrogation including “waterboarding”? You would have thought it was the crime of all crimes committed. So much that wingnuts labeled President Bush as a “war criminal”. And that waterboarding was only done three times, with a doctor present, and done only for a few minutes.

    Now we hear this about Mr. obama? Where’s the outcry, where’s all that whining from the wingnuts???

    Can we say DOUBLE STANDARD??????

  119. Dredd Yes, but my boring case shows that these protections can be withheld. In my case, there was no grand jury but the USMS sent a fax saying I was wanted for a felony. I never got a document from the feds saying what a government interest was and DOJ sent me an email saying that they were opposed to having an evidentiary hearing about whether or not I engaged in abusive litigation even though they filed in federal court that I did and that was why I was imprisoned. I actually stated and supported the tort of First Amendment Retaliation. A bail hearing is supposed to include a right to a lawyer and witness but I was told the first time that I didn’t have a right to a lawyer or witnesses. The Bail Reform Act says that bail can only be withheld for certain crimes and I wasn’t accused of any of that. An order to hold someone without bail has to have certain contents and Nottingham’s orders did not contain those contents. The second time I was held there was an assistant U.S. Attorney who said that the government was not a party, my public defender said I had a right to a bail hearing, but I was denied one and then held as a high security prisoner with convicted felons for 3 weeks. So there was no jury. DOJ pled in federal court just recently that I didn’t have a right to confrontation because I wasn’t accused of a crime. The witnesses against me weren’t sworn and I wasn’t allowed to cross them. There wasn’t a prosecutor. When I was imprisoned by DOJ for 5 months I was denied an attorney and denied law library access. (Since I don’t have a criminal record, I didn’t know the Rules of Criminal Procedure.)

    This is the same government that is now claiming broader authority to kill Americans.

  120. O.S> Wow. That puts things in a very different perspective.
    (Therefore, all Confederate soldiers were still US citizens under the Constitution, but were at the same time enemy combatants.”)

  121. Even the NYT, former home of Judith can-I-whore-for-some-war Miller, and ‘better check with the govt to let them tell us what’s too embarrassing to print’, get’s in the act with an editorial on the white paper. I wouldn’t say they tear Obama a new one, but they leave no equivocating doubt as to where they stand:

    ” . . .it was disturbing to see the twisted logic of the administration’s lawyers laid out in black and white. ”

    [snip]

    “This dispute goes to the fundamental nature of our democracy, to the relationship among the branches of government and to their responsibility to the public. ”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/06/opinion/to-kill-an-american.html?hp&_r=0

    But as Obama says, ‘we don’t need no stinkin oversight’, to loosely paraphrase much more offensive language..

  122. Sen Wyden says the administration is “stonewalling” on targeted killings. He will “pull out all the stops” during the Brennan process to get info. Looks to me like Wyden is trying to become the next Russ Feingold. The Feingold loss to the republican teapartyer Johnson still stings.

  123. ap, He should pull out all the stops. I am a fan of Wyden. The only way to stop this is to draw more attention to it and hopefully get bi-partisan support for changes in these policies.

  124. Drone Strikes’ Dangers to Get Rare Moment in Public Eye

    Wednesday, 06 February 2013 09:16 By Scott Shane, Robert F Worth and Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times News Service

    http://truth-out.org/news/item/14374-drone-strikes-dangers-to-get-rare-moment-in-public-eye

    Excerpt:

    Anger at America

    In the days afterward, the people of the village vented their fury at the Americans with protests and briefly blocked a road. It is difficult to know what the long-term effects of the deaths will be, though some in the town — as in other areas where drones have killed civilians — say there was an upwelling of support for Al Qaeda, because such a move is seen as the only way to retaliate against the United States.

    Innocents aside, even members of Al Qaeda invariably belong to a tribe, and when they are killed in drone strikes, their relatives — whatever their feelings about Al Qaeda — often swear to exact revenge on America.

    “Al Qaeda always gives money to the family,” said Hussein Ahmed Othman al Arwali, a tribal sheik from an area south of the capital called Mudhia, where Qaeda militants fought pitched battles with Yemeni soldiers last year. “Al Qaeda’s leaders may be killed by drones, but the group still has its money, and people are still joining. For young men who are poor, the incentives are very strong: they offer you marriage, or money, and the ideological part works for some people.”

    In some cases, drones have killed members of Al Qaeda when it seemed that they might easily have been arrested or captured, according to a number of Yemeni officials and tribal figures. One figure in particular has stood out: Adnan al Qadhi, who was killed, apparently in a drone strike, in early November in a town near the capital.

    Mr. Qadhi was an avowed supporter of Al Qaeda, but he also had recently served as a mediator for the Yemeni government with other jihadists, and was drawing a government salary at the time of his death. He was not in hiding, and his house is within sight of large houses owned by a former president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and other leading figures.

    Whatever the success of the drone strikes, some Yemenis wonder why there is not more reliance on their country’s elite counterterrorism unit, which was trained in the United States as part of the close cooperation between the two countries that Mr. Brennan has engineered. One member of the unit, speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed great frustration that his unit had not been deployed on such missions, and had in fact been posted to traffic duty in the capital in recent weeks, even as the drone strikes intensified.

    “For sure, we could be going after some of these guys,” the officer said. “That’s what we’re trained to do, and the Americans trained us. It doesn’t make sense.”

    Robert F. Worth reported from Sana, and Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane from Washington.

  125. Assassination Rationales Then & Now – And How Awlaki Didn’t Meet Any of the Criteria

    by Jesselyn Radack on February 05, 2013 ( The Whistleblogger / 2013 )

    http://www.whistleblower.org/blog/44-2013/2523-assassination-rationales-then-a-now-and-how-awlaki-didnt-meet-any-of-the-criteria

    Excerpt:

    “The newly-released cold, calculating, chilling white paper only makes the stunning scope and reach of Executive authority even scarier. For me, it’s another strike against Brennan, not in his favor. Brennan was rejected when Obama wanted him to be CIA director during his first term – primarily because of his history with the torture program while he was Deputy Executive Director of the CIA. Since then, although it would have been hard to fathom four years ago, Brennan’s record of atrocities has gotten worse. He has overseen the drone program and assassination program. Yet there is far less outcry this time around, and Brennan will be confirmed. Congress should at least put a hold on his coronation until the actual memos are provided. Our democracy deserves that, even if we don’t deserve him.

    More great pieces on other aspects of this issue have been written by Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU, Marcy Wheeler, Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic, and Jonathan Turley.”

  126. “Do unto others…” And when there’s a drone strike on American soil with collateral damage?

    “Are US drones terrorising civilians?”

    A new report reveals the programme is counter-productive and causing great harm to civilians and US national security.

    Inside Story Americas Last Modified: 27 Sep 2012 09:24

    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestoryamericas/2012/09/20129279631498599.html

    Excerpt:

    Living under drones report:

    There is significant evidence that US drone strikes have injured and killed civilians even though the US government rarely acknowledges this.

    Extensive interviews in northwest Pakistan shows that beyond deaths and injuries, drone strikes cause considerable harm to the daily lives of ordinary citizens.

    The hovering of drones 24-hours a day over communities terrorises residents and has a devastating impact on social and economic life, which includes symptoms of intense psychological trauma among the civilian population.

    The evidence that the strikes have made the US safe overall is ambiguous at best. The strikes have stoked hostility toward the US and motivated further violent attacks on US targets.

    The drone strikes undermine respect for the rule of both international and domestic US law. There are doubts on the legality of strikes not targeted at individuals linked to the 9/11 terror attacks or those who do not pose an immediate threat to the US.

    The report highlights the US government’s failure to ensure basic transparency and accountability for the programme, or to set out the legal basis for operational rules.

    The drone strike policy may establish dangerous precedents for other governments who want to use lethal force.

    (We will reap what we sow.)

  127. The Brennan hearing tomorrow may represent the best opportunity in who knows how long to try to nail down this power-grabbing White House. However, I expect it will more likely be a case of Breena dissembling, hedging, claiming state secrets, bullying (he might not be able to help it) and the like. But I doubt the committee will be overly assertive because, as President Obama totally tactlessly has reminded us: “I have two words for you: Predator Drone”. Oh, if we only knew he wasn’t joking.

    My though is that the timing of the white paper release was meant as an information sink of sorts to allow Brennan to dissemble by alluding to all the answers being thorough;ly covered therein. But will the committee members (those inclined to be substantive) go for it?

  128. DonS,

    When he delivered that particular joke, I found it troubling… It was in very poor taste, at best.

    I’m hoping for more leaks over the course of the next few days.

  129. The discussion for a legal basis for targeted killings serves only as a moot mental exercise. It is clear that those in power will do what they want regardless of the absence or presence of proper authority. If an action is later deemed unlawful, the law will be changed or will continue to be ignored. The rule of law only applies to the poor and powerless.

  130. Woody, the site has been quirky on occasion. WordPress is not my favorite site host.

    If you got a moderation banner, it means that you included more than two outside links, or you used one of the four “forbidden” words in the filter.

  131. Allen Pasch:

    “The rule of law only applies to the poor and powerless.”

    ***********************

    Somebody should have told that to billionaire Bernie Madoff before he pled out.

  132. ““Do unto others…” And when there’s a drone strike on American soil with collateral damage?” (AP)

    We know how easily propagandized the American people are, and there’s a substantial subset of citizens who are already convinced the government is coming for them , their freedoms and their guns. So this is a perfect storm of the government’s own making. When that first errant drone, or similar, strike falls on the US, the sensationalist driven media will not be able to resist reporting (unless they’re all threatened with prison — which just might happen). It’s all downhill from there and the government will not be able to contain the outrage, or, rather they will contain the outrage with increasingly draconian tactics.

    There was no need to unleash this peremptorily bad policy. Take out the ‘bad guys’ with drones instead of methods that would put Americans in harm’s way. But we have become addicted to a global game of cops and robbers. What could possibly go wrong?

    We’ll check back later to see if this is all fantasy. The US seems to be losing a grip on the world’s narrative. Americans may be lazy and gullible, but when the counterproductive nature of US policy actually is too patent to avoid seeing someone will have to pay.

  133. This information has been available for some time. My questions is why it was ignored by the people of this nation, both right and left, who re-elected a dictator who not only claimed this right, but exercised it, to include exercising his “rights” on a 16 year old boy.

    It is what most disturbs me about the US. We are in trouble because the executive is acting as a dictator. He is not opposed by Congress, most of the judiciary and the vast majority of our population. Obama is greenlighted by the supposed other branches of the govt. Obama is greenlighted by voters who elected him, knowing who he is and what he had done. I have not seen the people who voted for him hold his feet to the fire. I do not see you in the streets.

    This is a terrifying nation. This is exactly how dictatorships get a foot hold in a society. It is happening before our eyes.

  134. ““The rule of law only applies to the poor and powerless.””

    OK, with the exception of Madoff ;-) But really he was pretty small potatoes, but large enough and with powerful enough clients to be forceful individually and collectively heard, so as to get some attention and, incidentally, be the poster child for the system “working”. And while don’t lament the system working in that case, Bernie was an obsessed shiester, he wasn’t a systemic cancer as a Citibank or Countrywide.

  135. Au contraire, Alan Pasch. Do you not remember the famous words of Anatole France? “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

  136. 02/06/2013

    Targeted Killings

    ACLU Court Filing Argues for Judicial Review of U.S. Targeted Killings of Americans

    By Noa Yachot, Communication Strategist, ACLU at 11:54am

    http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/aclu-court-filing-argues-judicial-review-us-targeted-killings-americans

    Posting:

    The courts have a crucial role to play in determining the lawfulness of U.S. drone killings of three American citizens in Yemen in 2011, the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights argued in a brief filed last night in a lawsuit challenging the killings (you can read the brief here).

    Our lawsuit charges that U.S. citizens Anwar Al-Aulaqi, Samir Khan, and 16-year-old Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi were killed in violation of the Constitution’s fundamental guarantee against the deprivation of life without due process of law. In December, the government filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing, in essence, that the courts should not be involved in determining the lawfulness of the targeted killing of U.S. citizens. As we say in the brief filed yesterday:

    This case concerns the most fundamental right the Constitution guarantees to citizens: the right not to be deprived of life without due process of law. Defendants respond with various arguments for dismissal of the case, but they all boil down to a single assertion: The Executive has the unilateral authority to carry out the targeted killing of Americans it deems terrorism suspects—even if those suspects do not present any truly imminent threat, even if they are located far away from any recognized battlefield, and even if they have never been convicted (or even charged) with a crime.

    The filing of the brief came just one day after the release by NBC News of a Justice Department white paper, which summarizes a secret Department of Justice legal memo purportedly justifying the addition of Anwar Al-Aulaqi to the government’s secret kill lists. (We’re separately seeking that legal memo in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit).

    The unchecked authority the government claims is dangerous, and the potential for abuse is clear. Under our Constitution and its system of checks and balances, the executive branch cannot decide alone that it can strip a citizen of the right to life. As the Supreme Court ruled in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, “[w]hatever power the United States Constitution envisions for the Executive in its exchanges with other nations or with enemy organizations in times of conflict, it most assuredly envisions a role for all three branches when individual liberties are at stake.”

    The targeted killing program is conducted in near-total secrecy. In our lawsuit, the defendants argue, in essence, that the government can kill citizens without presenting evidence to any court before or after a killing is carried out and without even acknowledging to any court that their claimed authority to kill has been exercised.

    But as we say in response, “Defendants’ argument that the Judiciary should turn a blind eye to the Executive’s extrajudicial killing of American citizens misunderstands both the individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the courts’ constitutional duty to safeguard those rights from encroachment.”

  137. ap:

    Just a few questions raised by your comment:

    One wonders how revealing secret military methods and means furthers the nation’s interests in its struggle with terrorists or is even protected free speech.

    One also wonders why, if the information was deemed too sensitive to reveal initially by the Post, it is not too sensitive now. A new CIA Director’s confirmation is hardly a reason to reveal government secrets he may have been involved with. I saw no news stories about military projects that Hagel may have been involved with during his time as a senator when he was questioned as part of his confirmation.

    If the Post got a story that Seal Team 6 was hovering over a compound where OBL was suspected of hiding would any of the founders have believed that the First Amendment must be honored by broadcasting that news to our adversaries?

    If we lose that base due to the adverse publicity and we are crippled in our ability to strike al-Qaeda while alienating our allies at the same time, will any American deaths flowing therefrom be on the heads of the editors of the newspaper?

    Some surely will ask these same questions and I’m not sure the Post has satisfactory answers.

  138. WikiLeaks earns $84,000 from crowdsourced campaign

    Source: Freedom of the Press Foundation

    05 February 2013

    http://www.finextra.com/News/Announcement.aspx?pressreleaseid=48354

    Excerpts:

    Freedom of the Press Foundation is launching its second fund-raising campaign in support of cutting-edge journalism focused on transparency and accountability, after its first six-week campaign ended on Sunday with over $196,000 in crowd-funded donations.
    The second campaign will feature three new investigative journalism organizations—Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Center for Public Integrity, and Truthout. This time around, donors will be able to support specific, secrecy-busting investigative projects that have been tailored for Freedom of the Press Foundation.

    The Bureau of Investigative Journalism aims to expand its groundbreaking report on secretive US drones strikes with its “naming the dead” project. The Bureau will provide accurate and verifiable evidence identifying as many individuals as possible killed by drones strikes, whether they are militants or civilians.

    Freedom of the Press Foundation was founded in the winter of 2012 to crowd-fund a variety of journalism institutions—both start-ups and established organizations—who are dedicated to aggressive, uncompromising journalism in the vein of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers. The Foundation’s Board of Directors is comprised of journalists and free expression advocates, including John Perry Barlow, Daniel Ellsberg, Xeni Jardin, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Josh Stearns, Rainey Reitman, Trevor Timm, and John Cusack.

  139. AP explains participation in Saudi drone-base secrecy

    Posted by Erik Wemple on February 6, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2013/02/06/ap-explains-participation-in-saudi-drone-base-secrecy/

    “The AP’s account provides a stark look at the considerations that weigh on editors in conversations with national security officials. Who wants to be responsible for putting U.S. installations at risk? Or for hampering counterterrorism efforts?

    The flip side: Who wants to be responsible for keeping the American public in the dark on the particulars of a U.S. counterterrorism program that has killed thousands of people overseas?”

    (AP = Associated Press, of course ;-) )

    ———-

    New York Times editor: Obama administration ‘continued to object’ to Saudi revelation

    Posted by Erik Wemple on February 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2013/02/06/new-york-times-editor-obama-administration-continued-to-object-to-saudi-revelation/

  140. http://counterterrorism.newamerica.net/drones

    The Year of the Drone

    An Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2013

    In Brief:

    “According to data compiled by the New America Foundation from reliable news reports, 349 CIA drone strikes in Pakistan have killed an estimated 1,953 to 3,279 people since 2004, of which 1,526 – 2,649 were reported to be militants.

    This means the average non-militant casualty rate over the life of the program is 18-23 percent. In 2012 it was around 10 percent, down sharply from its peak in 2006 of over 60 percent.”

    http://counterterrorism.newamerica.net/dashboard

  141. From Emptywheel, which lines up with my argument above that the white paper release amounts to an information sink designed to facilitate continued secrecy at a level favored by WH:

    “Shorter Dianne Feinstein: “Well, the magical release of that white paper sure eliminates any need to release the Office of Legal Council memos that depict far worse legal theories, even to the grunt members of my committee who have are legally entitled to read it.””

    http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/02/06/dianne-feinsteins-limited-hang-out/#more-33046

  142. “A new CIA Director’s confirmation is hardly a reason to reveal government secrets he may have been involved with. I saw no news stories about military projects that Hagel may have been involved with during his time as a senator when he was questioned as part of his confirmation.” -mespo727272

    If one is trying to derail his confirmation (Brennan’s), it might be… especially if he can be tied to the domestic activities of which I’m aware.

    “One wonders how revealing secret military methods and means furthers the nation’s interests in its struggle with terrorists or is even protected free speech.” -mespo727272

    Similar questions were probably asked about the release of the Pentagon papers.

    “If the Post got a story that Seal Team 6 was hovering over a compound where OBL was suspected of hiding would any of the founders have believed that the First Amendment must be honored by broadcasting that news to our adversaries?” -mespo727272

    It’s an ongoing dance with the media — stories are “held” and not revealed to the general public and/or our adversaries all the time.

  143. Glenn Greenwald, as usual, nails the crucial issue here:

    “This memo is not a judicial opinion. It was not written by anyone independent of the president. To the contrary, it was written by life-long partisan lackeys: lawyers whose careerist interests depend upon staying in the good graces of Obama and the Democrats, almost certainly Marty Lederman and David Barron. Treating this document as though it confers any authority on Obama is like treating the statements of one’s lawyer as a judicial finding or jury verdict.”

    In other words, secret beliefs, suspicions, accusations, and opinions by unnamed bureaucratic minions do not constitute legal “standards” — unless the United States Government, as presently staffed and administered, has become as a lunatic asylum. And if such legal “standards” do indeed prevail in America, then all citizens have the equal right to summarily dismiss any charges brought against them by their government, claiming that they have a secret opinion from unnamed council stating that whatever they have done or not done falls within the acceptably elastic and nebulous boundaries of the “law” — by which term they mean “their own individual personal interest.”

