Obama’s wars increase body counts daily. New ones planned will add more. Death squads operate in 120 or more countries. So do CIA agents licensed to kill.
US citizens may be targeted at home or abroad. No one anywhere is safe.
Summary judgment means no arrests. No Miranda rights. No due process. No trial. Just a bullet, bomb or slit throat. It’s official Obama policy. Diktat authority affords justice to no one ordered killed.
On May 29, The New York Times upped the stakes. Its article headlined “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” saying:
Obama “placed himself at the helm of a top secret ‘nominations’ process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical.”
In other words, he appointed himself judge, jury and executioner. Despot authority is official administration policy. Diktats decide who lives or dies.
Anyone called Al Qaeda or accused of terrorist connections gets marked for death.
What “moral and legal conundrum” could he face, asked The Times. None whatever. On day one in office, he spurned rule of law principles.
He adopted George Bush’s ideology. His predecessor called “the Constitution….just a G-damn piece of paper.”
Obama feels the same. He’s comfortable with “unitary executive” authority. It puts him above the law. Chalmers Johnson called it “a ball-faced assertion of presidential supremacy….dressed up in legalistic mumbo jumbo.”
International law is quaint and out-of-date, he believes. Diktat authority replaced it. The former constitutional law professor abandoned what he taught. He campaigned against war and torture. In office, he exceeded the worst of his predecessor.
He usurped the power of life and death, including against US citizens. He’s got final “kill list” authority.
Policy prioritizes killing by drones, death squads, or other means. Only eliminating America’s enemies matter. Whether real or imagined makes no difference.
The more removed, the greater the number replacing them. According to national security adviser Thomas Donilon:
“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go. His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world. He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”
His “aggressive counterterrorism record” baffles supporters and critics alike. Secrecy obscures policies. Shadow war actions aren’t publicized. Deadly force is approved “without hand-wringing.” So is fork-tongued politics, torture and other lawless practices.
For Obama, killing Americans comes “easy.” Waging war on Islam is policy. So is take no prisoners. Counterterrorism is cover for wholesale or retail slaughter. Collateral deaths don’t matter.
US Pakistan ambassador, Cameron Munter, complained about CIA drone strikes. He told colleagues “he didn’t realize his main job was to kill people.”
Obama and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan collaborate on who lives or dies. Both match each other’s bloodthirstiness. “Just war” thinking overrides rule of law principles and moral considerations.
“Drones have replaced Guantanamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants.” America needs enemies to justify war. Avoiding peace and stability is policy.
Former national intelligence director Dennis Blair said:
“The steady refrain in the White House was (targeted killing) is the only game in town – reminded me of body counts in Vietnam.”
Unanswered is when will killing stop? Who’ll denounce what’s unconscionable? Who in government believes right over wrong matters most? No one around Obama dares. His administration doesn’t tolerate justice, morality, and rule of law principles.
On matters of war and peace, only imperial interests matter. Ends justify means.
“A phalanx of retired generals and admirals stood behind Mr. Obama on the second day of his presidency.”
They “provid(ed) martial cover as he signed several executive orders to make good on campaign pledges. Brutal interrogation techniques were banned, he declared. And the prison at Guantánamo Bay would be closed.”
Guantanamo remains open. Other torture prisons expanded. Every major promise made was broken. Wars rage without end. New ones are planned. Killing like sport continues daily.
Unlike voters who believed in him, he “was never carried away by his own rhetoric.” Lying came easily. So did going rogue. Amoral realpolitik defines his thinking.
Morality has no place in government. Nor do human rights and other democratic values. Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel calls it “cold-blooded (thinking) about the self-interests of your nation.” Body counts don’t matter, just objectives.
From inception, Obama’s doctrine featured human sacrifice for unchallenged dominance. Winning alone matters. Anything goes is policy. He has final say.
In 2008, campaign national security strategists advised “pragmatism over ideology.” Urging it “reinforced the president’s instincts.”
Policy rules out nothing. Rhetoric woos supporters. Major objectives aren’t deterred. They include war, torture, rendition, military commissions, indefinite detentions, and targeted killings.
Nothing stands in his way. He’s ruthless. His public persona hides it. Those around him know better.
Openly he urges sparing innocent lives. Privately he doesn’t give a damn. Under Bush, Iraq and Afghanistan rules of engagement were kill every military aged man in sight. Obama changed nothing.
Mostly civilians die. Policies don’t distinguish militants from noncombatants. In Libya alone, NATO killed over 100,000. Killer gangs took many more lives. No one kept count or cared.
Obama’s thinking reflects it. Pragmatism alone matters. Humanity is someone else’s problem. Everyone targeted in strike zones is fair game. Being there means they’re “up to no good,” even women and children.
An unnamed official said “Al Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization – innocent neighbors don’t hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs.”
The same goes for residents where militants are targeted. Being there justifies indiscriminate killing.
Official counts distort reality. Combatants alone are killed, they claim. Independent analysts say as many as 50 civilians die for every militant. In combat theaters everywhere, ordinary people suffer most.
Former intelligence and government officials admit it. According to one:
“It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants. They count the corpses” but don’t care who they are.
National security advisor Donilon says Obama “is a president who is quite comfortable with the use of force on behalf of the United States.”
Forgotten is candidate Obama’s pledge to end America’s wars. On October 27, 2007, he said:
“I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out (of Afghanistan and Iraq) by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do.”
“I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to (these wars). You can take that to the bank.”
He also promised hope, change, a new era of peace, upholding democratic values, closing Guantanamo in one year, ending torture, no more illegal spying and detention without trial, “a new era of openness,” equitable immigration reform, keeping the Internet free and open, negotiations with Syria, Iran and other countries targeted for regime change, and much more.
In office, he broke every major promise made. Loyal constituents were betrayed. Imperial and corporate considerations were prioritized. Popular needs went begging.
Arrogance, unaccountability, and contempt for democratic values define his presidency. Rule of law principles don’t matter. Take no prisoners is prioritized. If reelected, imagine what’s ahead in a second term.
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA, raised in a modest middle income family, attended public schools, received a Harvard BA in 1956 and a Wharton MBA in 1960. After six years as a marketing research analyst, Lendman became part of a new small family business in 1967, remaining there until retiring in 1999.
Since then, he has devoted his time to progressive causes, extensive reading, and since summer 2005 writing on vital world and national topics, including war and peace, American imperialism, corporate dominance, political persecutions, and a range of other social, economic and political issues.
He is also author of the celebrated books "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity" and "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War".
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