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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

U.S. extrajudicial killing okay when partisan’s partisan holds presidency

Bankrupt partisan politics, deadly U.S. foreign relations
Editing, excerpting by 
Carolyn Bennett

Director,  writer, producer Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill appeared yesterday on Pacifica’s Democracy Now program their documentary film at Sundance “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.”  I was interested particularly in the journalist’s view of the first four and coming four of war president, Barack Obama. This is some of what Scahill had to say.

Sobering reality

Killing outside rule of law

My understanding from sources within the intelligence and military world is that President Barack Obama “has really micromanaged [the drone program, extrajudicial killings] process,” Scahill said.

And John Brennan, now the second term president’s nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, “was the architect of the drone program and its expansion… basically the hit man of this administration, except he [Brannan] never has to go out and do the hitting himself. He orders planes and missile strikes and AC-130 strikes to … hit in Somalia, in Yemen, in Pakistan.”

 The reality we are seeing, Scahill said, is the Obama government’s extension of “the very policies that many of his supporters once opposed” under the George W. Bush government.

And this “says something about the bankrupt nature of partisan politics in [the United States]: 

The way we feel about life-or-death policies around the world is determined by who happens to be in office.

“That to me,” he said, “is a very sobering reality.” Indeed. 

Killing as for sport

“The most disturbing part of this policy,” he said, “is that there are regions of Yemen or Pakistan where President Obama has authorized the U.S. to strike ─ even if they do not know the identities of the people they are striking, the so-called ‘signature strike’ policy.

“The idea that being a military-aged male in a certain region of a particular country around the world, that those people become legitimate targets based on their gender and their age and their geographic presence” is unconscionable even criminal (my words not Scahill’s).

In his reporting, Scahill came across members of the Bush team who found the Obama team’s killing beyond the pale.

“The irony,” Scahill said, is that members of the Bush team ─ “former Bush legal advisers and national security team ─ who have no moral standing to talk about these issues, are saying:

‘Obama is just killing these people.

At least we stuck them in some sort of a prison.’

What they are alleging about President Obama “is devastating,” he said.

 All that glitters

In the first term of this presidency, “you had this very popular Democratic president” whose campaign rhetoric promised “to transform the way the United States conducted its foreign policy around the world.”

Then in office he “proceeded to double down on some of the greatest excesses of the Bush administration:  the use of the state secrets privilege; expanded the drone wars and empowering special operations forces (including from JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command) to operate in countries where the United States is not at war; essentially boxing Congress out of any effective oversight role of the covert aspects of U.S. foreign policy.”

This has been “a war presidency…, a president who has normalized … the policies [liberals] once opposed under the Bush administration.”
The second inaugural rhetoric “how we don’t need a state of perpetual war” rings hollow, as Scahill recounts international news reports, when there have been “multiple U.S. drone strikes in Yemen,” a country with which the United States is not officially (legally) at war but “where the United States has killed a tremendous number of civilians.”

U.S. drone launch
President Obama’s nomination of John Brennan to CIA, Scahill says, “is the greatest symbol of how deeply invested his government is in covert war and an expansion of wars around the world ─

… Execution of the notion that the United States of America may strike any country in the world ─ wherever the U.S. determines ‘terrorists’ or suspected ‘militants’ reside.

Sources and notes

Dirty Wars: Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley’s New Film Exposes Hidden Truths of Covert U.S. Warfare, January 22, 2013, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/1/22/dirty_wars_jeremy_scahill_and_rick

Jeremy Scahill

Journalist, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, producer and writer of documentary “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield,” premiering at the Sundance Film Festival.

Richard Rowley

Independent journalist with Big Noise Films and director of documentary “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield,” premiering at the Sundance Film Festival.


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