“We aren’t known for torturing people any more. In the Obama era, we’re known for killing them.”

I want to make this discussion of drones and the Obama kill list as brief as possible — first, because each of the news-facts speaks for itself, and second, because there are many important implications to all this, each of which could be a long piece in itself.

So first some background, then the news, then a taste of several implications.

Background — Obama likes his drones

We’ve discussed here many times Obama’s apparent love affair with unmanned drones and drone kills. For example:

■ How does “targeted assassination” work in the Obama administration? (Alternate title: Is John Brennan Obama’s death czar?)

■ Obama approves drone strikes where identity of target is “unknown”

■ Obama admin to US court: The drone kill program is so secret, it may not even exist

Of the three, my favorite is the middle one — about Obama targeting people based on “data signatures” and not actual identities. That one is truly scary. Don’t miss the first one, though. John Brennan — the “death czar” of the alternate title, who simultaneously swings both his kill-cred pipe and humble servant status — is back in the news, and just this week.

So what’s the news that brings all this up?

Secret White House paper on drone kill-policy leaked

NBC News has just obtained a secret White House position paper on drone-kills — they’re calling it a “white paper” — that has the DC and national security world all abuzz. Here’s that story in a nutshell (my emphasis everywhere):

A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” — even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.

Drone via Shutterstock

Drone via Shutterstock

The 16-page memo [pdf], a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the  September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.

The secrecy surrounding such strikes is fast emerging as a central issue in this week’s hearing of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, a key architect of the drone campaign, to be CIA director.  Brennan was the first administration official to publicly acknowledge drone strikes in a speech last year, calling them “consistent with the inherent right of self-defense.” In a separate talk at the Northwestern University Law School in March, Attorney General Eric Holder specifically endorsed the constitutionality of targeted killings of Americans, saying they could be justified if government officials determine the target poses  “an imminent threat of violent attack.”

But the confidential Justice Department “white paper” introduces a more expansive definition of self-defense or imminent attack than described  by Brennan or Holder in their public speeches.  It refers, for example, to what it calls a “broader concept of imminence” than actual intelligence about any ongoing plot against the U.S. homeland.

“The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” the memo states.

I won’t quote more than that, but the whole news piece is here, and this link takes you to the memo itself (pdf). It’s well worth your time to read both.

On the one hand, the news is that John Brennan will come before the Senate in a confirmation hearing; thus he may be asked about this.On the other hand, the news is that we’re into “thought crimes” here, since no proof of a specific attack is needed.

And on the other other hand, there’s the problem of no due process, unless “due process” means a bunch of exec branch rabbits get to pull the trigger on you or your kids during a lunch meeting. Nothing about this, for example, requires the president to be in on the decision. He can delegate the whole thing, or enjoy it all himself. His call.

As Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, said:

“This is a chilling document. … Basically, it argues that the government has the right to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen.”

Very troubling, to say the least.

Senator Wyden has questions

A number of senators have questions about this policy (and they damn well better). Among them Senator Wyden (D-OR). He’s asking publicly:

“[H]ow much evidence does the President need to decide that a particular American is part of a terrorist group?”

“[D]oes the President have to provide individual Americans with the opportunity to surrender?”

“[C]an the President order intelligence agencies or the military to kill an American who is inside the United States?”

Think about those questions. The first one doesn’t specify “foreign” terrorists, and suggests that the definition of “terrorist” is, as Rachel Maddow noted in one of her features on this, a problem of “identity”— who you are in your heart, not what you did or plan to do. The second question is stunning — can I give myself up to save my life? Not if I don’t know I’m on the list to begin with.

And the third question addresses the obvious next step after we allow U.S. citizens to be targeted — can kills be done within the U.S., if they’re not already doing so?

What will the Senate do?

All of this is potentially explosive, which means that the spineless Democrat-controlled Senate could easily wimp out. This could happen in either of two ways. One, no Dem senator will be allowed to ask tough questions (sorry, I meant to write “taught party-discipline” like they were during the lockstep filibuster votes). This is the less likely way, in my opinion. Because this is so big, Dems in the Senate must now make a show of complaining.

The second, and in my view, more likely road to wimpdom is a showtrial with an innocent verdict. That is, Brennan will be hard-questioned and then confirmed. Note that the implication will then be that the Senate will have thus confirmed the policy while pretending to dislike it. Look for this outcome unless the Republicans rear their heads. (But don’t bet on Republican relief. We’re talking about blood here, kills, and Republicans love their manhoods just as much.)

Either way, that’s the Senate angle. Now for the president.

How much does Obama love his drones?

All the evidence suggests that Barack Obama really likes his dronings. This is the most muscular Democratic foreign policy since Truman dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima — and remember, that was a war crime. (It’s a war crime to punish civilians for the actions of the military, or hadn’t you heard?)

I’ll offer two pieces of evidence. First this:

I hear a certain delight in this, a certain casual lack of conscience — and also an echo of “Those WMDs gotta be somewhere…“. This makes me cringe; it’s death he’s joking about, civilian lives taken on his orders. Children who are no less precious than those at Newtown. In one accounting:

As many as 168 children have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan during the past seven years as the CIA has intensified its secret programme against militants along the Afghan border.

