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Author: Subject: The Day America Died

Ultimate Peach





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  posted on 9/29/2011 at 02:09 PM
Another excellent op-ed from Tom Engelhardt.

quote:
Sex and the Single Drone
From TomDispatch: The latest in guarding the empire
By Tom Engelhardt
September 29, 2011

In the world of weaponry, they are the sexiest things around. Others countries are desperate to have them. Almost anyone who writes about them becomes a groupie. Reporters exploring their onrushing future swoon at their potentially wondrous techno-talents. They are, of course, the pilotless drones, our grimly named Predators and Reapers.

As CIA Director, Leon Panetta called them “the only game in town.” As Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates pushed hard to up their numbers and increase their funding drastically. The U.S. Air Force is already training more personnel to become drone “pilots” than to pilot actual planes. You don’t need it in skywriting to know that, as icons of American-style war, they are clearly in our future — and they’re even heading for the homeland as police departments clamor for them.

They are relatively cheap. When they “hunt,” no one dies (at least on our side). They are capable of roaming the world. Someday, they will land on the decks of aircraft carriers or, tiny as hummingbirds, drop onto a windowsill, maybe even yours, or in their hundreds, the size of bees, swarm to targets and, if all goes well, coordinate their actions using the artificial intelligence version of “hive minds.”

“The drone,” writes Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service, “has increasingly become the [Obama] administration’s ‘weapon of choice’ in its efforts to subdue al-Qaeda and its affiliates.” In hundreds of attacks over the last years in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, they have killed thousands, including al-Qaeda figures, Taliban militants, and civilians. They have played a significant and growing role in the skies over Afghanistan. They are now loosing their missiles ever more often over Yemen, sometimes over Libya, and less often over Somalia. Their bases are spreading. No one in Congress will be able to resist them. They are defining the new world of war for the twenty-first century — and many of the humans who theoretically command and control them can hardly keep up.

Reach for Your Dictionaries

On September 15th, the New York Times front-paged a piece by the estimable Charlie Savage, based on leaks from inside the administration. It was headlined “At White House, Weighing Limits of Terror Fight,” and started this way:

“The Obama administration’s legal team is split over how much latitude the United States has to kill Islamist militants in Yemen and Somalia, a question that could define the limits of the war against al-Qaeda and its allies, according to administration and Congressional officials.”

Lawyers for the Pentagon and the State Department, Savage reported, were debating whether, outside of hot-war zones, the Obama administration could call in the drones (as well as special operations forces) not just to go after top al-Qaeda figures planning attacks on the United States, but al-Qaeda’s foot soldiers (and vaguely allied groups like the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and al-Shabab in Somalia).

That those lawyers are arguing fiercely over such a matter is certainly a curiosity. As presented, the issue behind their disagreement is how to square modern realities with outmoded rules of war written for another age (which also, by the way, had its terrorists). And yet such debates, front-paged or not, fierce or not, will one day undoubtedly be seen as analogous tosupposed ancient clerical arguments over just how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. In fact, their import lies mainly in the fascinating pattern they reveal about the way forces that could care less about questions of legality are driving developments in American-style war.

After all, this fierce “argument” about what constraints should be applied to modern robotic war was first played out in the air over Pakistan’s tribal borderlands. There, the CIA’s drone air campaign began with small numbers of missions targeting a few highly placed al-Qaeda leaders (not terribly successfully). Rather than declare its latest wonder weapons a failure, however, the CIA, already deeply invested in drone operations, simply pushed ever harder to expand the targeting to play to the technological strengths of the planes.

In 2007, CIA director Michael Hayden began lobbying the White House for “permission to carry out strikes against houses or cars merely on the basis of behavior that matched a ‘pattern of life’ associated with al-Qaeda or other groups.” And next thing you knew, they were moving from a few attempted targeted assassinations toward a larger air war of annihilation against types and “behaviors.”

Here’s another curiosity. The day after Charlie Savage’s piece appeared in the Times, the president’s top advisor on counterterror operations, John O. Brennan, gave a speech at a conference at Harvard Law School on “Strengthening our Security by Adhering to our Values and Laws,” and seemed to settle the “debate,” part of which he defined this way:

“Others in the international community — including some of our closest allies and partners — take a different view of the geographic scope of the conflict, limiting it only to the ‘hot’ battlefields. As such, they argue that, outside of these two active theatres, the United States can only act in self-defense against al-Qaeda when they are planning, engaging in, or threatening an armed attack against U.S. interests if it amounts to an ‘imminent’ threat.”

He then added this little twist: “Practically speaking, then, the question turns principally on how you define ‘imminence.’”

If there’s one thing we should have learned from the Bush years, it was this: when government officials reach for their dictionaries, duck!

Then, the crucial word at stake was “torture,” and faced with it — and what top administration officials actually wanted done in the world — Justice Department lawyers quite literally reached for their dictionaries. In their infamous torture memos, they so pretzled, abused, and redefined the word “torture” that, by the time they were through, whether acts of torture even occurred was left to the torturer, to what had he had in mind when he was “interrogating” someone. (“[I]f a defendant [interrogator] has a good faith belief that his actions will not result in prolonged mental harm, he lacks the mental state necessary for his actions to constitute torture.”)

