• Obama: US Citizens Legitimate Military Targets

    December 2, 2011

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Military

    OK, it is now time to panic.

    Top national security lawyers in the Obama administration say U.S. citizens are legitimate military targets when they take up arms with al-Qaida.

    The lawyers were asked at a national security conference Thursday about the CIA killing of Anwar al-Alwaki, a U.S. citizen and leading al-Qaida figure. He died in a Sept. 30 U.S. drone strike in the mountains of Yemen.

    The government lawyers — CIA counsel Stephen Preston and Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson — did not directly address the al-Alwaki case. But they said U.S. citizens don’t have immunity when they’re at war with the United States. Johnson said only the executive branch, not the courts, is equipped to make decisions about who qualifies as an enemy.

    Oh, yes and this: On Tuesday 60 members of the United States Senate voted to preserve a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act—that would be the bill that funds the Pentagon—allowing the U.S. military to pick up and detain, without charges or trial, anyone suspected of terrorism, including American citizens.

    To dissect:

    1) al-Alwaki was a propagandist and organizer for al-Qaeda. He was not a shooter or bomber. The US killed him anyway. The US also killed his teenage son because, well, just because.

    2) No organization or nation has a declared war with the US at present. The only wars we have are those the US has announced. The US has not made a formal declaration of war since December 8, 1941.

    3) The US killing its own citizens violates just about everything in the Bill of Rights and Obama knows that and is doing it anyway, because, well, killing is easier than thinking.

    4) Killing is amazingly a nicer word, a euphemism, for extra-judicial government executions.

    5) The lawyers carefully made no distinction between killing Americans abroad versus killing them in the US. Important government lawyers choose their words carefully. This is not an accident.

    6) America, we are so screwed. Our country has gone completely fucking crazy. Bat-shit whacko. We had a decent run for some 220 years, but it’s all over now baby blue.

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  • Recent Comments

    • Meloveconsullongtime said...


      Me so horny! Me love American Consul long time!

      12/2/11 9:57 PM | Comment Link

    • Richard G. Luken said...


      Mr. VanBuren, your six point summary says it all.

      I’m feeling a bit depressed myself today.

      Being irrevocably prolix, however, I can’t resist an opportunity to comment.

      The recent Senate vote and the trend Mr VanBuren observes brought back a state of mind that enveloped me in the fall of 2006 when I heard George W. Bush officially announce the fact of CIA “black box” sites. Early the next morning I sent the following email to my closest friends. I have slightly revised it so that it is, I hope more coherent than it was in its original 3:00 am inception:

      9/7/2006 3:00 a.m.

      As I was trying to compose myself to sleep a short while ago, I was suddenly struck by the enormity of what President Bush announced this afternoon: on his authority, with the complicity of the Department of Justice, the Government of the United States created and operated a series of extra-territorial prisons and interrogation centers entirely outside of the rule of law. It is my considered opinion that in doing so he has betrayed the principles on which our republic was founded and done immeasurable and perhaps irreparable harm to both the security and the moral standing of the United States of America. Today he has admitted, indeed, proclaimed proudly, that in pursuit of those he designates our enemies, he considers himself beyond reproach, irregardless of the methods employed to achieve his ends. The justification of most tyrants has always been the need to protect the state from “enemies.” If we do not immediately condemn what he has done in our name, the United States will, in my mind, forfeit any claim to being morally superior to any state whose only claim to justification is the fact that it has the power to pursue whatever policy it chooses. I am reminded of the eloquent defense of the rule of law articulated by the character of Sir Thomas Moore in Robert Bolt’s play. When his self-righteous son-in-law to be states that he would strike down “every law in England” to pursue and eradicate the devil, Moore flashes to anger and proclaims: “And when the last law was down, and the devil turned on you, where would you hide, the laws all being flat? Here is the scene, and it is particularly chilling in light of today’s announcements:

      MARGARET: Father, that man’s bad.

      MORE: There’s no law against that.

      ROPER: There is! God’s law!

      MORE: Then God can arrest him.

      ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication!

      MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what’s legal, not what’s right. And I’ll stick to what’s legal.

      ROPER: Then you set man’s law above God’s!

      MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact — I am not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can’t navigate. I’m no voyager. But in the thickets of the law, oh, there I’m a forester. I doubt if there’s a man alive who could follow me there, thank God…. (He says this last to himself.)

      ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after RICH) While you talk, he’s gone!

      MORE: And so he should, were he the Devil himself, until he broke the law!

      ROPER: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!

      MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

      ROPER: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

      MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on ROPER ) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you– where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him) This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

      Al Qaida cannot destroy America. For all their malice, they may succeed in killing some of our citizens, but THAT is the cost of freedom, which as the bumper stickers proclaim, “isn’t free.” That is the risk of living in an open society, just as the freedom from police interference we enjoy makes it easier for criminals to commit their crimes. We do not arrest people, or at least we should not, until they have actually done something wrong. Our nation does not exist to make the policeman’s job easy. (We kill more of ourselves and more innocent victims each year through childish, self-indulgent driving than any terrorist could hope to slay– it’s just not as dramatic — but the people are just as dead, and the economic impact is just as great as the events of 9/11, but we are inured to it due to long practice). In the face of the terrorist threat, (which is not a conflict of nations; hence, calling it a “war” muddles and confounds the question, rather than making it more comprehensible). America cannot be destroyed unless we destroy ourselves. That can happen only when we as a people, for any reason, forsake the individual protections we enjoy from the tyranny of unchecked action by the state. When we refuse to grant our enemies the protection of law and the human rights we ourselves cherish, then we have given over our principles, and, whatever the reason, have started down a path on which there is no necessary stopping place, our first principles having been surrendered at the outset. That is the only way Al Qaida can destroy America, and if the president is permitted to act as he has, if we do not condemn the course on which he has embarked us, then, in spite of the thwarting of their alleged plots to destroy property and take more “innocent American lives,” the terrorists who sought our harm will have led us to deliver upon ourselves a blow which may prove mortal to the way of life we cherish. My greatest fear is that a majority of my fellow citizens may be willing to sanction what George W. Bush has done– may join in applauding as his picked audience did today– preferring vengeance over justice. I can’t recall in reading Solzhenitzen that any of the KGB’s interrogators or jailers did not insist that they were defending the state against its mortal enemies, though from our point of view they were indistinguishable from thugs.

      Members of my generation may recall the image, still or moving, of the Police Chief of Saigon summarily executing a captured Viet Cong during the 1968 Tet offensive. At that point, I turned irreparably against America’s involvement in that war: whatever that man who was shot may have done, in that act, any moral justification of the war vanished : how could America justify sending its sons to die for a government that, whatever the provocation, sanctioned summary execution of a bound, unarmed man? The moral distinction between the “free” South and the “Communist” North shrank to nothing.

      I’m fighting the urge to take Thurber’s advice in another of those fables about which I have been banging on to you all, “The Rabbits Who Caused all the Trouble”: Run, don’t walk to the nearest Desert Island. I’m afraid that I don’t know where I could hide, there being precious few desert islands available. And I would miss the company of you, my friends.

      Until we meet again: take care. Peace.
      [end of e mail text]

      This week we have seen our Senators, act to abrogate Article I section 9 paragraph 2 of our Constitution:
      “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.”

      The US Senate is now, to paraphrase Bolt’s version of More, “[cutting] a great road through the law to get after the Devil.”

      Finally, I would like to suggest — to any who live in the DC area and who have persevered in reading this– that they see Bill Cain’s play Equivocation at the Arena Stage.

      12/2/11 10:17 PM | Comment Link

    • MattieB said...


      That’s nice dear. As for me, me so worried that our Constitution is gone now, OBE (overtaken by events) in the rush to build an Orwellian national security state.

      12/2/11 10:24 PM | Comment Link

    • aha said...


      Um … this American Consul or would any American Consul cure this ah “me so horny” syndrome?

      12/5/11 5:37 AM | Comment Link

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