statism watch

How many Americans are targeted for assassination?


Related: Obama secretly deploys US special forces to 75 countries across world | White House approves assassination of cleric linked to Christmas bomb plot | Terror of innocent Britons named as assassins: Why choose us, ask men whose identities were stolen during alleged Israeli hit on Hamas official | Obama Making Plans to Use Executive Power | Dick Cheney ‘hid plans to kill al-Qaida operatives abroad’ | Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh describes ‘executive assassination ring’ that reported to Cheney | New book details Mossad false flag assassination attempt on Canadian passports

Glenn Greenwald,
June 25, 2010

When The Washington Post‘s Dana Priest first revealed (in passing) back in January that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens targeted for assassination, she wrote that “as of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens.” In April, both the Post and the NYT confirmed that the administration had specifically authorized the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki. Today, The Washington Times‘ Eli Lake has an interview with Obama’s top Terrorism adviser John Brennan in which Brennan strongly suggests that the number of U.S. citizens targeted for assassination could actually be “dozens”:

Dozens of Americans have joined terrorist groups and are posing a threat to the United States and its interests abroad, the president’s most senior adviser on counterterrorism and homeland security said Thursday. . . . “There are, in my mind, dozens of U.S. persons who are in different parts of the world, and they are very concerning to us,” said John O. Brennan, deputy White House national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism. . . .

“If a person is a U.S. citizen, and he is on the battlefield in Afghanistan or Iraq trying to attack our troops, he will face the full brunt of the U.S. military response,” Mr. Brennan said. “If an American person or citizen is in a Yemen or in a Pakistan or in Somalia or another place, and they are trying to carry out attacks against U.S. interests, they also will face the full brunt of a U.S. response. And it can take many forms.”

Nobody — or at least not me — disputes the right of the U.S. or any other country to kill someone on an actual battlefield during war without due process. That’s just obvious, but that’s not remotely what Brennan is talking about, and it’s not remotely what this assassination program is about. Indeed, Brennan explicitly identified two indistinguishable groups of American citizens who “will face the full brunt of a U.S. response”: (1) those “on the battlefield in Afghanistan or Iraq”; and (2) those “in a Yemen or in a Pakistan or in Somalia or another place.” In other words, the entire world is a “battlefield” — countries where there is a war and countries where there isn’t — and the President’s “battlefield” powers, which are unlimited, extend everywhere. That theory — the whole world is a battlefield, even the U.S. — was the core premise that spawned 8 years of Bush/Cheney radicalism, and it has been adopted in full by the Obama administration (indeed, it was that “whole-world-is-a-battlefield” theory which Elena Kagan explicitly endorsed during her confirmation hearing for Solicitor General).

Anyone who doubts that the Obama administration has adopted the core Terrorism policies of Bush/Cheney should listen to the concession — or boast — which Brennan himself made in his interview with Lake:

Mr. Brennan toward the end of the interview acknowledged that, despite some differences, there is considerable continuity between the counterterrorism policies of President Bush and President Obama.

“There has been a lot of continuity of effort here from the previous administration to this one,” he said. “There are some important distinctions, but sometimes there is too much made of those distinctions. We are building upon some of the good foundational work that has been done.”

I would really like never to hear again the complaint that comparing Bush and Obama’s Terrorism and civil liberties policies is unfair, invalid or hyperbolic given that Obama’s top Terrorism adviser himself touts that comparison. And that’s anything but a surprise, given that Brennan was a Bush-era CIA official who defended many of the most controversial Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies.

I’ve written at length about the reasons why targeting American citizens for assassination who are far away from a “battlefield” is so odious and tyrannical, and I won’t repeat those arguments here. Suffice to say — and I’m asking this literally — if you’re someone who believes, or are at least willing to acquiesce to the claim, that the U.S. President has the power to target your fellow citizens for assassination without a whiff of due process, what unchecked presidential powers wouldn’t you support or acquiesce to? I’d really like to hear an answer to that. That’s the question Al Gore asked about George Bush in a 2006 speech condemning Bush’s claimed powers merely to eavesdrop on and imprison American citizens without charges, let alone assassinate them: “If the answer is yes, then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? . . . If the president has th[is] inherent authority. . . . then what can’t he do?” Can anyone defending this Obama policy answer that question?