As a result, “torture” was essentially drummed out of the dictionary (except when committed by heinous evil doers in places like Iran) and “enhanced interrogation techniques” welcomed into our world. The Bush administration and the CIA then proceeded to fill the “black sites” they set up from Poland to Thailand and the torture chambers of chummy regimes like Mubarak’s Egypt and Gaddafi’s Libya with “terror suspects,” and then tortured away with impunity.

Now, it seems, the Obama crowd is reaching for its dictionaries, which means that it’s undoubtedly time to duck again. As befits a more intellectual crowd, we’re no longer talking about relatively simple words like “torture” whose meaning everyone knows (or at least once knew). If “imminence” is now the standard for when robotic war is really war, don’t you yearn for the good old days when the White House focused on “what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is,” and all that was at stake was presidential sex, not presidential killing?

When legalisms take center stage in a situation like this, think of magicians. Their skill is to focus your attention on the space where nothing that matters is happening — the wrong hand, the wrong face, the wrong part of the stage — while they perform their “magic” elsewhere. Similarly, pay attention to the law right now and you’re likely to miss the plot line of our world.

It’s true that, at the moment, articles are pouring out focused on how to define the limits of future drone warfare. My advice: skip the law, skip the definitions, skip the arguments, and focus your attention on the drones and the people developing them instead.

Put another way, in the last decade, there was only one definition that truly mattered. From it everything else followed: the almost instantaneous post-9/11 insistence that we were “at war,” and not even in a specific war or set of wars, but in an all-encompassing one that, within two weeks of the collapse of the World Trade Center, President Bush was already calling “the war on terror.” That single demonic definition of our state of existence rose to mind so quickly that no lawyers were needed and no one had to reach for a dictionary.

Addressing a joint session of Congress, the president typically said: “Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there.” And that open-endedness was soon codified in an official name that told all: “the Global War on Terror,” or GWOT. (For all we know, the phrase itself was the invention of a speechwriter mainlining into the zeitgeist.) Suddenly, “sovereignty” had next to no meaning (if you weren’t a superpower); the U.S. was ready to take out after terrorists in up to 80 countries; and the planet, by definition, had become a global free-fire zone.

By the end of September 2001, as the invasion of Afghanistan was being prepared, it was already a carte-blanche world and, as it happened, pilotless surveillance drones were there, lurking in the shadows, waiting for a moment like this, yearning (you might say) to be weaponized.

If GWOT preceded much thought of drones, it paved the way for their crash weaponization, development, and deployment. It was no mistake that, a bare two weeks after 9/11, a prescient Noah Shachtman (who would go on to found the Danger Room website at Wired) led off a piece for that magazine this way: “Unmanned, almost disposable spy planes are being groomed for a major role in the coming conflict against terrorism, defense analysts say.”

Talk about “imminence” or “constraints” all you want, but as long as we are “at war,” not just in Afghanistan or Iraq, but on a world scale with something known as “terror,” there will never be any limits, other than self-imposed ones.

And it remains so today, even though the Obama administration has long avoided the term “Global War on Terror.” As Brennan made utterly clear in his speech, President Obama considers us “at war” anywhere that al-Qaeda, its minions, wannabes, or simply groups of irregulars we don’t much care for may be located. Given this mentality, there is little reason to believe that, on September 11, 2021, we won’t still be “at war.”

So pay no attention to the legalisms. Put away those dictionaries. Ignore the “debates” between the White House and Congress, or State and Defense. Otherwise you’ll miss the predatory magic.

Beyond Words

Within days after the news about the “debate” over the limits on global war was leaked to theTimes, unnamed government officials were leaking away to the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal on an allied subject of interest. Both papers broke the news that, as Craig Whitlock and Greg Miller of the Post put it, the U.S. military and the CIA were creating “a constellation of secret drone bases for counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as part of a newly aggressive campaign to attack al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen.”

A new base, it seems, is being constructed in Ethiopia, another somewhere in the vicinity of Yemen (possibly in Saudi Arabia), and a third reopened on the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean — all clearly intended for the escalating drone wars in Yemen and Somalia, and perhaps drone wars to come elsewhere in eastern or northern Africa.

These preparations are meant to deal not just with Washington’s present preoccupations, but with its future fears and phantasms. In this way, they fit well with the now decade-old war on terror’s campaign against will-o-the-wisps. Julian Barnes of the Wall Street Journal, for example, quotes an unnamed “senior U.S. official” as saying: “We do not know enough about the leaders of the al-Qaeda affiliates in Africa. Is there a guy out there saying, ‘I am the future of al-Qaeda’? Who is the next Osama bin Laden?” We don’t yet know, but wherever he is, our drones will be ready for him.

