Tag Archive: Assassination

May 12 2015

Monsters Inc. – Starring Hillary T. Inevitable

Every now and then one of our “representative” leaders lets the mask slip and Americans get a peek at the monster behind the mask.  The monsters that represent us are well-known elsewhere in the world by the people who are variously invaded, bombed, incinerated by flying death robots, disappeared, held in gulags, tortured, sanctioned, starved, treated to heaping helpings of depleted uranium, attacked with banned weapons like white phosphorus, brutalized by   authoritarian dictators and puppets that our monsters support with weapons Made in America(tm). I could go on, but you get the picture.

One of the most memorable mask-slips of recent times was when the ghastly gasbag Madelaine Albright revealed the sociopathic policy of the Clinton administration – claiming that it was “worth it” to cause the deaths, estimated in a 1995 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report as 567,000 Iraqi children under the age of five, to bring Saddam Hussein to heel.

May 12 2015

The Truth Is Out There, We Just May Never Find It

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.

Galileo Galilei

The American people and the world have been lied to so many times by government officials from the president on down that it’s hard to tell when they are telling us the truth. So the truth becomes subjective because we are denied the facts and evidence. The article written in the London Review of Books by Pulitzer prize winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who exposed the cover-up of My Lai massacre and the torture at Abu Grhraib, has serious cast doubt on the governments version of the assassination of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011 and the propaganda of the movie version of that event.

NBC News has now corroborated part of Mr. Hersh’s report regarding the advanced knowledge of Pakistani officials and the possibility the Pakistani intelligence service knew of bin Laden’s whereabouts.

The U.S. government has always characterized the heroic raid by Seal Team Six that killed bin Laden as a unilateral U.S. operation, and has maintained that the CIA found him by tracking couriers to his walled complex in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The new revelations do not necessarily cast doubt on the overall narrative that the White House began circulating within hours of the May 2011 operation. The official story about how bin Laden was found was constructed in a way that protected the identity and existence of the asset, who also knew who inside the Pakistani government was aware of the Pakistani intelligence agency’s operation to hide bin Laden, according to a special operations officer with prior knowledge of the bin Laden mission. The official story focused on a long hunt for bin Laden’s presumed courier, Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. [..]

The NBC News sources who confirm that a Pakistani intelligence official became a “walk in” asset include the special operations officer and a CIA officer who had served in Pakistan. These two sources and a third source, a very senior former U.S. intelligence official, also say that elements of the ISI were aware of bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. The former official was emphatic about the ISI’s awareness, saying twice, “They knew.”

Another top official acknowledged to NBC News that the U.S. government had long harbored “deep suspicions” that ISI and al Qaeda were “cooperating.” And a book by former acting CIA director Mike Morrell that will be published tomorrow says that U.S. officials could not dismiss the possibility of such cooperation.

None of the sources characterized how high up in ISI the knowledge might have gone. Said one former senior official, “We were suspicious that someone inside ISI … knew where bin Laden was, but we did not have intelligence about specific individuals having specific knowledge.”

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, host of “All In,” interviewed Mr. Hersh and spoke with NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell about these new reports.

Again, this is all subjective. People will believe or disbelieve either version based on their own prejudices. Just remember this cold hard fact: many of the people who are disputing Mr. Hersh are proven liars.  

Mar 07 2013

Answer the question, Mr. President

How much has President Obama told us about his ability to kill Americans at home?  

The question is pretty simple. The answer might not be that simple but it is an answer that is deserved by the American people, no matter how laborious it is to explain that answer clearly.

How much has President Obama himself told Americans about his claimed ability to target, detain and assassinate us?  For years, we were given no answers that I know of.

We, the public, have gotten access to a white paper (PDF), not the actual legal memos, and that was leaked by a journalist, Michael Isikoff.

Some senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee (SSCI) have now received several legal memos after they threatened to filibuster some of his nominees.   There are, we believe, eleven in total.  The president released two more memos for the SSCI to review.  They are not allowed to show them to their staff or make any record of them.  The review period is temporary. The public has not been given any access to them, even though, as we now know, the president, through his attorney general, told us that the president does assume the power to kill us, even at home.  But he still dodged the direct question that has been asked of him by both citizens (in a Google+ hangout session), by a formal letter from Senator Rand Paul, and by many others.  Holder gave some information, but left the question still very much up in the air.

