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American Assassination History for Dummies]

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  • scotpeden
    Fodder for our short term memories. Don t forget, as long as you wave the flag and pronounce your a patriot, it is necessary when we do it, though if anyone
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 21, 2013
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      Fodder for our short term memories.

      Don't forget, as long as you wave the flag and pronounce your a patriot,
      it is necessary when we do it, though if anyone else does half of that,
      they are vile evil terrorists that must be eliminated.

      And if your a citizen, you can simply say, I have no power, they don't
      represent me... as you are spied on and your safety to go anywhere, not
      just within the USA, diminishes.

      Your papers Please! and...We don't need no stinking judges, we have
      lawyers guns and money.

      Scott
      ***************
      <http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/american-assassination-history-dummies>

      American Assassination History for Dummies

      The
      idea that President Obama’s extrajudicial drone-assassinations of
      American citizens is "unprecedented" and "radical" is to ignore decades
      of recent history.

      February 20, 2013 |
      Not Safe for Work Corporation / By
      Mark Ames

      It’s
      hard to have a serious conversation about America’s drone assassination
      policy when no one seems to have a basic grasp of recent history. This
      cultural amnesia epidemic is starting to get me down— which is partly my
      fault for paying more than two minutes’ attention to Twitter at a
      single go.
      The problem starts with Reagan, as problems so often
      do. Most people on the left take for granted that Reagan’s executive
      order 12333 "banned assassinations" — which is not just a false
      interpretation, but really awful mangling of one of the dark turning
      points in modern American history.
      That same ignorance of the
      history of assassination policy runs right through today, with the
      repetition of another myth: That President Obama’s extrajudicial
      drone-assassinations of American citizens is "unprecedented" and
      "radical" and that "not even George Bush targeted American citizens."
      The truth is a lot worse and a lot more depressing.
      To
      understand the backstory to Reagan’s deceptive "assassination ban" in
      1981, you have to know a bit about what was going on in the 70s, that
      brief period of American Glasnost, in the aftermath of Watergate and the
      military’s collapse after losing Vietnam.
      All sorts of dirty Cold
      War secrets were pouring out in that brief period — in late 1974,
      Seymour Hersh broke the story that the CIA had been illegally spying on
      thousands of American antiwar dissidents inside of our borders, in
      violation of the law and the charter that brought the CIA into existence
      . Later, Vice President Rockefeller’s report said the CIA spied on
      300,000 Americans.
      Remember, the American public and most of the
      Establishment back then were very different from today’s. There’s some
      truth to the "Liberal Establishment" culture that ruled until Reagan
      took over — those people were serious about their do-gooder intentions
      and their civic duties and all that, whatever the results on the ground
      were — nothing at all like today’s armchair Machiavellis and backseat
      Nietzsches who dominate our political culture, a culture where
      everyone's jostling to scream "You can’t handle the truth!" at imaginary
      liberal do-gooders...
      One of Hersh’s most incredible exposés
      focused on an undercover CIA spook who told of how they penetrated the
      Weather Underground from very early in the Columbia U protest days,
      right up through their nationwide bombing campaign. Which may finally
      answer how it was that a handful of upper class Ivy Leaguers managed to
      expertly set off bombs all across the country, spring Timothy Leary from
      Vacaville Prison, and "evade" law enforcement officials for so many
      years — only to get off with a slap on the wrist when they finally went
      up for air.
      Ah well, but that’s another story. What started the
      assassination policy trend that frames today’s politics was a slip-up by
      President Ford. It’s a real-life Chevy Chase moment, only instead of
      stumbling over his podium and crashing to the floor for laughs, the real
      President Ford called a "meet ‘n’ greet" with theNew York Times’ top
      editors, wherein the President "slipped" and "blurted out" that he hoped
      they never found out about the CIA assassination program — an
      assassination program that none of them had ever seriously suspected
      until President Ford blurted it out over lunch. Whoa, Liberty! Down,
      boy!
      Here’s how the scene is described in the book Challenging the Secret
      Government by UC Davis Prof. Kathryn Olmsted:
      Toward
      the end of the luncheon, the subject of the Rockefeller Commission came
      up. The Times had criticized the dominance of conservatives on the
      commission. Ford explained that he needed men who could be trusted not
      to stray from their narrow mission of investigating the CIA’s domestic
      activities. Otherwise, he said, they might come up on matters that would
      "ruin the U.S. image around the world" and harm the reputation of every
      U.S. president since Truman.
      "Like what?" asked [editor A.M.] Rosenthal, always the hard-nosed reporter.
      "Like assassinations!" Ford blurted out, quickly adding, "That’s off the
      record."
      Doh!
      By
      standard mainstream journalism rules, Ford’s "blurt" wasn’t off the
      record. But more importantly: fuck the rules, this was bombshell news,
      from the highest (and bumblingest) source in the land! Tom Wicker and
      Rosenthal both insisted on publishing the scoop — Wicker was convinced
      that Ford meant to blurt it out for reasons unknown, it was hard to
      imagine someone who spent decades close to J Edgar Hoover and other
      intelligence officials could be that unbelievably stupid.
      But
      cowardice won the day — Wicker and Rosenthal were overruled by the rest
      of the Times execs and editors who were there, and they had to sit on
      their scoop and watch while a grandstanding jackass (in the good sense)
      named Daniel Schorr stole it from under their noses.
      Yep, that
      crusty old voice on NPR was once one of the pushiest assholes in
      journalism. Schorr, who worked for CBS News during the post-Watergate
      era, had heard the rumors about Ford’s "assassination gaffe" at the New
      York Times. Schorr had assumed that Ford was talking about domestic
      assassinations of Americans, but he needed confirmation from someone
      high up. So he arranged an off-the-record interview with CIA chief
      William Colby, and got another "gaffe" scoop:
      Finally,
      I said, as casually as I could, that I had heard President Ford had a
      problem about the CIA and assassinations. Colby fell silent.
      "Has the CIA ever killed anybody in this country?" I asked directly.
      His reply was quick and even: "Not in this country."
      "Not
      in this country!" I stared at Colby as it sank in on me that I had been
      on the wrong track, but had now been put unintentionally on the right
      one.
      Two gaffes, two Chevy Chase fall-on-their-faces
      screw-ups buy two of the highest and most experienced
      lawyer-intelligence officials in the land. What’re the odds!
      Then
      again, there really was something of a whiff of failure in the air those
      years — Hell, even our assassins couldn’t hit the side of a barn if
      they stood right in front shooting, as Sara Jane Moore and Squeaky
      Fromme proved that year, the Lucille Balls of would-be presidential
      assassins...
      This is where the slapstick ends, and things get
      deadly serious and depressing. Over the next several months, the Church
      Commission and Pike Commission exposed a number of CIA assassination
      plots — in the Congo, Haiti, Chile, Cuba, Indonesia, Dominican Republic,
      who knew where else — and the public reacted with genuine shock and
      horror. Not just the public, but most of the Liberal Establishment was
      shocked and horrified also — Democrats and Republicans, back when they
      had "moderate" and "liberal" Republicans in Congress. Hypocrites, sure,
      but after a couple of decades with the Col. Jessups who dominate our
      political discourse today, I’d take those old pre-Carter Cold War
      liberal hypocrites any day.
      The CIA assassination program shocked
      the public more than any other revelation from that period. JFK and MLK
      conspiracy theories went mainstream. Robert Redford wouldn’t take a
      script if he wasn’t being chased by CIA villains. Everyone hated the CIA
      in America, and the fastest way to becoming a hero was being hated
      right back — like Daniel Schorr was.
      In mid-1975, Schorr was
      anointed "CIA Enemy No 1" by none other than ex-CIA director and
      silver-spoon fascist Richard Helms himself — which Schorr proudly
      recounted in his memoir Clearing The Air:
      Though, in a
      sense, my broadcast about assassination plots may have helped to spark
      the investigation that had brought Helms back [from Teheran, where Helms
      served as US ambassador], I was not thinking of it in personal terms as
      I waited in the corridor, with three or four other reporters, for him
      to emerge from the Vice President’s office and to invite him to be
      interviewed before camera staked out in the press room across the hall.
      As
      I offered my hand in greeting, with a jocular, "Welcome back," Helms’
      face, ashen from strain and fatigue, turned livid. "You
      son-o-f-a-bitch!" he raged. "you killer! You cocksucker! ‘Killer Schorr’
      — that’s what they ought to call you!"
      In that
      atmosphere, in early 1976, President Ford issued executive order 11905 —
      which has been wrongly described over the years as "banning
      assassinations," but at the time Ford signed it, 11905 was more properly
      understood as a window dressing largely designed to keep the liberal
      activist Democratic Party Congress from legislating changes to the CIA
      themselves. (Keep in mind, the Democratic Congress that swept into power
      after Watergate was, for a brief time, aggressively reformist and
      nothing like the Democratic Party of today.) Even Ford’s language
      banning assassinations or CIA domestic spying left a lot to be
      interpreted — a recurruing problem later on, with the exception of
      Carter.
      Sen. Frank Church, who headed the Church Committee (sort
      of a "Truth Commission), dismissed Ford’s "reforms" when they were first
