[reposted from corrente 4/12/10]
200 years of jurisprudence is being overturned by our constitutional law educated President, observed guest pundit Jack Rice on Countdown 4-7-10. He and Olbermann were discussing the President's recent authorization of the assassination of an American citizen.
Of course the writ of habeas corpus -- a legal action, through which a person can seek relief from unlawful detention -- was overturned by the Bush administration and incredibly, to many of us, that decision was sustained by President Obama. The foundations of habeas corpus were established by the Magna Carta of 1215 in England. Our original 13 colonies used them to organize our constitutional republic.
Eli Lake explains how Bush and now Obama have legally accessed such extreme executive power :
The font of this extraordinary authority is a congressional resolution passed just three days after the 9/11 attacks. It says, “The president is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”
That’s it? All from this one assertion authorized by the Senate? The vote to this apparently nightmare-generating “blank check” was a neat 98 to zip. As we all know, no one in the U.S. Senate likes to be called "soft on terror." What the Gucci-loafered, deluxe health care for the rest of their lives and those of their families', set unleashed onto the world! How much extraordinary suffering has come from this! How much care and feeding of terrorism around the world!
After 9/11 we had the world’s sympathy. Now, global anti-Americanism and revenge terrorism are entrenched. Festering. Growing exponentially.
The latest horror for us here at home, a betraying President with Tony Soprano legally-endorsed behavior. The right to assassinate an American citizen, far from any battlefield, without granting him or her due process. Another inalienable right thrown under the proverbial bus.
Glenn Greenwald points out, Obama has gone farther than the despicable John Yoo surreally and amorally extending the jurisdiction of executive privilege.
Instead, in Barack Obama's America, the way guilt is determined for American citizens -- and a death penalty imposed -- is that the President, like the King he thinks he is, secretly decrees someone's guilt as a Terrorist. He then dispatches his aides to run to America's newspapers -- cowardly hiding behind the shield of anonymity which they're granted -- to proclaim that the Guilty One shall be killed on sight because the Leader has decreed him to be a Terrorist. It is simply asserted that Awlaki has converted from a cleric who expresses anti-American views and advocates attacks on American military targets (advocacy which happens to be Constitutionally protected) to Actual Terrorist "involved in plots." These newspapers then print this Executive Verdict with no questioning, no opposition, no investigation, no refutation as to its truth. And the punishment is thus decreed: this American citizen will now be murdered by the CIA because Barack Obama has ordered that it be done. What kind of person could possibly justify this or think that this is a legitimate government power?
Is it legal? Even technically? It is not moral. It is not ethical. It sure as hell shouldn’t be legal.
Emperor Obama has now assumed the due-process-less thumbs up/thumbs down decreeing power over the life of an American citizen. He will rely, of course, on U.S. “Intelligence” sources.
Right. “Intelligence.” A one-word oxymoron. For incompetence. For corruption. For chaos. For violence. For collateral damage.
The people that brought you the Iraqi WMD’s “slam dunk.” The ones busily destabilizing Iran right now. I guess you would call them "Lose/Lose behind the scenes scenario-makers."
The ones who “rendered” innocent people. Tortured them savagely into making false confessions. (If the “detainees” survived the torture, that is. At least 100 (that we know of) did not.) Made them languish in cages for years and years.
There must be a special place in hell for people who implement and for those who perpetrate such horrors. There must be another special place in hell for people who are blithely okay with all that evil and cruelty going on.
Tim Reid has an article about the most recent disclosures of Wilkerson, General Colin Powell’s chief of staff:
Colonel Wilkerson, a long-time critic of the Bush Administration’s approach to counter-terrorism and the war in Iraq, claimed that the majority of detainees — children as young as 12 and men as old as 93, he said — never saw a US soldier when they were captured. He said that many were turned over by Afghans and Pakistanis for up to $5,000. Little or no evidence was produced as to why they had been taken.
He also claimed that one reason Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld did not want the innocent detainees released was because “the detention efforts would be revealed as the incredibly confused operation that they were”. This was “not acceptable to the Administration and would have been severely detrimental to the leadership at DoD [Mr. Rumsfeld at the Defence Department]”.
Referring to Mr. Cheney, Colonel Wilkerson, who served 31 years in the US Army, asserted: “He had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent ... If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it.”
He alleged that for Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld “innocent people languishing in Guantánamo for years was justified by the broader War on Terror and the small number of terrorists who were responsible for the September 11 attacks”.
Jason Leopold spells out the horror of one detainee, the same one Col. Wilkerson is testifying for now:
Hamad was arrested in his apartment in Pakistan in July 2002, rendered to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan for three months, where he says he was tortured, and then transferred to Guantanamo, where he was interrogated daily and subjected to even more torture by US military personnel.