All of this, in turn, fits well with the Pentagon’s “legal” position, mentioned by the Times’Savage, of “trying to maintain maximum theoretical flexibility.” It’s a kind of Field-of-Dreamsargument: if you build them, they will come.

It’s simple enough. The machines (and their creators and supporters in the military-industrial complex) are decades ahead of the government officials who theoretically direct and oversee them. “A Future for Drones: Automated Killing,” an enthusiastic article that appeared in the Post the very same week as that paper’s base-expansion piece, caught the spirit of the moment. In it, Peter Finn reported on the way three pilotless drones over Fort Benning, Georgia, worked together to identify a target without human guidance. It may, he wrote, “presage the future of the American way of war: a day when drones hunt, identify, and kill the enemy based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans. Imagine aerial ‘Terminators,’ minus beefcake and time travel.”

In a New York Review of Books piece with a similarly admiring edge (and who wouldn’t admire such staggering technological advances), Christian Caryl writes:

“Researchers are now testing UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] that mimic hummingbirds or seagulls; one model under development can fit on a pencil eraser. There is much speculation about linking small drones or robots together into ‘swarms’ — clouds or crowds of machines that would share their intelligence, like a hive mind, and have the capability to converge instantly on identified targets. This might seem like science fiction, but it is probably not that far away.”

Admittedly, drones still can’t have sex. Not yet anyway. And they can’t choose which humans they are sent to kill. Not so far. But sex and the single drone aside, all of this and more may, in the coming decades, become — if you don’t mind my using the word — imminent. It may be the reality in the skies over all our heads.

It’s true that the machines of war the Obama administration is now rushing headlong to deploy cannot yet operate themselves, but they are already — in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words — “in the saddle, and ride mankind.” Their “desire” to be deployed and used is driving policy in Washington — and increasingly elsewhere as well. Think of this as the Drone Imperative.

If you want to fight over definitions, there’s only one worth fighting over: not the phrase “the Global War on Terror,” which the Obama administration tossed aside to no effect whatsoever, but the concept behind it. Once the idea took hold that the United States was, and had no choice but to be, in a state of permanent global war, the game was afoot. From then on, the planet was — conceptually speaking — a free-fire zone, and even before robotic weaponry developed to its present level, it was already a drone-eat-drone world to the horizon.

As long as global war remains the essence of “foreign policy,” the drones — and the military-industrial companies and lobbying groups behind them, as well as the military and CIA careers being built on them — will prove expansive. They will go where, and as far as, the technology takes them.

In reality, it’s not the drones, but our leaders who are remarkably constrained. Out of permanent war and terrorism, they have built a house with no doors and no exits. It’s easy enough to imagine them as beleaguered masters of the universe atop the globe’s military superpower, but in terms of what they can actually do, it would be more practical to think of them as so many drones, piloted by others. In truth, our present leaders, or rather managers, are small people operating on autopilot in a big-machine world.

As they definitionally twitch and turn, we can just begin to glimpse — like an old-fashioned photo developing in a tray of chemicals — the outlines of a new form of American imperial war emerging before our eyes. It involves guarding the empire on the cheap, as well as on the sly, via the CIA, which has, in recent years, developed into a full-scale, drone-heavy paramilitary outfit, via a growing secret army of special operations forces that has been incubating inside the military these last years, and of course via those missile- and bomb-armed robotic assassins of the sky.

The appeal is obvious: the cost (in U.S. lives) is low; in the case of the drones, nonexistent. There is no need for large counterinsurgency armies of occupation of the sort that have bogged down on the mainland of the Greater Middle East these last years.

In an increasingly cash-strapped and anxious Washington, it must look like a literal godsend. How could it go wrong?

Of course, that’s a thought you can only hang onto as long as you’re looking down on a planet filled with potential targets scurrying below you. The minute you look up, the minute you leave your joystick and screen behind and begin to imagine yourself on the ground, it’s obvious how things could go so very, very wrong — how, in fact, in Pakistan, to take but one example, they are going so very, very wrong.

Just think about the last time you went to a Terminator film: Who did you identify with? John and Sarah Connor, or the implacable Terminators chasing them? And you don’t need artificial intelligence to grasp why in a nanosecond.

In a country now struggling simply to guarantee help to its own citizens struck by natural disasters, Washington is preparing distinctly unnatural disasters in the imperium. In this way, both at home and abroad, the American dream is turning into the American scream.

So when we build those bases on that global field of screams, when we send our armadas of drones out to kill, don’t be surprised if the rest of the world doesn’t see us as the good guys or the heroes, but as terminators. It’s not the best way to make friends and influence people, but once your mindset is permanent war, that’s no longer a priority. It’s a scream, and there’s nothing funny about it.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book, The United States of Fear (Haymarket Books), will be published in November.




[Edited on 10/6/2011 by sibwlkr]

 
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Zen Peach



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  posted on 9/29/2011 at 06:58 PM
Interesting.

While the good news is we can keep "pilot" losses at zero, we have that whole "Skynet becomes self-aware" prospect.

Life may imitate art?