In an extensive analysis of open-source documents, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that 2,292 people had been killed by US missiles, including as many as 775 civilians.

The strikes, which began under President George W Bush but have since accelerated during the presidency of Barack Obama, are hated in Pakistan, where families live in fear of the bright specks that appear to hover in the sky overhead.

In just a single attack on a madrassah in 2006 up to 69 children lost their lives.

Can Obama not feel for the parents of children, being a parent himself? After all, the point of the “joke” above is the protection of his own daughters. Does he not see that desire in others, feel that pain in others? If this man were a Republican, Democrats would call him a beast, based just on that “joke” alone.

The second piece of evidence, though, is a more substantive, and comes again from Rachel Maddow (4:52 in the clip at the link):

We are not known for torturing people any more. What we are known for, in the Obama era, is killing them.

The whole clip expands that point, but this is the heart. Put differently — Bush tortured; Obama kills instead. Sy Hersh made the same point in 2009:

It’s more complicated now the torture, and there’s not as much of it. But one of the things we did, ostensibly to improve the conditions of prisoners, we demanded that the American soldiers operating in Afghanistan could only hold a suspected Taliban for four days, 96 hours. If not… after four days they could not be sure that this person was not a Taliban, he must be freed. … So what happens of course, is after three or four days, “bang, bang” — I’m just telling you — they turn them over to the Afghans and by the time they take three steps away the shots are fired.

And unless you think, with Maddow, that torture has been eliminated, Hersh begs to differ:

But the stuff that goes on in the field, is still going on in the field — the secret prisons, absolutely, oh you bet they’re still running secret prisons. Most of them are in North Africa, the guys running them are mostly out of Djibouto [sic].

But that’s a side point. The main one is this — Bush tortured; Obama kills.

If you trace Bush’s preference for torture to a personality trait — remember those stories of child-Bush blowing up frogs? — to what do you trace Obama’s preference for kills? I don’t know about you, but this man scares me. We don’t have an archtypal story to hang this on, like we do with Bush and his frogs, but there’s something here that’s not right.

What will come after Obama?

Bush was to the right of Clinton on military muscle and overreach. Obama is to the right of Bush. The next president will be to the right of Obama. That march will go to the sea, to the last outpost, to the edge.

Inevitably, at some point the definition of “terrorist” will encompass political enemies. Like … Occupy. Or Anonymous. Or maybe a Senate candidate from Berkeley with a Howard Zinn past and an interest in doing real damage to America’s baronial order. We’re already partway there — Bradley Manning is being tortured out of his mind, literally, for serving secrets to Wikileaks that threaten the State. At some future point, he would just be taken out, made a stain on the pavement — like we and our “allies” do already with foreign nuclear scientists we don’t approve of.

Every ruling elite in the world designates threats to its hegemony as “terrorists.” What goes around will definitely come around, if it hasn’t done already. (I’m looking at you, convenient small plane crashes.) Count on it.

Blame Truman

Finally, where did this start? What’s ground zero in the “we’re so good, we don’t need rules” attitude that Americans so revel in? It’s easy to argue that ground zero in American war-crime-as-policy is in fact, Ground Zero — Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Thanks to Digby for this find. Her inner quote reads in part:

Have we perhaps in our self love become the angels of our own despair?  The atomic bomb dropped on Japan was the founding myth of our national security state, and we have as Americans benefited from that.  The bomb allows us to win by any means necessary; which makes us, because we win, right.  And because we are right, we are therefore good.

Under these conditions there is no morality but our own.  And if we hurt or interfere in other nations, the bomb allows us to be forgiven and apparently live without the consequences of our mistakes.  Thus life becomes the law of the jungle and the one with the biggest club feels good because he’s right.  That is the law of brutality that governed Earth at it’s origins many thousands of years ago.

Digby adds:

[W]e’re standing by as presidents of two parties declare their right to order the extra-judicial killings, the Democrat … of the pair extending it to American citizens.

The whole piece is dead on; please do read.

Where does this lead? Digby is hopeful. Me, not at all. We will solve our economic woes before we let go of our post-war national pride in and love of the now-humongous, cancerous, headless beast, the National Security State. That they will have to pry from our cold dead national hands; or it will have to be forced from us by a tragedy too shameful, too large for anyone who hears it to countenance.

Our entire culture is soaked in it; at the moment, it’s who we are. I’d rather we were shamed than forced to stand down, but neither choice is a good one.

Bottom line

See what I mean? This piece is already long, yet each sub-piece could easily expand into a chapter, a larger essay. This is important though, and I didn’t want you to lose the connections by stretching this across days, so I collected them here.

Obama, drones & death — offered for your consideration. Thanks for your ears and your attention.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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84 Responses to ““We aren’t known for torturing people any more. In the Obama era, we’re known for killing them.””

  1. karmanot says:

    It’s just to serious to make a joke about a mean pinball.