One other thing that is truly amazing: the U.S. tried to import this same due-process-free policy to Afghanistan. There, the U.S. last year compiled a “hit list” of 50 Afghan citizens whose assassination it authorized on the alleged ground (never charged or convicted) that they were drug “kingpins” or funding the Talbian. You know what happened? This:

A U.S. military hit list of about 50 suspected drug kingpins is drawing fierce opposition from Afghan officials, who say it could undermine their fragile justice system and trigger a backlash against foreign troops. . . .

Gen. Mohammad Daud Daud, Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister for counternarcotics efforts . . . said he worried that foreign troops would now act on their own to kill suspected drug lords, based on secret evidence, instead of handing them over for trial . . . “They should respect our law, our constitution and our legal codes,” Daud . “We have a commitment to arrest these people on our own” . . . .

The U.S. military and NATO officials have authorized their forces to kill or capture individuals on the list, which was drafted within the past year as part of NATO’s new strategy to combat drug operations that finance the Taliban.. . . . “There is a constitutional problem here. A person is innocent unless proven guilty,” [Ali Ahmad Jalali, a former Afghan interior minister] said. “If you go off to kill or capture them, how do you prove that they are really guilty in terms of legal process?”

In other words, Afghans — the people we’re occupying in order to teach about Freedom and Democracy — are far more protective of due process and the rule of law for their own citizens than Americans are who meekly submit to Obama’s identical policy of assassination for their fellow citizens. It might make more sense for Afghanistan to invade and occupy the U.S. in order to spread the rule of law and constitutional values here.

What makes all this most remarkable is the level of screeching protests Democrats engaged in when Bush merely wanted to eavesdrop on and detain Americans without any judicial oversight or due process. Remember all that? Click here and here for a quick refresher. Yet here is Barack Obama doing far worse to them than that without any due process or judicial oversight — he’s targeting them for assassination — and there is barely a peep of protest from the same Party that spent years depicting “mere” warrantless eavesdropping and due-process-free detention to be the acts of a savage, lawless tyrant. And, of course, Obama himself back then joined in those orgies of condemnation, as reflected by this December, 2008, answer he gave to Charlie Savage, then of The Boston Globe, regarding his views of executive power:

5. Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?

[Obama]: No. I reject the Bush Administration’s claim that the President has plenary authority under the Constitution to detain U.S. citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants.

So back then, Obama said the President lacks the power merely to detain U.S. citizens without charges; indeed, when asked if “the Constitution permit[s]” that, he responded: “no.” Yet now, as President, he claims the power to assassinate them without charges. Could even his hardest-core loyalists try to reconcile that with a straight face? As Spencer Ackerman documented in April, not even John Yoo claimed that the President possessed the power Obama is claiming here. Given Brennan’s strong suggestion that there are not merely three but “dozens” of Americans who are being targeted or at least could be (“they also will face the full brunt of a U.S. response”) — and given the huge number of times the Government has falsely accused individuals of Terrorism and its demonstrated willingness to imprison knowingly innocent detainees — is it time yet to have a debate about whether we think the President should be able to exercise a power like this?