 

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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 9/30/2011 at 09:24 AM
quote:
A Dark Day for the Constitution: American Killed By Drone Strike
Kelley Vlahos
September 30th, 2011

After months of speculation, the U.S military has killed an American-born cleric in what is probably the clearest indication that the U.S Constitution has been set aside for another (ever-evolving) piece of paper called the Authorized Use of Military Force (AUMF). Now the military has truly become judge, jury and executioner, with the full blessing of the White House and the other branches of government behind it.

According to the most recent reports, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico, and has preached in American mosques and was allegedly a spiritual inspiration to the Fort Hood Shooter and the unsuccessful Underwear Bomber, was killed in a U.S-led airstrike in Yemen.

The U.S government has spent the last year trying to convince us that it was legal to target an American citizen for termination because he was a “terrorist” and “key al Qaeda leader,” though it never bothered to give us the evidence because of course, any intelligence it had on Awlaki was “classified” and we just had to take their word for it. Plenty of smart people are pointing out today that Awlaki was hardly a significant operational threat, much less the new Osama bin Laden — though the White House was trying so hard to make him OBL’s replacement.

So now the U.S government has gone from blowing up from the sky any foreigner it deems a threat to national security (and anyone unlucky to be next to him at the time), to picking off American citizens with the same impunity. A foreboding moment, seeing that Awlaki’s assassination comes the same month we’re told the military is working on pilotless, automatic killer drones, and amid growing reports that American police and border patrol agents are routinely using surveillance drones for law enforcement here in the United States. Scarier still, is that by public accounts, Awlaki was targeted for what he said, not what he did. He was an extremist and a propagandist in a war that has been just as much about moving hearts and minds as it has about tearing into flesh and imprisoning the enemy. Crazy people might have listened to him and acted on their own impulses — much like Anders Behring Breivik liked to listen to American Islamophobe propagandists Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller before he went out and killed 76 people in Norway — but we have yet to hear any evidence that he picked up a gun or planted an IED or even plotted a successful attack against the United States. Judge, jury and executioner — it doesn’t matter much to Awlaki now, but we deserve to hear the proof.

Good thing for Geller and Spencer the Norwegians don’t have their own AUMF. Sadly, our AUMF has taken on a life of its own, and will unlikely be stopped before turning its voracious sights right back home.



[Edited on 9/30/2011 by sibwlkr]

 

Maximum Peach



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  posted on 9/30/2011 at 09:58 AM
I am always torn when reading these items, particularly in light of yesterday’s news about Awlaki. With respect to those like Awlaki, I ask myself, does the end justify the means? I am still not sure. The article also keeps referring to him as an “American citizen”, almost like he is some upstanding guy. They also make mention that he never picked up a gun or planted an IED, but I think that is a bit of a flawed argument. How much was Bin Laden in the field? How many people did Charles Manson kill on those horrendous nights of murder? Just because one doesn’t do the actual act of killing doesn’t mean they are any less guilty. From an emotional standpoint, I am not sure I care he is dead.

That being said, how do we capture these people and bring them to justice via the court system, when most of the places they hide, are in cahoots with them? Quite honestly, I am not sure what to think anymore. I do see the problem with it though.

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 9/30/2011 at 10:05 AM
I have no problem with this guy taking a missile.

 

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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 9/30/2011 at 12:12 PM
quote:
does the end justify the means?


In most cases "No". One must ALWAYS consider the "blowback". To me, this "drone warfare" just seems like a great way to keep the "Empire's War" going, and to what end?

 

Maximum Peach



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  posted on 9/30/2011 at 12:56 PM
quote:
In most cases "No". One must ALWAYS consider the "blowback". To me, this "drone warfare" just seems like a great way to keep the "Empire's War" going, and to what end?


With regard to "blowback" or risk/reward, that is where it gets muddled for me. While we have successfuly found and prosecuted terrorists, it seems its mostly done after an attack has already taken place. This seems a little more proactive (although, like you point out, it could be a dark day for the constitution) without the exposure of added personnel. As Ron mentioned, you take some of the risk out whereby you remove the pilot. That being said, you still have people on the ground (CIA, special ops, etc) in these countries telling the drones where to go and gathering intel, so there is still that risk.

In this particular case, I believe that Awlaki is better off dead. I tend to think people like Awlaki and Bin Laden are not boogeyman; they are dangerous people. I am just not sure what the alternative is because I think it is very difficult to apprehend them. In terms of risk/reward, I would rather have a drone attack take out these people than having massive amounts of people on the ground. I was already wrong on that front a long time ago!!!

 

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  posted on 9/30/2011 at 01:05 PM
gina ought to come skippin' along any minute...
 

Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 10/3/2011 at 08:28 AM
The Only Drone Most Americans Would Reconize

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/blog/2011/10/01/the-only-drone-threa t-most-americans-would-recognize/

It's only matter of time before the drone technology becomes available to others besides the military community.