  144. DonS,

    It’s hard to know…, but wouldn’t be surprising. (I read the emptywheel piece earlier.) Having said this, it’s sometimes hard to control these things, once they’re out of the bag. There are unintended consequences, twists and turns…

    Personally, I prefer the “sunlight”, even if someone’s trying to control it… We need a lot more of it.

  145. AP:

    “Personally, I prefer the “sunlight”, even if someone’s trying to control it. We need a lot more of it.”

    ***************************

    The problem is our adversaries do too.

  146. The problem is our adversaries do too. -mespo72727

    Correct but, knowing what I know, I’ll take the sunlight. We know where “democracies go to die” and, given some of the things taking place on U.S. soil, it’s a safe bet that we should go with the warmth of the sun.

    And we can’t ignore “radicalization”, which isn’t easy to gauge. How many American lives will be lost because of it? How many terrorists have we created by our policies, including torture and rendition?

  147. “If the Post got a story that Seal Team 6 was hovering over a compound where OBL was suspected of hiding would any of the founders have believed that the First Amendment must be honored by broadcasting that news to our adversaries?” -mespo727272

    Change “Seal Team 6” to “an Army Special Ops team” and “a compound where OBL was suspected of hiding” to “a baby-naming ceremony in an Afghan hovel” and the answer becomes an obvious and resounding “yes.”

    Change “Seal Team 6” to “CIA Cuban exile rabble” and “a compound where OBL was suspected of hiding” to “the Bay of Pigs” and the answer — again — becomes an obvious and resounding “yes.”

    Change “Seal Team 6” to “CIA directed air force bomber” and “a compound where OBL was suspected of hiding” to “Chinese embassy in Belgrade” and the answer — again — becomes an obvious and resounding “yes.”

    American foreign policy disasters do not happen in the light of day. They happen in the dark of night. So, naturally, U.S. civilian and military “leaders” prefer to operate in the dark of night and so move heaven and earth to keep the American people ignorant of their deranged and venal misadventures. Our so-called “adversaries” have no such power to enslave us.

    If the decades of stupendous C.I.A./U.S. military bungles in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan, South America, and elsewhere do not convince you that taking official U.S. government “suspicions” as a sure sign of past, continuing, or impending disaster, then you have far too little empirical information informing your conclusions.

    But straw-men non-sequiturs about “adversaries” aside, the publishing of news reports in the United States has the purpose of informing the American electorate about the activities of the American government. Whether illiterate foreigners living in rock huts somewhere in the Hindu Kush also avidly read English language newspapers on a minute-by-minute basis has no bearing whatsoever on what Americans need to know about their government in order to maintain their democratic freedoms. The American bureaucracy — especially the bloated and largely inept military brass — only fears one “adversary” — namely, the American people who can cut their lavish funding and career perks and send them back to the “free market” where they can try to find gainful employment for a change.

  148. I, for one, have no intention of abandoning my Democratic Republic simply because some foreigners might read or hear about my practicing democracy in order to keep it. My own government wants me to live in fear, and has tried to terrify me with lurid tales of evil “communists” and “terrorists” for nearly my whole life. I’ve long since had enough of it. As the Greek poet Homer wrote thousands of years ago:

    “The distant Trojans never injured me.”

    That goes in spades for the Vietnamese, Iraqis, and Afghans, too.

    Far-off foreigners do not frighten me. The bungling psychopathic lunatics in my own government do. I prefer to keep my eye on the real threats — the omnivorous corporate/mercenary oligarchy — not the imaginary ones growing poppies or begging on a street corner half-a-world away.

  149. “Let me—let me describe that bubble to you, for what I perceive to be the bubble around President Obama right now and the man he has nominated to be CIA director, John Brennan. What’s happening with drone strikes around the world right now is, in my opinion, as bad a development as many of the things we now condemn so readily, with 20/20 hindsight, in the George W. Bush administration. We are creating more enemies than we’re killing. We are doing things that violate international law. We are even killing American citizens without due process and have an attorney general who has said that due process does not necessarily include the legal process. Those are really scary words.” -Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

    “Decade After Iraq WMD Speech at UN, Ex-Powell Aide Lawrence Wilkerson Debates Author Norman Solomon”

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/2/6/decade_after_iraq_wmd_speech_at

    COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Let me—let me describe that bubble to you, for what I perceive to be the bubble around President Obama right now and the man he has nominated to be CIA director, John Brennan. What’s happening with drone strikes around the world right now is, in my opinion, as bad a development as many of the things we now condemn so readily, with 20/20 hindsight, in the George W. Bush administration. We are creating more enemies than we’re killing. We are doing things that violate international law. We are even killing American citizens without due process and have an attorney general who has said that due process does not necessarily include the legal process. Those are really scary words.

    These things are happening because of that bubble that you just described. You can’t get through that bubble. You can’t get through the Brennans. You can’t get through the Clappers. You can’t get through the Hillary Clintons. You can’t get through the Bob Gates and the Leon Panettas and penetrate that bubble and say, “Do you understand what you’re doing, both to American civil liberties and to the rest of the world’s appreciation of America, with these increased drone strikes that seem to have an endless vista for future?” This is incredible. And yet, I know how these things happen. I know how these bubbles create themselves around the president and cease and stop any kind of information getting through that would alleviate or change the situation, make the discussion more fundamental about what we’re doing in the world.

    AMY GOODMAN: So, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, you’re against the confirmation of John Brennan as director of Central Intelligence.

    COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: I think we ought to have a really, really hard discussion about what he represents and what he, because he represents it, will probably take to the directorship of the CIA.

    AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there. We want to—

    NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, I’d like to invite Colonel Wilkerson to go to RootsAction.org, sign up for our action alerts today to challenge the nomination of John Brennan to run the CIA, and just to mention that the impunity of the past is prefigurative for impunity of the present and the future. And I hope you’ll join with so many millions of other Americans to actively and vocally oppose not only this nomination of Brennan, but also the entire so-called war on terror, which is impunity for war that is aggressive around the world.

    AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Wilkerson, could you see yourself doing that?

    COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: I’m already doing it.

    AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005. Norman Solomon, founding director of Institute for Policy—Public Accuracy, co-founder of RootsAction.org; among his books, War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.

  150. MM:

    “But straw-men non-sequiturs about “adversaries” aside, ”

    **********************

    I know about 3,000 dead New Yorkers who would disagree with your characterization and would have welcomed a discrete and secret special operation to take out the 15 hijackers anytime before 9/11/2001. Not much hue and cry over their lethal denial of civil rights.

    In your zeal to show us how much you despise all things American (political leaders, military leaders, etc), you’re awfully generous with the lives of your fellow citizens. Like I said, none of the founders would share your overwhelming concern to preserve the right of citizens to know at the expense of their lives.

    In a similar vein, I wonder what the parents of that 5-year-old Alabama kid pulled from a dirt bunker just as a madman was training a handgun at his head think about the right of the media to publish the goings on at a hostage site. I bet they’d waive that right to know every time to see their kid alive.

    Maybe you wouldn’t, but they would.

  151. Far-off foreigners do not frighten me. The bungling psychopathic lunatics in my own government do. -Michael Murray

    I prefer to keep my eye on the real threats — the omnivorous corporate/mercenary oligarchy — not the imaginary ones growing poppies or begging on a street corner half-a-world away.
    -Michael Murray

    Bears repeating.

  152. You know, it strikes me that much of this back and forth, pro/con secrecy, etc. is really about the extent to which one trusts our government in particular matters. I could give the government every benefit of the doubt, including good faith, competence, hard work, and still not be comfortable with the level of secrecy and readiness to prosecute those who even seem a remote possibility to crack the secrecy code that is becoming standard.

    It is our duty as citizens not to swallow everything the government feeds us. With this ‘war on terror’, and the MIC supporting it, we have the added caution that huge sums of money and influence are involved.

  153. What is killing more people than drones:

    “If you wanna hang out youve got to take her out; methane.
    If you wanna get down, down on the ground; methane.
    She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie; methane.

    If you got bad news, you wanna kick them blues; methane.
    When your day is done and you wanna run; methane.
    She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie; methane.

    If your thing is gone and you wanna ride on; methane.
    Don’t forget this fact, you can’t get it back; methane.
    She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie; methane.

    She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie; methane.”

    (apologies to Eric Clapton).

    We have a planetary emergency says a man who understands “we.”

    “Who are we?” and “who are the rest?” is the answer:

  154. “It is our duty as citizens not to swallow everything the government feeds us. With this ‘war on terror’, and the MIC supporting it, we have the added caution that huge sums of money and influence are involved.”
    -DonS

    Yep. In a nutshell.

  155. DonS:

    You are exactly right about being skeptical of government activities and gullibility is never desirable. Neither is a reflexive belief that everything the government does is done to usurp the rights of its citizens. Taken to one extreme, it makes a population subservient; to the other,ungovernable.

    Like everything it is a balance.

  156. It strikes me as a given that it is exactly in those areas where, when pushed for openness, the government asserts and prosecute putative violations of secrecy, that skepticism is called for. No wonder whistle blowers are so reviled and feared; they eliminate the factor of chance. They level the playing field on which the rule is that the government gets to classify material, even from Congressional committees it is suppose to inform. They pull back the curtain that protects, not predominantly matters of vital national security ( if I may be permitted to extrapolate from what we’ve seen), but lying, deceit, corruption, and strategic failure miscalculation.

  157. […] government believes that it is allowed to kill them. Top constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley notes: In plain language, [the Obama administration memo] means that [any Americans can be assassinated […]

  158. Obama To Provide Drones Memo To Congress (UPDATE)

    Posted: 02/06/2013 8:20 pm EST | Updated: 02/06/2013 9:13 pm EST

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/06/obama-drones-memo_n_2634535.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl1|sec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D267027

    Excerpt:

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has directed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to grant congressional intelligence committees access to a classified memo outlining the administration’s legal justification for targeted killing, an administration official said Wednesday evening.

    The administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the president personally made the decision to release the memo.

    Obama was facing increased pressure from members of Congress to provide the memorandum — which the administration had not formally acknowledged existed — after NBC News published a copy of the white paper, which provides the broad legal justification for targeted killing of suspected terrorists using drones.

    News of the disclosure came on the eve of John Brennan’s appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee for his confirmation as director of the CIA. Brennan had help manage the drone program for the administration.

    While select members of Congress will have access to the document, there are no plans to make it public. But the administration’s acknowledgement that the OLC memo does in fact exist could help the cause of reporters and civil liberties advocates who are suing to obtain the full memorandum under the Freedom of Information Act.

    UPDATE: 9:10 p.m. — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told Charlie Savage of The New York Times that the president called him around 6:30 p.m. to tell him that the Intelligence Committee would be able to access the memo. Obama reportedly told Wyden that a process would be set up to allow senators not on the Intelligence Committee to see the document as well.

    Wyden said in a statement that he received the call from Obama as he was preparing to question Brennan and “assured me that all of the documents concerning the legal opinions on the targeted killing of Americans will immediately be made available to the Intelligence committee.”

    “I think this is an encouraging first step,” Wyden said. “We need to conduct robust oversight of the intelligence community and find a way to make sure the American people understand the rules under which a president may make these consequential decisions.”

  159. mespo727272 1, February 6, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    MM:

    “But straw-men non-sequiturs about “adversaries” aside, ”

    **********************

    “I know about 3,000 dead New Yorkers who would disagree with your characterization …”

    No, you don’t know any such thing or any such persons. You merely project your own suppositions upon others who can no longer speak for themselves.”

    I could just as easily say that more than 3,000 dead Americans every year would disagree with American gun freaks who will gladly tolerate any number of dead Americans rather than give up their so-called “second amendment rights and remedies,” which the text of the Constitution clearly reserves only to those citizens who serve in a “well-regulated militia.”

    But I don’t claim to speak for dead people. I leave that up to you. I can only speak for myself when I say that I consider every single one of my Constitutional protections and amendments worth at least as many American deaths as the Second Amendment costs America each day, week, month, and year — if not more so. So I’ll gladly tolerate a few loser jihadis every ten years who can’t even successfully set their shoes, underwear, or cars on fire. 9/11/2001 happened because of lax airport security overseen and administered by cost-cutting airline companies. The crass exploitation of that one-off tragedy for economic and political gain by the Bush/Cheney administration deserves nothing but contempt.

    As a matter of fact, the ludicrous, overweening U.S. Government claims to “military” secrecy — just since 2001 — have resulted in at least six-thousand dead Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan along with another 40,000 Americans wounded and thousands more mentally crippled for the rest of their natural lives — unless, of course, you don’t consider American military personnel real “Americans.” And all of this death and maiming has nothing to do with anyone who died in New York on 9/11/2001. As William Pfaff put it here about American military interventions abroad:

    The most formidable objection to an intervention is the risk of stupidity, hypocrisy and deception, or naivete. Intervention in Vietnam was based on inexcusable ignorance of the force of nationalism in post-colonial societies, and a naive American ideology of falling dominos. In Iraq it was hypocrisy, the real purpose being destruction of Iraq as a rival to Israel, and the deliberate invention of evidence justifying invasion. America’s intervention in Afghanistan rested upon continuing ignorance about nationalism and a credulous belief in the universality of American values and the possibility of building democracies in America’s “own image.”

    Government secrecy simply increases “the risk of stupidity, hypocrisy, deception, and naivete” and, in fact, exists primarily to conceal conclusive evidence of these manifest failures by government officials. I do not consider the obvious and spectacular evidence of these failures — just over the past five decades — anywhere worth the costs in American lives and treasure, let alone the loss of my Constitutional freedoms. Government secrecy breeds nothing but abuse. Openness and transparency, on the other hand, allows us to identify the abusers and rid our government of them. I do not fear the natural sunshine. I fear the deliberately created and endlessly expanding shadows.

  160. Michael Murry – Excellent.

    Invoking 9/11 in an argument is even worse, these days, than invoking comparisons to Nazis.

    9/11 was the rallying cry of the Bush administration, whenever it had nothing valid to say. Absolutely anything can be, and has been, justified by invoking 9/11. Nurturing this injury has become the national religion.

    It was eleven years ago. Must we continue abandoning our freedoms, ruining our infrastructure, and squandering lives, over this holy event?

    Is it time to get a life, yet?

  161. MM:

    ““I know about 3,000 dead New Yorkers who would disagree with your characterization …”

    No, you don’t know any such thing or any such persons. You merely project your own suppositions upon others who can no longer speak for themselves.”

    ******************

    I always enjoy your little anti-American rant. Most of the time we would have to translate it from the native language of the usual gang of kooks and psychos who inhabit the lands of our enemies but we have our own homegrown ex-pat who speaks it in the mother tongue. Most becoming and I’m grateful for that.

    Now as to your thought that the 3000 victims of terror would rather be knowledgeable of every aspect of our government’s intelligence war on al-Qaeda than alive, well it’s just breath-taking. I’ll let those with a functioning cerebral cortex take that assertion in and process it in any way they see fit. I think I know the conclusion but why spoil your day.

    Finally just to give you a little comparison between the terrorists’ thoughts and you’re own, I’ll juxtapose a few so we can gain the true measure of the bile you spew:

    Michael Murry: My own government wants me to live in fear, and has tried to terrify me with lurid tales of evil “communists” and “terrorists” for nearly my whole life. I’ve long since had enough of it. … Far-off foreigners do not frighten me. The bungling psychopathic lunatics in my own government do. I prefer to keep my eye on the real threats — the omnivorous corporate/mercenary oligarchy — not the imaginary ones growing poppies or begging on a street corner half-a-world away.

    (…)

    As a matter of fact, the ludicrous, overweening U.S. Government claims to “military” secrecy — just since 2001 — have resulted in at least six-thousand dead Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan along with another 40,000 Americans wounded and thousands more mentally crippled for the rest of their natural lives — unless, of course, you don’t consider American military personnel real “Americans.”

    Ayman al-Zawahiri (al-Qaeda leader): Bush and his gang are shedding your blood, and wasting your money in failed adventures. They are involving you in a conflict with the Muslims, which you cannot win, in order to increase their wealth. They are drawing up a future for you which is painted with the color of blood, the smoke of bombings, and the darkness of fear. The mujahid lion of Islam, Sheik Osama bin Laden, has offered you an honorable way out of the crisis you are in. But your leaders-because of their desire to accumulate wealth-insist upon casting you into perdition and causing your deaths, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even, Allah willing, within your own home.

    Suleiman Abu Gheith(al-Qaeda spokesman): What happened to America is something natural, an expected event for a country that uses terror, arrogant policy, and suppression against the nations and the people.…
    …America must prepare itself; it must go on maximum alert…because, Allah willing, the blow will come from where they least expect it.…
    …We have the right to kill 4 million Americans-2 million of them children-and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands. Furthermore, it is our right to fight them with chemical and biological weapons, so as to afflict them with the fatal maladies that have afflicted the Muslims because of the [Americans’] chemical and biological weapons.

    Now remind me again whose side you are on? It’s hard to tell from your words.

  162. Bob Kauten:

    “Invoking 9/11 in an argument is even worse, these days, than invoking comparisons to Nazis.”

    ************************

    You’re right of course,Bob. Why should we mention the 9/11 massacre when discussing our response to it. Dare say we should never mention Pearl Harbor when discussing the Second World War! It’s embarrassing to all those Hirohito sympathizers out there. My bad.

  163. MM:

    ” I can only speak for myself when I say that I consider every single one of my Constitutional protections and amendments worth at least as many American deaths as the Second Amendment costs America each day, week, month, and year — if not more so. So I’ll gladly tolerate a few loser jihadis every ten years who can’t even successfully set their shoes, underwear, or cars on fire. ”

    ***********************

    Sorry, but I must have missed this little gem in that diamond mine you wrote. Like I said before, you’re quite cavalier with the lives of your fellow citizens. How many exactly are you willing to see die decennially at the hands “loser jihadists” so you can feel good about YOUR constitutional protections?

    .

  164. mespo:

    I got your “noun, verb, and 9/11” message long ago. Have you anything else to contribute to this discussion of obsessive government secrecy and its ruinous costs?

    I didn’t think so.

  165. Mike A:

    William Pfaff is a bright man but he’s never seen an American foreign policy initiative he likes. He routinely chastises America for trying to model the world in its own image but fails to explain how any super power could model the world in anything else. He blames Western culture for most every malady facing the world and explains it as misplaced religiosity. That may persuade some but I find it historically inaccurate, wildly simplistic, and pessimistic in the extreme. Ask the Japanese, South Koreans, and Western Europeans about the ill-effects of Post WWII US foreign policy as they sit in their rebuilt homes and factories. He may get a surprise.

  166. MM:

    “I got your “noun, verb, and 9/11″ message long ago. Have you anything else to contribute to this discussion of obsessive government secrecy and its ruinous costs?

    I didn’t think so.”

    ************************

    I have plenty but it’s hard to get someone like you to listen when all you worry about are American bogeymen coming to get you. By the way, when is this great constitutional calamity which you say started in the 60s going to befall us. We’re through about two generations now and no jackboots marching from Wall Street to Pennsylvania Ave. yet. Not saying it couldn’t happen, it’s just that Vegas isn’t exactly calling you for handicapping advice now are they?

    I hope you also got my comparisons, too. Now which side did you say you were on?

