White Paper = Whitewash of Targeted Killing
by Debra Sweet Tuesday on Democracy Now, Daniel Ellsberg pointed out that President Obama is "thinking like John Yoo." The White Paper leaked just as the drone-in-chief/assassination czar John Brennan begins hearings to become the new head of the C.I.A. doesn't rise to level of the more sophisticated memo like the one Yoo wrote to justify torture (download PDF) but it's just as chilling. Apparently the Obama administration is giving the memo which this White Paper is based on to Congress today.
An outdoor cafe was completely destroyed by a US CIA drone strike which killed Abdulrahman Al Aulaqi, 16 year old U.S. citizen in Yemen.
David Swanson summarizes the "legal justification" of targeted killing in Justice Department Leaks Memo "Legalizing" Murdering Americans (But Not Some Americans Already Murdered):
The memo, which is thought to be a summary of a longer one, says the United States can murder a U.S. citizen abroad (abroad but somehow "outside the area of active hostilities" even though killing him or her seems rather active and hostile) if three conditions are met:
"1. an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States;"
The memo goes on to base its claims on the supposed powers of the President, not of some random official. Who is such an official? Who decides whether he or she is informed? What if two of them disagree? What if he or she disagrees with the President? or the Congress? or the Supreme Court? or the U.S. public? or the United Nations? or the International Criminal Court? What then? One solution is to redefine the terms so that everyone has to agree. "Imminent" is defined in this memo to mean nothing at all. "The United States" clearly means anywhere U.S. troops may be.
"2. capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible;"
And if a high-level official claims it's infeasible, who can challenge that?
"3. the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles."
When a U.S. drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, no one had shown either of them to meet the above qualifications.
Most egregiously, I think, the paper restates Attorney General Holder's point that "due process" is not necessarily judicial process. In effect the president claims no time or geographic limits on his right to kill anyone.
With this power, one can ask, why bother to detain anyone indefinitely? They may just kill with impunity, because there is no mechanism in place — and none being put in place — to provide a check on such actions.
The U.S., according to a study which also came out this week, bribed and bullied 54 countries to help in the US global war on terror. The New York Times says, "Some 54 countries helped facilitate the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret detention, rendition and interrogation program in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a new human rights report that documents broad international involvement in the American campaign against Al Qaeda"