 

Universal Peach



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  posted on 10/3/2011 at 08:41 AM
quote:
The Only Drone Most Americans Would Reconize

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/blog/2011/10/01/the-only-drone-threa t-most-americans-would-recognize/

It's only matter of time before the drone technology becomes available to others besides the military community.


They're already being utilized here in upstate, NY along the US/Canadian border. The DEA is utilizing them to supposedly eavesdrop on and "monitor" drug/human traffickers and suspected terrorists. It's a wonderful little security complex we're building here in upstate, NY. We haven't the resources to rebuild after the devastating tropical storm that decimated much of the North Country and Vermont, but won't think twice about wasting money on the latest technology to continue the insane drug war.

[Edited on 10/3/2011 by Chain]

 

Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 09:17 AM
quote:
I am astonished that some otherwise sane and reasonable people cannot see the incredible danger to all Americans resulting from President Obama’s without-due-process execution of a fellow citizen by drone. I recommend that any remaining agnostics out there read this excellent article by Paul Craig Roberts and more particularly view the four minute YouTube that is embedded in the piece in which a White House spokesman dismisses any need to provide evidence that Anwar al-Awlaki had committed a capital crime.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7-2CP_o9Jk&feature=player_embedded

The White House view is that everyone knows that he is a scumbag and that is enough.

Yes folks, if they can do it to al-Awlaki they can do it to any one of us - Philip Giraldi



I fully agree wth what Philip Giraldi has to say, especially his last comment. Btw, I'm including the article by Paul Craig Roberts that Giraldi mentions, and it definely a "must if very distrubing read". Hate to say this, but I somwhat in agreement with Roberts that the "only future for Americans is a nightmare", as I really don't see enought Americans "waking up" in time to save what's left of a "true American democracy". Thanks to the American Conservative for posting Giraldi's comments and providing a link to the Robert's article.

quote:
Paul Craig Roberts: The Day America Died

September 30, 2011 was the day America was assassinated.

Some of us have watched this day approach and have warned of its coming, only to be greeted with boos and hisses from "patriots" who have come to regard the US Constitution as a device that coddles criminals and terrorists and gets in the way of the President who needs to act to keep us safe.

In our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, Lawrence Stratton and I showed that long before 9/11 US law had ceased to be a shield of the people and had been turned into a weapon in the hands of the government. The event known as 9/11 was used to raise the executive branch above the law. As long as the President sanctions an illegal act, executive branch employees are no longer accountable to the law that prohibits the illegal act. On the president’s authority, the executive branch can violate US laws against spying on Americans without warrants, indefinite detention, and torture and suffer no consequences.

Many expected President Obama to re-establish the accountability of government to law. Instead, he went further than Bush/Cheney and asserted the unconstitutional power not only to hold American citizens indefinitely in prison without bringing charges, but also to take their lives without convicting them in a court of law. Obama asserts that the US Constitution notwithstanding, he has the authority to assassinate US citizens, who he deems to be a "threat," without due process of law.

In other words, any American citizen who is moved into the threat category has no rights and can be executed without trial or evidence.

On September 30 Obama used this asserted new power of the president and had two American citizens, Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan murdered. Khan was a wacky character associated with Inspire Magazine and does not readily come to mind as a serious threat.

Awlaki was a moderate American Muslim cleric who served as an advisor to the US government after 9/11 on ways to counter Muslim extremism. Awlaki was gradually radicalized by Washington’s use of lies to justify military attacks on Muslim countries. He became a critic of the US government and told Muslims that they did not have to passively accept American aggression and had the right to resist and to fight back. As a result Awlaki was demonized and became a threat.

All we know that Awlaki did was to give sermons critical of Washington’s indiscriminate assaults on Muslim peoples. Washington’s argument is that his sermons might have had an influence on some who are accused of attempting terrorist acts, thus making Awlaki responsible for the attempts.

Obama’s assertion that Awlaki was some kind of high-level Al Qaeda operative is merely an assertion. oconcluded that the reason Awlaki was murdered rather than brought to trial is that the US government had no real evidence that Awlaki was an Al Qaeda operative.

Having murdered its critic, the Obama Regime is working hard to posthumously promote Awlaki to a leadership position in Al Qaeda. The presstitutes and the worshippers of America’s First Black President have fallen in line and regurgitated the assertions that Awlaki was a high-level dangerous Al Qaeda terrorist. If Al Qaeda sees value in Awlaki as a martyr, the organizgtion will give credence to these claims. However, so far no one has provided any evidence. Keep in mind that all we know about Awlaki is what Washington claims and that the US has been at war for a decade based on false claims.

But what Awlaki did or might have done is beside the point. The US Constitution requires that even the worst murderer cannot be punished until he is convicted in a court of law. When the American Civil Liberties Union challenged in federal court Obama’s assertion that he had the power to order assassinations of American citizens, the Obama Justice (sic) Department argued that Obama’s decision to have Americans murdered was an executive power beyond the reach of the judiciary.

In a decision that sealed America’s fate, federal district court judge John Bates ignored the Constitution’s requirement that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law and dismissed the case, saying that it was up to Congress to decide. Obama acted before an appeal could be heard, thus using Judge Bates’ acquiescence to establish the power and advance the transformation of the president into a Caesar that began under George W. Bush.