At Bagram, according to Hamad's lawsuit, "dogs were set upon [him] while watching United States military personnel laughed and mocked him." Moreover, he was forced to stand for three days without "sleep or food" and eventually collapsed. He was then sent to a hospital where it took him two weeks to recover.
"Mr. Hamad was not given notice of the basis for his detention until more than two years after first being detained, when a Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) was convened in November 2004," according to the lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle earlier this week. "Not until March 2005, nearly three full years after initially being detained, was Mr. Hamad officially labeled an 'enemy Combatant' by the flawed CSRT process," according to the lawsuit.
Of course this and other atrocities of “misjudgment”, “incompetence”, “criminality” are getting little attention by a corporate-loving media and seemingly callously detached public.
An article by Medea Benjamin neatly sums up some of the latest revelations of US atrocities:
Baghdad: U.S. aerial shooters chuckle as they let loose a torrent of bullets, killing over a dozen people, including two Reuters staff. Then they unleash another round on an Iraqi who—passing by in his van—tries to help the wounded. When the American soldiers discover they have hit two children in the van, they can be heard snorting, “It's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”
No one—from those who pulled the triggers to those who gave the okay—has been punished for the murder of these innocents. That’s because this blatant disregard for human life falls within the rules of engagement. And the only reason the incident came to light is thanks to Reuters for its persistence and to Wikileaks for procuring the footage and putting on their site.
Gardez, Afghanistan: US Special Operations forces surround a home where a party is taking place for the birth of a grandson. Two men come out to see why they are being surrounded. They are shot dead. The US soldiers later report they found three women inside the house, gagged and murdered by their own relatives.
The Times of London later reports that the women were killed by the American soldiers. Not only that. To hide the murder, the soldiers dug bullets out of the women’s bodies and washed the wounds with alcohol to hide the evidence. One of the women was a pregnant mother of 10; another was a pregnant mother of six; the third was a teenage girl.
The soldiers dug out the bullets from the women’s bodies to cover up their crimes? Benjamin goes on about the drone killings of innocent people:
Our killing of civilians has spread to Pakistan, where the most deadly attacks come from unmanned drones. A report by the New America Foundation speculates that U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed somewhere around 700 to 1,000 people, one-third of them civilians.
What about this recklessness and disregard for human lives in achieving military goals of operation? Is attention going to reducing the travesties, or reducing their media coverage back in America?
Remember when Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair back in January announced this assumed executive right of assassination and assured America that the President indeed took this awesome privilege quite seriously.
He added, "The reason I went this far in open session is I just don't want other Americans who are watching to think that we are careless about endangering … lives at all. But we especially are not careless about endangering American lives ...."
Whew. For a sec there I thought we might be in trouble. They trashed one of the most important civil rights of the constitution, the right to due process, but they are promising not to be “careless”! Promising for themselves. Promising, too, for all subsequent presidents and administrations with this now assumed extraordinary and dangerous “Mafiosi” privilege?
Eric S. Margolis recently quotes the Roman jurist, Cicero: “laws are silent in times of war.” He has much to say about the free-wheeling black ops CIA, mercenaries and other intelligence agencies and their questionable behaviors in our seemingly perpetual “war time.”
To the Pentagons’ anger, CIA runs its own killer paramilitary units and drone assassination operations, 90 per cent of whose victims are civilians, according to Pakistani media investigations. CIA’s paramilitaries report only to HQ in Langley —which does not talk to the Pentagon. Pakistan’s feeble government is not even informed in advance of Predator strikes and assassinations on its own territory. How many of the 15 other US intelligence agencies and NATO forces are running their own little illegal private armies? US mercenaries are responsible for a growing number of civilian deaths. It’s only a matter of time before all these cowboys begin shooting at one another. Reliable sources in Pakistan report that US-paid mercenaries are staging bombings there and in Afghanistan in an attempt to incite popular anger against Islamic or tribal militants, and draw Pakistan’s army deep into the fray.
Washington brands all Al Qaeda and Taleban “illegal combatants,” denying them due process of law and the Geneva Convention’s prisoner protections. Murdering or torturing such “terrorists,” says Washington, is lawful. So what about all the US mercenary Rambos running amok, who wear no uniform, kill at will, and have no legal oversight and, as we saw in Iraq, get away with murder?
Greenwald asks the money question to us Democrats and/or progressives.
And what about all the progressives who screamed for years about the Bush administration's tyrannical treatment of Jose Padilla? Bush merely imprisoned Padilla for years without a trial. If that's a vicious, tyrannical assault on the Constitution -- and it was -- what should they be saying about the Nobel Peace Prize winner's assassination of American citizens without any due process?