  167. For eighteen months in Vietnam I managed to avoid getting killed or maimed for nothing but the vainglory, stupidity, mendacity, and incompetence of America’s civilian and military “leaders.” It will take a lot more than rear-echelon commandos endlessly and hysterically moaning “9/11” “9/11” “9/11”, ad nauseum, to re-awaken the childish “patriotic” credulity that once led me to take at face value the transparently bogus proclamations of the dumb and criminally reckless bureaucratic buffoons who ceaselessly float to the surface of America’s imperial sewer.

    Turning my own government’s pronounced policy back upon itself, I consider America’s “foreign policy elite” guilty of venality and malfeasance until and unless they can posthumously return from the dead and prove their innocence.

  168. Mespo,
    Yes, very apropos, comparing 9/11 to Pearl Harbor. Should we continue to kill the Japanese, or are we done nurturing that particular injury?
    Hell, a lot of people are still obsessing about the Civil War. Perpetual victimhood.
    Apology accepted. Can we move on to some other bad guys, now? Oh, yeah, we haven’t obliterated the Iranians yet, have we?
    We need to maintain that perpetual war thing, to keep our minds off what’s going on, at home.

  169. mespo,

    “He routinely chastises America for trying to model the world in its own image but fails to explain how any super power could model the world in anything else.”

    We could allow them their own self-determination for starters. Our country is built on the idea of freedom from a remote tyrant to determine our own destinies. Such a policy is the very essence of freedom. Again, just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do something. However, that being said, a goodly amount of our policy would have shifted to what it was out of necessity brought about by the policies of the Cold War Soviet Union.

    “He blames Western culture for most every malady facing the world and explains it as misplaced religiosity. That may persuade some but I find it historically inaccurate, wildly simplistic, and pessimistic in the extreme.”

    That first sentence indeed paints a simplistic view, but not necessarily an inaccurate view. Consider that a cause has an effect and that how you do something is often as important as doing anything at all. For example, our policy of backing vile but easy to manipulate dictators has backfired to the point where we are doing the dirty work in the ME for the very scumbags who attacked us on 9/11 in pursuing their desire for a Saudi-Wahabbist Caliphate. We weren’t “building democracy” in the Cold War. Our policy built enemies that we had the illusion of controlling but were hostile to our major enemy, the Soviets.

    “Ask the Japanese, South Koreans, and Western Europeans about the ill-effects of Post WWII US foreign policy as they sit in their rebuilt homes and factories. He may get a surprise.”

    Just as you might get a surprise. As the majority of my experience is with the Japanese (and I do have a minor in East Asian History), I’ll speak first to their reaction of Post-WWII policy. They don’t understand it. They expected to be made the 51st state because annexation is precisely what they would have done to us given the chance. They are grateful for the rebuilding effort in general, but a very vocal segment of the population really resents our persistent meddling in their internal and international affairs even though they realize our military presence has helped deter Chinese aggression over the years. They also know that was a necessity manufactured by the terms of their surrender and the effective neutering of their domestic military. I’d describe it as a love-hate relationship with a dash of confusion. I suspect the South Koreans have a similarly schizophrenic view of our policies. Western Europe? A slightly different story as most of those countries were long standing allies, but consider that we treated Germany quite differently after WWI than we did after WWII. By “we” I also include the Brits and the French. The draconian reparations and other sanctions levied against the Germans after WWI were in part responsible for creating the conditions that led to the rise of the Third Reich and the advent of WWII. A tangential but related factor to consider, but the post-WWII situation in Western Europe was fundamentally different in that the Soviets under Stalin were a substantial and imminent threat to all of Western Europe which predisposed the Europeans to be a bit more welcoming to our meddling in their affairs.

    I would also point out that if one wants to the an example of the chaos meddling in the self-determination of another country can cause as policy, look no further than the hot bucket o’ mess that is post-colonial Africa. True, it was mostly the Europeans that screwed that up, but they had help.

    Our post-WWII foreign policy has largely been a mixed bag at best and arguably an ongoing disaster at worst.

    The best thing we could do is afford other countries the right to run their governments how they see fit and only worry about them if they actually threaten or harm Americans as the guiding principle of our foreign policy.

  170. “By the way, when is this great constitutional calamity which you say started in the 60s going to befall us? — mespo.

    I finally made my long-postponed pilgrimage to the Vietnam War Memorial two years ago. I’ll submit that monument and the lost lives it commemorates as the answer to your question. I would also submit the monuments to America’s dead and maimed in Iraq and Afghanistan, too, but no one has designed and constructed them yet. Future generations will have to do that, if they even care to. This continuing sequence of decades-long disasters — over several generations — obviously does not qualify as a “Constitutional Calamity” in your view. You sound like a programmed ideologue — if not a “special ops” groupie — to me: one who has no actual understanding of military life nor any real appreciation for life and death themselves. That, to me, seems “cavalier” in the extreme.

    You can talk at me all you want. But if you can’t recognize a Constitutional Calamity like The Imperial Presidency when it bleeds our country dry for decades, then you will never find yourself talking to or with me. I don’t trust what goes on in the “secret” bowels of the American government. Period.

    Finally, America’s current crop of corporate thieves do not wear jackboots. Too obvious and crude. Instead they reap the benefits of privatized government fascism while safely hiding behind the expensive and stylish facade of of corporate anonymity and the myth of the Sacred Symbol Soldier. You can catch up on all this modernity, if you would like, by reading Sheldon Wolin’s classic: Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (2008)

  171. mespo,

    “He routinely chastises America for trying to model the world in its own image but fails to explain how any super power could model the world in anything else.”

    America, the self-styled “superpower,” could begin by trying to model itself in its own image, something which America has not proven very good at doing for a long, long time. In fact, I continually hear American presidents swearing their “exceptionalism” to the very idea that America should live up to the international agreements and understandings that American presidents insist — at the point of a gun — that other nations follow. “Do as we say. Not as we do.” What cheeky hypocrisy.

    I live abroad — in Taiwan — although I have spent time living, working, studying, and traveling in China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan, as well. Most of these countries have chosen not to emulate the American model of Imperial Militarism — something many of them have had bitter experience with in the past. Generally, these countries try to mind their own business while staying out of America’s blundering path.

    America could do so much better, but has chosen not to. Blaming the rest of the world for not appreciating America’s self-defeating belligerency will not change, much less reverse, the downward slope of America’s imperial decline. I wonder how much longer the American government can go on shouting to its own citizens and the world: “9/11”, “buy our guns, or else”; “9/11”, “buy our guns, or else.”

    Martin Luther King, Jr. had it right when he said: “My own government is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” True back in the 1960s. Just as true today. The American government, a.k.a., The Lunatic Leviathan, has no learning curve. Just a flat-lined EEG.

  172. MM:

    “Blaming the rest of the world for not appreciating America’s self-defeating belligerency will not change, much less reverse, the downward slope of America’s imperial decline.”

    ********************

    And blaming America for every calamity visited by the rest of the world on itself does nothing but confirm in the minds of most rational folks that you have an agenda far different from the constructive criticism you claim. America behaves quite differently than any other superpower (and it is one of course, your silly doubt notwithstanding) and allows itself to be criticised, mocked, and even castigated by the very people it helps. You may demand the self-neutering and purity of motive never exhibited by any world power in all of history. Most of us are more pragmatic than that.

    A virulent hate for your former country on a par with that of its enemies does you no credit. So I ask for the third time: Whose side are you on?

  173. “The best thing we could do is afford other countries the right to run their governments how they see fit and only worry about them if they actually threaten or harm Americans as the guiding principle of our foreign policy.”

    ********************

    We tried that in Bosnia, Somalia, Nazi Germany,Imperial Japan, and a host of tyrannized countries. Eventually they get around to threatening us or their own populations. We can’t afford to wait until one of the new crop of criminals or fools get their very own working nuclear device. That’s the point people of the extreme left conveniently omit. They may crave self-immolation in service to some exaggerated notion of principle. I don’t.

  174. Gene,

    mespo made a statement yesterday during your discussion … to whit …

    “we’ve seen opportunity after opportunity for tyranny to rise missed and missed basically because the people we’ve elected eschewed the chance. I think its cultural. …”

    which, after thinking about it, may contain a real kernel of truth

  175. “Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music”

    http://blendzpolitik.blogspot.com/2012/04/senator-frank-church-in-1975-nsas.html

    “Senator Frank Church – who chaired the famous “Church Committee” into the unlawful FBI Cointel program, and who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – said in 1975:

    “Th[e National Security Agency’s] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.“

    —–

    NSA Domestic Surveillance Began 7 Months Before 9/11, Convicted Qwest CEO Claims

    By Ryan Singel
    10.11.07

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2007/10/nsa-asked-for-p/

    Excerpt:

    Did the NSA’s massive call records database program pre-date the terrorist attacks of 9/11?

    That startling allegation is in court documents released this week which show that former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio — the head of the only company known to have turned down the NSA’s requests for Americans’ phone records — tried, unsuccessfully, to argue just that in his defense against insider trading charges.

  176. http://rawstory.com/news/2007/ATT_engineer_says_Bush_Administration_sought_1216.html

    AT&T engineer says Bush Administration sought to implement domestic spying within two weeks of taking office

    by John Byrne
    Sunday December 16, 2007

    http://rawstory.com/news/2007/ATT_engineer_says_Bush_Administration_sought_1216.html

    Excerpt:

    Nearly 1,300 words into Sunday’s New York Times article revealing new details of the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program, the lawyer for an AT&T engineer alleges that “within two weeks of taking office, the Bush administration was planning a comprehensive effort of spying on Americans phone usage.

    In a New Jersey federal court case, the engineer claims that AT&T sought to create a phone center that would give the NSA access to “all the global phone and e-mail traffic that ran through” a New Jersey network hub.

    The former AT&T employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Times said he took part in several discussions with agency officials about the plan.

    “The officials, he said, discussed ways to duplicate the Bedminster system in Maryland so the agency could listen in with unfettered access to communications that it believed had intelligence value and store them for later review,” Times reporters Eric Lichtblau, James Risen and Scott Shane wrote. “There was no discussion of limiting the monitoring to international communications, he said.”

    At some point, he told the paper, I started feeling something isn’t right.

  177. Eight FBI agents conduct interrogation in Iceland in relation to ongoing U.S. investigation of WikiLeaks

    Thursday February 7th 2013, 10:30 GMT

    http://wikileaks.org/Eight-FBI-agents-conduct.html

    Recently it has become public that the FBI had secretly sent eight agents to Iceland in 2011 in relation to the ongoing U.S. investigation of WikiLeaks. The Icelandic Minister of Interior, Ögmundur Jónasson, has confirmed this to the Icelandic press and furthermore stated that when he found out on August 25th 2011 that the aim of the visit was to interrogate an Icelandic citizen he ordered the local police to cease all co-operation with the FBI. He indicated that the FBI had left the country the day after.

    In a joint statement Monday from the Icelandic Police Chief and the Prosecutor General it is revealed that the FBI agents, in fact, did not leave the country immediately and were conducting interrogation of an Icelandic subject for at least five days, without the presence of Icelandic police officers.

    The person in question was a 18 year old individual who had offered his assistance to WikiLeaks as a volunteer. For a period of some months he did manage several minor tasks for the organisation as one of hundreds of volunteers all over the world assisting the organisation. Many of them have visited Julian Assange as did the person in question in the summer of 2011. A Canadian volunteer contacted the young Icelander with the idea of raising funds for WikiLeaks with online sales of T-shirts, coffee mugs and other merchandise. It later emerged that the Icelander deceived the Canadian volunteer into believing that he was WikiLeaks staff in order to have the funds transferred to his personal account instead of the organisations. When confronted, he admitted the wrongdoing. Because of requests from people close to him and his young age he was offered the opportunity to repay the stolen funds, which amounted to about $50,000. When it became clear he would not honour the agreement the matter was reported to the Icelandic Police.

    WikiLeaks has learned that the police have finished the investigation and that the matter has been sent to the police prosecutor. It has also been reported that the police are processing charges of embezzlement against the individual pertaining to a number of other organisations within Iceland unrelated to WikiLeaks. It has materialized that the individual has engaged in gross misrepresentations of different types to obtain benefit from a range of parties.

    We will not identify him by name in light of information that he has recently received institutional medical treatment.

    In light of the relentless ongoing persecution of U.S. authorities against WikiLeaks it is not surprising that the FBI would try to abuse this troubled young man and involve him in some manner in the attempt to prosecute WikiLeaks staff. It is an indication of the great length these entities are willing to go that they will disrespect the sovereignty of other nations in their endeavor. There is strong indication that the FBI used a combination of coercion and payments to pressure the young man to co-operate.

    For further background, see:

    http://icelandreview.com/icelandrev

  178. Bob Kauten:

    “Should we continue to kill the Japanese, or are we done nurturing that particular injury?”

    *****************************

    No, Bob, in case you missed it they surrendered, deposed the Emperor, gave up any military except defensive forces, and became a trading partner with us. It was in all the papers.

  179. “US media yet again conceals newsworthy government secrets”

    The collective self-censorship over a US drone base in Saudi Arabia is but the latest act of government-subservient ‘journalism’

    by Glenn Greenwald

    Thursday 7 February 2013

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/07/saudi-arabia-drones-media-concealment

    Excerpt:

    The US media, over the last decade (at least), has repeatedly acted to conceal newsworthy information it obtains about the actions of the US government. In each instance, the self-proclaimed adversarial press corps conceals these facts at the behest of the US government, based on patently absurd claims that reporting them will harm US national security. In each instance, what this media concealment actually accomplishes is enabling the dissemination of significant government falsehoods without challenge, and permitting the continuation of government deceit and even illegality.

    One of the most notorious examples was in mid-2004 when the New York Times discovered – thanks to a courageous DOJ whistleblower – that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on the electronic communications of Americans without the warrants required by the criminal law. But after George Bush summoned to the Oval Office the paper’s publisher (Arthur Sulzberger) and executive editor (Bill Keller) and directed them to conceal what they had learned, the NYT complied by sitting on the story for a-year-and-a-half: until late December, 2005, long after Bush had been safely re-elected. The “national security” excuse for this concealment was patently ludicrous from the start: everyone knew the US government was trying to eavesdrop on al-Qaida communications and this story merely revealed that they were doing so illegally (without warrants) rather than legally (with warrants). By concealing the story for so long, the New York Times helped the Bush administration illegally spy on Americans.

    The Washington Post’s Dana Priest, in a superb act of journalism, reported in 2005 that the CIA was maintaining a network of secret “black sites” where detainees were interrogated and abused beyond the monitoring scrutiny of human rights groups and even Congress. But the Post purposely concealed the identity of the countries serving as the locale of those secret prisons in order to enable the plainly illegal program to continue without bothersome disruptions: “the Washington Post is not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program, at the request of senior US officials.”

    continues…

  180. FoxNews.com published news of Saudi drone airstrip in 2011

    Posted by Erik Wemple on February 6, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2013/02/06/foxnews-com-published-news-of-saudi-drone-airstrip/

    Excerpt:

    The New York Times is getting a great deal of attention for going right ahead and revealing the existence of a secret U.S. drone base in Saudi Arabia. “Revealing,” however, may be too strong a word.

    Have a look at this shot of a FoxNews.com story dating back to September 2011. The headline reads, “Obama Administration Building New Drone Bases in Horn of Africa, Saudi.” ..continues…

  181. MM:

    “I finally made my long-postponed pilgrimage to the Vietnam War Memorial two years ago. I’ll submit that monument and the lost lives it commemorates as the answer to your question. I would also submit the monuments to America’s dead and maimed in Iraq and Afghanistan, too, but no one has designed and constructed them yet.”

    **************************

    Monuments pay homage to the service of the honoree. They are erected by those who remain to honor the profoundly expressed courage, commitment, and allegiance of those who have fallen. The monuments speak well about those commemorated (who all but assuredly would disagree with you that their sacrifice was made in vain) but moreso about those who erected it. I rather think the monuments make my point very well that many thousands of people thought that our foreign policy interests, as defined by our elected leadership, was worth the risk of their lives and those of their brothers. It’s not shame that gets them built. Those monuments are a tangible rebuttal to all those folks like you who think they know better and are conveniently still around to express it while standing on their numinous corpses.

  182. Exclusive: U.N.’s Drone Investigator Backs Brennan for Top CIA Job

    By Spencer Ackerman
    02.07.13

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/02/un-drone-brennan/all/

    Excerpt:

    The head of the United Nations inquiry into drone strikes and targeted killings believes the chief architect of those efforts will rein them in at the CIA.

    Ben Emmerson, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights and counterterrorism, tells Danger Room he’s giving his qualified backing to John Brennan, President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser and nominee to become CIA director. The endorsement comes at a critical time for both men: Brennan faces Senate questioning on Thursday afternoon; and Emmerson is negotiating access with the U.S. government to its targeted killing efforts for his recently-announced international inquiry into their legality.

    It’s an unlikely endorsement. Emmerson, a British lawyer, has put the U.S. on notice that he won’t hesitate to investigate U.S. “war crimes” if he uncovers evidence of them. While Emmerson’s inquiry won’t focus on individuals responsible for any uncovered abuses, Brennan, as a White House aide, presided over the bureaucratic process for ordering suspected terrorists killed. Yet at the White House, Emmerson says, Brennan “had the job of reining in the more extreme positions advanced by the CIA,” which he thinks augurs well for Brennan’s CIA tenure.

    “By putting Brennan in direct control of the CIA’s policy [of targeted killings], the president has placed this mediating legal presence in direct control of the positions that the CIA will adopt and advance, so as to bring the CIA much more closely under direct presidential and democratic control,” Emmerson says. “It’s right to view this as a recognition of the repository of trust that Obama places in Brennan to put him in control of the organization that poses the greatest threat to international legal consensus and recognition of the lawfulness of the drone program.”

    “Warts and all” conversations with current and former Obama administration officials convince Emmerson that Brennan tried to steer the drone program from a “technology-driven process” to one that attempted to balance the interests of the law, counterterrorism, and the agencies involved in implementing it. “There are significant elements within the CIA who are unhappy about Brennan’s appointment,” Emmerson says. “These are the hawkish elements inside the CIA who would rather have as a director someone who reflected their agenda, rather than someone who is there to impose the president’s agenda.”

    Emmerson says he can’t know if Brennan will actually carry out fewer drone strikes at the CIA. “What I’m saying is, Brennan has been the driving force for the imposition of a single consistent and coherent analysis, both legal and operational, as to the way the administration will pursue this program,” he explains. “I’m not suggesting that I agree with that analysis. That’s not a matter for me, it’s a matter for states, and there’s a very considerable disagreement about that. But what I am saying is that what he will impose is restraint over the wilder ambitions of the agency’s hawks to treat this program in a manner that is ultimately unaccountable and secret.” continues…

  183. “I rather think the monuments make my point very well that many thousands of people thought that our foreign policy interests, as defined by our elected leadership, was worth the risk of their lives and those of their brothers. It’s not shame that gets them built. Those monuments are a tangible rebuttal to all those folks …who think they know better and are conveniently still around to express it while standing on their numinous corpses.” -mespo727272

  184. mespo,
    ““I rather think the monuments make my point very well that many thousands of people thought that our foreign policy interests, as defined by our elected leadership, was worth the risk of their lives and those of their brothers.”
    Yes, many earnest people were sacrificed for absolutely nothing, in Vietnam. They thought that they were doing the right thing.
    Cheerleaders for imperial adventures, such as yourself, ensure that many more thousands will die for nothing, and that monuments will be erected for them.