  2. FLL says:

    Wouldn’t Bill Clinton have planned to roll out his wife in 2008 rather than Obama? Bill Clinton turned out to be obsessively dedicated to getting his wife elected. You could argue that Bill Clinton only grudgingly came around to Obama after Obama offered to make Hillary secretary of state. A planned roll-out of Obama, involving the Clintons, from back in 2004 seems kind of a stretch.

  3. ezpz says:

    Yes, it was most definitely leaked on purpose for several reasons, one of which being, as you say, to ‘break it to them gradually’ for the purpose of desensitizing.

    Another reason is the timing – a sort of preemption to Brennan’s hearing, and a deflection from the issue of morality to that of secrecy vs. transparency. The narcissistic congress will not dwell too much on the legality or morality as long as they’re kept in the loop. They will say they are performing their duties of oversight because they are now being informed. If you notice, the words transparency and secrecy have been used quite a bit, especially by Brennan, who PROMISED (eye roll) transparency from here on in.

    Then there’s the media, who, until now, have been virtually silent on this. Why now? Well, how could they ignore this ‘leak’? They think they got a real scoop. The joke’s on them because the admin WANTS them to talk about it – but from the perspectives of keeping merikans safe by more efficient means (drones) than ‘boots on the ground’, and again, transparency. Plus, invoke the bush administration and torture and how Brennan was SO against it (though he won’t call it torture), and compare the efficiency of drones to Bush’s wars — no contest to a war weary electorate. And the media are more than happy to comply.

    Eleventy dimensional chess, anyone?

  4. hollywoodstein says:

    The white paper is not the memo. It is a feint/faint shadow of the memo. Basically, the memo’s justification lies in the executives broad power to defend the nation, which the courts have given wide berth. Calling trrrrrism open ended war under the Bushies got the ball rolling and the permanent government of the National Security State educated the current occupant what they were going to do. As the first black guy in the job he couldn’t afford the 24/7/365 coverage Fox news who rotate if someone blew up a firecracker somewhere, nor did he want his own grassy knoll, so he is along for the ride.
    And the next boss will be same as the old boss.

  5. hollywoodstein says:

    Jeez, take a couple of Xanax and wash them down with a couple bottles of wine and you’re liable to miss an epic thread.

  6. hollywoodstein says:

    Most kings considered themselves the embodiment of god and the country and did what they pleased. As long as the nobles got their cut the king could act the despot as much as he wanted.

  7. Ford Prefect says:

    Heh. I doubt it! Controlling population growth would lead to higher wages and a rising standard of living… so no!

  8. Ford Prefect says:

    Precisely. When Pinochet disappeared people, their bodies were unceremoniously dumped in the river or something. The only real difference is one label plainly means death, while the other can be ruminated on by morons as somehow not meaning “death”. IOW, plausible deniability.

  9. htfd says:

    I got an email from MoveOn’s top escelon today. You know the house party and petition people. They boast of a 7 million membership organization. With all that going on in the US today, these are the top priorities for them: ” Debates over immigration. Climate change. Gun violence. Corporate control of our democracy”. Important issues for sure. Why no mention of the errosion of freedoms, kill lists, Indefinit Detemtion, drone killings non prosecution of banks for fraud and theft, jobs, gutting Social Security and Medicare, if I left out anything, add it. These are the people that pushed for Obama’s re-election as the ‘lesser of two evils’ and were all over the internet putting down people who advocated third party candidates. I don’t know about you, but I seriously question their priorities.

  10. htfd says:

    That’s because the kids are being raised by TVs and computer kill games, by parents that were raised by TVs. What happened to reading and I don’t mean just words but comprending what’s being said.

  11. htfd says:

    I love this, but I’d ditch the flag. Patriotatism is something that is earned and I don’t see much being given to grant the giving. Get the people we voted into office to show some respect for the vote we gave them, then add the flag.

  12. htfd says:

    If you remember that than you should remember Zero Population Control. Is this Obama’s answer to ZPC, just kill-um?

  13. htfd says:

    What is the difference between Indefinite Detention and Assassination. If no one knows you’re Indefinitely Detained than what’s to stop them from killing you? It costs money to detain, think deficit reduction, so why not disapear you permanently 6 feet down.

  14. htfd says:

    Yes, and those old FBI files are showing no dust.

  15. htfd says:

    Do you think that this ‘White Paper’ could have been intentionally leaked? The rumbles about Impeachment are growing louder over Obama’s Unconstitutional and exceeding his authority acts. it’s possible Obama leaked this document intentionally. Short version to break it to Congress and voters gradually. With Obama’s back being slowly pushed to the wall by Congress to see Justice’s policy memo authorization (12 months of demands)showing where his power to drone comes from, Obama decided to leak the over view before he sent Congress the full version thus avoiding the shock of the memo. Whats missing in this whole picture about the leak is Obama’s going berserk over it and doing a Bradley Manning on Justice and the person behind the leak. Very Strang.