      announced in early March 1976, as Newsweek reported at the time:
      "Over-all,
      the President’s proposal is clearly to give the CIA a bigger shield and
      a longer sword with which to stab about," argued Sen. Frank Church.
      ["Ford’s CIA Shake-Up", Newsweek, March 1, 1976]
      Rather
      than creating conditions for greater accountability, Ford centralized
      power in the White House — and as Newsweek reported, the biggest
      beneficiary of Ford’s reforms (and likely its author) was none other
      than new CIA chief George H. W. Bush:
      Ford's Executive
      order put its emphasis on a firmer chain of command - starting with the
      President - even though the investigations of most intelligence abuses
      have shown them to be the result of White House interference, not
      uncontrolled cloak-and-daggering. Might increased Presidential control
      lead to more abuses in the future?
      "I would hope that the American
      people will elect a President who will not abuse that responsibility,"
      Ford said. "I certainly don't intend to."
      The biggest beneficiary
      of the new plan was CIA director Bush, who now will serve as chairman of
      the new Committee on Foreign Intelligence ... The committee will
      control the budgets for all the nation's foreign intelligence operations
      as well as the domestic counterintelligence activities of the FBI.
      Finally,
      although Ford technically banned assassinations, his order left a giant
      loophole that could allow the CIA to spy on American dissidents all
      over again, as Newsweek reported:
      Aside from the ban on assassinations, however, no new limits were set on
      covert operations overseas.
      Ford
      did set some limits on surveillance, electronic eavesdropping and
      infiltration aimed at U.S citizens or groups. But [...] critics said his
      Executive order was ambiguous enough to open the way for domestic
      operations previously considered questionable or prohibited by law. The
      CIA, for example, illegally opened mail for twenty years; last week Ford
      proposed the agency be given authority to do so under appropriate court
      orders. Under Ford's proposal, a court order would also allow the FBI
      and NSA to bug U.S. citizens for intelligence purposes; at present, this
      can be done only in criminal cases.
      But then
      something went wrong in Bush-Ford’s plans — the curse of the bumbling
      American fascist returned, in the form of Gerald Ford’s 1976 campaign
      chief, Dick Cheney, who flubbed Ford’s odds-on election victory simply
      by being there and putting in his two cents. That meant a do-gooder
      peanut farmer named Jimmy Carter was in control at the peak of the last
      gasp of Democratic Party liberal activism.
      As everyone knows,
      Carter’s presidency was one long bummer. But what most people don’t know
      — or have forgotten — is that Carter did more than any president to
      bring the national security state under control. Especially the CIA,
      which Carter gutted, purged, and chained down with a whole set of
      policies and guidelines meant to protect American citizens’ civil
      liberties.
      In his first year in office, Carter purged nearly 20%
      of the Agency’s 4500 employees, gutting the ranks of clandestine
      operatives, sending hundreds of dirty trickster vets into the private
      sector to seethe for the next few years. Carter signed an executive
      order worked out with Frank Church and the Senate committee on
      intelligence putting more serious limits on the CIA’s powers —
      unequivocally banning assassinations, restricting the CIA’s ability to
      spy domestically, and putting their covert operations under strict
      oversight under the president, Congressional committees and the attorney
      general. The CIA’s paramilitary was even disbanded, though not banned.
      Carter’s
      people understood that real fundamental change in the CIA and national
      security state would only come through democratic politics — through
      passing laws. He and Sen. Church tried, but they were outmaneuvered and
      ground into mulch.
      A Washington Post article from the summer of
      1978 captured the changing mood, and the first early wave of gloom
      setting in with Democrat reformers that their days were over and their
      chance was missed:
      Two years ago, when David Atlee
      Phillips and like-minded defenders of the Central Intelligence Agency
      set out on the college lecture circuit, they were routinely confronted
      by hecklers and protesters denouncing them as "assassins."
      The
      climate has changed. The investigations are over. The recriminations
      have subsided. The apologists have turned into advocates, urging, even
      demanding a stronger hand for the CIA and the rest of the intelligence
      community despite the record of abuses.
      A comprehensive piece of
      legislation, the National Intelligence Reorganization and Reform Act of
      1978 (S.2525), has been drafted and debated at Senate hearings for
      months now, but all sides dismiss it as nothing more than a talking
      paper, a starting point.
      Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), who served
      as the chairman of the original Senate Intelligence Committee and its
      unprecedented investigations, thinks it is already too late.
      "Reforms
      have been delayed to death," he said in an interview. "This has been
      the defense mechanism of the agency and it could easily have been