Attorneys Glenn Greenwald and Jonathan Turley point out that Awlaki’s assassination terminated the Constitution’s restraint on the power of government. Now the US government not only can seize a US citizen and confine him in prison for the rest of his life without ever presenting evidence and obtaining a conviction, but also can have him shot down in the street or blown up by a drone.

Before some readers write to declare that Awlaki’s murder is no big deal because the US government has always had people murdered, keep in mind that CIA assassinations were of foreign opponents and were not publicly proclaimed events, much less a claim by the president to be above the law. Indeed, such assassinations were denied, not claimed as legitimate actions of the President of the United States.

The Ohio National Guardsmen who shot Kent State students as they protested the US invasion of Cambodia in 1970 made no claim to be carrying out an executive branch decision. Eight of the guardsmen were indicted by a grand jury. The guardsmen entered a self-defense plea. Most Americans were angry at war protestors and blamed the students. The judiciary got the message, and the criminal case was eventually dismissed. The civil case (wrongful death and injury) was settled for $675,000 and a statement of regret by the defendants.

The point isn’t that the government killed people. The point is that never prior to President Obama has a President asserted the power to murder citizens.

Over the last 20 years, the United States has had its own Mein Kampf transformation.


Terry Eastland’s book, Energy in the Executive: The Case for the Strong Presidency, presented ideas associated with the Federalist Society, an organization of Republican lawyers that works to reduce legislative and judicial restraints on executive power. Under the cover of wartime emergencies (the war on terror), the Bush/Cheney regime employed these arguments to free the president from accountability to law and to liberate Americans from their civil liberties. War and national security provided the opening for the asserted new powers, and a mixture of fear and desire for revenge for 9/11 led Congress, the judiciary, and the people to go along with the dangerous precedents.

As civilian and military leaders have been telling us for years, the war on terror is a 30-year project. After such time has passed, the presidency will have completed its transformation into Caesarism, and there will be no going back.

Indeed, as the neoconservative "Project For A New American Century" makes clear, the war on terror is only an opening for the neoconservative imperial ambition to establish US hegemony over the world.

As wars of aggression or imperial ambition are war crimes under international law, such wars require doctrines that elevate the leader above the law and the Geneva Conventions, as Bush was elevated by his Justice (sic) Department with minimal judicial and legislative interference.

Illegal and unconstitutional actions also require a silencing of critics and punishment of those who reveal government crimes. Thus Bradley Manning has been held for a year, mainly in solitary confinement under abusive conditions, without any charges being presented against him. A federal grand jury is at work concocting spy charges against Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange. Another federal grand jury is at work concocting terrorists charges against antiwar activists.

"Terrorist" and "giving aid to terrorists" are increasingly elastic concepts. Homeland Security has declared that the vast federal police bureaucracy has shifted its focus from terrorists to "domestic extremists."

It is possible that Awlaki was assassinated because he was an effective critic of the US government. Police states do not originate fully fledged. Initially, they justify their illegal acts by demonizing their targets and in this way create the precedents for unaccountable power. Once the government equates critics with giving "aid and comfort" to terrorists, as they are doing with antiwar activists and Assange, or with terrorism itself, as Obama did with Awlaki, it will only be a short step to bringing accusations against Glenn Greenwald and the ACLU.

The Obama Regime, like the Bush/Cheney Regime, is a regime that does not want to be constrained by law. And neither will its successor. Those fighting to uphold the rule of law, humanity’s greatest achievement, will find themselves lumped together with the regime’s opponents and be treated as such.

This great danger that hovers over America is unrecognized by the majority of the people. When Obama announced before a military gathering his success in assassinating an American citizen, cheers erupted. The Obama regime and the media played the event as a repeat of the (claimed) killing of Osama bin Laden. Two "enemies of the people" have been triumphantly dispatched. That the President of the United States was proudly proclaiming to a cheering audience sworn to defend the Constitution that he was a murderer and that he had also assassinated the US Constitution is extraordinary evidence that Americans are incapable of recognizing the threat to their liberty.

Emotionally, the people have accepted the new powers of the president. If the president can have American citizens assassinated, there is no big deal about torturing them. Amnesty International has sent out an alert that the US Senate is poised to pass legislation that would keep Guantanamo Prison open indefinitely and that Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) might introduce a provision that would legalize "enhanced interrogation techniques," an euphemism for torture.

Instead of seeing the danger, most Americans will merely conclude that the government is getting tough on terrorists, and it will meet with their approval. Smiling with satisfaction over the demise of their enemies, Americans are being led down the garden path to rule by government unrestrained by law and armed with the weapons of the medieval dungeon.

Americans have overwhelming evidence from news reports and YouTube videos of US police brutally abusing women, children, and the elderly, of brutal treatment and murder of prisoners not only in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and secret CIA prisons abroad, but also in state and federal prisons in the US. Power over the defenseless attracts people of a brutal and evil disposition.