  16. htfd says:

    Blinded by the light, wrapped up in the illusion. I wonder what it will take to extinguish the light for the deaf, dumb and blind Obama apologists?

  17. htfd says:

    I don’t know about the left and right coming together. It’s been a really long campaign of keeping them apart. Divide and conquer has been the name of the game…Black against white, rich against poor, Democrats against Republicans, etc…for a really long time for any type of a concord to come about.

  18. htfd says:

    Do you remember all the 2007 noise from the noise, mostly from Republicans that he was an unknown. They kept asking who is Obama. Maybe these idiots some how picked up subliminal vibes. If so that’s scary.

  19. karmanot says:

    Lest we forget Obozo’s mentor’s wise words: “Depends on what plotting against us is, is.”

  20. BeccaM says:

    Bingo. Lesser Evilism’s inevitable result.

  21. ronbo says:

    Google CIA, Obama and Business Intelligence Corporation. It is easy to sway someone who already holds the required principles. His relationship with Lieberman… the appearance of being liberal both demographically and in carefully worded statements… the selective editing-out of his employment. This was indeed … the perfect storm.

  22. samizdat says:

    So, we can all look forward to taking a ride on a helicopter 6000 or so feet above the Pacific or the Atlantic, and pushed out of the open door? Or taken to a remote location to be shot and buried in a shallow grave? Oh, will the ladies get to experience the thrill of being kidnapped in the dead of night, shoved into a van, only to be raped and then murdered, and buried by the side of the road? Just like the three Catholic nuns–Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, and Dorothy Kazel–and a Catholic lay worker–Jean Donovan–were in El Salvador? Or how about the six Jesuit priests and their housekeeper and her daughter, who were massacred, also in El Salvador? And the US government hardly said “boo!” about any of it.

    Seems like all of that was just a run-up to our current state of tyranny and despotism. And people wonder why conspiracy theories arise out of such chaos.

  23. Ford Prefect says:

    Actually, Barack Obama is currently Chicken-Hawk-In-Chief, if we can bring out the old remark we used to make about Republicans. As for the Kill Orders themselves, I think the point is that they’re doing it, not any pernicious “reasoning” behind them. It’s about Power asserting itself in the most terrifying way possible. Might makes Right is the point.

  24. Ford Prefect says:

    Not only that, but can anyone point to any nefarious policy that has been prevented by the civilian arms race? Oddly enough, I can’t think of even one. You’d think every sentient being would care about habeus corpus or the Bill of Rights more generally, since that is the basis for most of our previous freedoms.

    So when are they going to start defending those rights? Beuller?!

  25. Ford Prefect says:

    Right-Wing Authoritarianism: It’s not just for Republicans anymore.

  26. butch1 says:

    Ha! As an old timer myself, I know where you’re coming from.

    The irony of this whole thing is that Obama has never served a day in his life as a combat soldier yet, he is giving “killing orders” but doesn’t have to get actual blood on his hands in the process. ( But, these are his own countrymen and women he is murdering. whether they are plotting against us or not. How do WE know if they are? No one is being charged and one knows that many of them probably are innocent just like that 16 year old boy that I hope we all will not let them ever forget. )

  27. ezpz says:

    We seem to have a serial downvoter obamabot on this thread.
    Well, for some perspective, I’d rather be downvoted than droned.

  28. ezpz says:

    BRAVO! Thank you.

  29. nicho says:

    I see that an Obamabot has been by — not to defend Glorious Leader, but to simply vote down any post that criticizes him. Not only tools, but cowards.

  30. ezpz says:

    “….Our occasional visiting right-wing, tea-bagger, and/or gun-loving ‘friends’ like to complain about how Obama is a secret Muslim socialist who needs to be impeached for Benghazi or for issuing perfectly legal executive orders or for signing into law budgets that Congress has passed. Yet our last president lied us into war, engaged in torture, and opened American gulags across the world — and they were silent….”

    And now we have a (D) president who is committing war crimes in our names, and most of the Ds, as well as the corporate media are silent.

    Does it really matter what the wingers say or don’t say? Hypocrisy is equal opportunity – right and left alike.

  31. ezpz says:

    And while this may be an important story, CNN found it MORE important than the hearings.
    Even Fox was showing the hearing and protests live.
    So was MSNBC, and of course, CSPAN.

    Oh, and then CNN decided that an interview with Shirley McClain’s daughter was more important than covering the protests of the hearing.

  32. ezpz says:

    I agree that it goes back way further than the Clintons.

    Speaking of “tin-foil hat territory”, there is that theory out there, which seems to be supported by facts, that he’s been groomed from a very early age by the very organization that Obama wants Brennan to head.

    Google his stepfather…





  33. karmanot says:

    and Armageddon.

  34. ezpz says:

    Aw, whatssamatter? Did some obamabot get their feelings hurt?

  35. Zorba says:

    LOL! I’m glad I’m not the only one, K.! I’ll share my tin-foil hats with you, if you’ll share yours with mine, my brother! ;-)

  36. karmanot says:

    Oh, outraged down arrow, remember what a fantastic thing it was when Obama was going to be our first Black President….How wonderful that history had fulfilled the quest of MLK’s prophesy? And now he does every imaginable thing possible to inhibit people of color, the poor, the homeless, seniors and the most vulnerable from obtaining true economic and civil justice.

