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Marcy Wheeler: What a Targeted Killing in the US Would Look Like

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Yves here. The revelation in the second sentence of Marcy’s piece is chilling, although it should not be surprising. I think we increasingly need to rely on what I call the wildebeest effect: the more people do something (as in watch the video that she embedded) the less it can be seen to mean anything of consequence.

By Marcy Wheeler. Cross posted from emptywheel

Warning: Several minutes into this video, graphic images of a corpse appear. Also, the government may start tracking your online viewing if you view this YouTube, as someone started following my mostly defunct YouTube account after I watched it.

On October 28, 2009, the FBI set out to arrest a man they claimed, in the complaint justifying the arrest, was “a highly placed leader of a … radical fundamentalist Sunni group [the primary purpose of which] is to establish a separate, sovereign Islamic state.” The leader of the group “calls his followers to an offensive jihad.” The complaint states the group trained in the use of firearms and martial arts and explains that “Abdullah is advocating and encouraging his followers to commit violent acts against the United States.”

The arrest was staged at a warehouse controlled by the FBI, outfitted with 5 closed circuit video cameras that gave the FBI full visibility into anyone entering and leaving the warehouse, as well as pallets loaded with sandbags to provide cover. Altogether 66 FBI Agents participated in the arrest, with 29 Agents, including a K-9 team and snipers, inside the warehouse itself, along with helicopter cover, another K-9 team, and a control room nearby. Members of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue and SWAT teams participated, with Agents flying in from Columbia, South Carolina and DC via a previous operation in Los Angeles. The team had practiced the arrest scenario up to 10 times before the actual arrest.

The arrest started when the FBI detonated 3 pre-positioned diversionary explosives in the room in which the leader, 4 accomplices, two undercover officers and an informant had been moving boxes (the FBI insiders had already left the scene). That allowed the FBI team, wearing bullet proof gear and helmets, to move into place.

On orders, “FBI, show me your hands, on the ground!” the leader’s four accomplices put their hands up and got down on the ground (for a variety of reasons, the FBI doesn’t have recordings of the audio of the event). The leader hesitated, but then got face down on the ground, though the FBI claims his hands were not visible.

At that point, 62 seconds after the diversionary explosions, the K-9 handler, who had been briefed that the leader was the main target of the investigation, released the dog and gave the “bite” command, the first time he had ever done so in the year he had been a K-9 handler; the dog lunged at the leader’s arm or face. The FBI claims the leader raised a gun and shot the dog three times. One accomplice disagrees, describing that the leader had both hands on the dog, trying to keep him away from his face. Two FBI Agents who admitted shooting their rifles also had Glocks, though of a different caliber than the one allegedly used by the leader. There was no gunpowder residue found on the leader and no fingerprints found on the Glock.

In the next 4 seconds, 4 different FBI officers shot the leader with their Colt M4 rifles (3 were from the Hostage Rescue Team that had flown in for this arrest), set on semiautomatic. He was hit a total of 21 times. He died within a minute.

This was the culmination of a 3-year counterterrorism investigation into Imam Luqman Abdullah, a black Muslim who led a mosque in Detroit. The investigation intensified in 2007 as Abdullah and his associates reacted against the transfer of H. Rap Brown (now Jamil Abdullah al-Amin), who had been convicted of killing two police officers in Georgia in 2002, to Florence SuperMax Prison.

In December 2007, Abdullah appears to have refused an informant’s incitement to violence, saying he would not be involved in injuring innocent people (though in the same conversation, he referred to his followers as “soldiers”).

Then, starting in 2008, a third informant started collecting examples of Abdullah’s violent rhetoric — his disdain for non-Muslims and his call for revolution, his preaching about “being with the Taliban, Hizballah, and Sheikh bin Laden.” That included a lot of promises of specific violence — strapping a bomb on to blow up the FBI — and vaguer plans — bombing Washington. It included a lot of references to having shot people in the past (though Abdullah had only one assault and concealed weapon conviction, dating to 1981, and a prior 1979 arrest for resisting arrest and assault on a police officer). It also included a lot of language that was obviously metaphor and bluster. In a conversation the informant didn’t manage to tape, Abdullah discussed having the informant swear bay’at to his group.

Abdullah repeatedly talked about using violence with the cops. But in March 2008, Abdullah told the informant of being pulled over and not using his guns — because he was at a tactical disadvantage, he said. And in January 2009, the informant was pulled over with Abdullah in the car, and contrary to prior boasts he would shoot cops in such a situation, Abdullah did no more than glare and call the cops Kaffir dogs.