A brutal disposition now infects the US military. The leaked video of US soldiers delighting, as their words and actions reveal, in their murder from the air of civilians and news service camera men walking innocently along a city street shows soldiers and officers devoid of humanity and military discipline. Excited by the thrill of murder, our troops repeated their crime when a father with two small children stopped to give aid to the wounded and were machine-gunned.

So many instances: the rape of a young girl and murder of her entire family; innocent civilians murdered and AK-47s placed by their side as "evidence" of insurgency; the enjoyment experienced not only by high school dropouts from torturing they-knew-not- who in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, but also by educated CIA operatives and Ph.D. psychologists. And no one held accountable for these crimes except two lowly soldiers prominently featured in some of the torture photographs.

What do Americans think will be their fate now that the "war on terror" has destroyed the protection once afforded them by the US Constitution? If Awlaki really needed to be assassinated, why did not President Obama protect American citizens from the precedent that their deaths can be ordered without due process of law by first stripping Awlaki of his US citizenship? If the government can strip Awlaki of his life, it certainly can strip him of citizenship. The implication is hard to avoid that the executive branch desires the power to terminate citizens without due process of law.

Governments escape the accountability of law in stages. Washington understands that its justifications for its wars are contrived and indefensible. President Obama even went so far as to declare that the military assault that he authorized on Libya without consulting Congress was not a war, and, therefore, he could ignore the War Powers Resolution of 1973, a federal law intended to check the power of the President to commit the US to an armed conflict without the consent of Congress.

Americans are beginning to unwrap themselves from the flag. Some are beginning to grasp that initially they were led into Afghanistan for revenge for 9/11. From there they were led into Iraq for reasons that turned out to be false. They see more and more US military interventions: Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and now calls for invasion of Pakistan and continued saber rattling for attacks on Syria, Lebanon, and Iran. The financial cost of a decade of the "war against terror" is starting to come home. Exploding annual federal budget deficits and national debt threaten Medicare and Social Security. Debt ceiling limits threaten government shut-downs.

War critics are beginning to have an audience. The government cannot begin its silencing of critics by bringing charges against US Representatives Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. It begins with antiwar protestors, who are elevated into "antiwar activists," perhaps a step below "domestic extremists." Washington begins with citizens who are demonized Muslim clerics radicalized by Washington’s wars on Muslims. In this way, Washington establishes the precedent that war protestors give encouragement and, thus, aid, to terrorists. It establishes the precedent that those Americans deemed a threat are not protected by law. This is the slippery slope on which we now find ourselves.

Last year the Obama Regime tested the prospects of its strategy when Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, announced that the government had a list of American citizens that it was going to assassinate abroad. This announcement, had it been made in earlier times by, for example, Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan, would have produced a national uproar and calls for impeachment. However, Blair’s announcement caused hardly a ripple. All that remained for the regime to do was to establish the policy by exercising it.

Readers ask me what they can do. Americans not only feel powerless, they are powerless. They cannot do anything. The highly concentrated, corporate-owned, government-subservient print and TV media are useless and no longer capable of performing the historic role of protecting our rights and holding government accountable. Even many antiwar Internet sites shield the government from 9/11 skepticism, and most defend the government’s "righteous intent" in its war on terror. Acceptable criticism has to be couched in words such as "it doesn’t serve our interests."

Voting has no effect. President "Change" is worse than Bush/Cheney. As Jonathan Turley suggests, Obama is "the most disastrous president in our history." Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who stands up for the Constitution, but the majority of Americans are too unconcerned with the Constitution to appreciate him.

To expect salvation from an election is delusional. All you can do, if you are young enough, is to leave the country. The only future for Americans is a nightmare.

October 3, 2011

Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has been reporting shocking cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades. A new edition of his book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, has been released by Random House.






[Edited on 10/6/2011 by sibwlkr]

[Edited on 10/6/2011 by sibwlkr]

 

Sublime Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 11:43 AM
quote:
Voting has no effect. President "Change" is worse than Bush/Cheney. As Jonathan Turley suggests, Obama is "the most disastrous president in our history." Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who stands up for the Constitution, but the majority of Americans are too unconcerned with the Constitution to appreciate him.

To expect salvation from an election is delusional. All you can do, if you are young enough, is to leave the country. The only future for Americans is a nightmare.


Hmmmn.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 11:52 AM
First of all, the guy was a traitor who chose his side and he died there. I for one have no problem that he's dead.....no way I would have wanted to risk American lives going in to extract him. Enough have died already. As for Obama being worse than Bush or Cheney....maybe in some people's little fantasy world but not in mine.

 

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Sublime Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 12:01 PM
Not in your fantasy world? OK.

Just name one thing Obama has done that has helped this country to better jobs, security, or prosperity? Just one.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 12:09 PM
quote:
Not in your fantasy world? OK.

Just name one thing Obama has done that has helped this country to better jobs, security, or prosperity? Just one.


is there a fourth option? a 5th, 6th perhaps come on man gimme something

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 12:15 PM
quote:
Not in your fantasy world? OK.