  37. karmanot says:

    No need Zorba I have pre-made a bunch of tin foil hats and stored them in my Bunker (which looks suspiciously like Bodhi Dog’s dog house to fool black helicopters) You can have as many as you need, besides the fact that I have considered as have you the Chicago matrix.

  38. karmanot says:

    “Unfortunately he does not have the will to do something,” Or, rather, the will to destroy democratic institutions that have formed the foundation of this nation. Obama is a tyrant. Did anyone, a few years ago even imagine these events unfolding? Sadly, the answer is yes.

  39. karmanot says:

    Some of us have been on that list since the 60’s I am proud to say.

  40. karmanot says:

    And remember Bushi Jeb protecting Cuban right wing terrorists for years.

  41. lynchie says:

    Yes Gaius, you have been consistent from when O raised his head. He was invisible as a Senator but the powers realized he was ripe for manipulation. He wanted the power and can and did whatever they wanted. He is resolute in rewarding the 1% at the expense of the 99%. On that he has never wavered since he was elected. He has seen how his great anthem speeches can charge up the Dems because of their thirst for someone to sing their tune of fairness and accountability. But the speeches fall short, he has virtually given up on gun control other than it provides a pulpit for more empty speeches. What happened to the poor, the elderly, the jobless, the homeless. Frankly there is little that can be done about guns with over 300 million sitting around in closets and bedside tables. However there is a whole hell of a lot they can do about jobs, dealing with the hungry and poor and the elderly. If they have $50 or $100 billion a month to piss away on wars they can find a way to feed the poor and homeless. Unfortunately he does not have the will to do something, it is not in the script he got from the 1%. His flash cards never reference the people who have given up, who have been broken by unemployment, who no longer can feed their families or the kids coming home from war with limbs missing and no hope for a job let alone health care to help them back into society. He blames Congress but has never stood in front of America (his power gives him the right for media coverage) and said “This is what I want done, this is why it needs to be done and this is how we are going to do it”.
    I can’t stand to listen to him spout bullshit. If we have a problem with guns lets get it done. 5 million NRA members should not run 325 million Americans, except if that is what his cue cards tell him. Politicians have become expert at catering to the rich and powerful, they finally get that 99% can do nothing for them so we are excluded from their thoughts and actions. Throw us some red meat with the closely calculated phrases and slogans and we roll over for a tummy tickle. Eventually the right and left will come together and realize this is not how is should be or how it can be.

  42. karmanot says:

    “Anyone can be arrested and imprisoned without charge–only an accusation of some sort is required and those are easy to make up.” Neo-Stasi anyone?

  43. Zorba says:

    GP, I wonder if he was “discovered” by Clinton as much as he may have manipulated and planned the whole thing, with some other help.
    I really don’t want to get into tin-foil hat territory, but I was born and raised in the Midwest (St. Louis and Southern Illinois), have close relatives in Chicago, spent much of my youth there, and have been following Chicago politics for decades. Because he came out of Chicago politics (and, while not quite as much “machine” politics as it used to be, the machine is still there), and because he basically came out of nowhere, I have always been, shall I say, somewhat dubious about him.
    I have always wondered, regarding Obama: Who was using whom?
    OTOH, Hillary Clinton was born and raised in the Chicago area, and at a very young age campaigned for Barry Goldwater in 1964……..
    Okay, okay, maybe I need to break out the Reynold’s Wrap and make myself a hat. ;-)
    But I do think that Obama is nobody’s dupe. I agree with perljammer. This is what he wants, this is what he believes. He talks a good game and has managed to pull the wool over too many eyes.

  44. karmanot says:

    I would put some grenade launchers on the handle bars of my walker, take my heart medicine and insulin, stick a flag in my back pocket and go down as a patriot, thinking: “What irony! totally in tune with the right wing for the first time in my life.”

  45. butch1 says:

    To think people really want to get rid of assault rifles when their state is constantly writing laws against the freedoms of its own people and considers its own citizens either potential “terrorists” or “enemies of the state.” Something to think about.

  46. nicho says:

    OT —

    LOS ANGELES – An ex-Marine who was fired from the Los Angeles Police
    Department in 2008 went on what he pledged would be a murderous rampage
    aimed at police officers and their families, the authorities said,
    killing at least three people – including one police officer – and
    setting off a huge manhunt across Southern California on Thursday.

    Police were on high alert throughout the region. In Torrance, two people
    were shot and wounded by police officers who thought the vehicle they
    were driving belonged to the gunman.

    So, highly trained police officers, who knew exactly who they were looking for, shot and wounded two innocent people by mistake. Yeah, I can see where handing out guns to poorly trained school teachers and custodians is going to make things safer for everybody.

  47. karmanot says:

    I’m remembering that line from Star Wars: “Democracy ends with a roar of applause.”

  48. lynchie says:

    Then the NRA would have 5 million Einsteins

  49. karmanot says:

    America is a terrorist rogue nation.

  50. karmanot says:

    If bullets were brains……..

  51. ezpz says:

    Well said and exactly right!

  52. karmanot says:


  53. karmanot says:

    Totally agree

  54. karmanot says:

    The Blackchurian Candidate, absolutely brilliant grooming by the Clinton geniuses to further the Neo-Democrat world order..

  55. karmanot says:


  56. MichaelS says:

    It has now become all too clear why Obama never went after the Bushies for war crimes… because he was just as intent on pursuing an even more aggressive course of action.

    Well, count me as one progressive who, as much as I’m grateful O’B beat Romney, would be first in line to sign the impeachment proceeding.

    And, btw, where the hell is the Nobel Peace Prize Committee?… Why haven’t they yet rescinded their award, given far too prematurely four years ago, to this war criminal?

  57. karmanot says:

    “This makes me cringe; it’s death he’s joking about, civilian lives taken on his orders. Children who are no less precious than those at Newtown. In one accounting:” But Gaius, Obozo cried real human tears over the Newtown kiddies., that makes him a sensitive and humane leader of the known world and a Peace Laureate. Pay no attention to those dead raghead families buried in the rubble.

  58. Ford Prefect says:

    Yep. Not forgotten at all, since I’m old enough to remember that stuff, not to mention El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and so on. It was Reagan who celebrated the fundamentalist genocider, Generalisimo Rioss as a “freedom fighter” as he killed 200,000 indigenous people.

    It’s a feature, not a bug. So when Obama sings Reagan’s praises, he’s also praising that and always has been.

  59. BeccaM says:

    Yeah, they don’t object to the notion of tyranny, they just want their guys running the machine.

    This is how a constitution-constrained democratic republic dies.

  60. lynchie says:

    The right will say nothing because if they ever get their guy in off the GOP president will stretch those powers even farther. As I said below this kind of power is intoxicating. Having the ability to do a thumbs up or down on individuals with the suggestion of guilt but no proof (who is vetting the person recommending being blown up) is the work of dictators who set their own rules for who lives and dies. Just as Obama is offering up SS and Medicare for gutting, no checks and balances and certainly no consideration of the least able to defend themselves and demand fair treatment.

  61. BeccaM says:

    I know… And the crazy thing? The guys all hot and bothered about the right to own assault rifles and drum magazines and the rest so they can resist an out-of-control Federal government are oblivious to the fact their arsenal will be trumped utterly by drone-launched JDAMs.

  62. GaiusPublius says:

    That’s my operating theory. He was “discovered” by Clinton in 2004 and rolled out; vetted by the Rubins and the Petersons in 2006 when he became senator, then funded in 2007-2008 because they knew he had starpower and that he’d play along (because he wanted to).

    I’ve written as much and never wavered. It’s why I keep showing that 2006 Hamilton Project clip. He’s never been what will.i.am make him to be. But he let himself be painted that way because that’s what prez campaigns are — a paint job. Int his case, a paint job that worked.

    Thanks, perljammer.


  63. Michael in Cambridge says:

    Kings were believed to have certain obligations to god and to country. What is described in this story fits not the definition of a king, but of a despot.

  64. Michael in Cambridge says:

    Don’t forget – the DIA and the DoD helped DESIGN the Chilean and Argentine dirty wars. They were always intended to be pilot projects.

  65. lynchie says:

    Absolutely. As he was thirsty for power and the position so were we, the progressives, thirstly for someone who offered us some hope especially after 8 years of GW and his fuck you attitude. Because at his core Obama has never gone to the people in 4 years to get what he wants. What he wants is unlimited power on assassination in foreign countries and continuing the cycle of war that has continuied since WW II ended. We have constantly been invading, bombing or shoving our nose into another countries business and cloaking it with “protecting U.S. interests”. In other words some rich bastard (s) want the resources of said country so lest’s bomb the shit out of them.

  66. cambridgemac says:

    “At some point” could Occupy or similar groups be designated as terrorists??

    You’re a day late and a dollar short, Chris. That’s not in the future – it’s already happened. In the 1990’s, the Feds repeatedly talked about environmental groups and PETA as terrorists – and warned of “eco-terrorism.” (No, they didn’t mean fracking, or poisoning the Gulf of Mexico, or ruining the Arctic, or the whole planet….) And don’t forget – Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) was designated a “terrorist” group for over 20 years. Would Reagan have sent the flying death robots after the ANC if he’d had the means? I don’t know – but I’m sure folks in his administration would have been itching to do it. Were there Americans involved on-site with the ANC? I don’t know – but there were thousands of Americans supporting them here in the USA…..

  67. lynchie says:

    I agree with you. But if i follow the excuses of the Obamabots my synopsis suits their arguments. I think he was always this way but we were unable to get insight into what he believed in and how he would govern. He sold himself as the messiah for change and because we were so thirsty for the kind of progressive agenda he was proposing we gladly went along with out questioning. Not to say Hillary would have been any different, she is cold, calculating and just as cynical.