Source | See also under Militarization: G20: Canada’s billion-dollar summit mystery | UK: Filmmaker Captures Absurdity, Empty Threats Of Police Terror Stop Laws | Israel Vows To Tighten Gaza Blockade — Media Reports Blockade Eased | G20 security prepared for any threat, at any cost | G8/G20 Police Fusion Centres Unmasked in Barrie, North Toronto | No legislation, no precedent to limit G20 police powers | Hospitals, medics prepare for G20 injuries and tear gas | Torontanamo Bay: Life inside the G20 ‘security zone’ | Soldiers and secret police: Some in Huntsville ‘getting nervous’ over G8 | 13 new prisons: New crime bill will cost feds additional $5-billion | US Senator: China Can Shut Down The Internet, Why Can’t We? | Iran bars two UN inspectors in escalating nuclear row | G20 traffic fence can be closed at ‘a moment’s notice,’ police say | Police add water cannon to G20 arsenal | US officials back away from July 2011 Afghan withdrawal deadline | Blackwater/Xe Awarded New Contract as More Afghan Civilians Said to Be Killed in an Airstrike | Toronto G20 police arsenal includes plastic bullets | Iran Threatens to Stop Western Ships if Subjected to Cargo Inspection | US May Unleash Microwave Weapon in Afghanistan | RCMP wrong to use Taser on Dziekanski: final Braidwood report | Canadian Forces exercise to be held in High Arctic with American, Danish troops | Israel to allow limited imports to Gaza, economic siege to remain in place | WikiLeaks to release video of deadly US airstrike in Garani | Internet ‘kill switch’ proposed for US President | Prepare for tough summer in Afghanistan, Canadian commander warns | Bloody Sunday report released, UK soldiers may face prosecution over ‘72 massacre of Irish | U.S. seeks international organization in battle against cyber terror | Rights group files for injunction against G20 ‘sound cannon’ | FAA Experiments With Integrating Drones in Civil Airspace | JTF2 Commandos prepare for G20 with secret night raids, frighten Brockville residents | Harper bending to U.S. on sole-source fighter purchase, documents reveal | Gaza flotilla attack: activist releases new footage | Toronto G20 weekend: Private security fast-tracked, traffic jams, heavy police presence, but no sonic weapons | G8/G20: Cell phones to be jammed as motorcades move through Huntsville, Toronto | G20: Eastern Avenue Protest Jail | G20 Security unbridled: Cops bring out artillery as civil rights observers preach vigilance | Troops Invade Chicago (for Training) | UN Security Council imposes fourth round of sanctions on Iran | Security company hired by RCMP for G20 not licensed in Ontario | Ottawa to spend $9-billion in sole-source deal for U.S. fighter jets | Security unit shows off G8 plans for Huntsville | How Somalia’s civil war became new front in battle against al-Qaida | America would send troops to G8/G20 if required | Construction begins on Toronto G20 security barrier | Freedom flotilla assault timeline unclear, Israel holding confiscated video evidence | Harper’s Privy Council message control system is unprecedented, critics say | Bilderberg Agenda Revealed: Globalists In Crisis, Supportive Of Attack On Iran | Israel’s seizure of Gaza aid boat Rachel Corrie sparks further condemnation | Obama secretly deploys US special forces to 75 countries across world | Autopsy: Gaza flotilla activists were shot in head at close range | Gaza flotilla activists unarmed: Canadian | Bilderberg 2010: The security lockdown begins | Australia recording features for facial recognition | CIA drone killings trouble UN rights expert | Toronto police show off G20 summit security | Mounties shun ‘sound cannons’ in urban settings ahead of G20 | Prospective G20 prison camp medics told patients may be faking | Gaza flotilla attack: British activists tell of abuse by Israelis | U.S. to Join South Korean Military Exercise Off North Korea Coast | Al Qaeda Number 3 Killed… Again | Lieberman Bill Gives Feds ‘Emergency’ Powers to Secure Civilian Nets | IDF: ‘Activists threw stun grenades’ | Israel to deport all detained aid flotilla activists by end of day | Ex-Mossad agent: Gaza flotilla raid ’so stupid it’s stupefying’ | Global arms spending tops $1.6T | 1,100 private security guards to work G8-G20 summits | Knesset member and eyewitness: Israel fired before boarding ship | Iran has ‘fuel for 2 nukes’: UN report | Israeli troops attack ship carrying aid to Gaza killing 16 | Israel rejects UN call to come clean on nuclear program | Options studied for a possible Pakistan strike by US | US acknowledges mistaken attack on Afghan civilians | MIddle East arms treaty a go despite US ‘deep regret’ over focus on Israeli nuclear arsenal | Police detail G20 security zone | Cyber Command: We Don’t Wanna Defend the Internet (We Just Might Have To) | Israeli navy prepares for action as activists’ flotilla nears Gaza | Infrastructure security plan unveiled | Pentagon: Let us monitor your network or else | Toronto