  185. “Yes, many earnest people were sacrificed for absolutely nothing, in Vietnam. They thought that they were doing the right thing.
    Cheerleaders for imperial adventures, such as yourself, ensure that many more thousands will die for nothing, and that monuments will be erected for them.” -Bob Kauten

    And is often the case with “cheerleaders”, they’re comfortably positioned…and will never experience the heat of battle.

  186. Minor correction…

    “Yes, many earnest people were sacrificed for absolutely nothing, in Vietnam. They thought that they were doing the right thing.
    Cheerleaders for imperial adventures, such as yourself, ensure that many more thousands will die for nothing, and that monuments will be erected for them.” -Bob Kauten

    And, as is often the case with “cheerleaders”, they’re comfortably positioned…and will never experience the heat of battle.

  187. Not surprising and maybe why Bush, Cheney, et al have never been called to account for their actions. At the end of the day maybe they all are in bed together. I never thought I would think much less say that.

  188. http://publicmind.fdu.edu/2013/drone/

    For immediate release… Thursday, February 7, 2013 6 pp.

    Contact: Peter J. Woolley 973.670.3239 or Krista Jenkins 908.328.8967

    PUBLIC SAYS IT’S ILLEGAL TO TARGET AMERICANS ABROAD AS SOME QUESTION CIA DRONE ATTACKS

    By a two-to-one margin (48%-24%) American voters say they think it is illegal for the U.S. government to target its own citizens living abroad with drone attacks, according to a recent national survey of registered voters by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind. Just 24 percent say it is legal, agreeing with the position taken by the US Attorney and the Obama administration.

    “The public clearly makes an assumption very different from that of the Obama administration or Mr. Brennan: the public thinks targeting American citizens abroad is out of bounds,” said Peter Woolley, professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and analyst for PublicMind.

    Support or opposition to the legality of drone attacks on Americans does not vary by party identification. Republicans are just as likely as Democrats or independents to say it is illegal, or that the U.S. government can do it. And men are just as likely as women (47% and 48%) to think it is illegal, though more men than women say it is legal (30% versus 18%). Non-whites are significantly more likely than whites (57% versus 44%) to think it is illegal to target American citizens abroad.
    However, by a wide six-to-one margin (75%-13%) voters approve of the U.S. military using drones to carry out attacks abroad “on people and other targets deemed a threat to the U.S.” Republicans, men and whites approve more strongly than Democrats, women, and non-whites, but approval is robust in all demographic categories.

    continues…

  189. Bob K.,
    Just because Mespo has a different opinion why certain actions are necessary against enemies of the US, does not mean he is in favor of our servicemen and and women dying unnecessarily. Furthermore, The members of our military are not politicians and they sign up to serve the country, not a political party or agenda. It is politicians that sometimes send them to the wrong places at the wrong times. However, their sacrifices should be memorialized and honored without hesitation.
    Mespo, to my knowledge was not suggesting that all entanglements and adventures, as you called them, are necessary.
    For me, If they are citizens, I agree that they must be given due process, if at all possible. At least get an indictment against them if the authorities are unable to capture him/her before a drone attack is allowed. If the alleged criminal/traitor is in the United States, they should be dealt with through the normal justice system.

  190. This is an interesting exchange:

    “The best thing we could do is afford other countries the right to run their governments how they see fit and only worry about them if they actually threaten or harm Americans as the guiding principle of our foreign policy.” (MM, quoted by Mespo)

    ********************

    “We tried that in Bosnia, Somalia, Nazi Germany,Imperial Japan, and a host of tyrannized countries. Eventually they get around to threatening us or their own populations. We can’t afford to wait until one of the new crop of criminals or fools get their very own working nuclear device. ” (mespo)

    ====================

    First off, there is a big difference between Bosnia and Somalia, and Nazi Germany and Japan. And of course a difference between how we (and the UN) responded to Bosnia and to Somalia.

    And though I see that mespo makes a good rhetorical argument, as does MM (with perhaps additional emotional force), it all comes down to one’s individual reading of history and current events.

    As should be no surprise, I am not swayed by the appeals to patriotism; for me that misused chimera dissolved a long time ago and, additionally I find the cry that “911 changed everything” more of a manipulative slogan than a description of why it should be causally determinative. I also look at the cast of public characters who never seem to tire of waving that red flag, and virtually the rest of the cast who repeat it because it is politically correct, and am not impressed (especially since, we find out, all the significant stuff is secret and admin policy is ultimately based on “trust us”).. Likewise prognostications of failing to keep up with the bad guys — in this uncertain world — don’t ring very true since our military might is unlikely to suffer even a noticeable dip below the danger point in it’s capacity. And as long as militarism continues to hold sway, efforts to defuse it’s virulence seem more cautionary for our democracy than positing bogeymen under every bed.

    Some have characterized mespo’s position, above, as superficial and belligerent. Maybe it’s not, but I find myself wanting to distance myself from those who use such rhetoric and are shallow or deluded zealots. I would think mespo could find ways to distinguish his own thoughts and feelings from these jingoists but I understand the limitations of the forum.

    Likewise I don’t know what motivates MM’s viewpoint and animus, but those of us who who’s skepticism was nurtured and honed living through Vietnam, and continue to get lambasted by the ‘patriots’ because we dare to question authority, despite the spectacle of growing authoritarianism/militarism becoming ever more apparent (to us, (I wouldn’t claim that reading of circumstances was bias free), get quite tired of being told we are, again, wrong.

    Whoever said ‘don’t defend yourself”?. But we have, IMO, made a culture of it to our detriment. That cost is too high, And I reject the safe and easy way of going along with the Washington narrative.

    This whole dichotomy isn’t about the danger posed by the “terrorists”, It’s about a juggernaut whose interest lies in scaring us into to believing it is, though.

  191. Rafflaw,
    Your characterization of what I said, is three times the length of what I said. I never said that “…he is in favor of our servicemen and and women dying unnecessarily.”

    I merely said that he’s cheerleading for the imperial adventures that get them killed unnecessarily. He is. He’s done “attack Iran” crusades, before.

    You may honor the dead with monuments, if you wish, but I would prefer them to be still alive. Along with all the native people of those countries we’ve invaded, without cause.

    What I didn’t mention, previously, is that Mespo then asks anyone who disagrees, “Whose side are you on?”
    Mespo gives us a binary choice of his specification, neither of which is anyone with whom I’d want to associate. Life is not about binary choices.

    I don’t care for imperialists, nationalists, fear-mongers, or religious fanatics. Very frequently, they’re the same people. Not always.
    Disliking them doesn’t elevate my status. I just find those people troublesome.

  192. Blouise,

    Yes, there is a kernel of truth in that statement. Not all cultures promote or tolerate tyranny equally, however, human nature is human nature. “It can’t happen here” is a myth of epic proportion.

  193. DonS

    I was on a carrier in ’02 and ’04, helping drop bombs on people we were told were part of 9/11, and/or had weapons of mass destruction.

    I hated seeing the jubilation expressed by the maintenance folks gathered round the air crews as they dismounted from aircraft that came back empty, empty of ordinance. It was, to me, at the very best a dirty job that someone had to do. And I was lost on the morality and ethics of it, it was too much to make sense of, so I simply had to trust that our leaders were doing the right thing.

    I finished my service, got out, and discovered it was all lies.

    It was difficult to let go of the rage, but I succeeded.

    I know exactly where Mr. Murray is coming from. And I’ve been able to stop carrying about the masses clueless about the U.S.’s ignoble actions. Those who know better and still defend them, well, I was able to let go of that too.

  194. Gene,

    What he wrote concerning culture was within the context of his reading of our history and as I ran it through my own mental test course, I concluded his point was valid. The principles of the Constitution have firmly embedded themselves within the culture which is something a budding tyrant ‘senses’. (Think millions of pissed off hill people coming out from behind the trees.)

    I’m not suggesting, and I don’t believe mespo is, that the role of Congress should be that of lap dogs but there may be a cultural strain standing against tyranny and if so, it is a point which can be worked into the vigilance quotient.

  195. Not all cultures promote or tolerate tyranny equally, however, human nature is human nature. “It can’t happen here” is a myth of epic proportion. -Gene H.

    Right on the mark.

  196. I was going to add, but I believe ap’s re-quote is a perfect example, that the Constitutionally driven cultural strain against tyranny/tyrants is very evident on this and other threads.

  197. “Eventually they get around to threatening us or their own populations. We can’t afford to wait until one of the new crop of criminals or fools get their very own working nuclear device.” – mespo

    Fear mongering. A nuclear device works as a threat better than it does as an attack vector. A dirty bomb or a fission weapon used against us might kill hundreds of thousands. And the party who did it would have their entire country turned in to a sheet of glass. It is simply not advantageous in any way shape or form to actually attack us (or the Soviets for that matter) with a nuclear weapon. We have enough warheads and the delivery systems to get them anywhere we want to ensure that such a play is a death sentence for any and all who would do such a thing. The nuclear threat is overplayed.

    However, I’ll give you that the biological and chemical threat is underplayed, harder to trace and less inviting of total annihilation than a nuclear attack.

    And much of what DonS said.

    However, I’d like to add that allowing countries to their own self-determination is not the equivalent of isolationism. Any country that is a manifest threat should be dealt with as such. That being said, there is a difference between an actual threat and simply engaging in policy we don’t approve of so we decided to force policy upon them. What business of ours is it if a country wants to adopt some other economic system than our manifestly broken free market extreme capitalism? None. And yet we’ve knocked out democratically elected leaders and installed puppet dictators for that very reason in the past. It is no wonder our foreign policy is resulting in enemies rather than allies. The “all stick/gunboat” method of diplomacy is an inherently losing game of diminishing returns.

    It is also the height of American exceptionalism and arrogance to tell other countries we are free to determine what kind of governments they might choose considering our own history.

    I’m not advocating isolationism. That’s a ridiculous idea. I’m saying we shouldn’t be surprised we gain enemies by acting like a thug instead of actual diplomats. Either our alleged values and systems are strong enough to make the case for emulation or they are not, but forcing them upon others who may not want them is inherently wrong and hypocritical.

  198. Bob Kauten:

    “I merely said that he’s cheerleading for the imperial adventures that get them killed unnecessarily. He is. He’s done “attack Iran” crusades, before.”

    ********************

    Nope, never. But like most of your assertions why let a fact or two cause your rhetoric to stumble.

  199. @ Nate – I’m glad you have been able to let go of some of those demons. Passionate skepticism, as you seem to have figured out, doesn’t have to drown me in unproductive emotion. Good for you.

    Blousie – “the Constitutionally driven cultural strain against tyranny/tyrants is very evident on this and other threads.” If I understand what you are saying here, I would only add that the body of commenters on this thread is not necessarily representation of the population at large, though I’d have to think about that a bit more.

    Gene – also, much of what you said including [what I call] the obsolescence of strategic nuclear weapons in a countries’ arsenal, and why the effort should be enhanced to eliminate stockpiles. Ever since the absurdly self negating fact of ‘mutually assured destruction’ dawned on the geniuses who previously used ‘mutual deterrence’ to justify more and more warheads, we’ve been backing away from the cliff; just not fast enough.

    Also, agree, “Any country that is a manifest threat should be dealt with as such.” — who ever intimated elsewise?

    And glad you said “It is also the height of American exceptionalism and arrogance to tell other countries we are free to determine what kind of governments they might choose considering our own history.”

    Isolationism is a red herring; trouble is the wingers see the logical policy counterpart as that gunboat diplomacy. Not me. We love to travel ;-)

  200. Gene H:

    “Fear mongering. A nuclear device works as a threat better than it does as an attack vector.”

    *******************************
    Not for these terrorists. By the way, it’s only fear mongering if the threat is not real — otherwise its an exercise in caution.

    • Nuclear terrorism is a real and urgent threat. Urgent actions are required to reduce the risk. The risk is driven by the rise of terrorists who seek to inflict unlimited damage, many of whom have sought justification for their plans in radical interpretations of Islam; by the spread of information about the decades-old technology of nuclear weapons; by the increased availability of weapons-usable nuclear materials; and by globalization, which makes it easier to move people, technologies, and materials across the world.
    • Making a crude nuclear bomb would not be easy, but is potentially within the capabilities of a technically sophisticated terrorist group, as numerous government studies have confirmed. Detonating a stolen nuclear weapon would likely be difficult for terrorists to
    accomplish, if the weapon was equipped with modern technical safeguards (such as the electronic locks known as Permissive Action Links, or PALs). Terrorists could, however, cut open a stolen nuclear weapon and make use of its nuclear material for a bomb of their own.
    • The nuclear material for a bomb is small and difficult to detect, making it a major challenge to stop nuclear smuggling, or to recover nuclear material after it has been stolen. Hence, a primary focus in reducing the risk must be to keep nuclear material and
    nuclear weapons from being stolen by continually improving their security, as agreed at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April 2010.
    Al-Qaeda has sought nuclear weapons for almost two decades. The group has repeatedly attempted to purchase stolen nuclear material or nuclear weapons, and has repeatedly attempted to recruit nuclear expertise. Al-Qaeda reportedly conducted tests of conventional explosives for its nuclear program in the desert in Afghanistan. The group’s nuclear ambitions continued after its dispersal following the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Recent writings from top al-Qaeda leadership are focused on justifying the mass slaughter of civilians, including the use of weapons of mass destruction, and are in
    all likelihood intended to provide a formal religious justification for nuclear use.

    • While there are significant gaps in coverage of the group’s activities, al-Qaeda appears to have been frustrated thus far in acquiring a nuclear capability; it is unclear whether the group has acquired weapons-usable nuclear material or the expertise needed to make
    such material into a bomb. Furthermore, pressure from a broad range of counter-terrorist actions probably has reduced the group’s ability to manage large, complex projects, but
    has not eliminated the danger. However, there is no sign the group has abandoned its nuclear ambitions. On the contrary, leadership statements as recently as 2008 indicate that the intention to acquire and use nuclear weapons is as strong as ever.
    • Terrorist groups from the North Caucasus have in the past planned to seize a nuclear submarine armed with nuclear weapons; have carried out reconnaissance on nuclear weapon storage sites; and have repeatedly threatened to sabotage nuclear facilities or to
    use radiological “dirty bombs.” In recent years, these groups have become more focused on an extreme Islamic objective which might be seen as justifying the use of nuclear weapons. These groups’ capabilities to manage large, complex projects have also been
    reduced by counter-terrorist actions, though they have demonstrated a continuing ability to launch devastating attacks in Moscow and elsewhere in the Russian heartland.
    • The Japanese terror cult Aum Shinrikyo pursued nuclear weapons in the early 1990s, but appears to have abandoned this interest. Few other groups have shown sustained interest in acquiring nuclear weapons. There is precedent to suggest that extremist groups
    such as Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammed might cooperate with al-Qaeda (or that al-Qaeda and North Caucasus groups might cooperate) in pursuit of a nuclear bomb, as the Indonesian group Jemaah Islamiya (JI) rendered substantial assistance to al-Qaeda’s
    anthrax project from roughly 1998 to 2001.
    • Cooperation between Russia and the United States, the two countries with the largest nuclear stockpiles and the most extensive experience in cooperation to improve nuclear security and interdict nuclear smuggling, is particularly important in reducing the danger
    nuclear terrorism could pose to the security of those two countries and the world.
    • International intelligence and law-enforcement cooperation targeted on countering nuclear smuggling and identifying and stopping terrorist nuclear plots are also important steps to reduce the danger of nuclear terrorism.

    ~The U.S.-Russia Joint Threat Assessment on Nuclear Terrorism (2011)

    http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/files/Joint-Threat-Assessment%20ENG%2027%20May%202011.pdf

    Funny, I never see this report challenged — only avoided.

  201. Why bother when something like saran so much easier, I understand, to make/get? (scares the hek out of me, all of it.)

  202. I didn’t say it wasn’t a real threat, Mark.

    I said it is being oversold.

    No matter what justification a rogue state or a terrorist group might use in the aftermath of a nuclear attack, the result would still be the same: them being overwhelmingly reduced to their constituent atomic components or dying from radiation poisoning. Our response to such an attack would be overwhelming and catastrophic for all involved. Any country harboring them would turn their country inside out to get them and hand them over or they would suffer the same fate. Terrorists? They may not fear death, but they’d certainly get some for their efforts. There would be no place to hide if they attacked us (or anyone else for that matter) with a nuclear weapon. Every country would be hunting them. Would I prefer to avoid a nuclear terrorist attack? Sure. But conventional terrorism is about as likely to kill you as your own furniture, so when you factor in the difficulty of getting and/or making a nuclear weapon (especially compared to a biological weapon), the chances are quite slim. And when you make a threat out to be greater than it is?

    That’s fear mongering.

  203. Bob Kauten:

    “Yes, many earnest people were sacrificed for absolutely nothing, in Vietnam. They thought that they were doing the right thing.”

    *******************

    I’m happy, Bob, to know that you know that American soldiers were sacrificed for nothing. Most folks feel sacrificing yourself in the name of duty to country is something, but who are we to argue with you. As for the cheerleading epithet, I find that people who truly believe in something defend it. Those who don’t, lead the chorus against it. Your defense of MM’s failure to answer the fundamental question of citizenship (it’s oh so complicated beyond a mere “binary” choice you know) concerning his support of the attackers of my country speaks volumes about you and your ilk. MM’s non-answer is loud and clear. Now we know you hum the same tune.

  204. Gene H:

    “I didn’t say it wasn’t a real threat, Mark.

    I said it is being oversold.”

    ***********************

    That’s a matter of degree not kind. And given the consequences of even a small threat it would be exceedingly hard to oversell the matter. As the abstract of the threat assessment makes clear:

    “Given the potentially catastrophic consequences, even a small probability of terrorists getting and detonating a nuclear bomb is enough to justify urgent action to reduce the risk.”

  205. Nate:

    “I finished my service, got out, and discovered it was all lies.”

    ************************

    And just who told you that?

  206. DonS,

    ” … the body of commenters on this thread is not necessarily representation of the population at large, though I’d have to think about that a bit more.”

    That is exactly what mespo’s aside remark concerning culture did to me yesterday … I needed to think about it.

    Cultural strains are buried deep within a society’s conscious being and their push/pull are seldom recognized by the general population and propagandists make good use of that ignorance. However, all that aside (including the gun culture issue), it is something to consider.

    I don’t know if Tony C is reading this thread but he might have something to contribute on that matter.

    I’m checking a bunch of sociology sources to see what sorts of studies are out there regarding the American cultural positions on home grown tyranny/tyrants ingrained within us and driven by the Constitution.

  207. ap:

    “And, as is often the case with “cheerleaders”, they’re comfortably positioned…and will never experience the heat of battle.”

    ************************

    I wait with baited breath to hear your most exciting combat story, after which I will rush out to query my physician about every malady he has ever suffered and unless his medical history mimics my own exactly, I will discharge him as one who could not possibly understand my plight since he has not personally suffered it himself. BTW the irony is delicious since the defeatists around here would no more volunteer to defend their “corrupt” nation than vote for Obama. But they are certainly willing to criticize those “fools” who would sacrifice themselves “for nothing.”

    Good folks!

