Through a Department of Justice legal finding, President Obama now has the power to determine whether an American citizen has the right to live or die.
The President has been determined by a secretive «Star Chamber» group of Justice Department lawyers, in coordination with Attorney General Eric Holder and some cloaked figures from the CIA, to have the power to order, by remotely-piloted drone or any other means, the extra-judicial execution of an American citizen believed to pose a threat to the security of the United States…
President Obama, acting more like a secretive dictator of an African banana republic, has conferred these extraordinary and, some would argue, unconstitutional powers, to U.S. special operations military and intelligence forces based on a flimsy Justice Department memorandum and white paper that authorizes the «targeted killing» of Americans who are members of «Al Qaeda» or «associated forces outside the area of hostile activities».
There is also a question of what constitutes an «imminent threat» posed by an American citizen. Obama’s criteria for what constitutes «imminence» is not clear: is it 12 hours, a day, one week, a month, a year? If it is longer than mere hours, why can’t the President honor the U.S. Constitution and seek the consent of the legislative and judicial branch? Simply stated, like an Idi Amin or Augusto Pinochet, Obama wants to be prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner, while the Constitution he took an oath to uphold be damned.
In his confirmation hearing to be Central Intelligence Agency director, White House national security counter-terrorism czar John O. Brennan waffled and obfuscated before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in the same manner as he and his fellow CIA officials evaded accountability for the CIA’s extraordinary rendition and «enhanced interrogation technique» or torture programs carried out by the George W. Bush administration.
In fact, Brennan, who has become Obama’s national security «Svengali,» was the primary architect of the CIA’s kidnapping and torture program before he retired from the CIA as its top counter-terrorism official.
After he returned to government after a brief retirement from 2006 to 2009, Brennan proceeded to add executive assassination of Americans to the quiver of the president’s war power weaponry. Extrajudicial assassination is but one of many of the powers now accorded to the president.
They also include the creation of kill lists, tracking programs, apprehension, kidnapping, and torturing targeted individuals who have been designated by something called the «Disposition Program».
Obama, who has maintained that the United States no longer conducts torture and promised to close the detention gulags at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has been shown to be a complete liar on both counts. Brennan, who refused in his confirmation hearing to describe the practice of «water boarding» or simulated drowning as torture, sees the continued maintenance of Guantanamo and «enhanced interrogation» as vital parts of the dystopian-sounding Disposition Program.
John DiJoseph, professor of biomedical ethics at the Howard University College of Medicine and Loyola University in Maryland, wrote the following about the targeted killing program, including that using unmanned drones, against targets like U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, an active leader of «Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula» who was killed in September 2011 by a drone launched on the orders of Obama and Brennan:
«[Awlaki] had been placed on ‘kill lists’ compiled by the CIA and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command . . . Al-Awlaki, was an American citizen, who, despite the heinousness of his crimes, was entitled to the procedural due process protections of the U.S. Constitution, whose origins have ancient roots in the Common Law of England. DiJoseph asked the following poignant question: «Does the extra-judicial killing of an American citizen violate the Fifth Amendment’s right to procedural due process and the centuries-old tradition of due process that has defined American political values?»
After the U.S. drone strike killed Awlaki, a later drone strike killed Awlaki’s 16-year old son, Abdulrahman bin Anwar Al Awlaki, who was also an American citizen. Obama adviser and former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs justified the assassination by stating that Awlaki’s son «should have a far more responsible father».
That was the sole justification used by an Obama adviser for the assassination, without due process, of not only an American citizen but a minor. Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton were impeached for far less crimes. However, Obama, who continually entrances the American public and a fawning corporate media with his carefully cadenced neuro-linguistic programmed speech techniques, received a free pass.
Some Obama officials brushed off Awlaki’s son’s death as «collateral damage,» the same excuse used by Obama official to justify the drone attack deaths of innocent civilians, including women, elderly men, and children, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Mali, and countless other secret operating locations in the «Disposition Matrix».
In May 2011, this reporter was invited to speak to the Arab Media Forum in Dubai. At the forum, a Yemeni correspondent for the Arab television news network Al Arabiya said it was possible for him to arrange an interview with Anwar al Awlaki at his remote hideout north of Sana’a in Yemen.
I gave careful consideration to the offer but knowing of the Obama administration’s penchant for killing Americans through its «Disposition Matrix,» I passed. I imagined that several trigger happy drone aficionados in the CIA and National Security Council, receiving Global Positioning System pings from my cell phone GSM signal, would have ecstatically reveled in the possibility of some additional «collateral damage» from a drone strike.
Make no mistake about it — Obama has cleverly ratcheted up the fascistic policies introduced by the previous Bush administrations. He has declared war on national security and other government whistleblowers by prosecuting «leakers» to the press pursuant to an arcane espionage law from World War I. The Obama administration has also stepped up electronic surveillance of national security journalists whose First Amendment-guaranteed «bread and butter» comes from government leakers.
It is not a joke that many political observers see the current Obama administration as the «fourth term» of George W. Bush and even the seventh term of George H W Bush, the one-year CIA director who oversaw the September 21, 1976 car bombing assassinations of former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and his American assistant Ronni Moffitt in the middle of Embassy Row in Washington, DC.
The outages committed by the CIA in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s were placed under closer congressional scrutiny during the Jimmy Carter administration. After he became Vice President in 1981, Bush the Elder began rolling back the constraints placed upon the U.S. intelligence community.
His son and Obama have all but buried those controls as seen in the criticisms by the Senate Intelligence Committee over the refusal of the CIA and Justice Department to provide all the documents used to develop and implement the extra-judicial assassination program of American citizens.
2013 is the 50th anniversary of the assassination in Dallas, Texas of President John F. Kennedy, who stated that it was his intention to rein in the CIA. Only a village idiot would discount the volumes and mounds of evidence that point to official or, at least unofficial, CIA involvement in the assassination of an American president on American soil.
Rather than deal with and rectify the past murders carried out by the U.S. government, with and without the knowledge of the president, the Obama administration, far from being «the most transparent» in American history is the most secretive and dictatorial.
Wayne MADSEN | Strategic Culture Foundation