Ray McGovern addresses the posturing of President Obama as protector against terrorism and the reality of his military imperialism. Also, how the CIA establishes questionable associations with “good terrorists” as in the adage “the enemies of our enemy are our friends”. Good terrorists? Like how we chum up to the Afghan non-Taliban drug lords against the Taliban ones? Get enmeshed in their in-fighting? Sounds very much like Cheney’s amoral ends justifies the means mantra. How is that working out for us currently in Afghanistan, one might ask. With Karzai stamping his foot, threatening to throw in with the Taliban team. You just can’t make this stuff up!
McGovern speaks of questionable covert US ops in Iran.
Into the memory hole went the past news reports about the Bush administration earmarking $400 million to support covert operations designed to frustrate Iran’s nuclear program and to destabilize its political system. There also have been troubling reports that the United States has helped “good” terrorist organizations, like Jundullah, in striking violent blows against Iran’s regime.
Again, in reference to the beating of war drums against Iran going on right now with our politicians and corporate loving media Matthew W. Hutchins gives us Noam Chomsky’s take on Obama and the Iranian issue:
The escalation of tensions between Iran and the United States is entirely absurd to Chomsky in light of the widespread acceptance of the rights of Iranians to develop civilian nuclear technology. He sees the cult of American Empire in the government's condemnations of Iran for refusing to follow the demands of the international community, because the definition of “international community” used in such rhetoric amounts to little more than the opinion in Washington, D.C. and among its allies. He cited to the hypocrisy of the U.S. position in its historical relationships with the three nations that did not ratify the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty: Israel, India, and Pakistan. These three nations, said Chomsky, have all received nuclear technology from the United States in violation of security council resolutions, but most Americans would not realize this, given the pro-government bias of the media.
Essentially, Chomsky believes that President Obama's foreign policy has embodied a continuation of the policies of George W. Bush's second term in office.
Eva Golinger writes of the US's and Obama’s aggressive posturing toward Venezuela:
... Although many fell beneath the seductive smile and poetic words of Barack Obama, it’s not necessary to look beyond the past year to see the intensification of Washington’s aggressions against Venezuela. The largest military expansion in history in the region – through the US occupation of Colombia – the reactivation of the Fourth Fleet of the US Navy, as well as an increased US military presence in the Caribbean, Panama and Central America throughout the past year, can be interpreted as preparation for a conflict scenario in the region.
Clinton’s regional trip was part of a strategy announced by the Obama administration last year, to create a divide between the so-called “progressive left” and the “radical left” in Latin America. It’s no coincidence that her first tour of the region coincided with the announcement of a new Latin American and Caribbean Community of States, which excludes the presence of the US and Canada.
THE COMING CONFLICT
A military conflict is not initiated from one day to the next. It’s a process that involves first influencing public perception and opinion – demonizing the target leader or government in order to justify aggression. Subsequently, armed forces are strategically deployed in the region in order to guarantee an effective military action. Tactics, such as subversion and counterinsurgency, are utilized in order to debilitate and destabilize the target nation from within, increasing its vulnerability and weakening its defenses.
Is our Commander-in-Chief addressing the needs and reality of the poor, boots on the ground youth of the U.S. military, as well as its innocent victims overseas, aside from assuring our troops recently that their traumatic brain injuries will definitely be addressed if need be? Wow. That is pretty cold comfort.
Regarding the men and women serving and dying or getting wounded or at best repeatedly traumatized in this seemingly perpetual war, Allen L. Roland talks about what he calls a moral bankruptcy in US leaders and many citizens. (His statistics on suicide, btw, don’t take into account suicides of veterans after they are home from combat.)
This is the seventh anniversary of George W Bush's FOLLY ~ the blatant illegal attack and occupation of Iraq ~ which to date has resulted in the following staggering statistics:
Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered Since The U.S. Invaded Iraq "1,366,350"www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq/iraqdeath...
Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America's War On Iraq: 4,703
Number Of International Occupation Force Troops Slaughtered In Afghanistan : 1,692 http://icasualties.org/oef/
But here is a shocking statistic that you won't hear in most western news media: over the past nine years, more US military personnel have taken their own lives than have died in action in either the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. These are official figures from the US Department of Defense, yet somehow they have not been deemed newsworthy to report. Last year alone, more than 330 serving members of the US armed forces committed suicide - more than the 320 killed in Afghanistan and the 150 who fell in Iraq (see wsws.org).
Roland further addresses these horrifying statistics re suicide:
Since 2001, when Washington launched its “war on terror”, there has been a dramatic yearly increase in US military suicides, particularly in the army, which has borne the brunt of fighting abroad. Last year saw the highest total number since such records began in 1980. Prior to 2001, the suicide rate in the US military was lower than that for the general US population; now, it is nearly double the national average.