  208. Bob :

    I don’t care for imperialists, nationalists, fear-mongers, or religious fanatics. Very frequently, they’re the same people. Not always.”

    **********************

    Forgot to mention I don’t care much for people who equivocate in matters of morality when a choice is demanded by circumstances. Dante didn’t either. He made those fastidiously neutral folks the nameless, faceless creatures denied entrance into Heaven and Hell and compelled them to chase around a blank banner. I see what he meant now.

  209. Given the potentially catastrophic consequences, even a small probability of terrorists getting and detonating a nuclear bomb is enough to justify urgent action to reduce the risk.

    Sounds like something Dick Chaney would say to justify the invasion of Iraq.

  210. mespo, yes, there could be threats of small nuclear attacks from terror groups. But not from nation states, IMO. Your long comment above, re terror groups, may be on target but buys into the post 911 framing which has conflated nation states with terror groups, as if the terror groups were really the equivalent of nation state. That theory is very retrograde thinking which locks one into the trap of seeing a good segment of the world as enemy. Meanwhile the Chinese, the Indians, the Brazilians, and (but for the recent blip) the Europeans attend to matters, variously, of more domestic concern. So who’s got it wrong?

    This is much of the reason that 1) demonizing nation states, even the ones we don’t like, doesn’t make strategic sense. They have much the same interest in controlling nuclear material. 2) putting actual effort into building a reasonable consensus with nation states makes more sense than projecting belligerency, both ways. It seems to me, the US has the wherewithal to project belligerency in any number of forms, with the military muscle to humiliate any nation that would talk back, whereas our so-called “enemies” have primarily the belligerent talk format open to them. If the US put let me guess, 1/1oooth of the resources into dissolving international tension, that we do into playing the confrontation game, we might get somewhere.

    We are getting into the territory of the US being [as much] the problem as the solution. And I don’t think we should go there.

  211. Hi Mespo,

    Still going? OK.

    “Bob Kauten:

    “I merely said that he’s cheerleading for the imperial adventures that get them killed unnecessarily. He is. He’s done “attack Iran” crusades, before.”
    ********************
    Nope, never. But like most of your assertions why let a fact or two cause your rhetoric to stumble.

    mespo727272
    1, August 29, 2012 at 11:26 am
    Iran is hardly a “tiny, defenseless country.”

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28668

    Minimizing threats to national security doesn’t help your cause.”

    Never crusade to attack Iran? How about really often? Carthage must be destroyed. “Threats to national security”? Whose? Thanks, Cato the Elder. We’ll take that under advisement.

    Nope, not stumbling, yet. You push your “attack Iran” agenda, every chance you get. Since we’d sparred on this matter, before, I recalled it.

    It comes so naturally to you, that you don’t remember it.
    “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem delendam esse”, or Iran, or any small country.

  212. mespo, just an aside to “That’s a matter of degree not kind. And given the consequences of even a small threat it would be exceedingly hard to oversell the matter. As the abstract of the threat assessment makes clear:” But isn’t that what dear Condi [‘mushroom cloud’] Rice did?

  213. Nal:

    “Sounds like something Dick Chaney would say to justify the invasion of Iraq.”

    ********************

    Here are the authors of the study. No Cheney:

    • Matthew Bunn. Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and CoPrincipal Investigator of Project on Managing the Atom at Harvard University’s Belfer
    Center for Science and International Affairs.
    • Colonel Yuri Morozov (retired Russian Armed Forces). Professor of the Russian
    Academy of Military Sciences and senior fellow at the U.S.A and Canada Studies Institute
    of the Russian Academy of Sciences, chief of department at the General Staff of the
    Russian Armed Forces, 1995–2000.
    • Rolf Mowatt-Larssen. Senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science
    and International Affairs, director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the U.S.
    Department of Energy, 2005–2008.
    • Simon Saradzhyan. Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and
    International Affairs, Moscow-based defense and security expert and writer, 1993–2008.
    • William Tobey. Senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and
    International Affairs and director of the U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear
    Terrorism, deputy administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the U.S.
    National Nuclear Security Administration, 2006–2009.
    • Colonel General Viktor I. Yesin (retired Russian Armed Forces). Senior fellow at the
    U.S.A and Canada Studies Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and advisor to
    commander of the Strategic Missile Forces of Russia, chief of staff of the Strategic Missile
    Forces, 1994–1996.• Major General Pavel S. Zolotarev (retired Russian Armed Forces). Deputy director of
    the U.S.A and Canada Studies Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and head
    of the Information and Analysis Center of the Russian Ministry of Defense, 1993–1997,
    deputy chief of staff of the Defense Council of Russia, 1997–1998.
    Contributor:
    • Vladimir Lukov, director general of autonomous non-profit organization “CounterTerrorism Center.

  214. Bob Kauten:

    “1, August 29, 2012 at 11:26 am
    Iran is hardly a “tiny, defenseless country.”

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28668

    Minimizing threats to national security doesn’t help your cause.”

    ***************************
    You must be hell in the telephone game.

    Let me try:

    Bob K said “It was eleven years ago. Must we continue abandoning our freedoms, ruining our infrastructure, and squandering lives, over this holy event?”

    Now I’ll turn it completely on its ear by saying:

    Bob hates roads and holy days! This is fun. It’s stream of consciousness argument. How about this one: Bob’s name is “Bob.” That means he hates all “Bills.”

  215. Confusing idiom with constitutional fact; that’s the Orwellian twist that people like Mespo & Obama rely upon here.

    The war on terror is an actual war?

    “Oh but the 9/11 AUMF… ”

    Authorized a blank check for military engagement around the globe in perpetuity?

    Has the power of altering not only the definition of war but the constitution and the term ‘truth’ itself?

    Where’s the ‘war on pedophiles’?

    Why aren’t we targeting drones on sex slave traders or pedophiles?

    They do in fact inflict far more actual harm than theoretical terror attacks.

    The only thing I’d add to Gene’s commentary here is that people like Mespo are not legislating from the perspective of the good of the country; rather, it is from the narrow point of view that the law means nothing when assuaging the fears of the law makers.

  216. Where’s the ‘war on pedophiles’?
    —————————————————————————–

    too many catholics in the u.s.
    if some fundies had their way they’d escalate the war on christmas

  217. Mespo,
    Get some sleep. You’ve totally lost it.
    If you’re like this tomorrow, get some help.
    Hope you feel better.

  218. mespo:

    The rebuilding we concluded after World War II is hardly a satisfactory analogy for what we have been doing since then. Japan, Korea and the countries of western Europe were nations for hundreds of years; they were not the erstwhile creations of colonial chess players. We were not nation building, but nation restoring.

    What we have been attempting to do in Iraq and Afghanistan is to create nations out of whole cloth in the foolish belief that we can export democracy like surplus grain to people who don’t want it, don’t understand it and don’t even share a sense of nationhood, as opposed to nationalism. And even now, neocons are screaming that we should somehow be controlling events in the so-called “Arab spring.” Is is utter nonsense. More importantly, it is immoral.

    Bob, Esq.:

    Good to see your post, especially since I completely agree with it.

  219. Mike A:

    “And even now, neocons are screaming that we should somehow be controlling events in the so-called “Arab spring.” Is is utter nonsense. More importantly, it is immoral.”

    *******************

    The immorality is allowing innocents to die at the hands of their oppressors when we could do much to prevent it with little risk to ourselves. That is the moral lesson of Bosnia and Rwanda. Preventing genocide is neither immoral nor optional for the ethical nation.

    “At the 2005 World Summit, Heads of State and Government unanimously affirmed that “each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.” They agreed that, when appropriate, the international community should assist States in exercising that responsibility by building their protection capacities before crises and conflicts break out. However, when a state is “manifestly failing” to protect its population from the four specified crimes, the Heads of State and Government confirmed that the international community was prepared to take collective action, through the Security Council and in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.”

    ~UN website

  220. Bob Kauthen:

    “Mespo,
    Get some sleep. You’ve totally lost it.
    If you’re like this tomorrow, get some help.
    Hope you feel better.

    **********************

    If that’s your way of saying “uncle,” consider it heard.

  221. Bob,Esq:
    “… people like Mespo are not legislating from the perspective of the good of the country; rather, it is from the narrow point of view that the law means nothing when assuaging the fears of the law makers..that people like Mespo are not legislating from the perspective of the good of the country; rather, it is from the narrow point of view that the law means nothing when assuaging the fears of the law makers.”

    **************************
    And people like Bob, Esq. live in a fairy land where the most fundamental law of them all, self-preservation, means holding the barrel straight at you while spouting irrelevant platitudes about your evil nature even as your enemy pulls the trigger. Bravo Bob, the country will be dead but the rights and principles of its good citizens like you will somehow be miraculously intact. Pragmatism be damned! It’s all about some duty to some prophylactic philosophy of being “good” that matters. That’s certainly looking out for the country and paying no heed at all to the already proven fears of its leaders. We’ll all die but we’ll be moral to our last gasp!

    Constitution as suicide pact –which categorical imperative is that one?

  222. “And people like Bob, Esq. live in a fairy land where the most fundamental law of them all, self-preservation, means holding the barrel straight at you while spouting irrelevant platitudes about your evil nature even as your enemy pulls the trigger. Bravo Bob, the country will be dead but the rights and principles of its good citizens like you will somehow be miraculously intact.”

    Pure hyperbole, unless of course you think a terrorist group could mount the kind of nuclear attack required to destroy an entire country.

    “Pragmatism be damned!”

    Speaking of damning pragmatism, let’s look at those odds again of dying in a terrorist attack of any kind let alone nuclear. Why . . . let’s look at some numbers from the NCTC Final Report from 2011.

    “The total number of worldwide attacks in 2011, however, dropped by almost 12 percent from 2010 and nearly 29 percent from 2007.” (9)

    Attacks by AQ and its affiliates increased by 8 percent from 2010 to 2011. A significant increase in attacks by al-Shabaab, from 401 in 2010 to 544 in 2011, offset a sharp decline in attacks by al-Qa‘ida in Iraq (AQI) and a smaller decline in attacks by al-Qa‘ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qa‘ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).” (11)

    In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined, Muslims suffered between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years.” (14)

    Of 978 terrorism-related kidnapping last year, only three hostages were private U.S. citizens, or .3 percent. A private citizen is defined as ‘any U.S. citizen not acting in an official capacity on behalf of the U.S. government.’ (13, 17)

    Of the 13,288 people killed by terrorist attacks last year, seventeen were private U.S. citizens, or .1 percent. (17)

    According to the report, the number of U.S. citizens who died in terrorist attacks increased by two between 2010 and 2011; overall, a comparable number of Americans are crushed to death by their televisions or furniture each year.”

    http://blogs.cfr.org/zenko/2012/06/05/how-many-americans-are-killed-by-terrorism/?cid=oth_partner_site-atlantic

    I want to know when we are going to start using drone strikes to kill American televisions without due process as clearly they are a threat to national security.

    “It’s all about some duty to some prophylactic philosophy of being “good” that matters. That’s certainly looking out for the country and paying no heed at all to the already proven fears of its leaders. We’ll all die but we’ll be moral to our last gasp!”

    1) Have you seen our leaders and do you understand their financial incentives in perpetual war based on our electoral funding mechanisms? 2) Right? There is that old saying about babies and bathwater that comes to mind.

    “Constitution as suicide pact –which categorical imperative is that one?”

    When you destroy the Constitution to “save it”? Again, King Pyrrhus of Epirus has a lesson on that.

  223. Mespo,

    Next sunny day, take a leisurely walk outside. Note that, by far, the majority of people you meet on your walk, are not trying to kill you. They probably bear you no ill will, at all.

    Being terrified of everything is a lot of work. It’s very tiring, and shortens your life. Do you think that’s working, for you?

    Now, I know that you’ll make some attempt to turn this message against me. That’s all right. That’s just who you are. I forgive you in advance. You can’t really insult me. I simply can’t take offense at someone who can’t control his fears. You are not responsible for the things you say to others.

    No need to reply, unless it’s cathartic for you. I’m done with this topic, for now. I feel no need to check back.

  224. Bob Kauten:

    “Next sunny day, take a leisurely walk outside. Note that, by far, the majority of people you meet on your walk, are not trying to kill you. They probably bear you no ill will, at all.”

    ********************

    I will if you take that same walk by the former site of the World Trade Center. No doubt those poor folks thought exactly as you do before they didn’t. Acknowledging the designs of your enemies isn’t fear, it’s intelligence at work.

  225. Gene H:

    “Pure hyperbole, unless of course you think a terrorist group could mount the kind of nuclear attack required to destroy an entire country.”

    ******************

    The hypebole is declaring that a nuclear device on Pennsylvania Avenue or Wall Street won’t effect the type of destruction of the economy that the terrorists seek. It’s been in all the papers, Gene. They don’t need an Hiroshima in an interdependent world.

    By the way, the reason those odds are so low in dying in a terrorist attack has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that we are applying constant pressure to those terrorists I’m sure.

    The rest of your comment is just carrying water for Bob. He’s a big boy with a one track mind. He can fend for himself, I thimk.

  226. Bob Kauten:

    “No need to reply, unless it’s cathartic for you. I’m done with this topic, for now. I feel no need to check back.”

    ****************

    See ya, Bob. If I were in the hole you dug, I stop digging too. Not catharsis, merely observation. Never did get your answer to my question, though — from you or MM.

    Maybe I did.

  227. I am in the middle on this one. Think that the terrorist threat is real but one must be very careful not to exaggerate it . Congress must exercise oversight and not continue to wash their hands of enacting any laws concerning drones. The white house memos should be interpreting the laws not making them up as they go along. One can only go so far in blaming an “imperial” president when congress has abdicated their duties.

  228. 1) “The hypebole is declaring that a nuclear device on Pennsylvania Avenue or Wall Street won’t effect the type of destruction of the economy that the terrorists seek.”

    Except for the many millions (if not billions) spent on back up systems and planning for such vacuums. If the “resulting anarchy” is a foregone conclusion, then those monies and plans are wasted. As for destroying the economy, well, the terrorists have already done a pretty good job in that area by creating a situation where the hawks have an endless perpetual state of war in which to dump money sorrily needed elsewhere taking care of our people and infrastructure.

    2) “By the way, the reason those odds are so low in dying in a terrorist attack has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that we are applying constant pressure to those terrorists I’m sure.”

    Straw man. I didn’t say that it didn’t and this isn’t about pressure on terrorists. It’s about shredding the Constitution in the name of expediency and a power grab by an ever increasingly unitary Executive. The President works for me, or more accurately, us. Not the other way around. And I’ll be damned if he was ever given permission to kill US citizens based on secret evidence and without due process other than by his own rubber stamp “legal” goon squad. Not all forms of pressure are created equal.

    3) “The rest of your comment is just carrying water for Bob. He’s a big boy with a one track mind. He can fend for himself, I thimk.”

    Not in the slightest. Bob is a big boy and he can defend himself although I’ll stipulate he does have a bad case of Kant on the brain. However, in this instance, we have mutual interest even if we reached our similar conclusions via different paths.

  229. Is This the Secret U.S. Drone Base in Saudi Arabia?

    By Noah Shachtman
    02.07.13

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/02/secret-drone-base-2/

    Excerpt:

    If this picture does prove to be of a secret U.S. drone base, it wouldn’t be the first clandestine American airfield revealed by public satellite imagery. In 2009, for instance, Sen. Diane Feinstein accidentally revealed that the U.S. was flying its robotic aircraft from Pakistani soil. The News of Pakistan quickly dug through Google Earth’s archives to find Predator drones sitting on a runway not far from the Jacobabad Air Base in Pakistan – one of five airfields in the country used for unmanned attacks. The pictures proved that the Pakistani officials were actively participating in the American drone campaign, despite their public condemnation of the strikes. Until then, such participation had only been suspected. While the drone attacks continued, the U.S. was forced to withdraw from some of the bases.

    So far, reaction to the Saudi base has been relatively muted. American forces officially withdrew from Saudi Arabia years ago, in part because the presence of foreign troops in the Muslim holy land so inflamed militants. It’s unclear how the drone base changes this calculation, if at all.

  230. http://www.amazon.com/National-Insecurity-Cost-American-Militarism/dp/0872865894/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

    National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism [Paperback]

    Melvin A. Goodman (Author)

    This title has not yet been released.

    “Mel Goodman has spent the last few decades telling us what’s gone wrong with American intelligence and the American military, and now, in National Insecurity, he tells us what we must do to change the way the system works, and how to fix it. Goodman is not only telling us how to save wasted billions–he is also telling us how to save ourselves.” — Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker

    “Upon leaving the White House in 1961, President Eisenhower famously warned Americans about the dangers of a “military industrial complex,” and was clearly worried about the destabilizing effects of a national economy based on outsized investments in military spending. As more and more Americans fall into poverty and the global economy spirals downward, the United States is spending more on the military than ever before. What are the consequences and what can be done?”

    Melvin A. Goodman, a twenty-four-year veteran of the CIA, brings peerless authority to his argument that US military spending is indeed making Americans poorer and less secure while undermining our political standing in the world. Drawing from his firsthand experience with war planners and intelligence strategists, Goodman offers an insider’s critique of the US military economy from President’s Eisenhower’s farewell warning to Barack Obama’s expansion of the military’s power. He outlines a much needed vision for how to alter our military policy, practices, and spending in order to better position the United States globally and enhance prosperity and security at home.

    Melvin A. Goodman is the Director of the National Security Project at the Center for International Policy. A former professor of international security at the National War College and an intelligence adviser to strategic disarmament talks in the 1970s, he is the author of several books, including the critically acclaimed The Failure of Intelligence.

  231. Jeremy Scahill: Assassinations of U.S. Citizens Largely Ignored at Brennan CIA Hearing

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/2/8/jeremy_scahill_assassinations_of_us_citizens

    “President Obama’s nominee to run the CIA, John Brennan, forcefully defended Obama’s counterterrorism policies, including the increase use of armed drones and the targeted killings of American citizens during his confirmation hearing Thursday. “None of the central questions that should have been asked of John Brennan were asked in an effective way,” says Jeremy Scahill, author of the forthcoming book “Dirty Wars.” “In the cases where people like Sen. Angus King or Sen. Ron Wyden would ask a real question, for instance, about whether or not the CIA has the right to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. The questions were very good — Brennan would then offer up a non-answer. Then there would be almost a no follow-up.” Scahill went on to say, “[Brennan has] served for more than four years as the assassination czar, and it basically looked like they’re discussing purchasing a used car on Capitol hill. And it was total kabuki oversight. And that’s a devastating commentary on where things stand. [Transcript to come. Check back soon.]”

    “Jeremy Scahill, producer and writer of the documentary film, “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield,” which premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival. He is national security correspondent for The Nation, author of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army,” and the forthcoming book, “Dirty Wars.””

  232. “He Was The Agency”: Ex-CIA Analyst Questions Brennan Claim He Couldn’t Stop Waterboarding, Torture

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/2/8/he_was_the_agency_ex_cia

    “CIA nominee John Brennan was repeatedly questioned about torture at his CIA confirmation hearing, including the use of waterboarding and enhanced interrogation techniques. He refused to say waterboarding was a form of torture, but said he has come to oppose the technique. Under George W. Bush, Brennan served as deputy executive director of the CIA and director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center. “Remember he was the cheerleader for some of these onerous policies — particularly renditions and extraordinary renditions. So for John Brennan, today, to say he read the Senate committee intelligence report on torture and he learned things he never knew before and that he was shocked with what he learned — this is a case of incredible willful ignorance,” says Melvin Goodman, former CIA and State Department analyst. [Transcript to come. Check back soon.]