Police to take up to $100-million of G20 security funds | Homegrown terrorist threat to be part of new US National Security Strategy | Toronto police buy four ’sound cannons’ for G20 | North Korea reacts angrily as Seoul’s navy holds military exercises off coast | Toronto and Muskoka G8/20 Summit security costs hit $1.1B | Obama sending 1,200 troops to Mexico border | North Korea to sever ties with South | US appoints first cyber warfare general | Disclosure of apartheid-era warhead negotiations with South Africa tip Israel’s nuclear hand | The Toronto G20 Police State Crackdown | Darpa’s Self-Learning Software Knows Who You Are | Toronto police agree to erase security zone pass info after G20 | Obama starts massive US Air-Sea-Marine build-up opposite Iran | Toronto streets get 77 more surveillance cameras for G20 | Canada’s navy cuts coast patrol fleet in half | NSA head confirmed as chief of US cyber command | US drone attack ‘kills Pakistan insurgents’ | Predator drones to begin flying Texas border patrol in a matter of months | Pentagon Turns to Brain Implants to Repair Damaged Minds | Keeping America Safe: SWAT Team Storms Family Home, Shoots Pet Dogs, Over Small Bag Of Marijuana | CIA Drones No Longer Need a Name to Kill | Fighter jets buzz Toronto, Muskoka in G20 test runs | Couple Arrested At U.S. Border For Asking Questions | RCMP unveil new stun gun rules: Verbal warning, imminent harm required | Downtown Toronto To Be Transformed Into Locked-Down Police State This Summer | Police State Canada 2010 and the G20 Summit | Protesters and police get ready to square off at G20 summit | Launch of secret US space ship masks even more secret launch of new space missile platform | Waterloo firm creates ‘flying robot spies from the skies’ for global law enforcement market | U.S. combat jets buzzing Ont. border city | ‘Vast’ biometric database prompts troops to open fire on vehicle, 4 unarmed Afghans killed | U.S. Troops Apologize For Wikileaks Massacre Video | Toronto police disclose Tasers often used on mentally ill | UN-led uranium deal still on table: Iran | Afghan torture allegations erupt in UK | Militarized police integrate with private security for G20 Toronto concourse drill | Danger Room What’s Next in National Security Prospective U.S. Cyber Commander Talks Terms of Digital Warfare | Pakistan air strike ‘kills 71 civilians’ | Canada knew in 2007 Kandahar governor tortured prisoners in dungeon, bombed UN personnel | White House approves assassination of cleric linked to Christmas bomb plot | Small army to protect Toronto during G20 summit | Feds mulling plan to turn Parliament Hill into high-security zone | Barack Obama to limit use of US nuclear weapons | Controversial use of mercenary forces surges in Afghanistan | Afghan tension mounts as NATO offensive looms | US Airline Security Moves to Known Threat Descriptive Profiling | Recent mass grave of the ‘disappeared’ uncovered in Columbia | Cop Cleared By Grand Jury For Tasering Great Grandmother During Speeding Stop | Officers suspended after using Taser on 10-year-old | Raid on ‘unheard of’ Hutaree militia puzzles small town | The prison spending boom | Full Afghan withdrawal ‘wrong,’ top Tory says | Ontario report rewrites stun gun rules, somewhat | FBI raids in Washtenaw, Lenawee counties tied to Michigan militia group | Massive fortress Ottawa in the works | UK: Police Taser use ‘doubled’ in third quarter of 2009 | U.S. to press for Canada to keep troops in Afghanistan | Russia claims breakthrough in historic nuclear reduction agreement with US | Toronto G20 summit security to be ‘massive’ | British military intelligence ‘ran renegade torture unit in Iraq’ | RCMP needs 5,500 rooms during G20 summit | U.S. cybersecurity bill introduced in Senate | Body scans eventually mandatory, TSA official says | Planned random DUI checkpoints a violation of rights | Secret Document Calls Wikileaks ‘Threat’ to U.S. Army | Defence Department official used private contractors for spy network in AfPak | Public Safety Canada announces national plan to centralize operations in state of emergency | While Government Treats Citizens As Terrorists, Mexican Military Invades U.S. | Chicago police expanding Taser use | Cyberattacks push CSIS to reach out to business | An American Detention Bill You Ought to Read More Carefully | Canada wanted Afghan prisoners tortured: lawyer | Military trials possible for Sept. 11 terror suspects | Fingerprints Now Required to Shred (That Means Skateboard, Dude) | United States weighs massive expansion of Internet monitoring | UK: Mobile fingerprint scanner for English and Welsh police | Plan to put more police on Toronto transit | 1 in 3 Killed by U.S. Drone Attacks In Pakistan Are Civilians | Israeli preparations for war with Iran troubling | Downtown Toronto to become a fortress for G20 summit | Pentagon Discloses Hundreds of Reports of Possibly Illegal Intelligence Activities | Australia to