Why ? These soldiers have been little more than political pawns for White house Middle East power games and financial maneuvering and they know it. As Finian Cunningham writes in Global Research " In their guts, these US soldiers must know ~ as many other ordinary people around the world do ~ that these wars are nothing but a desperate, pathological bid by a dying power to salvage its crumbling empire ~ an empire that enriches a tiny elite and impoverishes the majority. Is it any wonder that many of them simply lose the will to live? "
Paul J. Balles calls us "the world’s sickest warrior state":
We have now reached a stage where our extreme horrors of brutality and cruelty have exceeded our past records. We no longer have the rationale of moral righteousness of the earlier wars.
There were no excuses for Abu-Ghraib, but our interest in that inhuman travesty dried up and blew away. We have little concern about our violations of human rights in Guantanamo. We care less about ill-treatment of Arabs and Arab Americans in the USA.
But the most extremes - the real horrors - of this war come with the primitive killer mentality developed in our youth. I've now seen a half dozen documentary films and read eyewitness accounts that reveal troops or pilots gloating over the massacres of civilians who just happened to be available targets.
Without doubt, the US has not only become the world's major power, it has become the world's sickest warrior state. Neither conscience nor empathy for others defines the qualities of the sociopath.
It's past time for humanitarians to reject the double standards set by warmongers and supported by arms-makers and the mainstream media. The clergy needs to stop preaching sanctimonious sermons. Finally, educators should adopt and teach a zero tolerance policy for self-righteous warriors.
I think Obama may be lost to the group-think of the covert military gamesmen. Nixon and Bush at least had some guilt to be covert about it all. The secrecy doctrine of non-accountability. But as Richard Wolfe points out, again on Olbermann's show, 4/7/10, Obama and his administration seem quite proud of this lunging into the world of black ops “fun.” Helps them, undoubtedly, with Republicans and the Fox News crowd. Let’s really take care of that threat of being called “soft on terror” once and for all! Getting into the assassination business. Yeah, that's the ticket!. The serious, stomping up and down on habeas corpus rights, too. That will show those bleeding heart liberals with all their snark!
Glenn Greenwald revealed that the Obama administration deliberately leaked the Obama assassination decree to the NYT and WP on 4/6/10.
In your face AMERICA!!!!
I consider Obama’s choices “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” But high crimes and misdemeanors? Can anyone join me in this? Gee whiz, the bar has gotten so high for that in this day and age, what does an ethically derailed person have to do to inspire any sort of reaction in this learned helpless, boiled frog society of ours? What Rachel Meadow calls an “ethical freak show of a universe.” The normalization of high crimes and misdemeanors!!! With a President and media who successfully conflate morality with the negative "ideology".
Some liberals are still working hard for Bush and Cheney to be impeached. How ironic. Obama seems to be passing them out with his present lawless, constitution gutting shenanigans. Doing his triangulating, out-Republican-ing the Republicans once again, like in health care, as we liberals watch on, in continuing horror.
Hubris on steroids is Obama? Overachievement for his corporate sponsoring puppeteers, the ones ever organizing a “new (more profitable) world order”?
As for Congress. The Democrats so pathetically, Pavlovianly, phobic about being decried as “soft on terrorism” not to mention corrupt from insane lobbying bribery -- all of them, that is! So obsessed with the upcoming elections. Winning at all costs, no matter what citizen rights have to be jettisoned. Not exactly a source of support for liberals. For any of us, really. Most of them deserve impeachment themselves.
I recently in a blog accused 300 members of the House of treason. Faster than the speed of light, which is pretty dazzling for one of our two normally glacially-moving national legislative bodies, they presented a bipartisan (bipartisan!!! again, how dazzling) letter to Hillary Clinton to assure Israel, a petulant Netanyahu, neocons in both this and that country, all Jewish voters understandably cronied up with the welfare of Israel, and that ever powerful and vengeful AIPAC lobby that Israel’s welfare was our top U.S priority. Say what? And Israel, the country that really taught us the true meaning of pre-emptive defensiveness, should not have any doubt of unconditional support. Say what?
In other words, our US tax paying money and the blood of our soldier children would readily be spent on behalf of Israel according to these, our oath-taking representatives (I’d add “in name only”). They are assuring Israel we have her back whatever her decisions .... War with Iran? YOU BETCHA!!!! What are friends for?
Yeah, codependent, opportunistic, self-serving, manipulative, sociopathic friends, that is.
So we have a Roman emperor, militaristic President, still with that photogenic smile (what more do we all need than that smile), and a Congress that might as well move to Israel for where its true loyalty and capacity for pro-action lies.
I didn’t think anyone could possibly wrest the “most deserving impeachment award” from Bush and Cheney, but Obama incredibly seems to be working it hard.
Of the original, earnest, 80 million Obama supporters, I sure as hell hope you are paying attention right now!