    Melvin Goodman, Former CIA and State Department analyst. He is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and director of the Center’s National Security Project. His latest book is “National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism.””

  233. Mespo: “And people like Bob, Esq. live in a fairy land where the most fundamental law of them all, self-preservation, means holding the barrel straight at you while spouting irrelevant platitudes about your evil nature even as your enemy pulls the trigger.”

    Aw, do you always throw tantrums in this world where a little thing called the law gets in the way of your paranoid plans?

    Mespo: “Bravo Bob, the country will be dead but the rights and principles of its good citizens like you will somehow be miraculously intact.”

    Oh yes, I forgot all that overwhelming evidence you’ve shown us that the fate of the country hangs in the balance; outside of your imagination.

    Mespo: “Pragmatism be damned!

    Thank you Gene for that William James moment regarding this comment above.

    Mespo: “It’s all about some duty to some prophylactic philosophy of being “good” that matters. That’s certainly looking out for the country and paying no heed at all to the already proven fears of its leaders. We’ll all die but we’ll be moral to our last gasp!”

    Oh, are you referencing Kant; because I didn’t.

    Mespo: “Constitution as suicide pact –which categorical imperative is that one?”

    It’s always a suicide pact when it gets in the way of what you want; isn’t it?

    And per the categorical imperative in law? My my, what is this stare decisis anyway? The foundation of law itself?

    Nah.

    Carry on Mespo; you juristic clown.

  234. Monday, Feb. 11, 2013

    Drone Home

    By Lev Grossman

    http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,2135132,00.html

    Excerpt:

    The GAO report also mentioned “privacy concerns over the collection and use of UAS-acquired data.” A lot of people share those concerns. Drones are the most powerful surveillance tool ever devised, on- or offline. A Reaper drone equipped with the Air Force’s appropriately named Gorgon Stare sensor package, for example, can surveil an area 2½ miles across from 12 angles at once. Its field of view swallows entire cities. The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has produced an imaging system called ARGUS that can pick out an object 6 in. long from 20,000 ft. in the air. In a story worthy of the Onion, USA Today reported in December that Air Force officials were so swamped with the 327,384 hours of drone footage taken last year, they consulted with ESPN about how to edit it down to the highlights, à la SportsCenter.

    Imagine how Americans would feel if the Gorgon Stared at them. It’s not a hypothetical. In June 2011 a county sheriff in North Dakota was trying to track down three men, possibly carrying guns, in connection with some missing cows. He had a lot of ground to cover, so — as one does — he called in a Predator drone from a local Air Force base. It not only spotted the men but could see that they were in fact unarmed. It was the first time a Predator had been involved in the arrest of U.S. citizens.

    Exactly how often Predators have been seconded to local law-enforcement agencies in this manner isn’t known; that information is the object of a pending Freedom of Information Act request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. But there’s at least one Reaper equipped with Gorgon Stare at large in the U.S. Legislators from both parties, in North Dakota and elsewhere, are scrambling to throw legal restraints around the domestic use of drones. In Virginia, the relevant bill is supported by both the ACLU and the Virginia Federation of Tea Party Patriots.

    (In case you’re worried that drones lack allies in Congress, rest easy: there’s a Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus with 60 members. With global spending on drones expected to nearly double over the next decade, to $11.3 billion, industry groups like the AUVSI are rapidly ramping up their lobbying budgets.)

    Until actual legislation is passed, it won’t be completely clear what information the government can and cannot gather using drones. There are certainly precedents: the Supreme Court has ruled that the police can, under the Fourth Amendment, fly an airplane over your fenced backyard and check out whether you’re growing pot back there. It’s not a giant leap to imagine them flying a drone instead. But where does it stop? The framers didn’t anticipate technology that could hover for days, keeping an eye on exposed backyards and porches, that could work in networked swarms, see through walls with thermal imaging, recognize faces and gaits and track license plates. “If we have a bad guy named Waldo,” Singer says, “and we have to find Waldo somewhere in that city, we will naturally gather information about all the people around Waldo, not out of malice but just because that’s the way it is. What happens to that information? Who owns it? Who stores it? Who shares it? Big questions.”

    All the police officers I spoke with were, if anything, extravagantly conscientious in the use, storage and disposal of information their drones had gathered. But the potential for mission creep and outright abuse is great. In September a report by the Congressional Research Service, titled “Drones in Domestic Surveillance Operations,” came to the following non-conclusion: “the sheer sophistication of drone technology and the sensors they can carry may remove drones from [the] traditional Fourth Amendment framework.” Well, that settles that.

    And that’s just the government. Drones don’t care who they work for. They’ll spy for anyone, and as they get cheaper and more powerful and easier to use, access to military-grade surveillance technology will get easier too. Voracious as they are for information, drones could take a serious chunk out of Americans’ already dwindling stock of personal privacy. It’s certainly not legal to fly a drone up 10 stories to peer through the curtains into somebody’s bedroom, but it’s just as certain that somebody’s going to do it, if they haven’t already. Last February an animal-rights group in South Carolina launched a drone to watch a group of hunters on a pigeon shoot on private property. The hunters promptly shot it down. It might be America’s first case of human-on-drone violence, but it won’t be the last.

    Whatever happens on the civilian front, the ongoing dronification of the U.S. military is barreling ahead. The Predator has already been superseded by the larger, faster, more powerful Reaper, which is in turn looking nervously over its shoulder at the even larger, jet-powered Avenger, currently in the testing phase.

    The U.S.’s skunkworks are disgorging drones in a bizarre profusion — like Darwin’s finches, they’re evolving furiously to fill more and more operational niches and creating new ones as they go. Already soldiers carry hand-launchable Raven surveillance drones and kamikaze Switchblade drones for targeting snipers. The K-MAX unmanned helicopter ferries cargo around Afghanistan for the Marines. The Navy’s SeaFox, a single-use underwater drone, is hunting for Iranian mines in the Persian Gulf. The Army is testing a Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle, essentially a 300-ft.-long unmanned blimp designed to squat over a battlefield at high altitude for weeks at a time. (Its manufacturer, Northrop Grumman, promises “more than 21 days of unblinking stare.”) DARPA has fielded a tiny drone that mimics the flight of a hummingbird, and it’s mulling a network of deepwater drones that would dwell on the seafloor but — like Godzilla — rise to the surface in times of need.

    Drones are learning to think for themselves. Those University of Pennsylvania drones are already semiautonomous: you can toss a hoop in the air and they’ll plot a trajectory and fly right through it. (Whether or not you count Google’s self-driving cars as people-carrying, highway-borne drones seems like a question of semantics.) They’re also gaining endurance. In June, Boeing tested a liquid-hydrogen-powered drone called the Phantom Eye that’s designed to cruise at 65,000 ft. for four days at a time. Boeing’s Solar Eagle, which has a 400-ft. wingspan, is scheduled for testing in 2014. Its flights will last for five years.

    This technology will inevitably flow from the military sphere into the civilian, and it’s very hard to say what the consequences will be, except that they’ll be unexpected. Drones will carry pizzas across towns and drugs across borders. They’ll spot criminals on the run and naked celebrities in their homes. They’ll get cheaper to buy and easier to use. What will the country look like when anybody with $50 and an iPhone can run a surveillance drone? Last fall the law schools at Stanford and NYU issued a report, “Life Under Drones,” which was based on 130 interviews with Pakistanis. It makes for unsettling reading. “Drones are always on my mind,” said a man from Islamabad. “It makes it difficult to sleep. They are like a mosquito. Even when you don’t see them, you can hear them. You know they are there.”

    Right now the U.S. is the only nation that operates drones on a large scale, but that will change: flying drones is hard, but it’s not that hard. Singer estimates that there are 76 other countries either developing drones or shopping for them; both Hizballah and Hamas have flown drones already. In November, a Massachusetts man was sentenced to 17 years for plotting to attack the Pentagon and the Capitol with remote-controlled planes. (The drone equivalent of the Newtown, Conn., atrocity is simply beyond contemplation.) The moral ambiguity of covert drone strikes will clarify itself very quickly if another country claims the right under international law to strike its enemies in the U.S. There may come a day when the U.S. bitterly regrets the precedents it has set.

    Americans are great and heedless adopters of new technologies, and few technologies are as seductive, promise so much at so little political and financial and human cost, as drones. They give us tremendous new powers, and they seem to ask very little of us in return. Obama captured the singular quality of drone warfare precisely in a remark that appears in Mark Bowden’s recent book The Finish. “There’s a remoteness to it,” he said, “that makes it tempting to think that somehow we can, without any mess on our hands, solve vexing security problems.” That illusion is just what makes drones such a challenge, especially as we introduce them into our own country. Drones don’t just give us power, they tempt us to use it.

  235. I think the FAA will have some nasty things to say about drones and their conflict with manned aircraft. There is already a problem with tethered aerostats that carry radar to watch the border and they are clearly marked on charts. Drones will be a major threat to pilots.

  236. ARE,
    Agree. There is a very good reason the FAA has imposed an absolute ceiling of 400 ft. AGL on radio control model airplanes.

  237. Executioner in Chief: How a Nobel Peace Prize Winner Became the Head of a Worldwide Assassination Program

    By John W. Whitehead
    February 08, 2013

    “Much of our foreign policy now depends on the hope of benevolent dictators and philosopher kings. The law can’t help. The law is what the kings say it is.”—Ta-Nehisi Coates, writing for The Atlantic

    “If George Bush had done this, it would have been stopped.”—Joe Scarborough, former Republican congressman and current MSNBC pundit

    When Barack Obama ascended to the presidency in 2008, there was a sense, at least among those who voted for him, that the country might change for the better. Those who watched in awe as President Bush chipped away at our civil liberties over the course of his two terms as president thought that maybe this young, charismatic Senator from Illinois would reverse course and put an end to some of the Bush administration’s worst transgressions—the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists, the torture, the black site prisons, and the never-ending wars that have drained our resources, to name just a few.

    A few short years later, that fantasy has proven to be just that: a fantasy. Indeed, Barack Obama has not only carried on the Bush legacy, but has taken it to its logical conclusion. As president, Obama has gone beyond Guantanamo Bay, gone beyond spying on Americans’ emails and phone calls, and gone beyond bombing countries without Congressional authorization. He now claims, as revealed in a leaked Department of Justice memo, the right to murder any American citizen the world over, so long as he has a feeling that they might, at some point in the future, pose a threat to the United States.

    Let that sink in. The President of the United States of America believes he has the absolute right to kill you based upon secret “evidence” that you might be a terrorist. Not only does he think he can kill you, but he believes he has the right to do so in secret, without formally charging you of any crime and providing you with an opportunity to defend yourself in a court of law. To top it all off, the memo asserts that these decisions about whom to kill are not subject to any judicial review whatsoever.

    This is what one would call Mafia-style justice, when one powerful overlord—in this case, the president—gets to decide whether you live or die based solely on his own peculiar understanding of right and wrong. This is how far we have fallen in the twelve years since 9/11, through our negligence and our failure to hold our leaders in both political parties accountable to the principles enshrined in the Constitution.

    According to the leaked Department of Justice memo, there are certain “conditions” under which it is acceptable for the president to kill a U.S. citizen without the basic trappings of American justice, i.e., a lawyer and a fair hearing before a neutral judge.

    First, you have to be suspected of being a “senior operational leader” of al-Qaeda or an “associated force.” Of course, neither of these terms is defined. Making matters worse, the government doesn’t actually have to prove that you’re an “operational leader.” It simply has to suspect that you are. (Of course, if all it takes for the government to pull the trigger and kill a U.S. citizen is a hunch, then the rest of the conditions set out in the memo are moot.)

    Second, capturing you has to be “infeasible.” Easy enough, since “infeasibility of capture” includes being unable to capture someone without putting American troops in harm’s way.

    Third, you must pose “an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States,” whether or not you can actually execute an attack on our soil. Before you breathe a sigh of relief that perhaps your neck is safe now, keep in mind that the imminence requirement “does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.” The Bush administration should get some credit here, since it was their creative parsing of the “imminent” threat posed by Saddam Hussein and his so-called weapons of mass destruction that inspired the Obama lawyers to play footloose with the laws on killing American citizens.

    In short, by simply asserting that an American citizen is an enemy of the United States, the Obama administration has given itself the authority to murder that individual. This pales in comparison to George W. Bush’s assertion that he could detain an American citizen indefinitely simply by labeling him an enemy combatant.

    Compounding this travesty, the Obama administration also insists that the power to target a U.S. citizen for murder applies to any “informed, high-level official of the U.S. government,” not just the president. Therefore, any bureaucrat or politician, if appointed to a high enough position, can target an American for execution by way of drone strikes.

    It’s been done before. Without proving that they were “senior operational leaders” of any terrorist organization, the Obama administration used drone strikes to assassinate Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, both American citizens.

    So now we find ourselves at this strange, surreal juncture where clear-cut definitions of right and wrong and the rule of law have been upended by legal parsing, government corruption, corporate greed, partisan games, and politicians with questionable morals and little-to-no loyalty to the American people.

    It’s a short skip and a jump from a scenario where the president authorizes drone strikes on American citizens abroad to one in which a high-level bureaucrat authorizes a drone strike on American citizens here in the United States. It’s only a matter of time. Obama has already opened the door to drones flying in American skies—an estimated 30,000 by 2015, and a $30 billion per year industry to boot.

    Yet no matter how much legislation we pass to protect ourselves from these aerial threats being used against us domestically, either to monitor our activities or force us into compliance, as long as the president is allowed to unilaterally determine who is a threat and who deserves to die by way of a drone strike, we are all in danger.

    This is surely the beginning of the end of the republic. Not only are we upending the rule of law, but killing people across the globe without accountability seriously undermines America’s long term relationships with other nations. The use of drones to kill American citizens demonstrates just how out of control the so-called “war on terror” has become. A war that by definition cannot be won has expanded to encompass the entire globe. This confirms the fears of those who have been watching as the American drone program has slowly expanded from targeting members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan to include any person the president cares to see eliminated, not to mention the countless civilians killed along the way.

    Retired general Stanley McChrystal has said that drone strikes are “hated on a visceral level” and feed into a “perception of American arrogance.” By attacking small time jihadists, as well as innocent civilians, the American government further inflames populations where terrorist groups are embedded, exciting anti-American sentiment among those who may have previously been an asset to America’s relationship with Muslim countries. In fact, McChrystal and former CIA director Michael Hayden have both expressed concern that American drone strikes are “targeting low-level militants who do not pose a direct threat to the United States.”

    For example, Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, a Muslim cleric in Yemen gave a long sermon in August 2012 denouncing Al-Qaeda. A few days later, three members of Al-Qaeda showed up to his neighborhood, saying they wanted to talk with Jaber. Jaber agreed, bringing along his cousin Waleed Abdullah, a police officer, for protection. In the middle of the conversation, a hail of American missiles rained down upon the men, killing them all.

    Incidents such as these are the exact reason that America cannot seem to bring an end to its myriad military commitments abroad. By undermining our potential allies, we simply further endanger American lives. According to Naji al Zaydi, an opponent of Al-Qaeda and former governor of Marib province in Yemen, “some of these young guys getting killed have just been recruited and barely known what terrorism means.” In direct opposition to the stated goal of the “war on terror,” we are creating enemies abroad who will gladly look forward to the day when the United States falls in on itself, like the Roman Empire before it.

    Unfortunately, there seems to be no exit from this situation. Too many high-level officials, both Democrats and Republicans, either don’t care, or actively champion the murder of American citizens and innocent civilians alike by the president. As journalist Amy Goodman put it, “the recent excesses of U.S. presidential power are not transient aberrations, but the creation of a frightening new normal, where drone strikes, warrantless surveillance, assassination and indefinite detention are conducted with arrogance and impunity, shielded by secrecy and beyond the reach of law.”

  238. DOJ kill list memo forces many Dems out of the closet as overtly unprincipled hacks

    Last week’s controversy over Obama’s assassination program forced into light many ignored truths that were long obvious

    by Glenn Greenwald

    Monday 11 February 2013

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/11/progressives-defend-obama-kill-list

    Excerpt:

    “Progressive willingness to acquiesce to or even outright support Obama’s radical policies – in the name of partisan loyalty – are precisely what ensures the continuation of those policies. Obama gets away with all of this because so many progressives venerate leader loyalty and partisan gain above all else.

    What’s most remarkable about this willingness to endorse extremist policies because you “trust” the current leader exercising them is how painfully illogical it is, and how violently contrary it is to everything Americans are taught from childhood about their country. It should not be difficult to comprehend that there is no such thing as vesting a Democratic President with Power X but not vesting a GOP President with the same power. To endorse a power in the hands of a leader you like is, necessarily, to endorse the power in the hands of a leader you dislike.

    Like Bob Herbert’s statement – “policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House” – this is so obvious it should not need to be argued. As former Bush and Obama aide Douglas Ollivant told the NYT yesterday about the “trust” argument coming from some progressives: “That’s not how we make policy. We make policy assuming that people in power might abuse it. To do otherwise is foolish.”

    It is not hyperbole to say that the overarching principle of the American founding was that no political leaders – no matter how kind and magnanimous they seemed – could or should be trusted to exercise power in the dark, without checks. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1798: “In questions of power . . . let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” Six years earlier, John Adams warned: “There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.” James Madison, in Federalist 51, explained: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

    This is not just basic American political history. It’s basic human nature. And the greater the power is – and there is no greater power than targeting citizens for execution – the more applicable those principles are. Watching progressive media figures outright admit that trust in Barack Obama as Leader guides their unprincipled political arguments is only slightly more jarring than watching them embrace that mentality while pretending they’re not. Whatever else is true, watching the political movement that spent years marching behind the banner of “due process” and “restraints on presidential power” and “our Constitutional values” now explicitly defend the most radical policy yet justified by the “war on terror” – all because it’s their leader doing it – is as nauseating as it is dangerous.

    [My Guardian colleague, Gary Younge, has a provocative column from Sunday headlined: “Barack Obama is pushing gun control at home, but he’s a killer abroad”]”

  239. Bob,Esq:

    “Oh yes, I forgot all that overwhelming evidence you’ve shown us that the fate of the country hangs in the balance; outside of your imagination.”

    **************************
    Events have a funny way of proving me right sometimes:

    http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/02/12/north-korea-detonates-third-nuclear-bomb-test/

    It’s a safe world for Western democracies indeed. Now let’s neuter ourselves in service to some secondary principle that could quite possibly leave us all dead. The first lesson of self-defense is to acknowledge you need it and the second is to avoid underestimating the threat. You need work on both.

  240. Former VP Cheney calls Obama administration’s drone strikes ‘a good policy’

    By Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 7:59 AM

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/former-vp-cheney-calls-obama-administrations-drone-strikes-a-good-policy/2013/02/12/fc06bc4c-7513-11e2-9889-60bfcbb02149_story.html

    Excerpt:

    WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Dick Cheney says the Obama administration’s policy of targeting terrorists abroad with unmanned drone strikes is “a good policy,” even though he disagrees with most of President Barack Obama’s views on national security.

