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“Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation”

“Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation”

He looked at me funny. Kill him.


© Bryan Zepp Jamieson

February 5th, 2013


Back on February 19. 1942, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing police to round up and throw American citizens into concentration camps because one or more of their ancestors came from Japan.

Even the most fervent admirers of FDR regard this as a shameful blot on his record, a moment of weakness and cowardice from a man who assured the nation it had nothing to fear but fear itself. It was illegal, it was immoral, and it violated the very heart of the Bill of Rights.

There aren’t many apologists around these days for that action, but the few that remain argue that America was facing the greatest threat of her existence from Japan and Germany, and what’s more, those countries had concentration camps and things far worse than concentration camps. That’s true: Hitler and Japan were huge threats, they were utterly vile, and they represented a standard that America was expected to exceed. For the hundred thousand plus Americans who were locked up indefinitely without trial, their property seized and their lives ruined, “We’re not as bad as Hitler” must have seemed scant comfort. In 1943, in a photo-op that would have made Joseph Goebbels moan in envy (and probably did) Eleanor Roosevelt allowed herself to be photographed at the Gila River concentration camp, where she paid a “surprise” visit, surrounded by clean, well-dressed, beaming concentration camp inmates.

That shameful time brings us to 2011, and a 16-page memo entitled “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qaeda or An Associated Force.” Basically, this document lays out an Obama policy that anyone accused by the administration of being a member of or supporting al-Qaeda or any other group that scares the administration can be assassinated.

The government can kill anyone they accuse of being involved with the wrong people. They don’t need proof. They don’t need evidence. Just an accusation by any high administration official will do. The order goes out, and the accused dies. In fact, in Yemen, Obama has taken up killing off children of the accused, just in case. They killed an American in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, and then they targeted and killed his 16 year old boy, because a teenage orphan four thousand miles away has to be at least as big a threat to America as the Japanese Navy, or the Nazi U-boats.

That the administration had been targeting and killing people based on gossip, who may or may not be members of outfits that don’t like America, has been pretty well known. Some were Americans. But the administration had always denied that any formal decision to do this had ever been made, and that the deaths were more or less incidental to larger, more legal policies.

They claimed there was no memo. They lied. NBC published it yesterday. http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections/news/020413_DOJ_White_Paper.pdf

The paper is a frightening document, at least as terrifying as the Nuremberg Laws of 1935. It simply states that based on the unsupported opinion of any senior member of Obama’s administration, they have the right to murder you without warning, let alone without due process. And they can kill your family, too. There’s no “minimum requirement.” That’s explicitly stated right at the beginning. The administration needs NO threshold to decide that you must die. If they feel like it, you’re dead, your house blown up by a drone. Just like that. Just by writing this, I might meet that fate.

In amazing verbiage, the memo calmly states that it does not violate international or American law, including laws against assassination. It asserts that the administration has a constitutional mandate to protect Americans by murdering some of them. Just enough to set an example, you understand.

It uses “imminence” as a rationale, the same ruling that permits a police officer to use lethal force if a suspect presents an immediate and real threat to bystanders. It’s a well known fact, of course, that police never overstep this directive and exceed their authority. And politicians are even more moral and circumspect than police. Therefore abuse is inconceivable.

You did know that, right?

The document attempts to figleaf itself by iterating that it must be on foreign soil that these assassinations are carried out. It’s hard to understand how some clown with a bazooka can be an imminent threat to the security of the United States when he’s four thousand miles away. “Foreign soil” – wink, wink, nod, nod, a wink’s as good as a nod to a blind drone, eh?

The document goes on to justify itself by citing Supreme Court decisions, Geneva Convention rules, international and national laws, almost as if any of these things did justify this policy. In fact, none of them do. Not even the ones that deal with treatment of foreign soldiers and other adversaries during conditions of declared war.

This document lays bare the utter moral, ethical and legal depravity behind the so-called “war on terror.” It shows the cowardice and fear that informs US efforts to deal with people who don’t like America and might throw rocks. It is shameful, as shameful as the incarcerations in World War II, as shameful as My Lai or Andersonville.

It’s a disgrace to America, and it’s a disgrace to Obama.

Obama must renounce and abjure this document and the policy it represents, and he must do it now.

If he cannot, he doesn’t belong in the White House. He belongs in prison as a war criminal.