Conor Friedersdorf, a staff writer at The Atlantic, says that Holder’s recent response is “non-responsive, evasive, and deliberately manipulative”.  I agree.  Significant pressure needs to be applied by all concerned Americans until we understand clearly what power this president has assumed, what kinds of things might get us killed, or what circumstances might put us in close proximity to someone else they might target for assassination.  Many innocent civilians have been killed overseas by this president because they were somehow associated, intentionally or not intentionally, with the target of a drone or cruise missile strike.

Feb 07 2013

Many questions for John Brennan today and only a few hours to ask them

There are a lot of questions for John Brennan’s confirmation hearing today and only a few hours scheduled to ask them.  

Many questions have been published by various news organizations and blogs.  I very much want answers to their questions but I have one big, obvious question as well.  This is my question:

What has changed since 2008-9 when John Brennan was considered to be too toxic to be confirmed as Director of the CIA?  What is so different now that he is expected to be easily confirmed and that only a few hours are needed to question him?

In my opinion, he is even less confirmable in 2013 than he was in 2009.  So what has changed?  I’ll explain more about why I think he is even less suited for the job today, but first, let’s explore some of the questions posed by the media.  

Nov 26 2012

Why President Obama’s drone assassination program must be made accountable

It’s 2020, and unless Mr. Obama has successfully declared himself President-for-life, somebody else is President. Perhaps this time the lesser evil has lost.  Thanks to the groundwork laid by President Obama and the boys at DARPA, the new president has the sort of technology that dystopian fiction is based upon.

In 2020 the president has at his disposal the drone technology to surveil anyone, anywhere on earth.  The technology has the visual resolution to see disturbed dirt from a mile high in the sky and track footprints, to identify individuals using biometric data, even to “see” through walls and ceilings. Drones will also be outfitted with the means to collect electronic communications, phone calls, texts, gps location data, etc., creating a tool that can track individuals in the physical realm as well as their “footprints” in cyberspace to deliver the information needed for lethal actions

In 2020 the Earth will be surrounded by a triple canopy of drones at various heights to surveil us and deliver sudden death and destruction from above, wherever on earth or space the president desires:

At the lowest tier of this emerging U.S. aerospace shield, within striking distance of Earth in the lower stratosphere, the Pentagon is building an armada of 99 Global Hawk drones equipped with high-resolution cameras capable of surveilling all terrain within a 100-mile radius, electronic sensors to intercept communications, efficient engines for continuous 24-hour flights, and eventually Triple Terminator missiles to destroy targets below.

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By late 2011, the Air Force and the CIA had already ringed the Eurasian land mass with a network of 60 bases for drones armed with Hellfire missiles and GBU-30 bombs, allowing air strikes against targets just about anywhere in Europe, Africa, or Asia. … If things go according to plan, in this same lower tier at altitudes up to 12 miles unmanned aircraft such as the “Vulture,” with solar panels covering its massive 400-foot wingspan, will be patrolling the globe ceaselessly for up to five years at a time with sensors for “unblinking” surveillance, and possibly missiles for lethal strikes. …

For the next tier above the Earth, in the upper stratosphere, DARPA and the Air Force are collaborating in the development of the Falcon Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle.  Flying at an altitude of 20 miles, it is expected to “deliver 12,000 pounds of payload at a distance of 9,000 nautical miles from the continental United States in less than two hours.” …

At the outer level of this triple-tier aerospace canopy, the age of space warfare dawned in April 2010 when the Pentagon quietly launched the X-37B space drone, an unmanned craft just 29 feet long, into an orbit 250 miles above the Earth.

Test Vehicle

By the time its second prototype landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in June 2012 after a 15-month flight, this classified mission represented a successful test of “robotically controlled reusable spacecraft” and established the viability of unmanned space drones in the exosphere.

This drone technology, which is well on its way now, will vest in the president and his minions a great deal of very concentrated power to breach individual privacy and security.  How this power is held will have great implications for its ability to corrupt, or perhaps as Lord Acton would have put it, to corrupt absolutely.  Our machines are extensions of ourselves. They implement our will (at least when we write competent programming). The issue is inequality; the machines that belong to the already powerful are so much more effective than the machines of we regular slobs and the potential for expanding the inequality of power that exists between the regular folks and the privileged elites is daunting.

Oct 05 2011

“Are We Even Allowed To Do This?”

Apparently, “Yes. We Can”

If you told me at the beginning of the Obama presidency that his clearest legacy would involve not closing Gitmo or green jobs or manufacturing jobs – or any kind of jobs, really – but would in fact be his ability to rain targeted death from the sky … I mean, are we even allowed to do that?