    In an interview that aired Tuesday on “CBS This Morning,” Cheney dismissed the need for “checks and balances” against the drone program. He says Obama “is getting paid to make difficult, difficult decisions.”

  241. mespo,

    Do you think the Chinese would really allow NK to use a nuke other than as a threat? No. 1) They are a target too. 2) They don’t want either us or NATO on their front steps. Again, the value is in the threat, not the use.

  242. ap,

    I saw that and thought, “Now there is a ringing endorsement that indicates just how out of control the Federal government is and how far down the fascist rabbit hole both parties are.”

  243. Another lesson of self defense is to maintain situational awareness and not become focused on a particular issue, technique or threat.

    We have, maybe, 50 years of successful experience dealing with nuclear armed nation states. To the best of my knowledge, during that time, no one claimed that the US had the legitimate power to assassinate civilians – certainly not outside of a declared war, on the battlefield, holding a weapon.

    The difficulties we have with North Korea, which many view as a potential adversary, offer no support for the drone program or the claim that the executive has legal authority to assassinate anyone.

    I view the knot of questions related to assassination, and indefinite detention as serious issues because asymmetrical, unconventional warfare presents real threats with few historical lessons for success.

    But it is important to be clear about what counts as data. North Korea with its nuclear bombs and missiles is irrelevant in the discussion of the newly claimed powers of the executive branch.

  244. bigfatmike,

    Bravo!

    I’ve made that argument several times; i.e. how amazing it was that even when the atomic clock read 2 minutes to midnight we didn’t victimize the constitution out of fear.

  245. Doomsday Clock Overview

    The Doomsday Clock conveys how close humanity is to catastrophic destruction–the figurative midnight–and monitors the means humankind could use to obliterate itself. First and foremost, these include nuclear weapons, but they also encompass climate-changing technologies and new developments in the life sciences that could inflict irrevocable harm.

    Nuclear

    The nuclear age dawned in the 1940s when scientists learned how to release the energy stored within the atom. Immediately, they thought of two potential uses–an unparalleled weapon and a new energy source. The United States built the first atomic bombs during World War II, which they used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Within two decades, Britain, the Soviet Union, China, and France had also established nuclear weapon programs. Since then, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea have built nuclear weapons as well.

    For most of the Cold War, overt hostility between the United States and Soviet Union, coupled with their enormous nuclear arsenals, defined the nuclear threat. The U.S. arsenal peaked at about 30,000 warheads in the mid-1960s and the Soviet arsenal at 40,000 warheads in the 1980s, dwarfing all other nuclear weapon states. The scenario for nuclear holocaust was simple: Heightened tensions between the two jittery superpowers would lead to an all-out nuclear exchange. Today, the potential for an accidental or inadvertent nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia remains, with both countries anachronistically maintaining more than 1,000 warheads on high alert, ready to launch within tens of minutes, even though a deliberate attack by Russia or the United States on the other seems improbable.

    http://www.thebulletin.org/content/doomsday-clock/timeline

  246. The drone policy is unconstitutional. It is also immoral, bad foreign policy and bad domestic policy. I’ll have more to say later.

  247. The Shooting Gallery: Obama and the Vanishing Point of Democracy
    Tuesday

    12 February 2013 10:27

    By Henry A Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed

    http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/14483-the-shooting-gallery-obama-and-the-vanishing-point-of-democracy

    Excerpt:

    “Frank Rich has suggested that the American public’s indifference to national security issues is partly due to the massive hardships and suffering many Americans have endured as a result of the Great Recession.17 This may be true but what it overlooks are the ever-growing anti-democratic forces, or what might be called authoritarianism with a soft edge, which haunt American politics and the modern ideal of democracy. The civic imagination is in retreat in American society and the public spheres that make it possible are disappearing.

    Clearly, political and popular culture are in dire need of being condemned, interrogated, unlearned and transformed through modes of critical education and public debate, if American democracy is to survive as more than a distant and unfulfilled promise. Americans have lived too long with governments that use power to promote violent acts, conveniently hiding their guilt behind a notion of secrecy and silence that selectively punishes those considered expendable – in its prisons, public schools, foster care institutions and urban slums. As Tom Engelhardt points out, what has not sunk in for most Americans, including the mainstream media, is that the United States has become a lockdown state, or more appropriately an authoritarian state, as evidenced by the fact that the Obama administration can:

    torture at will; imprison at will, indefinitely and without trial; assassinate at will (including American citizens); kidnap at will anywhere in the world and ‘render’ the captive in the hands of allied torturers; turn any mundane government document (at least 92 million of them in 2011 alone) into a classified object and so help spread a penumbra of secrecy over the workings of the American government; surveil Americans in ways never before attempted (and only ‘legalized’ by Congress after the fact, the way you might back-date a check); make war perpetually on their own say-so; and transform whistleblowing – that is, revealing anything about the inner workings of the lockdown state to other Americans – into the only prosecutable crime that anyone in the complex can commit18

    The fateful consolidation of an authoritarian state reaches its tipping point when a government engages in these practices along with the claim that it can kill its own citizens anywhere in the world without recourse to due process or any moral qualms. Such policies point to more than an ethically empty space and the atrophy of democratic modes of governance, politics and culture, they point inexorably to the dark caverns of a society that has embraced the foundations of authoritarianism. Democracy has been hijacked in the United States by right-wing extremists, the financial elite, the military-industrial-academic complex and a demagogic cultural apparatus that has created a state of emergency that appears to “lack the kind of collective sense of urgency that would prompt us to fundamentally question our own ways of thinking and acting, and form new spaces of operation.”19 All of us are now in the shooting gallery and we are all potentially the targets.”

  248. The Hubris of the Drones

    Wednesday, 13 February 2013 09:16

    By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Moyers & Company | Op-Ed

    http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/14525-the-hubris-of-the-drones

    Article:

    Last week, The New York Times published a chilling account of how indiscriminate killing in war remains bad policy even today. This time, it’s done not by young GIs in the field but by anonymous puppeteers guiding drones that hover and attack by remote control against targets thousands of miles away, often killing the innocent and driving their enraged and grieving families and friends straight into the arms of the very terrorists we’re trying to eradicate.

    The Times told of a Muslim cleric in Yemen named Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, standing in a village mosque denouncing al Qaeda. It was a brave thing to do — a respected tribal figure, arguing against terrorism. But two days later, when he and a police officer cousin agreed to meet with three al Qaeda members to continue the argument, all five men — friend and foe — were incinerated by an American drone attack. The killings infuriated the village and prompted rumors of an upwelling of support in the town for al Qaeda, because, the Times reported, “such a move is seen as the only way to retaliate against the United States.”

    Our blind faith in technology combined with a false sense of infallible righteousness continues unabated. Reuters correspondent David Rohde recently wrote:

    “The Obama administration’s covert drone program is on the wrong side of history. With each strike, Washington presents itself as an opponent of the rule of law, not a supporter. Not surprisingly, a foreign power killing people with no public discussion, or review of who died and why, promotes anger among Pakistanis, Yemenis and many others.”

    Rohde has firsthand knowledge of what a drone strike can do. He was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2008 and held for seven months. During his captivity, a drone struck nearby. “It was so close that shrapnel and mud showered down into the courtyard,” he told the BBC last year. “Just the force and size of the explosion amazed me. It comes with no warning and tremendous force… There’s sense that your sovereignty is being violated… It’s a serious military action. It is not this light precise pinprick that many Americans believe.”
    “It’s a serious military action… not this light precise pinprick that many Americans believe.”

    A special report from the Council on Foreign Relations last month, “Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies,” quotes “a former senior military official” saying, “Drone strikes are just a signal of arrogance that will boomerang against America.” The report notes that, “The current trajectory of U.S. drone strike policies is unsustainable… without any meaningful checks — imposed by domestic or international political pressure — or sustained oversight from other branches of government, U.S. drone strikes create a moral hazard because of the negligible risks from such strikes and the unprecedented disconnect between American officials and personnel and the actual effects on the ground.”

    Negligible? Such hubris brought us to grief in Vietnam and Iraq and may do so again with President Obama’s cold-blooded use of drones and his indifference to so-called “collateral damage,” grossly referred to by some in the military as “bug splat,” and otherwise known as innocent bystanders.

    Yet the ease with which drones are employed and the lower risk to our own forces makes the unmanned aircraft increasingly appealing to the military and the CIA. We’re using drones more and more; some 350 strikes since President Obama took office, seven times the number that were authorized by George W. Bush. And there’s a whole new generation of the weapons on the way — deadlier and with greater endurance.

    According to the CFR report, “Of the estimated three thousand people killed by drones… the vast majority were neither al-Qaeda nor Taliban leaders. Instead, most were low-level, anonymous suspected militants who were predominantly engaged in insurgent or terrorist operations against their governments, rather than in active international terrorist plots.”

    By the standards of slaughter in Vietnam, the deaths caused by drones are hardly a bleep on the consciousness of official Washington. But we have to wonder if each innocent killed — a young boy gathering wood at dawn, unsuspecting of his imminent annihilation; a student who picked up the wrong hitchhikers; that tribal elder arguing against fanatics — doesn’t give rise to second thoughts by those judges who prematurely handed our president the Nobel Prize for Peace. Better they had kept it on the shelf in hopeful waiting, untarnished.”

  249. Sen. Paul threatens ‘hold’ on John Brennan for CIA

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/02/13/rand-paul-threatens-hold-brennan-cia-drones/1916357/?csp=breakingnews

    Excerpt:

    WASHINGTON — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told USA TODAY Wednesday that he is prepared to put a “hold” on John Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA, and to filibuster it if necessary, until the administration answers his questions about the use of drones in the United States.

    Paul said he would do “whatever it takes” to delay Brennan’s confirmation until he directly answers whether American citizens legally can be killed by drone strikes within the United States.

    The Kentucky Republican accused Brennan of obfuscating on the issue when it was raised at confirmation hearings before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week. Rand on Sunday said he wouldn’t vote for Brennan until the questions were answered, but he raised the stakes in an interview with “Capital Download,” a weekly video series on usatoday.com.

    “He was asked a very specific question. . . ‘Can you kill an American with a drone in America?’ And he refused to answer the question,” Paul said. “I find that very, very worrisome (and) we’re going to do whatever it takes to get the answer. Can the government, does the government, the president himself, claim the power to unilaterally kill an American in America without a trial?”

  250. Drones, Kill Lists and Machiavelli

    Published: February 12, 2013

    To the Editor:

    “I am deeply, deeply disturbed at the suggestion in “A Court to Vet Kill Lists” (news analysis, front page, Feb. 9) that possible judicial review of President Obama’s decisions to approve the targeted killing of suspected terrorists might be limited to the killings of American citizens.

    Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.

    I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity.”

    DESMOND M. TUTU
    Aboard MV Explorer, near Hong Kong Feb. 11, 2013

    The writer, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town.

  251. “Obama DOJ again refuses to tell a court whether CIA drone program even exists”

    “As the nation spent the week debating the CIA assassination program, Obama lawyers exploit secrecy to shield it from all review”

    by Glenn Greenwald
    Thursday 14 February 2013 08.50 EST

    Excerpts:

    “It is not news that the US government systematically abuses its secrecy powers to shield its actions from public scrutiny, democratic accountability, and judicial review. But sometimes that abuse is so extreme, so glaring, that it is worth taking note of, as it reveals its purported concern over national security to be a complete sham.

    Such is the case with the Obama DOJ’s behavior in the lawsuit brought by the ACLU against the CIA to compel a response to the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about Obama’s CIA assassination program. That FOIA request seeks nothing sensitive, but rather only the most basic and benign information about the “targeted killing” program: such as “the putative legal basis for carrying out targeted killings; any restrictions on those who may be targeted; any civilian casualties; any geographic limits on the program; the number of targeted killings that the agency has carried out.”

    Just think about that: Obama and his aides routinely boast about the drone program to make the president look like daddy-protector tough guy. Someone in the administration just disclosed last week to NBC News a “white paper” sent by the Obama DOJ to Congress purporting to legally justify the CIA assassination program. Everyone knows and is now debating whether the CIA should be doing this.

    But what is missing from the debate is the most basic information about what the CIA does and even their claimed legal justification for doing it. The Obama administration still refuses to publicly disclose the OLC memo that purported to authorize it (they agreed two weeks ago to make it available only to certain members of Congress without stuff present, thus still maintaining “secret law”). They conceal all of this – and thus prevent basic democratic accountability – based on the indescribably cynical and inane pretense that they cannot even confirm or deny the existence of the CIA program without seriously jeopardizing national security.

    This is a complete perversion of their secrecy powers. Even among the DC cliques that exist to defend US government behavior, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone willing to defend what is being done here. The Obama administration runs around telling journalists how great and precise and devastating the CIA’s assassination program is, then tells courts that no disclosure is permissible because they cannot safely confirm in court that the program even exists.

    Such flagrant abuse of secrecy power is at once Orwellian and tyrannical. It has the effect of blocking even the most minimal transparency on the most consequential question: the government’s claimed authority to execute anyone it wants without charges, far from a battlefield, in total secrecy. It yet again demonstrates that excessive government secrecy is an infinitely greater threat than unauthorized disclosures. This is why we need radical transparency projects and aggressive whistle-blowers. And it’s why nobody should respect the secrecy claims of the Obama administration or believe the assertions they make about national security. What else do they need to do to prove how untrustworthy those claims are?
    Use on US soil

    Last week, Esquire’s Charles Pierce noted that Brennan, at his confirmation hearing, refused to say whether the US government has the power to target US citizens for execution without charges even on US soil. Yesterday, GOP Sen. Rand Paul – who used his State of the Union response to denounce “secret lists of American citizens who can be killed without trial” – said that he would block Brennan’s confirmation “until Brennan declares whether he believes the United States has the authority to use unmanned drones to conduct targeting killings of Americans — in the United States.”

    To understand just how radical the Obama administration is when it comes to secrecy, just think about the fact that it refuses to answer even that question.”

  252. Drone ‘Nightmare Scenario’ Now Has A Name: ARGUS

    By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 9:06am

    http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty-free-speech-national-security/drone-nightmare-scenario-now-has-physical

    Excerpts:

    The PBS series NOVA, “Rise of the Drones,” recently aired a segment detailing the capabilities of a powerful aerial surveillance system known as ARGUS-IS, which is basically a super-high, 1.8 gigapixel resolution camera that can be mounted on a drone. As demonstrated in this clip, the system is capable of high-resolution monitoring and recording of an entire city. (The clip was written about in DefenseTech and in Slate.)

    In the clip, the developer explains how the technology (which he also refers to with the apt name “Wide Area Persistent Stare”) is “equivalent to having up to a hundred Predators look at an area the size of a medium-sized city at once.”

    NOVA was not allowed to show images of the ARGUS censor, and stated that part of the program remained classified, including whether it has yet been deployed. (Though, we know it has been deployed domestically at least once, over Virginia as shown on NOVA. I’m going to assume it has not been deployed domestically in any more routine manner.) But, it is good that the Air Force allowed NOVA to see its capabilities. I’d like to think it’s because as Americans, Air Force officials have respect for our country’s values and democratic processes and don’t want to let such powerful and potentially privacy-invasive tools to be created in secret. It could also be, however, because the Air Force needs private-sector help in figuring out how to analyze the oceans of data the device can collect (5,000 hours of high-def video per day).

    Either way, it’s important for the public to be aware of the kinds of technologies that are out there so that it can better decide how drones should be regulated.

  253. “Obama officials refuse to say if assassination power extends to US soil”,

    “The administration’s extreme secrecy is beginning to lead Senators to impede John Brennan’s nomination to lead the CIA”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/22/obama-brennan-paul-assassinations-filibuster

    Excerpt:

    “The “global war” paradigm that has been normalized under two successive administrations all but compels that, as a legal matter, this power extend everywhere and to everyone. The only possible limitations are international law and the “due process” clause of the Constitution – and, in my view, that clearly bars presidential executions of US citizens no matter where they are as well as foreign nationals on US soil. But otherwise, once you accept the “global-battlefield” framework, then the scope of this presidential assassination power is limitless (this is to say nothing of how vague the standards in the DOJ “white paper” are when it comes to things like “imminence” and “feasibility of capture”, as the New Yorker’s Amy Davidson pointed out this week when suggesting that the DOJ white paper may authorize a president to kill US journalists who are preparing to write about leaks of national security secrets).

    That this is even an issue – that this question even has to be asked and the president can so easily get away with refusing to answer – is a potent indicator of how quickly and easily even the most tyrannical powers become normalized. About all of this, Esquire’s Charles Pierce yesterday put it perfectly:

    “This is why the argument many liberals are making – that the drone program is acceptable both morally and as a matter of practical politics because of the faith you have in the guy who happens to be presiding over it at the moment — is criminally naive, intellectually empty, and as false as blue money to the future. The powers we have allowed to leach away from their constitutional points of origin into that office have created in the presidency a foul strain of outlawry that (worse) is now seen as the proper order of things.

    “If that is the case, and I believe it is, then the very nature of the presidency of the United States at its core has become the vehicle for permanently unlawful behavior. Every four years, we elect a new criminal because that’s become the precise job description.”

    That language may sound extreme. But it’s actually mild when set next to the powers that the current president not only claims but has used. The fact that he does it all in secret – insists that even the “law” that authorizes him to do it cannot be seen by the public – is precisely why Pierce is so right when he says that “the very nature of the presidency of the United States at its core has become the vehicle for permanently unlawful behavior”. To allow a political leader to claim those kinds of of powers, and to exercise them in secret, guarantee chronic criminality.”

  254. http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-predator-uae-20130222,0,3067564.story

    “United Arab Emirates reaches deal to buy unarmed Predator drones”

    “The deal has drawn scrutiny from critics who worry about the technology falling into terrorists’ hands or being used by governments against their own citizens.

    Under the proposed sale, revealed this week at a defense conference in Abu Dhabi and confirmed Friday, General Atomics, of Poway, Calif., will sell an undisclosed number of the robotic aircraft to the UAE armed forces for $197 million.

    The UAE, notably the sheikdom of Dubai, has been a crossroads for banking, finance and technology as the nation emerged as an economic hub for the Arab world. It has only recently begun to tighten regulations to limit money laundering and other shady financial endeavors that attracted Islamic militants, drug smugglers and other traffickers.

    Over the last year, UAE security officials — often criticized for surveillance tactics — have also cracked down on internal dissent following the political upheavals of the Arab Spring.

    The sale still would need to win approval from Congress. Currently, there are federal restrictions on selling large drones. But General Atomics, which builds the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper hunter-killer drones used by the Air Force and CIA, has designed a new unarmed version of the Predator that would qualify for export.

    The remotely piloted aircraft, called the Predator XP, could be used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, but will not be outfitted for weapons capabilities. The company did not say what – if any — cameras and sensor packages would be included.

    But the drone has the same physical dimensions, altitude, speed, and long endurance — up to 35 hours — as the original unarmed version of the Predator drone first flown by the U.S. Air Force in 1995.

    General Atomics redesigned the Predator — XP stands for “export” — with the sole purpose of selling it to a broader customer base, including countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

    The company said it received an export license from the State Department to share technical information about the drone, but finalizing a deal is subject to other regulatory approval. Neither the State Department nor Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, would comment on the proposed sale.

