Obama Regime Institutionalizes State Assassinations

Obama institutionalizes state assassinations (WSWS, Oct 25, 2012):

The Obama administration has created a new extra-legal system known as the “disposition matrix” to institutionalize the selection and targeting of enemies of the US state for assassination, according to an article published Wednesday in the Washington Post.

The Post reports that the system is “designed to go beyond existing kill lists,” creating a centralized data base that contains “the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations.”

The data base joins “biographies, locations, known associates and affiliated organizations” with “strategies for taking targets down.” While the article includes among these strategies “extradition requests, capture operations and drone patrols,” the reality is that overwhelming preference has been given to assassination by drone strikes.

On the day the article appeared, another drone strike was reported in Pakistan. One of the pilotless aircraft fired two missiles into a house in North Waziristan near the Afghan border, killing a woman and two men and severely wounding two children. Last week, Pakistan’s interior minister, Rehman Malik, reported that there have been 336 drone attacks on Pakistan over the last eight years, claiming 2,300 victims. Fully 80 percent of those killed, he said, were innocent civilians.

On October 21, another drone strike was reported in Yemen in the country’s eastern Ma’rib Province. A missile was fired into a car, killing four occupants. This brings to 34 the number of known drone attacks in Yemen.

Citing Yemeni military sources, the Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that Washington is preparing a dramatic escalation of the drone war in Yemen. It reported that a US C-17 military cargo plane landed in the capital of Sanaa on Monday, bringing in a load of drones and missiles.

As the Post article notes, the Central Intelligence Agency has put forward a proposal to substantially expand its own armed drone fleet, solidifying its role as the US government’s paramilitary “Murder, Inc.”

It also reports that the US military’s Joint Special Operations Command has sent commando teams into Africa and transformed its base in Djibouti into a “launching pad for counterterrorism operations across the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.” At the same time it has set up “a secret targeting center across the Potomac River from Washington,” putting it within “a 15-minute commute from the White House so it could be more directly involved in deliberations” on the drawing up of kill lists.

All of these actions reflect a consensus within US ruling circles that the “global war on terrorism” launched under the administration of George W. Bush will continue for at least another decade.

As one unnamed senior administration official told the Post: “We can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us. It’s a necessary part of what we do… We’re not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, ‘We love America’.”

Indeed not. Another decade of US assassinations and massacres by drones spreading across South Asia, the Middle East and Africa will no doubt create millions of bitter enemies of US imperialism, leading to ever longer “kill lists” and continuously expanding wars.

While the administration and its apologists routinely justify the drone assassinations as necessary to defend the US from terrorist attacks, in reality, the great majority of those killed in Pakistan are targeted for resisting the US occupation of neighboring Afghanistan, while in Yemen they are killed for opposing the US-backed regime there.

In both countries, the US military and the CIA increasingly carry out what are known as “signature strikes,” in which the identity of those to be killed is not known—much less whether they are plotting against the US. Rather, they are targeted for patterns of activity that supposedly make them suspect.

The Post article stresses “the extent to which Obama has institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war.”

Last May, the New York Times published a lengthy article describing how Obama held weekly meetings at the White House with military and intelligence officials—so-called “terror Tuesdays”—to pore over biographies and mug shots of potential victims and decide which ones to place on the “kill list.” It established that Obama personally approved every strike in Yemen and Somalia, as well as at least a third of those carried out in Pakistan. A top security official described the US president as “quite comfortable” with deciding who should die.

But, as the Post article points out, “Targeted killing is now so routine that the Obama administration has spent much of the past year codifying and streamlining the processes that sustain it.” Today, it adds, “the system functions like a funnel, starting with input from half a dozen agencies and narrowing through layers of review” before the names of proposed assassination targets reach the White House.

Significantly, the “disposition matrix” has been developed by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), an agency created in 2004, operating under the direction of the US president, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council. In all three of these executive agencies, John Brennan, Obama’s homeland security adviser and the founding director of the NCTC, plays a leading role. As a former top aide to Bush’s CIA director George Tenet, Brennan defended the practices of torture and extraordinary rendition.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder approved sweeping new guidelines allowing the NCTC to access, search and retain data collected by all US government agencies, giving it a vast store of information on every US citizen, culled from tax records, travel documents, federal benefits and many other sources. That a secretive executive branch agency which collects massive amounts of data on US citizens is also in charge of developing the criteria for state assassinations abroad has the most chilling implications.

The administration has already targeted and killed several US citizens, including the New Mexico-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who died in a September 2011 drone strike in Yemen, and Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, who was killed in another strike two weeks later.

The Obama administration has arrogated to itself the most extreme power that can be asserted by any dictatorship—that of ordering citizens put to death without presenting charges against them, much less proving them in a court of law. Instead, an un-elected and unanswerable “kill committee” places their names on a list, the president approves them, and airborne robots are sent to execute them.

In an interview last month with CNN, Obama made the absurd claim that American citizens placed on kill lists are afforded “the protections of the Constitution and due process.” The “due process” that the former constitutional law professor has in mind is the workings of the “disposition matrix” and the kill lists, in which the president and his intelligence and military aides act as judge, jury and executioner.

In Monday’s presidential debate, Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney were equally enthusiastic in their support for such extra-judicial executions by means of drone strikes. No matter which of the two candidates wins the November 6 election, the drone wars will escalate and the wholesale assault on core constitutional and democratic rights will deepen.

1 thought on “Obama Regime Institutionalizes State Assassinations

  1. Could Obama use NDAA To Arrest Militias?

    Could Obama use NDAA To Arrest Militias on the Premise members are Militants and Belligerents that pose a threat to National Security?

    Recently the Obama administration stated to Federal Judge Katherine Forest that under (NDAA) The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 the President had authorization to lock up belligerents indefinitely. That they (were justified) to lock belligerents up indefinitely—because cases involving belligerents directly-aligned with militants against the good of America—warrants such punishment.) Pres. Obama could use NDAA provisions to order U.S. Military Forces to round up without evidence, millions of Americans including militias by alleging they are belligerents or a threat to National Security. Many observers believe Obama intends to extend NDAA to imprison U.S. Citizens in Indefinite Detention not involved with or associated with enemy forces.

    Hitler included similar provisions in his fascist (Discriminatory Decrees signed February 28, 1933). Almost immediately after the German Parliament passed Hitler’s laws, the Reich Government ordered the arrest of German Citizens and confiscated their guns without probable cause or evidence; delegated powers to German Police and other authorities to arrest anyone Nazi authorities claimed attempted or incited public unrest: arrested among others were outspoken Germans, writers, journalists, peaceful protestors and artists. After World War II the East German Secret Police (Stasi) used the threat of Indefinite Detention to forcibly recruit thousands of informants.

    The U.S. 2012 NDAA legislation Obama signed 12-31-11 is similar to Hitler’s 1933 fascist laws the SS and Gestapo used to target persons in Germany for arrest, imprisonment and execution without probable cause; and confiscate millions of dollars of property. Hitler used his laws to suspend Parliament and the Supreme Court insuring his laws could not be rescinded.

    During the Obama Administration’s recent request for a (stay) to stop U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest blocking enforcement of vague NDAA provisions, the Obama Administration—never clarified what constitutes a (belligerent); or militant; or what belligerent activities (directly aligned with a militant) to order a belligerent’s arrest or indefinite detention; or what is against the good of America. Under vague provisions of NDAA, the President could accuse anyone of being (directly aligned with militants by way of any political or other association; activity, statement, writing or communication with an individual or group government deemed (militant) to arrest and indefinitely detain Americans. Writers, journalists, Americans that disagree with or question U.S. Government or its allies—may under NDAA be subject to arrest and indefinite detention.

    NDAA 2012, like Hitler’s 1933 Discriminatory Decrees enforces censorship; refers to the Patriot Act e.g. warrant-less searches of private property and forfeiture of property from persons not charged with crime. Provisions in NDAA 2012 keep the door open for corrupt U.S. police; government agents and provocateurs which there are many, to falsify reports and statements to target any American, group or organization for arrest, indefinite detention, complete disappearance; civil asset forfeiture of their property.

    You may have noted NDAA referred to the USA Patriot Act. The Patriot Act lends itself to Government / police corruption; the Federal Government may use secret witnesses and informants to cause arrests and civil asset forfeiture of Americans’ property. Witness(s) and informants may be paid up to 50% of assets forfeited. Federal Government under 18USC may use a mere preponderance of civil evidence, little more than hearsay to Civilly Forfeit Private Property. Under the Patriot Act innocent property owners may be barred by government knowing the evidence federal government uses to forfeit their property.

    Sections of NDAA 2012 are so broad, it appears U.S. Government or the President could (retroactively) deem an American’s past 1st Amendment activities prior to passage of 2012 NDAA—supported hostilities, terrorism or (Belligerents) to order the arrest and Indefinite Detention of any U.S. Citizen, writer, group or organization.

    Under NDAA 2012 it should be expected that indefinitely detained U.S. Citizens not involved in terrorism or hostile activities, not given Miranda Warnings when interrogated, not allowed legal counsel or habeas corpus may be prosecuted for non-terrorist (ordinary crimes) because of their (alleged admissions) while held in Indefinite Detention.

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