      foreseen . . . Memories are very short. I think the shrewd operators,
      the friends of the CIA, recognized that time was on their side, that
      they could hold out against legislative action."
      And
      yet even as comparatively progressive as Carter’s and Church’s proposed
      reforms were — this was the brief high point for civil liberties, it’s
      all downhill from here — nevertheless, pretty much everyone across the
      spectrum hated Carter’s and Church’s reforms for their own reasons, and
      Carter did little to inspire.
      Carter’s gutting of the CIA and his
      new guidelines restricting domestic surveillance by the FBI and other
      agencies won him few friends among grandstanding professional liberals.
      If anything the country turned against Carter as the world went to shit
      around him — Iran, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Jonestown — paving the way
      for Reagan to "restore" American power.
      Which brings us to early
      1981, and Reagan’s executive order 12333 which has been falsely
      described as "banning assassinations" by critics of Bush and now Obama.
      Scott Horton, writing in Harpers last year, has a good description:
      But
      as with so much U.S. national-security legislation, this order turns
      out to be far less than meets the eye. Simplified, [Reagan’s EO] could
      be summarized this way: "No one shall be assassinated—unless the
      president authorizes it, in which case we will refrain from calling it
      an assassination."
      But it’s much worse than that.
      From
      the minute Reagan’s team took power, they went to work rewriting the
      rules to give themselves enormous unlimited power to re-animate the
      empire and the national-security state. In early 1981, it didn’t seem
      possible that the political culture could slide back so far after all
      those hard-won battles; by the end of the year, it was as if there’d
      never been a Church Committee or reforms of any kind.
      To get a sense of how this developed, here’s a kind of timeline I put
      together:
      March 10, 1981: "Reagan Administration Weighs Broader CIA Role in Domestic
      Spying"
      The
      Reagan administration is considering a broad expansion of the CIA's
      authority to use break-ins, physical surveillance and covert
      infiltration of American groups and businesses, sources say. (AP)
      June 15, 1981: "Recouping Under Reagan; CIA Is on the Rebound"
      The
      Central Intelligence Agency, whose public image and private morale have
      been battered during much of the past decade, appears to be regaining
      some of its lost money, manpower and maneuvering room under the Reagan
      administration. (WaPo)
      October 13, 1981: "Draft Order May Let CIA Resume Its Police Ties"
      The
      Central Intelligence Agency, under a proposed administration order,
      apparently could resume many of its ties with local and state police
      agencies in addition to embarking on its own infiltrations of domestic
      organizations. (WaPo)
      October 22, 1981: "Reagan Official Says Carter Overprotected Civil Liberties"
      A
      Reagan administration official said Thursday a proposed order relaxing
      restrictions on CIA domestic activity is needed to strike a new balance
      between civil liberties and national security.
      "President Carter
      went too far in protecting civil liberties. He erred in placing too many
      restrictions on the intelligence community," the official said at a
      briefing held on the condition that his name and position not be used.
      (AP)
      In December 1981, Reagan signed the executive
      order 12333 undoing the previous decades’ reforms with the stroke of a
      pen. For cover, Reagan’s people planted fake scare stories through Jack
      Anderson about non-existent Libyan assassination squads infiltrating
      U.S. borders, waterskiing their way across the Great Plains to spring
      John Hinckley and wreak havoc on the American Way of Life.
      And
      that is the back story to Reagan’s executive order 12333, the one that
      allegedly banned assassinations and allegedly made him so much more
      progressive than Bush or Obama.
      Reagan not only gave the CIA carte
      blanche in the US to spy, but he also massively expanded the powers of
      the FBI and law enforcement to spy on Americans domestically with
      another executive order in 1983, paving the way for a repeat of all the
      awful abuses uncovered by Sen. Church, which only started coming to
      light at the end of Reagan’s presidency.
      As reported in the AP on March 7, 1983:
      Rules Relaxed On FBI Surveillance
      Attorney
      General William French Smith today relaxed the rules governing FBI
      surveillance of domestic groups that advocate social change through
      violence….
      Specifically, the guidelines make these changes:
      *
      Allow the FBI to use new informants and infiltrators during a
      preliminary inquiry, where there is not yet enough evidence to warrant a
      full investigation. Levi had restricted those techniques to full
      investigations.
      * Specifically authorize the FBI to continue
      low-level monitoring through informants and other means of groups that
      have gone dormant and pose no "immediate threat of harm." The FBI had
      been closing such investigations when a group went one year without
      committing violence.
      * Authorize, for the first time, full
