The government of the United States wants to legally reserve the right kill you — assassinate you, even, and without legal representation — if you are perceived as a threat to national security.  This is new and chilling news, and the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the ACLU, are trying to fight in court for those targeted for killing.

Today CCR along with the ACLU filed a joint lawsuit to challenge the legality and constitutionality of a licensing scheme that requires lawyers to seek government permission to represent individuals that same government intends to kill. The U.S. government has claimed the power to target and kill U.S. citizens and other individuals anywhere in the world, outside of any battlefield-without charge, trial, or a judicial process of any kind.

The fact that the executive can act as judge, jury, and executioner presents an extremely dangerous expansion of power that undermines our laws, collective liberty, and safety. The executive branch is substituting a secret bureaucratic process for the due process required by the U.S. Constitution and international law. It is carrying out killings that can target innocent people, given the long and well-documented history of the U.S. government wrongly accusing both citizens and foreigners of terrorism and being a threat to national security. The government’s claimed authority to target individuals far from any battlefield is also distorting international law and effectively creating a war without boundaries or end.

Not only is the government trying to kill U.S. citizens without due process, it is also trying to stop lawyers from representing them to challenge the government’s actions.

The Obama administration is trying to kill Imam Anwar al-Awlaki — as Glenn Greenwald explicitly explains:

Does any American want the Government to have that power with respect to citizens:  to bar lawyers, under the threat of criminal prosecution, from representing you if the Government calls you a Terrorist?  That’s the power the Obama administration is asserting and, in this case, actively wielding.  A court will now decide if it has the legal authority to do that, and if the court decides it does not, the next step will be a lawsuit brought on behalf of Awlaki contesting Obama’s authority to order American citizens killed without any criminal charges or due process.  The Obama administration should be very proud of itself.

The State want kill without notice or legal representation is made especially chilling with the apparent call for Bradley Manning’s execution from U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers:

Rogers told his local radio station that Mannings’ actions must have condemned to death many Afghans who assisted the United States.  It is hard to see  how the leaked docuuments could have done that as US collaborators were not mentioned.  So far the only people to make the claim that anyone is at risk is the US government.

The number of collaborators at risk is  nothing compared to the numbers of people that were accidentally killed by US assassination squad cock-ups which Rogers wants to execute a young bloke for telling the world about.  Death is too good for the bloke who revealed that Pakistan “allies” had built safe havens for the terrorists who were killing Americans.

This license to kill for the Obama administration is especially bothersome in light of my article from October 30, 2008 — Assassinating the Quadroon Messiah — where some were calling for the death of the man who would become our first Black president:

The “Calaca Obama” cartoon seen below is frightening on several levels.  First, “calaca” is a colloquial term for “skeleton” in Spanish.  Calacas — human skulls representing joyous dead figures in “Day of the Dead” celebrations — are supposed to suggest that even the dead deserve a celebration of their lives. Next, we need to understand in Guatamala, “calaca” means death and there is no mistaking graves for happiness in that cultural context.  Finally, for those who have no idea what a “calaca” is — we all recognize a skull is not a living soul and so we must wonder what insidious semiotic is being spent on us in the name of Barack Obama.

We are running down a dangerous road with this state-sponsored license to kill and we are not racing around with knives or scissors — we’re gaming the human condition by challenging its cheapness and its values with the impenetrable tenets of a commissioned death that cannot come too quickly or too stealthily for the purveyors — and the want for speed without representation in assassination goes against the very moral fiber this nation has fought so long and hard to re-stitch from our tattered rebel history of killing the good while murdering the kind, just so the evil among us can live another day.

8 Comments

      1. So, it’ s a slippery slope; that’s no reason to avoid the practice, especially since we’ve been doing it for decades if not longer already.

        I’ll only get worried if they openly do it within the borders of the US against a US citizen.

        On the other hand, I prefer black ops to remain black as in secret and having someone take the fall (it’s part of the job sometimes) if we get caught rather than having the practice formally defended.

        1. I say be up front about those you kill in the name of the State because “Black Ops” rarely stay silent or unknown. Then we avoid fiascoes like Blackwater. Also see: Mahmoud al Mabhouh.

          Own your killings. Deniability is for cowards.

      2. Not a good plan; too many of the people in America can’t handle the realities of the world. If nothing else Gitmo and Bagram AFB showed us that.

        It sad but, “They can’t handle the truth.”