Now that President Barack Obama supporters, and many of his non-supporters, are righteously praising the the due process free assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki as justified because the Obama said so, why hasn’t the evidence that al-Awlaki was a threat been released? So far the only evidence we have that al-Awlaki was a “Very Bad Terrorist” is his rhetoric which is protected under the 1st Amendment. When confronted by ABC News‘ reporter, Jake Tapper, White House spokesperson Jay Carney declared that the evidence was still classified and not to be seen. Very nice that Tapper pushed back on this, but where was he when this order was revealed over a year ago? Are we now “Alice in the Wonderland” standing before the “Red Queen” demanding sentence first, verdict later>

Why are so few of us questioning this rational that we so adamantly opposed in the voting booth just a mere 3 years ago? Are those who are cheering this even aware of the precedent and consequences of such a authoritarian action?

Glenn Greenwald, who has been a vocal critic of the Bush and Obama administrations’ abuse of power and disregard for the rule of law, has this observation:

That mentality – he’s a Terrorist because my Government said he’s one and I therefore don’t need evidence or trials to subject that evidence to scrutiny – also happens to be the purest definition of an authoritarian mentality, the exact opposite of the dynamic that was supposed to drive how the country functioned (Thomas Jefferson: “In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief with the chains of the Constitution”).  I trust My President and don’t need to see evidence or have due process is the slavish mentality against which Jefferson warned; it’s also one of the most pervasive ones in much of the American citizenry, which explains a lot.

Like the Bush administration’s justification for the use of torture and indefinite detention without due process, the Obama administration claims that they carefully consulted lawyers within the Justice Department who unanimously supported the president’s order.

“The Justice Department wrote a secret memorandum authorizing the lethal targeting of Anwar al-Aulaqi, the American-born radical cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone strike Friday, according to administration officials,” the newspaper reported. “The document was produced following a review of the legal issues raised by striking a U.S. citizen and involved senior lawyers from across the administration. There was no dissent about the legality of killing Aulaqi, the officials said.”

But we will never see that memo, it’s classified. So much for that transparency that was promised by Obama. I only hope that Eric Holder has as much success in finding a job after he leaves DOJ as Alberto Gonzales. I digress.

Greenwald makes some important points that debunk other ignorant claims:

(1) the most ignorant claim justifying the Awlaki killing is that he committed “treason” and thus gave up citizenship; there’s this document called the “Constitution” that lays out the steps the Government is required to take before punishing a citizen for “treason” (“No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court“); suffice to say, it’s not met by the President secretly declaring someone guilty backed up by leaked, anonymous accusations to the press;

(2) a new U.S. military study today finds that Awlaki’s killing won’t impede Al Qaeda’s operational capabilities, so for those of you worried that this killing might impede Endless War, don’t worry: like the bin Laden killing, Endless War will march on unimpeded; that’s why it’s called Endless War.

Some argue that al-Awlaki’s assassination will make us less safe and strengthen Al Qaeda’s resolve:

Evidence shows that killing terrorist leaders – or “decapitating” terrorist organizations, in military parlance – rarely ends violence on its own and can actually have adverse consequences. Indeed, killing prominent leaders can motivate their followers to retaliate and increase sympathy for the militants’ cause among civilians.

Simply focusing on the leadership of a terrorist organization rarely brings about the group’s demise. My study of approximately 300 cases of singling out the leadership of 96 terrorist organizations globally – including Al Qaeda and Hamas – between 1945 and 2004, shows that the likelihood of collapse actually declines for groups whose leaders have been arrested or killed.

George Washington University law professor, Jonathan Turley, wrote is a column:

While few people mourn the passing of figures such as al-Awlaki, who was accused of being a leader in al-Qaeda, they should mourn the passing of basic constitutional protections afforded to all citizens. So a president can now kill a citizen without publicly naming him as a target, stating the basis for his killing, or even acknowledging his own responsibility for the killing once it has been carried out. Even if one assumes citizens would be killed only outside the country, it would mean that a mere suspect’s life could become dispensable the minute he steps a foot over one of our borders.

At the same time, the government has expanded the definition of terrorism and material support for terrorism, which in turn further expands the scope of possible targets. When confronted on the lack of knowledge of who is on this list and the basis for the killing, the Obama administration simply says citizens must trust their president. It is the very definition of authoritarian power – and Americans appear to have developed a taste for it.

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Notably, in the face of these extrajudicial killings, Democrats who claim to be civil libertarians, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, have cheered the president – creating a record for the next president to expand on these acquiesced powers.

No republic can long stand if a president retains the unilateral authority to kill citizens whom he deems a danger to the country. What is left is a magnificent edifice of laws and values that, to quote Shakespeare’s Macbeth, is “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”