Throughout this period, Abdullah or his followers committed several small-time crimes on their own: arson to collect $20,000 in insurance money, attempting to swap the VIN number on a stolen pickup truck, helping a mosque member who had been involved in a shooting incident (it’s not clear whether there were any injuries) leave town, and possessing and selling guns as felons.

In June 2008, the informant started proposing Abdullah and his followers sell stolen goods he would provide them. In January, 2009, in the first of these incidents, an undercover FBI Agent had the men help him move a shipment of purportedly stolen energy drinks. This was followed by fur coats, laptops, cigarettes, and ultimately by flatscreen TVs, all purportedly stolen but actually provided by the FBI. Over the course of these deals, the FBI provided at least $8,450 to Abdullah and his men for their help (after which Abdullah and his men started buying purportedly stolen goods to sell and profiting that way).

13 days after the arrest and killing of Imam Luqman Abdullah, the surviving 10 followers were charged with firearms charges, VIN tampering, and a conspiracy tied to the FBI sting. They have since plead guilty and been sentenced to a range of sentences, from probation to time served plus one day to 79 months. The indictment made no mention of their alleged Muslim radicalism, though at least two of their presentencing memos mentioned those violent comments and/or their support for H. Rap Brown. Here’s the response of Mohammed Abdul Bassir to his sentencing memorandum.

The Government‘s attempt to use these conversations to taint the reputation of the Defendant is without merit. These conversations have no bearing or relationship to what the Defendant has pled guilty to in this matter. Additionally, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the Defendant the right to engage in private conversations. The Government is suggesting that because the Defendant holds certain beliefs about the American criminal justice system and the Democratic political process, that he is somehow a threat to the national security. What the Government is suggesting contradicts our core Constitutional rights. In effect the Government is arguing that because the Defendant disagrees with certain things in our society then his personal views and beliefs should be used against him for sentencing purposes.

Not once did the Defendant advocate any violence against the United States, nor did the Defendant incite anyone to commit a violent act.

[snip]

Moreover, within the offense conduct, the Government included conversations about the Defendant‘s support for Imam Jamil. The Defendant‘s support for Imam Jamil is irrelevant to the case at hand. The Defendant‘s support for Imam Jamil has no bearing on what he has pled guilty to and should not be considered. The Defendant‘s support for Imam Jamil is Constitutional. It is not against the law for one to raise funds for the legal defense of an incarcerated individual. The inclusion of the Defendant‘s support for Imam Jamil within the offense conduct illustrates just how meritless the Government‘s memorandum is.

The memos also claim the proceeds of the crimes were intended to fund Luqman’s violent mission, effectively attempting to turn theft into material support for terrorism.

In short, to disrupt a group of men the government claims were espousing jihad, that it suggests were criminal because they believed H. Rap Brown had been targeted by the FBI for 40 years, the FBI set up a sting involving selling stolen goods that they would go on to suggest amounted to funding Islamic extremism. At the elaborately orchestrated arrest for that sting, the FBI first mauled, then shot and killed the leader of the group.

Abdullah’s family has sued for wrongful death and the FBI has effectively defaulted by not responding at all, but without knowing the FBI Agents’ identities, the suit remains meaningless.

This is what a targeted killing in the US would look like. Not a drone shooting down a target driving across the desert. But an elite tactical team flown in for the occasion, only to find capture wasn’t possible and lethal force was necessary, with the after-incident report finding the Agents (whose identities and therefore actions will remain classified) genuinely believed they were at risk when they fired.

Now, let me be clear. I’m not saying that Imam Luqman Abdullah’s killing was a targeted killing. But if the Administration does believe targeted killing is permissible within the US, given their overwrought claims about Abdullah, he would qualify. He was a senior operational leader of a militant Islamist group that the government claims had terrorist aspirations (remember, John Brennan has made it clear that imminence is a measure of future threat, not past crimes). The FBI chose to carry out the arrest in the warehouse precisely to avoid civilian casualties. And, MI’s Attorney General found, when they were unable to capture Abdullah without endangering themselves, they shot him. Abdullah would fit the three criteria in the white paper.

This is why the drone and AUMF fallacies are so distracting. If, indeed, the Administration believes it is authorized to conduct the targeted killing of Americans within the US, if indeed they ever carried out a targeted killing, it would look like an aggressive counterterrorism (or counternarcotics) raid; it would look nothing like the Anwar al-Awlaki killing. We, likely, would never in fact know it was a targeted killing rather than a counterterrorism raid gone haywire.