      investigations based solely on public statements advocating crime or
      violence when there is an apparent intent to carry out the threat.
      *
      Authorize the FBI to collect publicly available information that
      satisfies a law enforcement purpose but does not necessarily involve a
      group under investigation.
      Cut to: 1988, and we’re on repeat from the 70s, like a bad sitcom, with
      scandals and exposes of police state overreach.
      Here’s one example from the Chicago Tribune dated January 31, 1988:
      SECRET GUIDELINES ALLOWED FBI TO STRETCH PRIVACY LAW, FILES REVEAL
      Files
      of an FBI investigation of groups opposing President Reagan's policy in
      Central America show that secret guidelines for national security
      investigations gave the agents enormous latitude to delve into the lives
      of Americans who simply had criticized government actions.
      The
      disclosures from FBI files have raised questions in the public and
      Congress about whether the relaxed guidelines, designed to make it
      easier for agents to examine groups suspected of trying to "achieve
      political or social change" through violence, are a sufficient
      protection for individual rights. President Reagan has ordered an
      internal review of the FBI surveillance, White House spokesman Marlin
      Fitzwater said Friday.
      As you can probably guess, the
      Democrats made some noise, complained, opened hearings — but no one had
      the courage or stamina to go through all that again.
      Meanwhile,
      on the assassination front, here’s a snapshot of what Reagan’s EO 12333
      led to. This WaPo article, "Covert Hit Teams Might Evade Presidential
      Ban" dated February 12, 1984, needs to be unpacked to understand how
      little things have changed in the past three decades:
      The
      Reagan administration has debated whether to authorize covert
      operations abroad that would allow military or CIA hit teams to secretly
      attack terrorist groups responsible for recent bombings of U.S.
      installations. By one account the debate is still going on and no
      decision has been made.
      [S]ome CIA and military officials argue
      that the most effective way to retaliate--with the fewest mistakes and
      fewest innocent victims--is through a surgical strike by a hit team, run
      and organized by the United States but probably composed of U.S.
      military personnel or even foreign nationals.
      Air strikes or
      bombardments with 16-inch, one-ton shells from the battleship New Jersey
      do not have the precision of a small hit team with a definite target,
      these officials have argued.
      One senior intelligence official in
      Beirut recently said that air strikes, while in theory more "morally"
      acceptable and conventional, have killed many unintentionally.
      This
      amazing passage gets right to one of the dark absurdities that informs
      our own debate today about how to fight terrorism — that it’s "legal"
      and considered essentially "normal" to shell with destroyers or bomb
      villages from the air if terrorists are suspected of being in those
      villages — but considered completely beyond the pale of civilized
      behavior to actually aim and target suspected terrorists.
      It was a
      similar debate as this in the Bush years that led to increased use of
      drones and targeted assassinations — and now that we’re using drones,
      the sense is that the American imperial machine has crossed a Rubicon of
      death and evil unheard of. What Reagan’s war on terror reveals to our
      post-Reagan eyes is the absurdity of conducting imperial wars, period —
      whatever the choice of weapon is.
      And then there’s this black
      comedy part of the story — putting the fate of the American imperial
      machine and justice in the hands of lawyers and "rule of law"-tards
      rather than in the public forum where it belongs:
      Those
      officials opposed to using hit teams say it would be assassination.
      And, they noted, an executive order concerning the intelligence
      community, first signed by President Ford in February 1976 and later
      reaffirmed by Presidents Carter and Reagan, prohibits assassination. The
      order says: "No employee of the United States government shall engage
      in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination."
      One
      official said the order could be revoked or simply ignored, arguing that
      covert action against terrorists could be defined as something other
      than "political assassination." This apparently could be done in
      secrecy. The law does not require the administration to give Congress
      prior notification of covert operations.
      Both a White House and a
      State Department official confirmed last week that the use of a covert
      hit team was still being debated. They indicated that if any effort was
      made, the CIA would probably not be involved and the action would be
      called and considered "military activity" or even a "commando strike."
      See
      what happens when you put assassination policy in the hands of lawyers?
      It’s not even assassination anymore — it’s "military activity"! And
      terrorists aren’t political targets! And you didn’t support Bush’s
      invasion of Iraq, you supported the institutions that supported the
      institution of the presidency which decided independently of the
      institutions you supported to invade Iraq. Duh!

