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U.S. Slouching to Dictatorship

No one is safe from assassination by the American President, including American citizens -- ANYWHERE on the globe.

The American President and his small cabal of operatives are immune from any oversight and accountability of said assassinations.

Thus sayeth the American President and his small cabal of lawyers of the Department of Justice and their “secret memos” paralleling the memos of the last American President’s assumption of the executive right to detain and torture ANYONE at will.

The American President didn’t seek this right. He assumed it. He just had an American citizen assassinated, incinerated by a drone. Well, three American citizens, actually. Then his lawyers in the DOJ hustled to write up secret memos to make it psuedo-legal after the fact. It is not legal. It is not ethical.

So what does one of the heretofore secret psuedo-legal memos claim? As quoted from Bill Van Auken in wsws, the American President (according to one of these memos a/k/a "a white paper" leaked last Monday to the media) “can” target an individual who is an “operational leader of Al Qaeda or an associated force who poses an imminent threat of violent attack and whose capture is not feasible.”

So much to be outraged by.

Let’s start off asking what is an “associated force” that would be murder-able according to this? Any group or individual hostile to the United States in the eyes of the American President whether he, she or they are Al-Qaeda -- or not even close. Once again, no immunity and no accountability after the fact. If the American President or his over-empowered minions have determined “hostile one or ones" murder-able, then it is a done deal. Excruciating annihilation by drone.

Again, no questions to be required thereafter which THEY also have determined.

Dictatorial? Abso-friggen-lutely.

The aforementioned leaked Department of Justice Office Legal Council memo was given last summer, Van Auken reveals, to members of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees “on condition that its contents be kept secret from the American public.” Isn’t that troubling?

It was prepared to psuedo-justify the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen in a September 2011 drone strike. Samir Khan, also a naturalized American citizen, was killed in that same missile attack. Al-Awlaki’s 16-year old son, born in Denver, was murdered by a drone strike two weeks later, also in Yemen. A country we are not at war with.

Van Auken re assassination of Anwar Al-Awlaki:

In the case of al-Awlaki, no evidence was ever presented that he played an “operational” role in al-Qaeda, and experts on Yemen dispute this description. What is clear from the rest of the conditions, however, is that once the US president or his underlings make such a designation—without presenting charges, much less proving them—assassination is “lawful” according to the Justice Department.

Last week Jay Carney, Obama spokesman, was questioned about the memo. Carney readily defended the entire drone killing program, insisting drone killings “are legal, they are ethical and they are wise.” Van Auken reveals that conservative estimates claim nearly 5,000 men, women and children around the globe have been killed by them.

Van Auken quotes Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU on the memo:

“This is a chilling document. Basically, it argues that the government has the right to carry out the extrajudicial killings of an American citizen ... It recognizes some limits on the authority it sets out, but the limits are elastic and vaguely defined, and it’s easy to see how they could be manipulated.”

The memo was “leaked” at the same time 11 U.S. senators (ONLY 11???) -- 8 Democrats and 3 Republicans -- were demanding the administration provide Congress with their heretofore “secret” legal opinions supporting “the President’s authority to deliberately kill American citizens.”

Van Auken:

In both its criminal content and its pseudo-legalistic tone, the white paper resembles nothing so much as the so-called “torture memos” that were drafted under Bush and released by the Obama administration in April 2009 in what it claimed at the time was the inauguration of a new era of “transparency and openness.”

The administration has defended those responsible for torture and other crimes ever since, while establishing the tightest reign of secrecy in American history. As the summary of the assassination memo make clear, the criminality that existed under Bush has escalated sharply under his successor.


The white paper argues that Authorization of the Use of Military Force passed by Congress in September 2001 justifies assassinations and drone strikes anywhere on the planet. It recycles the claims made by the Bush administration that the entire world is a battlefield in the war on terror.

Among the sources cited in support of this contention are speeches given by Nixon administration officials in defense of the 1970 invasion of Cambodia. That Nixon’s Cambodia policy was subsequently an article in his impeachment apparently doesn’t faze Obama and his underlings.

The document asserts that there “exists no appropriate judicial forum” to consider whether presidentially ordered assassinations of US citizens raises constitutional issues. Any court review, either before or after the killings, it states, would improperly interfere with “specific tactical judgment” of the president and “officials responsible for operations.”

The rest of the paper consists largely of assertions that the extra-judicial executions of US citizens by means of drone strikes violate neither the US Constitution, nor the US ban on assassinations, nor international law and cannot be construed as war crimes. Much like the torture memos drafted a decade ago, these claims are meant to reassure those following the criminal orders of the White House.

What is spelled out here is a presidency which has arrogated to itself the “right” to act as judge, jury and executioner in carrying out secret assassinations of American citizens as well many thousands of other human beings around the globe. The overturning of any limitations on this power of life and death lays the groundwork for a police-state dictatorship.

Yeah, let’s give away our fifth amendment right of due process to nice personality Obama a/k/a Murderer-in-Chief whose evil policies have trumped dramatically George Bush’s, which we all know is saying a profound lot.

Let’s watch Obama who campaigned so hard on "change" bring us to full-out dictatorship.

[cross-posted on open salon]

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What amazes me is the change in approval towards such a thing over the last 40 years or more. A Cold War president might have had wet dreams along these lines, but would never have dared deploy such a policy. It would have been a cause for outrage, much like Nixon's abuse of the law in pursuit of election. But just as Obama can refuse to prosecute individual bankers and wristslap banks, and refuse to prosecute Bush and his cronies--even go to the point of threatening other governments that try to do so--so he can actually create a power that completely bypasses the courts and due process. It's eternal war, and anything goes. And more to the point, nearly everybody accepts this, or at least doesn't care.

We've not only dug our grave. We've laid down in it for a nice, long nap.