FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Government of Lawyers Spit on Law

“In a striking admission from the Obama Administration’s top intelligence officer, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair announced Wednesday that the United States may target its own citizens abroad for death if it believes they are associated with terrorist groups.” (Feb 4, 2010)

We face a multi-trillion dollar deficit derived to fund two ongoing wars of dubious legality against unconquerable nations and still, U.S. school kids learn we are a nation “of laws not men.”

“Conservatives” refer reverently to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution, but where in that Document does a President derive authority to order assassinations? Must the Constitution adapt to wars against terror and communism? Like the contemporary conflict with “terror” the Cold War (1946-91) required our Commander in Chief to use “extrajudicial procedures: the CIA executed “enemies” without judicial process.

The media reports such procedures as routine news stories. “U.S. Predator Drones fired two missiles into Pakistan’s North Waziristan region on the Afghan border… killing at least a dozen people … the third such attack by a CIA-operated drone aircraft in Pakistan’s ethnic Pashtun tribal areas this month.”

The October 16, 2009, Reuters dispatch continues: “An intelligence official in the region said 12 people were killed in the attack targeting a house while another put the death toll at 15 and said most were Afghans…the dead included eight women and children.”

The drones hit a house “close to a sprawling madrasa, or religious school, set up by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former veteran Afghan militant commander who is also a senior Taliban leader … close to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.”

Another CIA drone killed “militants” and maybe civilians in Pakistan. The news media treats these as if they were routine oil spills, psychos whacking fellow workers or celebrities divorcing. The story assumes the CIA’s “right” to murder people in a foreign – and friendly — country.

For almost a decade, “patriotic” citizens have berated the CIA, which “discovered” bin Laden, for its failure to assassinate him and other members of his gang. No one mentions indictments or trials.

During the Cold War, most of the CIA’s murders escaped the media. In 1954, President Eisenhower authorized the CIA to plot the overthrow of the elected Guatemalan government under President Jacobo Arbenz.

The Agency apparently refused the request of their Guatemalan General Castillo Armas (chosen to depose Arbenz) to assassinate 58 leftist Arbenz backers. Instead, one CIA official, whose name was blacked out in a subsequently declassified report, “thought the assassination of a smaller number ‘say 20’ would be sufficient.”

By the late 1940s, the CIA had already set up sabotage teams to use against governments Washington opposed and created a special ‘K’ group trained to perform assassinations.” (Gerald K. Haines, CIA and Guatemala Assassination Proposals 1952-1954, pp. 12-13, found at the National Security Archive)

Under the guise of fighting communism, the Agency became the President’s Praetorian Guard. Eisenhower helped key U.S. corporations to maximize their foreign investments. In 1953, the CIA deposed the elected government of Iran, for the benefit of U.S. oil companies. The Guatemalan caper benefited the United Fruit Company. “Democracy” triumphed – even though Arbenz was not a Communist.

Who benefits now from drone attacks on “suspected militants?” And what are the costs – in expected blowback? Does anyone care that President Obama boasted: “We took out” Mehsud, the man “the CIA blamed for bombings across Pakistan.” (Reuters Aug. 21 2009)

No court indicted this man, much less tried him under any law. Obama, or some underling in “intelligence”, declared Mohammed Doe evil, like a Nebraska abortion doctor, and thus a reason to assassinate him.

You’d think Law Professor Obama could cite Justice Louis Brandeis’ words. “Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means — to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal — would bring terrible retribution.” (Olmstead et al v. United States (1928))

Instead of discussing this ethical premise, the national debate still rages around how many more crimes the government should commit to ensure “security.” Few talk of how relatives of “droned down” victims in North Waziristan will exact revenge!

On December 30, 2009, a suicide bomber killed seven Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives at a U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan. On February 3, “a U.S. drone struck a Pakistani target killing six militants.” On the same day, “Pakistan’s Taliban claimed responsibility for a bomb on Wednesday that killed three U.S. soldiers outside a school in the northwest of the country and threatened more attacks on Americans.” (Reuters)

Also, on February 3, “a suspected U.S. drone aircraft fired two missiles into Pakistan’s North Waziristan region on the Afghan border on Tuesday, killing six militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said.” (Reuters)

SAUL LANDAU is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow. His films on DVD are available (roundworldproductions.com). His A BUS AND BOTOX WORLD was published by Counterpunch.
 

 

More articles by:

SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail