Summary: Americans expressed horror at the thought of “death panels.” Now the government reveals that the President issues death warrants on American citizens — without even a hearing before a panel. That’s just fine with us. Each and every one of us. Do you see any protests? Marches, demonstrations? None. On 4 July 2006 I posts Forecast: Death of the American Constitution. Since then, nail by nail, our ruling elites close the coffin on the Constitution — and on our liberties. I suspect that our children will not understand how we allowed this to happen, and will curse our passivity.
- Background for the revelations about the US government’s assassinations of US citizens
- The revelations
- Their implications
- About the war exception to the Constitution
- Oldskpetic was right again where I was wrong
- For more information from the FM site, and an Afterword
(1) Background for the revelations about the US government’s assasinations of US citizens
These revelations IMO are best seen as a process, the gradual erosion of our freedoms. Each step is leaked in stages, so that the final announcement is an anti-climax. But still cloaked by lies — such as, in this case, that the government means only battlefield killings. While that was the context for this announcement, these officials were clear that these killings were not limited to combat conditions.
I provide this detailed information because these issues quickly become fogged by deliberate lies. That’s how debates run in 21st century America. In this respect the Internet appears to fog our information flow, not help it.
(2) The revelations
The revelation started with this, a classic case of “burying the lede”. I suspect that to be a deliberate leak, part of the long post-9-11 process of conditioning America to the gradual loss of our liberty. Excerpt from “U.S. military teams, intelligence deeply involved in aiding Yemen on strikes“, Dana Priest, Washington Post, 27 January 2010 — These paragraphs were at the end of the story:
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence officials said. The evidence has to meet a certain, defined threshold. The person, for instance, has to pose “a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests,” said one former intelligence official.
The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. If a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, “it doesn’t really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them,” a senior administration official said. “They are then part of the enemy.”
Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called “High Value Targets” and “High Value Individuals,” whom they seek to kill or capture. The JSOC list includes three Americans, including Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official said that Aulaqi’s name has now been added.
Intelligence officials say the New Mexico-born imam also has been linked to the Army psychiatrist who is accused of killing 12 soldiers and a civilian at Fort Hood, Tex., although his communications with Maj. Nidal M. Hasan were largely academic in nature. Authorities say that Aulaqi is the most important native, English-speaking al-Qaeda figure and that he was in contact with the Nigerian accused of attempting to bomb a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day.
More details emerged on February 3 in the Q&A following Dennis C. Blair’s (Director of National Intelligence) “Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence” (prepared presentation is here). I don’t have access to the transcript, so here is the story pieced together using quotes from the Washington Times and Washington Post — taking the journalists’ muddle and rearranging it into a coherent sequence. From “‘Permission’ needed to kill U.S. terrorists“, Washington Times, 4 February 2010: