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It Lives: The Kill List

I don’t know how long I’ll keep doing these daily lists. It’s too disturbing.

Glenn Greenwald
How extremism is normalized

But that’s the point: once something is repeated enough by government officials, we become numb to its extremism. Even in the immediate wake of 9/11 — when national fear and hysteria were intense — things like the Patriot Act, military commissions, and indefinite detention were viewed as radical departures from American political tradition; now, they just endure and are constantly renewed without notice, because they’ve just become normalized fixtures of American political life. Here we have the Obama administration asserting what I genuinely believe, without hyperbole, is the most extremist government interpretation of the Bill of Rights I’ve heard in my lifetime — that the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee that the State cannot deprive you of your life without “due process of law” is fulfilled by completely secret, oversight-free “internal deliberations by the executive branch” — and it’s now barely something anyone (including me) even notices when The New York Times reports it (as the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer asked yesterday: “These Dems who think executive process is due process: Where were they when Bush‬ needed help with warrantless wiretapping?” — or his indefinite detention scheme?)

Obama the Warrior

No late-night wrestling with conscience for this Nobel Peace laureate. Even his most radical decision — ordering an American citizen assassinated without a whiff of due process or transparency — is “easy” for him, and he’s so very “comfortable” with ordering people killed, say his aides who believe this to be a compliment.

From Reason.com: Obama’s Secret Kill List

Can the president legally do this? In a word: No.

The president cannot lawfully order the killing of anyone, except according to the Constitution and federal law. Under the Constitution, he can only order killing using the military when the U.S. has been attacked, or when an attack is so imminent and certain that delay would cost innocent American lives, or in pursuit of a congressional declaration of war. Under federal law, he can only order killing using civilians when a person has been sentenced lawfully to death by a federal court and the jury verdict and the death sentence have been upheld on appeal. If he uses the military to kill, federal law requires public reports of its use to Congress and congressional approval after 180 days.


Obama has argued that his careful consideration of each person he orders killed and the narrow use of deadly force are an adequate and constitutional substitute for due process. The Constitution provides for no such thing. He has also argued that the use of drones to do his killing is humane since they are “surgical” and only kill their targets. We know that is incorrect. And he has argued that these killings are consistent with our values. What is he talking about? The essence of our values is the rule of law, not the rule of presidents.

A glowing critique from The Raw Story: A Critique Of The New York Times “Secret Kill List” Article (Can you tell where this is going?):

As I was reading it, I didn’t have a hard time imaging what the reaction from some on the left would be. The person that always comes to mind is Glenn Greenwald, whose sentences almost always include “a noun, a verb and drones”.

The Atlantic: Hey Voters: The Kill List Is What Matters

So to sum up, one candidate is portrayed, accurately, as being extremely rich, with a wife who has rich-person leisure-time pursuits; and the other candidate is portrayed, accurately, as someone whose secretive policies have wrought dead children, broken promises, violated due process rights, and possibly created more terrorists. And our political culture in the United States is so blinkered that the story about the rich candidate whose wife rides horses is regarded, by conservatives and savvy Politico journalists, as the one that is noteworthy for being negative; whereas the story about the Orwellian turn in the White House doesn’t even merit mention.

From Robert Scheer: Hope Burning

This is clearly not the Obama whom many voted for in the hope that he would stick by his word, including the pledge he made on his second day in office to ban brutal interrogation and close the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. “What the new president did not say was that the orders contained a few subtle loopholes,” the Times now reports concerning the early promises by Obama. “They reflected a still unfamiliar Barack Obama, a realist who, unlike some of his fervent supporters, was never carried away by his own rhetoric.”

Parse that sentence carefully to learn much of what is morally decrepit in our journalism as well as politics. The word “realist” is now identical to “hypocrite,” and the condemnation of immoral behavior addresses nothing more than “rhetoric” that only the “fervent” would take seriously. The Times writers all but thrill to the lying, as in recounting the new president’s response to advisers who warned him against sticking to his campaign promises on Guantanamo prisoners: “The deft insertion of some wiggle words in the president’s order showed that the advice was followed.”

American Extremists: "Weapon of choice"

And THIS from Stephen Colbert (Might not be suitable for work — The video with sounds starts right away)

Barack Obama’s Righteous Drone Strikes : The government takes out Al Qaeda’s “number two,” and Barack Obama finds an alternative to shutting down Guantanamo Bay.

22 Responses

  1. I went to a USO auction not long after the Iraq invasion started. They were auctioning off those card decks that the Bush administration had created and distributed to every member of the military (I shudder at the cost). It seemed I was the only one in existence who found the idea of turning war and hit lists into a game offensive. Those decks of cards sold quickly and for hundreds of dollars a deck to people who apparently thought they were substantial collector items.

    • Judging by the tone of the comments that I’ve seen attached to a lot of the links in my post they’d probably sell just as well today.

      Unless those links just represent the same batch of paid trolls we saw all over back in 2008??

      • It’s a mentality I’ll never understand…thank goodness, but I also don’t grasp the concept of revenge being sweet. I think I’ve been away from religion long enough (45 years) to have lost my way, maybe 🙂 Where oh where is my shepherd?

  2. The Nobel Prize committee ever rescind an award?

    Or, do they give one for hypocrisy so they could award it to themselves?

    I’m sure the Kossholes are down with this since they are really frustrated Young Republicans who decided to be big fish in another pond.

    Like his pastor, Obama brings a whole new definition to the word Christian.

    • Not a new definition to Christian at all. They may want you to think they are kind and gentle and forgiving and compassionate and generous and helpful, but I’ve not met that Christian yet.

      • I wonder, have you lived your entire life in your house or just prejudged every Christian that you’ve ever met? While there are plenty of the other kind, there are a remarkable number of Christians who are kind, gentle, forgiving, compassionate, generous and helpful.

        I would suggest that you’ve met them, too. You just don’t know they’re Christians because they don’t feel the need to tell you that they are whenever they cross your path.

    • “The Nobel Prize committee ever rescind an award?”

      No. According to the statutes of the Nobel Foundation, § 10:

      No appeals may be made against the decision of a prize-awarding body with regard to the award of a prize.

      Yet, Fredrik Heffermehl a Norwegian lawyer, has for years criticized the selection process of the Peace Prize committeee and the ‘creative’ reading of Alfred Nobel’s will – but to no avail.

      Nobel peace prize jury under investigation – could Obama lose his?!?
      Geir Lundestad, referred to in this article as ‘the nonvoting secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee’ is non the less very active in the decision! The prize is purely political!

      From Nobel Foundation rejects Peace Prize criticism:

      “The Nobel Committee confirms again … that it has made this into its own prize (with) its own content inserted into the arbitrarily self-chosen term ‘peace’ and again shows no interest in Nobel and what he wanted with the prize,” [Heffermehl] said in a statement.

      In his will, Nobel stipulated that the Peace Prize should go to the person or organisation that has “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

      “The Norwegian prize committee appears to still think it is their task to hand out a prize for ‘peace’ in general despite the fact that Nobel, according to his will, created a prize for ‘champions of peace’,” Heffermehl said.

      And I highly doubt that the ‘news’ of Obama’s “Kill List” will make any difference.

      • Landed myself in moderation. Could it be because of an ‘only two-link per comment’ limit?

          • Thank you! And thank you for keeping on documenting the responses, even as disappointingly sparse they seem to be, to Obama’s Kill List.

            For some reason I haven’t been able to access his site ‘pruningshears’ lately, but ‘danps’ used to document all the drone strikes, so I wonder if he has had posts up about this latest news?

          • I checked it this morning – and just now to be sure – nothing new there since May 19th. So, it’s too soon to tell.

  3. I just watched Walter Cronkite’s “The McCarthy Years” – a rebroadcast of Edward R. Murrow’s television coverage of the McCarthy hearings and the damage they did.

    The parallels are chilling, especially Murrow pointing out that if the public hears something often enough, and from a government source, it becomes accepted as fact. The scare tactics used by McCarthy and his riding a national wave of fear and insecurity to power are also frightening close to today’s acceptance of any government excesses in order to feel safe.

    • Oh, that sounds interesting — is it on Netflix? I’d like to see it.

      • I don’t have internet at home or Netflix, so can’t answer that. Our local university DVD collection had it. It was a rebroadcast of Murrow’s See It Now episodes, narrated by Walter Cronkite. Maybe your local library has a copy, or if you have a college or university near you, it might?

        This is the information from the library record:

        Title The McCarthy years [videorecording] / CBS News ; producer, Bernard Birnbaum ; written by Russ Bensley, Sam Roberts ; producers, Edward R. Murrow, Fred W. Friendly
        Publisher [United States] : Docurama : New Video Group, c2005

        And thanks very much for keeping this presidential malfeasance front and center. It can’t be allowed to be swept under (though I do wonder what little game the Times is playing, bringing this up now when it started in 2008)

        • Ah! I feel silly, I get a lot of videos at the library. I should have thought of that. Thanks! I just placed my hold!!!

  4. Katie,

    Thanks for your recent posts on the kill lists, etc.

    I used to think the Bush-era evil could not be exceeded. (Even Bush at some level recognized that torture is wrong and so he lied and denied that he authorized it.)

    But then extrajudicial killings of US citizens were committed by the current war-criminal office holder. And now, that such practices have become a systematized regular procedure: this is too disgusting, immoral, illegal for the people to ignore it forever.

    Please keep up your useful & righteous work. This issue is too important to drop.

    • Thank you so much!! I will stick with it — at least for as long as I can find the information.

      I feel like things have changed so fast.

      • “Gradually, then suddenly.”

        Another context for this Hemingway quote on Bankruptcy: how Fascism came to the USA. It’s so sad. I have to believe that people will eventually recognize it.

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