Jun 122012
 June 12, 2012
The former Constitutional law professor who shreds the Constitution as president

Silent killer

Many critics have recently decried the rampant automated killings this administration is obsessively and dangerously pursuing. The human rights community also points out the real possibility that in a sinister near future any government who wants to silence critics and dissidents will start assassinating them around the world, American style.

Here is a sampling of drone denunciation:

“…Assassination has been thoroughly institutionalized, normalized, and bureaucratized around the figure of the president.  Without the help of or any oversight from the American people or their elected representatives, he alone is now responsible for regular killings thousands of miles away, including those of civilians and even children.  He is, in other words, if not a king, at least the king of American assassinations.  On that score, his power is total and completely unchecked… An American global killing machine (quite literally so, given that growing force of drones) is now at the beck and call of a single, unaccountable individual.  This is the nightmare the founding fathers tried to protect us from.

Be assured of one thing: whichever candidate you choose at the polls in November, you aren’t just electing a president of the United States; you are also electing an assassin-in-chief.  The last two presidents may not have been emperors or kings, but they — and the vast national-security structure that continues to be built-up and institutionalized around the presidential self — are certainly one of the nightmares the founding fathers of this country warned us against.  They are one of the reasons those founders put significant war powers in the hands of Congress, which they knew would be a slow, recalcitrant, deliberative body. ” -Tom Engelhardt, The President, His Apostles, and the Church of St. Drone, June 5, 2012

Also, by Engelhardt:

“In search of the perfect solution to impossible-to-win local and global wars, Washington has ensured that drones will proliferate everywhere on what, for all of us, will turn out to be the worst possible terms.  Assassination was once a complex, secret, shameful, difficult to arrange, and relatively rare act of state.  Now, it’s as normal, easy, and — amazingly enough — almost as open as sending a diplomat to another country.” -Tom Engelhardt, The Dronification of Planet Earth, June 2, 2012

Can the American Empire make anything it wants legal?

Ray McGovern warns that the present shredding of the U.S. Constitution reminds him of the Dachau concentration camp, where the phrase reads: “Those who do not remember history are condemned to relive it.”  McGovern writes,

“There were parallels that stood stark naked for any thinking American to see: parallels between Hitler’s success in grabbing dictatorial power in Germany — largely because of a supine Parliament, an acquiescent Church, a careerist Army leadership, and a fearful populace — and the situation we Americans face today with “kill lists,” unconstitutional “laws,” and Gestapo-style police armed to the teeth.” 

Discussing the immorality aspect of robot killers and the NY Times article, Mc Govern comments:

“In an extraordinary article in Tuesday’s New York Times, “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” authors Jo Becker and Scott Shane throw macabre light on the consigliere-cum-priestly role that counterterrorist adviser John Brennan provides President Barack Obama.

At the outset, Becker and Shane note that, although Obama vowed to “align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values,” he has now ordered the obedient Brennan to prepare a top secret “nominations” list of people whom the President may decide to order killed, without charge or trial, including American citizens.

The authors understate this as “a moral and legal conundrum.” It is, in fact, a moral and legal impossibility to square “kill lists” for extrajudicial murders with traditional legal and moral American values.

Enter the legal consiglieres. Attorney General Eric Holder and Harold Koh, the State Department’s top lawyer, seem to have adopted the retro (pre-1215) practices of their immediate predecessors (think Ashcroft, Gonzales, Mukasey) with their extraordinary ability to make just about anything “legal.”” –Ray McGovern, The Moral Challenge of ‘Kill Lists’ May 30, 2012 


Predator firing hellfire“Becker and Shane confirm what we could only guess from remarks made by Obama’s advisors in the past: that the United States is targeting to kill individuals overseas who do not pose an imminent threat to the United States and who are not directly participating in hostilities against Americans. That’s a violation of international law.” –Gabor Rona and Daphne Eviatar, Kill the ‘Kill List’: Obama’s Assassination Program is Illegal and Immoral, June 1, 2012 by Foreign Policy


“Starting last summer, Cameron Munter, Obama’s ambassador to Islamabad, was required to give a thumbs up or down assessment of each drone attack on Pakistani turf, as if he were an emperor in the Colosseum. “He didn’t realise his main job was to kill people,” said a colleague. Munter is quitting his job early this month because his diplomatic mission has been rendered impossible.” –Clive Stafford Smith: We Are Sleepwalking into the Drone Age, Unaware of the Consequences


“The bombings by Mr. Obama, as secret prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, trample proper constitutional authority, separation of powers, and checks and balances and constitute repeated impeachable offenses. That is, if a pathetic Congress ever decided to uphold its constitutional responsibility, including and beyond Article I, section 8’s war-declaring powers.”  —Ralph Nader, Obama At Large: Where Are The Lawyers?

Glen Greenwald, who has condemned the robot airplane killing policy for a long time, wrote in Salon.com:

“In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that after the U.S. kills people with drones in Pakistan, it then targets for death those who show up at the scene to rescue the survivors and retrieve the bodies, as well as those who gather to mourn the dead at funerals: “the CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals.” As The New York Times summarized those findings: “at least 50 civilians had been killed in follow-up strikes after they rushed to help those hit by a drone-fired missile” while “the bureau counted more than 20 other civilians killed in strikes on funerals…

…I ask this sincerely: what kind of country targets rescuers, funeral attendees, and people gathered to mourn? If a Hollywood film featured a villainous King ordering lethal attacks on rescuers, funerals and mourners — those medically attending to or grieving his initial victims — any decent audience member would, by design, seethe with contempt for such an inhumane tyrant. But this is the standard policy and practice under President Obama and it continues through today. Recall the outrage that was sparked when WikiLeaks released its Collateral Murder video showing a U.S. Apache helicopter during the Bush era firing on unarmed rescuers, who had arrived to retrieve the initial victims who had been shot and were laying wounded on the ground. That tactic continues under President Obama, although it is now expanded to include the targeting of grieving rituals.” —Glen Greenwald, US Again Bombs Mourners The Obama policy of attacking rescuers and grieving rituals continues this weekend in Pakistan