    General Atomics says a number of other regional governments have also expressed interest in the Predator XP. The company said the Predator XP cannot be weaponized, but some observers have concerns about turning over drone technology that could be replicated to a missile-carrying system.”

    william.hennigan@latimes.com

  255. Domestic Drones

    New Documents Reveal U.S. Marshals’ Drones Experiment, Underscoring Need for Government Transparency

    By Naomi Gilens, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project

    http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty-national-security-criminal-law-reform/new-documents-reveal-us-marshals
    02/27/2013

    The use of surveillance drones is growing rapidly in the United States, but we know little about how the federal government employs this new technology. Now, new information obtained by the ACLU shows for the first time that the U.S. Marshals Service has experimented with using drones for domestic surveillance.

    We learned this through documents we released today, received in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The documents are available here. (We also released a short log of drone accidents from the Federal Aviation Administration as well as accident reports and other documents from the U.S. Air Force.) This revelation comes a week after a bipartisan bill to protect Americans’ privacy from domestic drones was introduced in the House.

    Although the Marshals Service told us it found 30 pages about its drones program in response to our FOIA request, it turned over only two of those pages—and even they were heavily redacted.

    Here’s what we know from the two short paragraphs of text we were able to see. Under a header entitled “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, Man-Portable (UAV) Program,” an agency document overview begins:

    USMS Technical Operations Group’s UAV Program provides a highly portable, rapidly deployable overhead collection device that will provide a multi-role surveillance platform to assist in [redacted] detection of targets.

    Another document reads:

    This developmental program is designed to provide [redacted] in support of TOG [presumably the agency’s Technical Operations Group] investigations and operations. This surveillance solution can be deployed during [multiple redactions] to support ongoing tactical operations.

    These heavily redacted documents reveal almost no information about the nature of the Marshals’ drone program. However, the Marshals Service explained to the Los Angeles Times that they tested two small drones in 2004 and 2005. The experimental program ended after both drones crashed.

    It is surprising that what seems like a small-scale experiment remained hidden from the public until our FOIA unearthed it. Even more surprising is that seven years after the program was discontinued, the Marshals still refuse to disclose almost any records about it.

    As drone use becomes more and more common, it is crucial that the government’s use of these spying machines be transparent and accountable to the American people. All too often, though, it is unclear which law enforcement agencies are using these tools, and how they are doing so.

    We should not have to guess whether our government is using these eyes in the sky to spy on us. As my colleague ACLU staff attorney Catherine Crump told me,

    Americans have the right to know if and how the government is using drones to spy on them. Drones are too invasive a tool for it to be unclear when the public will be subjected to them. The government needs to respect Americans’ privacy while using this invasive technology, and the laws on the books need to be brought up to date to ensure that America does not turn into a drone surveillance state.

    All over the U.S., states and localities are trying to figure out through the democratic political process exactly what kind of protections we should put in place in light of the growing use of what Time Magazine called “the most powerful surveillance tool ever devised, on- or offline.” These debates are essential to a healthy democracy, and are heartening to see. However, this production from the Marshals Service underscores the need for a federal law to ensure that the government’s use of drones remains open and transparent.

    A number of federal lawmakers are already pushing to bring the law up to date. Representatives Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) recently introduced the first bipartisan legislation to regulate the government’s use of drones. The proposed legislation, which is supported by the ACLU, would enact judicial and Congressional oversight mechanisms, require government agencies to register all drones and get a warrant when using them for surveillance (except in emergency situations), and prohibit the domestic use of armed drones.

    We believe this bill—and hopefully a future companion bill in the Senate—will provide a strong foundation for future legislation protecting our privacy rights in the face of proliferating drone surveillance and government secrecy.

  256. Obama’s Chilling Secrecy, from Denying Drone Program’s Existence to Stonewalling on Legal Memos

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/2/27/obamas_chilling_secrecy_from_denying_drone

    Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs revealed over the weekend he was initially instructed to deny the existence of the Obama administration’s targeted killing program overseas. Even though the administration has since backed down from that stance, it continues to stonewall members of Congress on releasing the Justice Department memos explaining the program’s legal rationale. Unanswered questions around the program have held up the confirmation of CIA nominee John Brennan. “For a program that is so far-reaching and that has so many consequences, not just in the world, but for the rule of law, the Obama administration has an obligation to be far more transparent than they’ve been so far,” says Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

    AMY GOODMAN: Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs revealed over the weekend he was initially instructed—this is when he was press secretary—to deny the existence of the Obama administration’s targeted killing program overseas. He made the disclosure during an appearance on Chris Hayes’ show on MSNBC.

    ROBERT GIBBS: When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the things—one of the first things they told me was, “You’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists.” And so, I would get a question like that, and literally, I couldn’t tell you what Major [Garrett, Fox News reporter] asked, because once I figured out it was about the drone program, I realize I’m not supposed to talk about it. And—but here’s what’s inherently crazy about that proposition: You’re being asked a question based on reporting of a program that exists.

    AMY GOODMAN: Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU, your response?

    JAMEEL JAFFER: I agree, it’s inherently crazy. And the Obama administration should reconsider the positions that it’s taken in court, and it should release the documents that it’s been refusing to release. There’s a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee this afternoon at which the Obama administration will be pressed again for the release of the information. I think that they should take this opportunity to release information they should have released many weeks ago.

  257. AP,

    Don’t you realize that if Obama has its name attached to it, he can do no wrong. You must be misinterpreting this administrations stance towards justice, human right and you might be called a racist after its all said and done, after all Obama is half white… I for one appreciate the efforts you put into your posting….

  258. “….you might be called a racist after its all said and done…” -AY

    AY,

    Here’s a quote that I like:

    “It is not what they call you, it’s what you answer to that matters.”

  259. It’s a huge problem that Obama is against rights. If it was a Republican who was against rights then we could go to the Democrats. Now it seems to be only “libertarians” who care about rights in any meaningful way.

  260. kaysieverding,

    We are in serious trouble in this country and yet there is this incredible passivity.

    36 minute mark:

  261. Targeted Killings & the Right to Know When Your Government Can Kill You

    By: Kevin Gosztola Thursday March 14, 2013 12:18 pm

    http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/03/14/targeted-killings-the-right-to-know-when-your-government-can-kill-you/#comments

    Obama’s I’m-No-Dick-Cheney Standard for Government Secrecy

    By: Kevin Gosztola Thursday March 14, 2013 1:18 pm

    http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/03/14/obamas-im-not-dick-cheney-standard-for-government-secrecy/

  262. Yes the government has built fear into the population. What happened to me was actually felony witness intimidation. So when the courts are not fair and witnesses are intimidated and retaliated against, then the only other options are submission and violence, don’t you think? Personally I am really afraid of guns and have considered myself to be non-violent but I think I personally would be better off if someone else would use violence to protest experiences similar to mine.

    The Columbine and other shootings are the only reason that there are anti bullying programs. These weren’t put in because people in power were concerned about victims. The anti bullying programs were put in to avoid shootings.

  263. John Podesta’s Targeted Strike on White House Secrecy

    By Albert R. Hunt Mar 13, 2013 11:25 PM ET

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-14/john-podesta-s-targeted-strike-on-white-house-secrecy.html

    Excerpt:

    John Podesta, one of the most influential policy advisers in the Democratic Party, has leveled a blistering attack on President Barack Obama for his refusal to provide the legal rationale for drone strikes. The criticism is sure to rattle the White House and congressional Democrats.

    ======

    Op-Ed

    Secrets no president should keep

    On U.S. drone policy, Obama needs to demonstrate the transparency he promised the American people.

    By David Keene and David Cole

    March 14, 2013

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-0314-cole-transparency-drone-obama-20130314,0,6437056.story

    Excerpt:

    There is simply no legitimate reason to withhold from the American people the legal rules and standards under which our government operates, particularly when asserting the power to take human life. Certainly aspects of national security programs should remain secret. The evidence collected in counter-terrorism operations, information showing our intelligence agencies’ sources and methods, and the strategies government agents use to intercept terrorist plots are all appropriately protected as classified information.

    But with targeted killing, the cloak of secrecy has been extended to cover the very rules themselves. That practice dangerously undermines our system of checks and balances. It makes robust oversight impossible. It excludes the public from meaningfully participating in or collaborating with their government. It breeds distrust. Secret law has no place in a democracy.

    There may not be much that can unite conservatives and liberals these days, but a commitment to transparent government should be something we can all agree on. Obama says he gets it; during Sunshine Week the White House blog has been highlighting an Obama initiative demonstrating his commitment to open and accessible government. The drone policy hasn’t been mentioned so far.

    Now Americans of all political allegiances must come together to demand that our president tell us the ground rules that govern his claimed authority to have us killed.

    David Keene, former chairman of the American Conservative Union, is now the president of the National Rifle Assn. David Cole is the legal affairs correspondent for the Nation. They co-chair the Liberty and Security Committee of the Constitution Project, which promotes reasonable and law-abiding responses to terrorism.

  264. Here’s a good reason to support drone killings: When you have to have individuals be your assassins, instead of drones, those individuals become extremely powerful and then you have to give them the right to do whatever the hell they want to do, in spite of law (and order) anywhere in the world, and you have to pay them off with tax dollars to keep doing whatever they want because THEY have something on every single branch of the government and you can’t ever change that or negotiate with them. The Colonel who was the head of the Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Georgia in the 1990s was an assassin who had killed folks for the US Govt in Korea, Cuba, you name it. He therefore was absolutely above the law because HE REALLY KNEW where the bodies were buried. So he molested his 4 kids and they told, so the Army had to get its lawyers, its generals, its liars, its social workers, and its doctors out in force to destroy the mother’s custodial rights, usurp the power of the civilian courts including child protective services and the Juvenile Courts of two states (Indiana and Georgia), slander the maternal grandfather without any evidence so the children’s torn hymens could be blamed on their beloved Grampa rather than on their paternal rapist-sniper, and eventually, the Army had to back the actual kidnap of four children who were hidden on a federal reservation with the father who did not have custody in any court of law, while they sent him his checks and claimed simultaneously to not know where he had gone! All this was arranged because he had killed a few people for our government.

    So see, drones are a good idea. At least they don’t molest any kids at home; they just do what we have always done: kill people the government wishes to silence or people who — oops — may be standing near such people or kill people who — oops — actually were not really… but you get the idea.

    Using drones is more controllable in the long run than using live snipers.

  265. Malisha 1, March 14, 2013 at 5:27 pm
    ————————————————-
    Sometimes they just follow you around.

  266. weird 3 times tried to post, only one link, no expletives but refused to take so I wont put in link and see what happens.
    In Pa they are going to be flying drones over military base near Harrisburg. They say no surveillance but how would we know for sure?
    Sad, they have made us paranoid even when it may not be appropriate but how are we to know when it is and when it isn’t?

  267. In the past couple of years there were reports that the communication signals from the drones used only light weight commercial encryption so the bad guys could tune in and see the same thing our troops were seeing.

    Perhaps you should talk to some of your ham radio hacker friends and ask them what the drones are doing up there anyway.

    Actually I think the discussion of the drones misses the point.

    I am far more concerned with an executive that claims the legal power to assassinate anyone – with the wild expansive definition of imminent threat that this administration uses.

    Privacy also seems to be a real issue to me. But again discussion of drones misses the point.

    The state claims the power to monitor essentially every move and action. A few years ago Washington DC had several thousand cameras that could be controlled and monitored from a central command post. It hardly matters whether it is a drone of a highway speed camera or a building security camera – if it is impossible to escape the gaze of the photoelectric sensor.

    Citizens have a legitimate interest in being able to conduct their day to day affairs without being under surveillance – especially surveillance that is essentially unaccountable.

    But that expectation and right will pass if citizens do not speak up.

  268. Citizens have a legitimate interest in being able to conduct their day to day affairs without being under surveillance – especially surveillance that is essentially unaccountable.

    But that expectation and right will pass if citizens do not speak up. -bigfatmike

    How right you are.

  269. ACLU Press Release

    DC Appeals Court Rejects CIA’s Secrecy Claims in ACLU’s Targeted Killing FOIA Lawsuit

    Court Rules that CIA Cannot Deny “Interest” in Drone Program

    http://www.aclu.org/national-security/dc-appeals-court-rejects-cias-secrecy-claims-aclus-targeted-killing-foia-lawsuit

    March 15, 2013

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

    WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court ruled today that the Central Intelligence Agency cannot deny its “intelligence interest” in the targeted killing program and refuse to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about the program while officials continue to make public statements about it.

    “This is an important victory. It requires the government to retire the absurd claim that the CIA’s interest in the targeted killing program is a secret, and it will make it more difficult for the government to deflect questions about the program’s scope and legal basis,” said ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer, who argued the case before a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Appeals Court in September. “It also means that the CIA will have to explain what records it is withholding, and on what grounds it is withholding them.”

    The ACLU’s FOIA request, filed in January 2010, seeks to learn when, where, and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how and whether the U.S. ensures compliance with international law restricting extrajudicial killings. In September 2011, the district court granted the government’s request to dismiss the case, accepting the CIA’s argument that it could not release any documents because even acknowledging the existence of the program would harm national security. The ACLU filed its appeal brief in the case exactly one year ago, and today the appeals court reversed the lower court’s ruling in a 3-0 vote.

    “We hope that this ruling will encourage the Obama administration to fundamentally reconsider the secrecy surrounding the targeted killing program,” Jaffer said. “The program has already been responsible for the deaths of more than 4,000 people in an unknown number of countries. The public surely has a right to know who the government is killing, and why, and in which countries, and on whose orders. The Obama administration, which has repeatedly acknowledged the importance of government transparency, should give the public the information it needs in order to fully evaluate the wisdom and lawfulness of the government’s policies.”

    Today’s ruling is at: aclu.org/national-security/drone-foia-appeals-court-ruling

  270. anonymously posted 1, March 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    The public surely has a right to know who the government is killing, and why, and in which countries, and on whose orders. The Obama administration, which has repeatedly acknowledged the importance of government transparency, should give the public the information it needs in order to fully evaluate the wisdom and lawfulness of the government’s policies.”
    ———–
    Banksters. Too big to fail and too big to jail. So says who? The Obama administration. What are they afraid of?

  271. Banksters. Too big to fail and too big to jail. So says who? The Obama administration. What are they afraid of? -Matt Johnson

    (Just to be clear, that was at statement by the ACLU, with whom I happen to agree.)

    With regard to the bankers? No one is too big to jail — it’s just an excuse.

    Jamie Dimon Email Directly Ties JPMorgan CEO To $6.2 Billion Fiasco

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/15/jamie-dimon-email-jpmorgan-ceo-ties-loss_n_2883012.html?1363361656

  272. Victory in Court: CIA Can No Longer Refuse to “Confirm or Deny” on Drones

    By Brett Kaufman, Legal Fellow, ACLU National Security Project at 1:48pm

    March 15, 2013

    http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/victory-court-cia-can-no-longer-refuse-confirm-or-deny-drones

    Posting:

    “In an important victory for transparency, a federal appeals court today put an end to the CIA’s absurd claims that it “cannot confirm or deny” whether it has information about the government’s use of drones to carry out targeted killings.

    In a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU, the influential D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “it is neither logical nor plausible for the CIA to maintain that it would reveal anything not already in the public domain to say that the Agency” had a so-called “intelligence interest.” The ruling affirms the public’s right to understand and evaluate the government’s defense of the program with information that goes beyond what has been provided through the government’s own selective leaks and disclosures.

    As ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer, who argued the case before in September, said today:

    This is an important victory. It requires the government to retire the absurd claim that the CIA’s interest in the targeted killing program is a secret, and it will make it more difficult for the government to deflect questions about the program’s scope and legal basis. It also means that the CIA will have to explain what records it is withholding, and on what grounds it is withholding them.

    The court firmly rejected the CIA’s claims to secrecy about drones, writing that it “beggars belief” that the Agency does not possess documents relating to the government’s drone program. Those claims have proved to be increasingly divorced from reality over the months since the oral argument in the case. In February, the chairpersons of both congressional intelligence committees confirmed that they conduct oversight of CIA drone strikes. Also last month, the CIA’s new director, John O. Brennan, discussed the government’s killing program at length during his Senate confirmation hearings.

    It’s no wonder, then, that the D.C. Circuit refused to abide the CIA’s request that the courts “give their imprimatur to a fiction of deniability that no reasonable person would regard as plausible.”

    Perhaps most importantly, today’s ruling sends a clear message to the Obama administration that it must fundamentally reconsider its position regarding the alleged secrecy of its targeted killing program. As Jaffer put it, “The public surely has a right to know who the government is killing, and why, and in which countries, and on whose orders.”

    With its preposterous secrecy claim now unavailable to it in court, the administration should move quickly to make public the information the American public is entitled to see.”

  273. anonymously posted 1, March 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Politics. Does he want to be President? There is no rule of law when the Executive branch is free to so whatever they want.

    The Supreme Court. Since when is forced purchase of health care insurance a tax? I still think he’s a talking head piece of shi+ Write a book.

  274. Matt Johnson 1, April 10, 2013 at 10:54 am

    How much money do I get if I write a book? I want a trillion dollars.

    I wrote one and don’t get a lot, gotta be a Stephen King or Rowling to get the big bucks. ):

  275. Obama’s drone war kills ‘others,’ not just al Qaida leaders

    By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers

    WASHINGTON — Contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified “other” militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area, classified U.S. intelligence reports show.

    The administration has said that strikes by the CIA’s missile-firing Predator and Reaper drones are authorized only against “specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces” involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks who are plotting “imminent” violent attacks on Americans.

    “It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative,” President Barack Obama said in a Sept. 6, 2012, interview with CNN. “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.”

    Copies of the top-secret U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy, however, show that drone strikes in Pakistan over a four-year period didn’t adhere to those standards.

    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/04/09/188062/obamas-drone-war-kills-others.html#storylink=cpy

  276. Did Declan Walsh Get Expelled from Pakistan because He Provided Drone Cover for Brennan’s Confirmation?

    Posted on May 13, 2013 by emptywheel

    http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/05/13/did-declan-walsh-get-expelled-from-pakistan-because-he-provided-drone-cover-for-brennans-confirmation/#comments

    For the moment, I don’t know what to make of all this: the claim these stories are what got Walsh expelled (and the possibility I’ve got the wrong stories), the timing of the stories themselves, and the timing of Walsh’s expulsion just before Pakistan’s election would bring a drone skeptic, Nawaz Sharif, to power (all of which was made more interesting by Pervez Musharraf’s acknowledgment he had approved drone strikes in the interim). Even if (as appears to be one possibility) the Pakistani security establishment expelled Walsh because he forced them to deny the drones just as the legal landscape made their approval for them more dicey, why now?

    Was it because the court ruling, issued on May 9, made it much more dangerous to have someone who’d inject such accusations into Pakistani public debates, leading to his expulsion on May 10? Does Pakistan’s military establishment believe such stories might put them at legal risk for approving of our illegal strikes?

    It’s funny, though. The possibility that Walsh got expelled because he provided coverage of potentially false claims made to help John Brennan get confirmed to head the drone program in Pakistan (and elsewhere) makes me wonder whose democracy is more dysfunctional at this point, which country is lying more to its people.

    End of excerpt

    Repeating:

    “The possibility that Walsh got expelled because he provided coverage of potentially false claims … makes me wonder whose democracy is more dysfunctional at this point, which country is lying more to its people.”

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