fingerprint, face-scan visitors from Muslim nations | G8/G20: Gearing up for the biggest security event in Canadian history | Toronto braces for G20 disruption, Ottawa to pick up security tab | The truth about the Mossad | Iran could be making nuclear warhead, says new director of IAEA | USA: Fourth Amendment Trashed As Airport Tyranny Hits The Streets | RCMP to test Taser cameras | Report: France ‘deliberately’ used soldiers as ‘nuclear guinea pigs’ | UK Police use spy drone for first domestic arrest — without airspace clearance | Global security to top agenda of G8 foreign ministers | Five civilians killed in Nato rocket attack in Afghanistan | NATO’s novel battle tactic spawns opposite effects as 12 civilians killed | Russia to push ahead on Iran missile deal | Obama Making Plans to Use Executive Power | NATO, Afghan troops launch largest air assault of Afghan war | Report: ‘US to expand military centers in Pakistan’ | Vancouver police shut down several blocks, shopping mall to blow up fishing rod | Marjah, Afghanistan: Countdown To A Battle | Future police: Meet the UK’s armed robot drones | Obama threatens actions against Iran over nuclear program | Troops Randomly Patrol Streets In Pittsburgh in Wake of Snowfall, Respond To “Domestic Disputes” | CFB Trenton commander charged with murder | UN sanctions urged over Iran’s uranium plans | Elite Toronto police squad stops and questions thousands | Pentagon Looks to Breed Immortal ‘Synthetic Organisms,’ Molecular Kill-Switch Included | US Interrogation Squad Doing ‘Scientific Research’ | Domestic threats biggest Olympic security concern: expert | Washington DC transit system holds anti-terror drills | Hitchens: North Korean’s stature, worldview stunted by authoritarian hate and ignorance | U.S. deploys land and sea-based missile shield in the Gulf to deter attack from Iran | UN agency calls for global cyberwarfare treaty, ‘driver’s license’ for Web users | UK: Tony Blair attempts to shift focus to Iran as ‘global threat’ at Iraq war inquiry | Winnipeg police caught on video beating man | Blair defends decision to join U.S. in Iraq | Crotch bomber bill before Congress: Treat all ‘terrorism suspects’ as enemy combatants. Domestically. | Toronto Star Columnist Fiorito: The cops came and took my gun | Pentagon to Send More Special Forces Troops to Yemen | Military probes beating of Afghan prisoner | Obama’s War for Oil in Colombia | Pentagon calls for ‘Office of Strategic Deception’ | British and US troops to launch new Afghanistan offensive | The War on Terrorism and the Countdown to the 2010 Olympics | General McChrystal indicates talks with Taliban to be discussed | UK police plan to use military-style spy drones | UK: Photographers protest over terror search laws | Texas Schoolkids Tagged With GPS Tracking Devices | No new Taliban crackdowns for 6 months, Pakistan says | Congressman Ron Paul: After ‘CIA coup,’ agency ‘runs military’ | Olympic surveillance cameras causing concern | BATF Notice Bans Private Gun Sales In Texas | Regina police probe RCMP torture claims | War resister released from U.S. prison | Yemen forces ‘kill Al-Qaeda chief’ | UK: Anti-terror stop and search policy ruled illegal by European human rights court | Obama Executive Order Stokes Martial Law Fears | A North American Security Perimeter Coming Into View | North Korea calls for peace treaty with US | ‘No intention’ to invade Yemen: Obama | US Domestic Espionage Alert: Spy Drone Discovered | American cash gives Yemen a reason to join the hunt for al-Qaeda | Canada no longer a haven for war resisters | Ex-Blackwater contractors charged with Afghan killings | Airport security starts in the parking lot | PM Harper downplays detainee torture scandal, prorogation | Suspected US drone ‘kills 12′ in Pakistan | Body scanners coming to Canadian airports | UK: Full-body scanners being ordered for airports, says Gordon Brown | Group slams Chertoff on conflict of interest in scanner promotion | Britain, U.S. to fund Yemen anti-terror unit | For more see The Memory Hole — Militarization

Be Sociable, Share!

3 Responses to “How many Americans are targeted for assassination?”

  1. statism watch » Blog Archive » Suspect in firebombing case granted bail Says:

    [...] Comments statism watch » Blog Archive » How many Americans are targeted for assassination? on FAA Experiments With Integrating Drones in Civil Airspacestatism watch » Blog [...]

  2. statism watch » Blog Archive » Toronto couple unlikely G20 security threat Says:

    [...] & News Tips How many Americans are targeted for assassination? G20, Weekend [...]

  3. statism watch » Blog Archive » Judge Greenlights Sonic Cannons for Use on Civilian Protest, Further Court Tests Slated for Fall Says:

    [...] | Alternate Coverage 1 2 | See Also under Law: How many Americans are targeted for assassination? | Final two ‘Toronto 18′ terror accused found guilty of unwitting participation | Australian [...]