Whitewashing Extrajudicial Killing
by Stephen Lendman
Extrajudicial killing is official US policy. Doing so violates fundamental international, constitutional, and US statute laws.
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."
Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:
"Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life."
Common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions states:
"(T)he passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples" are prohibited at all times under all circumstances with no exceptions.
The Constitution's Fifth Amendment states:
"No person (shall) be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."
US statute law (18 USC 1111 - Murder) states:
"Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought."
John Brennan is Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. He's Obama's chief counterterrorism advisor.
He heads the administration's Murder, Inc. agenda. He's Obama's CIA director choice. On February 7, his confirmation hearing was held. More on that below.
On February 5, the ACLU , a coalition of other human rights groups and religious organizations addressed Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D. CA) and ranking Republican Saxby Chamblis.
Tough probing questions should be asked, they urged. Information on Brennan's role in CIA interrogation, detention, extraordinary rendition, and targeted killings should be gotten.
ACLU Legislative Counsel Christopher Anders  called Brennan a "Forest Gump of toxic national security policies."
He's been involved in "everything from torture to the killing of an American citizen." Senators shouldn't pass judgment "in the dark."
They shouldn't confirm Brennan "until all Americans know whether the decisions (he) made at CIA headquarters and in his White House office comply with our laws and uphold basic American values."
Brennan's a maestro of murder. He's been involved in gross malfeasance. In late 2008, President-elect Obama rejected him for CIA. Concerns about his earlier complicity with Agency operations eliminated him.
Senate Intelligence Committee members have detailed information on Bush administration CIA torture and other lawless practices. Brennan was intimately involved.
Senators should probe his dark past. Setting the record straight should be prioritized. Information on his role in helping "develop, carry out, advise on, or implement" lawless policies should be explained.
Previous Bush nominations for CIA general counsel and deputy attorney general were withdrawn. Their complicity in CIA lawlessness eliminated them.
Senate Intelligence Committee members didn't lay a glove on Brennan.
Questions and answers were largely pro forma. Bipartisan complicity supports America's war on terror. It's illegitimate. It's extrajudicial. It's a fabricated hoax. It's done to wage war on humanity.
Drone killings are prioritized. They're instruments of state terror. They sanitize killing on the cheap. They murder innocent men, women, children, and infants. They do so extrajudicially.
Media scoundrels misreported. The New York Times  headlined "Senators Press Brennan About CIA's Drone Strikes," saying:
They questioned him on secrecy and legality issues. Brennan was largely noncommittal. His opening statement acknowledged "widespread debate" about administration counterterrorism policies.
He strongly defended them. He said America's "at war with Al Qaeda." He defended extrajudicial killings. He claimed they save lives and prevent potential terror attacks.
He said "lethal operations are generally the sole responsibility of the executive branch." He called civilian deaths mistakes. He lied. Senators let him get away with it. So did The Times.
He left unsaid key information jointly prepared by Stanford University's International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic (SU) and New York University School of Law's Global Justice Clinic (NYU). Its report  is titled "Living Under Drones."
"US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury."
"Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning."
"Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities."
"Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior."
Innocent people are murdered. At most, only 2% of victims are high-level combatants. Evidence suggests US strikes facilitate anti-American recruitment.
A "significant rethinking (is) long overdue." Policy makers can't ignore civilian harm and counterproductive impacts much longer.
Rule of law principles are violated. State-sanctioned murder is lawless. The Times and other media scoundrels left these issues unaddressed.
On February 6, a Washington Post  editorial headlined "A time to explain the drone campaign."
Ahead of Brennan's hearing, it called Obama's "drone war against al-Qaeda….legal." Disclosing justification for waging it would "strengthen" its "political and diplomatic grounding."
Nothing whatever justifies extrajudicial killing. Claiming it admits advocacy for what's impermissible. The Post and other media scoundrels march in lockstep with America's imperium. Doing so exposes their complicity.
Senate Intelligence Committee members share guilt. Brennan got off easy. No criticism was voiced. Tough questions were avoided. Confirmation is assured.
Obama prioritizes extrajudicial killings. Brennan's been in charge. As CIA head, he'll have direct control. Expect him to take full advantage.
Anyone can be targeted anywhere in the world. US citizens are vulnerable. They can be murdered for any reason or none at all.
Drones are Washington's weapon of choice. They're instruments of state terror. They operate round-the-clock. They target faceless enemies half a world away or nearby.
Rule of law principles aren't considered. Secrecy and accountability go unaddressed. Murder, Inc. operates globally.
Brennan's "playbook" developed targeted killing procedures. His "disposition matrix" explains them. Eliminating America's enemies alone matters. Whether real or invented makes no difference.
Brennan's a war criminal multiple times over. He should be rejected out of hand. He should be prosecuted for high crimes. Code Pink protesters interrupted his confirmation.
They called him a "national security threat," a "traitor to democracy," and "war criminal." Chairwoman Feinstein ordered them forcibly removed.
"The witness is entitled to be heard," she said.
Ahead of Brennan's hearing, White House press secretary Jay Carney defended targeted killings. Doing so makes him complicit. He called them "legal, ethical and wise."
"Sometimes we use remotely piloted aircraft to conduct targeted strikes against specific al-Qaeda terrorists in order to prevent attacks on the United States and to save American lives," he said.
"We conduct those strikes because they are necessary to mitigate ongoing actual threats, to stop plots, to prevent future attacks and, again, save American lives. These strikes are legal, they are ethical, and they are wise," he added.
A leaked unsigned/undated Justice Department "white paper " titled "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qa'ida or An Associated Force" inverted inviolable legal principles.
It said "(t)argeting a member of an enemy force who poses an imminent threat of violent attack to the United States is not unlawful. It is a lawful act of self-defense."
"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 US persons and interests will take place in the immediate future."
On February 12, Senate Intelligence Committee members scheduled a follow-up closed door hearing. Brennan will provide secret testimony. Expect Committee confirmation to follow. It may be unanimous. Full Senate confirmation is assured.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.