  68. ezpz says:

    What’s really sad is that this is not news. It’s been going on for probably as long as he’s been president.
    Yet, now, before Brennan’s confirmation hearing, it’s intentionally leaked to the media, and they have no choice but to report on it.

    Already, I heard Jay Rockefeller (D) singing Brennan’s praises – how STRONG he is, and oh just nauseatingly gushing over him. No, the timing of this leak was by design; obomber can now boast of transparency, and the media will cheer him for it. And that will be one of several distractions and deflections from the thrust (pardon the pun) of this gross violation of international and constitutional law.

    Maybe the administration will put out yet another ‘controversial’ gun toting photo or something similar, for the sole purpose of taking attention away from these crimes being committed in our names.

  69. cslib says:

    They don’t see it as an issue it’s a minor problem now in the hands of Obama but one day it will be in the hands of one of theirs and that’s all that matters.

  70. BeccaM says:

    The assumed executive power to kill anyone, anywhere in the world, and to assert that there need be no proof given to anyone, no trial, no review in a court of law — where the person(s) killed need not even be ‘suspected terrorists’ but merely standing near to one — done in secrecy with zero accountability is the very definition of tyranny.

    Our occasional visiting right-wing, tea-bagger, and/or gun-loving ‘friends’ like to complain about how Obama is a secret Muslim socialist who needs to be impeached for Benghazi or for issuing perfectly legal executive orders or for signing into law budgets that Congress has passed. Yet our last president lied us into war, engaged in torture, and opened American gulags across the world — and they were silent.

    Okay, here’s a president you guys all loathe (mainly because he’s a Dem and, for some of you, because he’s African American) and a perfectly rational reason to want him out of office: The assertion of unconstitutional authority to be prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner. It’s a total gimme in terms of an impeachment set-up. What Nixon did was peanuts compared to what these last two presidents have gotten away with. So how about it? Or are you all cool with the idea of drone-launched hellfire from above because you all assume it’ll never be aimed at you?

    No man should have that kind of absolute power, for it is guaranteed to corrupt absolutely. No Republican, no Democrat — no one.

  71. Ford Prefect says:

    I suppose that’s possible at some point, but it’s not a concern of mine because of the language in NDAA 2012, which: 1) declares the entire planet–and thusly the US–to be a “battlefield,” and 2), the power of Indefinite Detention, which is obviously intended to pre-empt the problem you cite.

    To wit, if the entire nation is a “battlefield,” then 1), everyone is under undeclared military jurisdiction, 2), The State claims the right to judge every human within that jurisdiction as a “suspected enemy of The State.” This leads us to Indefinite Detention, in which:

    1) Anyone can be arrested and imprisoned without charge–only an accusation of some sort is required and those are easy to make up.

    2) Thanks to the revocation of Habeus Corpus and State Secrets, such arrests will take place in secret and no one need admit that anyone is in custody. This Pinochet-like policy will make it very easy to simply “disappear” people like they did in the Southern Cone during the Dirty Wars.

    Chances are, to save money, most will simply be executed, rather than imprisoned… which is what the Argentine junta and Pinochet did to thousands in vastly smaller countries than ours. It’s an instrument of State Terror, after all.

    Obviously, the best thing to do is leave the country when feeling threatened. But thanks to state secrets, one can’t really know that until it’s too late. So all anyone is left with is a hunch and good luck getting asylum somewhere based on a hunch. I suggest everyone read up on Operation Condor, the Chilean coup d’etat and the Argentine Dirty War for more clues, because that’s obviously what we’re getting in one form or another. One possible data point is the recent military exercise in Miami, with helos firing machine gun blanks while people watched in amazement.

    The reason this concerns me is that prior to the coup in Chile, Pinochet sent out military units on bogus “arms interdiction operations” so soldiers would have plenty of practice waging war on their own people… as they were not previously trained for that. After about a year of those operations, the coup took place and soldiers had no problem shooting unarmed civilians in the street as ordered.

    I know it sounds wacky in a vacuum, but when the power to do all this is already being “legislated,” it seems a reasonable question. When the president or “high ranking officials” can have you killed just because… well, any reason at all will do… then that would seem to indicate a real souring in their attitude towards the governed. Would it not?

  72. Butch1 says:

    He did worry what his subjects thought of him and at least made it appear to look on the up and up.

  73. hollywoodstein says:

    We have a King. We didn’t used to have a King. We fought a war not to have a King. But that was Old America.

    Kids these days don’t even care.

  74. Butch1 says:


  75. Butch1 says:

    Obama lied to get into office. One has to wonder how many of those lies he needed to tell in order to fool us liberals and moderates. Now that we have seen just how blood thirsty he really is and that he never was about stopping the wars for this country but, to continually spread them in other countries where ever he pleased by calling them originally “the war on terror” then just going after Al Qaeda terrorists where ever they may be plotting “against us..” ( how convenient ) He was never a democrat but used that disguise to win an election. Since most of the democrats are not really Democrats anymore they have fooled the people as well pretending they are liberals spouting old phrases of protecting Social Security and Medicare etc. It works every time to get them back into office. Then they go back to business as usual. We might as will get used to this republican president doing more hawkish things. Behind that big smile of teeth are several more rows of more teeth. This man is evil and very dangerous. We’ll find that out as he reveals more of himself.