      * * * *
      Around
      this time, another revelation about Reagan and assassinations was
      discovered by the great investigative reporter Robert Parry working at
      the AP: A new CIA training manual for Latin American death squads,
      published in 1983, included instructions on various methods of murdering
      and torturing. Hundreds of thousands in Central America were butchered,
      disappeared, raped and tortured during Reagan’s tenure, by death squads
      trained up by our forces. All carried out under Reagan’s alleged "ban"
      on assassinations:
      The House Intelligence Committee
      chairman Wednesday night denounced a CIA psychological warfare manual
      produced for Nicaraguan rebels as "repugnant" and a "disaster for U.S.
      foreign policy."
      The manual advises U.S.-backed Nicaraguan rebels
      that some officials of the nation's leftist government can be
      "neutralized" with the "selective use of violence" and recommends the
      hiring of professional criminals to carry out "selective jobs."
      ...The
      manual suggests arranging a violent demonstration that will lead to the
      death of one or more rebel supporters and the creation of a "martyr."
      It also instructs the rebels in how to coerce Nicaraguans into carrying
      out assignments against their will.
      Reagan’s people
      claimed that the AP got ahold of one of a handful of defective copies of
      the CIA manual, swearing on their grandmothers’ graves that the real
      CIA manuals distributed around Latin America made no mention of
      assassination.
      But as soon as George Bush Sr became president in
      1989, he dispensed with whatever remained of the charade with an "aw,
      fuck it" attitude — and that was that:
      Administration Redefines Ban on Foreign Assassinations
      The
      Bush administration, without changing an executive order banning
      assassinations of foreign leaders, has chosen to legally interpret
      "assassination" as referring only to premeditated political murder,
      according to a published report.
      Unidentified administration
      officials quoted by the Times said the ruling would significantly expand
      the scope of military operations the United States could legally launch
      against terrorists, drug lords or fugitives abroad, the newspaper
      reported.
      "None of the executive orders defined the term
      assassination, which created a lot of confusion," a Pentagon official
      said. "This ruling takes away the excuse for indecision.".
      Did
      you catch that? Does it even matter anymore? You can already see where
      the real problem lies here — the complete absence of any politics,
      leaving American democracy at the mercy of lawyers and their various
      interpretations of "rule of law."
      The Clinton years don’t bring
      any improvements — the best you can say about Clinton is that he didn’t
      escalate the Reagan-Bush national security state evils to new insane
      levels. Instead, he played the liberal by squirting a few for the
      hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans massacred under US supervision —
      then got his little wars on in Kosovo and cruise-missile attacked Saddam
      Hussein.
      Ironically, during one of Clinton’s Baghdad-bombings in
      1998, Republicans backed by all the armchair Machiavelli pundit class
      started making a bunch of noise demanding Clinton stop pretending once
      and for all that we don’t assassinate foreigners, on the theory that
      being "hypocritical" about assassinating foreigners is somehow a lot
      worse than tearing off our shirts outside the proverbial bar, screaming,
      "Yeah, we assassinate! Whatcha gonna do about it, huh? We’re here,
      brah! Not fuckin’ afraid to admit it, we assassinate, cuz that’s how we
      roll, brah!"
      Clinton, however, chose to stick with his liberal
      hypocrite strategy. Ultimately, it made no goddamn difference to his
      successor, George W. Bush, but in hindsight you really do have to wonder
      why our culture got so laughably sanctimonious about a "hypocritical"
      assassination policy versus what the other side demanded, "at least
      being open about it." No one ever explained how being "open" about
      assassinations made us more just.

      * * * *
      Which
      brings us to our time. May 4, 2001. George W. Bush just seated himself
      in the White House. That same month, who should be lobbying for a bill
      granting Dubya unfettered power to assassinate whomever he wants
      butlibertarian hero Bob Barr, as reported in the Tulsa World:
      Tough guys: Time to get back into the assassination business?
      In
      case there was any doubt that the tough guys are back in charge in
      Washington, some of the new unilateralists making American policy these
      days seem to want to get us officially back into the assassination
      business.
      [W]e search out individuals who might be inclined to
      harm one or more of us -- and we kill them. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia is
      stepping up to that one, and he seems to be doing it on White House
      orders or suggestion.
      Barr, who wanted to take out President
      Clinton last year, has other targets in his sights this time. On Jan. 3,
      he introduced HR 19, "The Terrorist Elimination Act of 2001." It is a
      bill, in its own words, "to nullify the effect of certain provisions of
      various Executive Orders."
      A few months later, Bob Barr’s services were no longer needed by the Bush
      Administration.
      Which
      brings me to the last part of this attempt at jolting your short-term
      memory. One of the other myths informing our feckless and half-baked
      debates is the meme going round claiming that President Obama, by
      approving extrajudicial assassinations of Americans suspected of being
      terrorists, crossed a line that supposedly "even Bush" never dared to
      cross.
      For example, Wired recently declared:
      Like
      the Bush administration before it, the Obama administration white paper
      rejects any geographical restriction on where it can launch its drone
      strikes and commando raids. But the Bush administration actually stopped
      short of declaring that it had the authority to kill American citizens.
      And Salon’s Joan Walsh expressed outrage over
      the lack of liberal outrage at Obama’s "policies that Bush stopped
      short of, like targeted assassination of U.S. citizens loyal to
      al-Qaida."
      (Walsh’s outrage is shared by other outraged liberals.)
      There are more examples of this, but you get the point.
      For
      better or for worse — I say for worse — this story doesn’t have a neat
      made-for-TV narrative arc of evil. It’s pretty goddamn flat throughout,
      excepting the Carter years. And that non-dramatic flat evil holds true
      with Obama as well.
      First, it’s not true that Americans were not
      assassinated by extrajudicial drone or missile attacks during the Bush
      years. There are two for sure that we know of: The first American-born
      citizen assassinated by a targeted drone attack was Kemal Derwish, blown
      up by a Predator in Yemen in 2002.
      As Dana Priest wrote in the Washington Post:
      Word
      that the CIA had purposefully killed Derwish drew attention to the
      unconventional nature of the new conflict and to the secret legal
      deliberations over whether killing a U.S. citizen was legal and ethical.
      After
      the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military,
      authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that
      an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions
      against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence
      officials said. The evidence has to meet a certain, defined threshold.
      The person, for instance, has to pose "a continuing and imminent threat
      to U.S. persons and interests," said one former intelligence official.
      That piece was written in 2010, but early in Bush’s term, articles like
      this one from the New York Times in 2003 made it clear that Bush approved
      of extrajudicial targeted assassinations of American suspected terrorists:
      On
      Nov. 3, 2002, a missile fired from a C.I.A. Predator drone incinerated a
      car carrying six men through the Yemeni desert. The target, according
      to government sources, was Qaed Salim Sinan al Harethi, believed to be a
      key Qaeda operative in the Cole attack. But in a report issued Nov. 19
      by the Yemen news agency, Saba, the country's interior minister, Maj.
      Gen. Rashad al-Alimi, confirmed that one of the passengers was Kamal
      Derwish.
      Afterward, American officials said the president had the
      power to order a strike on Al Qaeda operatives overseas, including
      American citizens.
      In a recent interview, Mr. Ridge said Mr.
      Derwish's death had been discussed within the administration. "If that's
      what you have to do under these circumstances of 9/11 to protect
      America," he said, "that's what we have to do."
      Ridge’s interview confession to Lowell Bergman can be found at the PBS site.
      The second American targeted for assassination that we know of was Ruben
      Shumpert of Seattle, killed by a US missile strike in Somalia in 2008.
      And
      now here we are today, with a "progressive" president who absorbed all
      the rancid policies of Ronald Reagan and George W Bush and adopted them
      as his own as titular head of the American Empire.
      Now, if someone could just distill that down to 140 characters.


      Read more of Mark Ames at eXiledonline.com and Not Safe
      for Work Corporation. He is the author of Going Postal:
      Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces
      to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond.





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