Just name one thing Obama has done that has helped this country to better jobs, security, or prosperity? Just one.


I'll be glad to as soon as you tell me how the McCain/Palin administration would have been better. I don't mind waiting while you try to thinking of something.

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 12:25 PM
We have superior technology and fire power and if they are gonna terrorize our country or plot against us or try to attack us in any way we will hunt them down and eliminate them by any and all means we have and the fact that we can now do this without jeopardizing American pilots is a good thing, not a bad thing. I would like to see our troops taken out of Iraq and Afghanistan and for all of our terrorist exterminations to be handled by using intelligence and drones and or missile attacks. Our brave pilots and soldiers are too important to risk on these animal terrorist scumbags IMO.

 

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Sublime Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 12:27 PM
quote:
I'll be glad to as soon as you tell me how the McCain/Palin administration would have been better. I don't mind waiting while you try to thinking of something.


LOL. I didn't vote for McCain? So what's your point? Clearly you can't come up with one thing. Pretty sad for our country. They are content and happy with the direction things are going. Trust me, nothing is going to change.

Picking the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. No thanks.

Nothing would have changed, they are on the same team. Just like Obama has continued all of the Bush policies.

Pretty sad though you can''t come up with ONE thing. I find it interesting that the left continues to support a war monger and an economy killer like Obama?

And the beat goes on and America still falls for the same old crap. Oh well. Down with capitalism!!!

 

____________________
"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace."

- John Lennon

 

True Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 12:31 PM
Oh, and that goes for any American who join or become members of any terrorist organization who conspire against the USA. Once you join an enemy terrorist group you lose all rights you ever had as an American citizen IMO. You wanna join and or aid an anti American terrorist group then you will end up in the sights of our drones and missiles just like any terrorist.

 

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Sublime Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 12:31 PM
quote:
and they’re even heading for the homeland as police departments clamor for them

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 12:33 PM
quote:
quote:
Not in your fantasy world? OK.

Just name one thing Obama has done that has helped this country to better jobs, security, or prosperity? Just one.


I'll be glad to as soon as you tell me how the McCain/Palin administration would have been better. I don't mind waiting while you try to thinking of something.


who cares about McCain/Palin?

Imagining something that never materialized and using it as a counter-point to what is actually happening (or in this case, not happening) isn't the best argument to explain away someone's incompetence.

 

True Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 12:42 PM
quote:
Not in your fantasy world? OK.

Just name one thing Obama has done that has helped this country to better jobs, security, or prosperity? Just one.


Taking out Bin Laden, this last American clown terrorist Al Awlaki, and scores of other Al Quaida leaders, much more than Bush and Cheney got in there seven years of hunting. Obama switched gears away from the war in Iraq, ramping down that unnecessary war and now starting to ramp down the war in Afghanistan and concentrating on intelligence and drone and missile attacks which have led to the destruction of scores of Al Quaida leaders. If you don't think that the destruction of these terrorist leaders and planners makes us safer here than I don't know what to tell you. You would rather just let them live and plan to attack and then attack us??? Or would you rather keep American troops in these countries in harms way??? Or do you think we should just do nothing and allow these scumbags to plot against us and attack and kill our innocent citizens???

 

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Pete

 

Sublime Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 01:08 PM
quote:
Taking out Bin Laden


You mean operation Geronimo?

Our crack team that went in, found an unarmed Bin Laden with no security around him, blew a hole in his head, and then threw him to the sharks?

Sucker born every day.


Herman Goering-

“Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

 

____________________
"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace."

- John Lennon

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 01:22 PM
quote:
quote:
I'll be glad to as soon as you tell me how the McCain/Palin administration would have been better. I don't mind waiting while you try to thinking of something.


LOL. I didn't vote for McCain? So what's your point? Clearly you can't come up with one thing. Pretty sad for our country. They are content and happy with the direction things are going. Trust me, nothing is going to change.

Picking the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. No thanks.

Nothing would have changed, they are on the same team. Just like Obama has continued all of the Bush policies.

Pretty sad though you can''t come up with ONE thing. I find it interesting that the left continues to support a war monger and an economy killer like Obama?

And the beat goes on and America still falls for the same old crap. Oh well. Down with capitalism!!!


You both missed the point of my question and answered it at the same time. Whether or not those of us on the left support Obama , the crux of the matter is, I personally believe we would have been worse off with McCain and Palin and I couldn't support that ticket. If the right doesn't like what Obama is doing, they might want to field a stronger candidate for the party people could vote for. I'm sorry Christie isn't running. I actually like the guy.

 

____________________
Sometimes we can't choose the music life gives us - but we damn sure can choose how we dance!


 

True Peach



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  posted on 10/6/2011 at 01:31 PM
we'll never know if we'd be worse off with McCain/Palin, Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck or Penn 'n' Teller and from what I've seen, a lot of the left isn't terribly pleased with Obama either. Saying we'd be worse off doesn't change or solve even the tiniest issue...
 
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