  76. Butch1 says:

    ““[C]an the President order intelligence agencies or the military to kill an American who is inside the United States?”

    Hypothetically, what will happen if by chance the victim finds out they are on the execution list and they decide it is fair game to go after the president as well? Since this victim will have no chance to defend themself in a regular protected venue without worrying about being assassinated by their own government then they have become a rebel and, I would think, forced to be at war with their own government. This would be very unfair but I could see the revenge factor of trying to even the score before one gets “eliminated” first. I’m curious what others would think or do if they were in this situation. Any comments?

  77. perljammer says:

    My cynical side leads me to conclude that Obama was never the man he passed himself off as before ascending to the Presidency. In other words, he didn’t become drunk with power; he wasn’t seduced by the dark side of the Force; he didn’t fall in with a bad crowd; he’s not hamstrung by an uncooperative Congress. During the campaign he exploited the hopes and dreams of a weary electorate. He got where he wanted to go, and has been acting naturally ever since.

  78. ezpz says:

    Even the nazis had their day in court.

  79. Ford Prefect says:

    Here here! It’s about time people started demanding his impeachment!

    If extra-judicial murder (much less torture) isn’t grounds, then grounds don’t exist.

  80. Zorba says:

    Lynchie, I think I love you. I wish I could give you a million “likes.” You have expressed exactly my own thoughts, better than I could have done it.

  81. nicho says:

    Why Obama should be impeached


    If the Constitution is to have any relevance, and if America is to
    remain a free society, then there is really no alternative: there must
    be a bill of impeachment drawn up and submitted in the House, and there
    must at least be a hearing on that bill in the House Judiciary

    The disclosure, by NBC, of a so-called “white paper” by the White
    House offering the legal justification for the executing of American
    citizens solely on the authority of the executive branch and the
    president exposes a White House so blatantly in violation of the
    Constitution that it simply demands such a hearing.

  82. nicho says:

    Even Henry VIII, when he wanted to kill someone and was prevented by the law, would have Parliament rush through a law to allow him to do it — and go through at least a show trial. before offing the person.

  83. gratuitous says:

    NOT to mention the whole aspect of “We’re pretty sure this is a bad guy. Boom!” The collateral damage (that is, the corpses we didn’t necessarily mean to create) leaves more hard feelings. We’re assured over and over that because we’re so righteously taking out the operational capability of the terrorists, that we’re “winning,” we’re getting “safer” from “terrorism” and so forth.
    We’re doing this in parts of the world where they still haven’t quite come to terms with events that happened in the 13th or 14th century. For a slight taste of that, consider the ongoing controversies in the United States over the Civil War/War of Northern Aggression (your choice!), its antecedents and events that have unfolded since then. Yes, we might kill a suspected bad guy, someone who was deep in the counsels of the dark heart of terrorism. But the survivors have the luxury of infinite time to develop their own capabilities, and we’re doing nothing to placate them or give them any reason but to side with our deserving (oh, so deserving of death!) victims.
    How much more effective would counter-terrorism measures be, and how much more credibility would the United States have, if we followed our own Constitution and laws? Peel away the layers surrounding the terrorists by winning over their neighbors, followers and sympathizers. Give the people around them a reason to prefer us to them. That would make apprehension of wrong-doers quite a bit easier. Open criminal trials conducted under uniform rules of procedure would demonstrate to the world just how much we trust our Constitution to do what it says it’s supposed to do.
    When we shit-can our principles for the expedient of a drone strike, it’s pretty easy for our witnesses in the world to draw a comparison between our tactics and those of the ones we designate as terrorists.

  84. lynchie says:

    To have the power over whether someone lives or dies on the other side of the world has got to be intoxicating. Obama went into office promising transparency, an end to GITMO, end of the wars, more attention to domestic issues and what we got was someone who became drunk with power and lack of accountability. The issues i brought up above have nothing to do with a GOP house, lack of co-operation, etc. It has directly to do with a man who is removed from reality. The reality of people hungry, poor and out of work for months and years. The reality that taking someone’s life should not be about what some inner circle suck up says is legal. The reality that people are suffering as a result of our incursion into Iraq and Afghanistan and the WH sits idly by getting our kids killed and maimed and then turning our backs on them when they come home and need help. The reality that the WH has allowed the wealthiest to dictate how the rest of America should be treated. The reality that the Wall Street and Bank bailout didn’t happen by accident it was man made and those men got to live their lives as before and the rest of us have struggled ever siince. The reality of the Mortgage collapse was man made and no one went to jail or was held accountable. Obama and Congress aren’t the leaders we are looking for (I stole that from Star Wars) they perpetuate the larceny and the very things that are rotten about this country where the few dictate to the many.

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