And the Administration refuses to answer direct questions about whether it believes it can conduct targeted killings in the US.

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54 comments

  1. JGordon

    Makes sense. Assassinating citizens under the cover of law is a necessary step towards the perfection of the police state. Although with the NDAA, all this way too elaborate. I expect that Obama will just start making people disappear soon. Occupy protesters, congressmen, Supreme Court justices, it doesn’t matter. Anyone who says anything against the corporate state will be disappeared.

    By the way, just so all know I am in favor of elite corruption and have no problem advocating that people be passive about it and do their best to ignore it. There’s a lot better things to be worrying about than whether some president or bank CEO or whatever is a criminal narcissist/sociopath or whatever. Like growing trees for example. It’s just starting to get warm out; now’s a great time to get some trees started in the ground. I just planted a pomelo tree and a couple of perimmons myself within the past couple of days. They should do real good.

    1. ambrit

      Mr. JGordon;
      Yes, as brother Swift pointed out some years ago, “planting a pomelo tree” is code for starting a terrorist cell in your den. What’s a perimon though? Buying stinger missals at the Kandahar Bazaar and mailing them to the local “beekeepers hive renewal” club?

    2. bluntobj

      Interesting that after there was a post about the ramifications of removing the comments section or examples of other site’s drastically editing/removing posts that disagree with the blog article (not including real trolls, threadjacks, or snerts), I see that the NC “self-policing” brigade is out in force, using mockery as their prime tool to get others to ignore a valid point plus some obvious /sarc.

      And that valid point is that between NDAA, CISPA, Exec Orders, Patriot Act, etc., the current administration plus any future admin has the capability to “disappear” or publicly execute by police anyone they cannot “character assasinate/ignore.” The capability is not open to debate, as it is in black and white language passed by Congress.

      Those who choose to make mockery of this, or pull the “consipracy /ignore” argument had better take note that the USG felt that a 16 year old boy was a legit target for a hellfire missle just a souple of weeks ago, and that the border of the United States is just a line; terrorism and the war against it is everywhere.

      1. Nathanael

        For what it’s worth, the drum I have been rhetorically banging all these years is this:

        If the government establishes this police state, it is at serious risk of overthrow. Why?

        Because the government is not fulfilling its basic jobs (feeding, clothing, and employing people). Democracy, the rule of law, and civil rights act as safety valves preserving peace, keeping a government in power which is not managing to do these things.

        Once the government is sufficiently abusive, ambitious would-be warlords will realize that they can provide everything (and more) that the government provides, while being no more abusive. They will become popular.

        At that point, the most effective warlord / would-be feudal lord will win. And right now, the government is not looking very effective, what with Millenium Challenge 2002 and all.

        This is the scenario I would like to avoid, but we seem to be grinding on towards it.

        1. mac

          Someone posted that “Because the government is not fulfilling its basic jobs (feeding, clothing, and employing people).”

          HUH?

        2. Dome chomsky

          my fear, though, is that tyranny won’t be so obvious (kind of the point of this article) and the police state will only get better at enforcing it, so it might preclude revolution and become some modern 1984 scenario. i see no palpable “class consciousness” out there to truly fight back, but maybe i don’t get out enough.

      2. from Mexico

        • JGordon said:

        I expect that Obama will just start making people disappear soon.

        • bluntobj said:

        …the current administration plus any future admin has the capability to “disappear”… anyone they cannot “character assasinate/ignore.” The capability is not open to debate, as it is in black and white language passed by Congress.

        The problem with this “you will be disappeared” canard is not just its lack of truthfulness, but its subtext, captured exquisitely in this clip from Star Trek:

        “We are the Borg. Resistance is futile.”
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZEJ4OJTgg8

        The “you will be disappeared” hoax serves two purposes: 1) to shock and awe people into surrender, and 2) as a rationalization for people’s own immoral acts.

        In Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt exposes the lie for what it is. First she cites the following passage from Unsichtbare Flagge, written by Peter Bamm, a Nazi Army physician who served at the Russian front. The Jews in Sevastopol were collected and then made to board a mobile gas van, in which they died after a few minutes, whereupon the driver transported the corpses outside the city and unloaded them into tank ditches. As Bamm explained:

        We knew this. We did nothing. Anyone who had seriously protested or done anything against the killing unit would have been arrested within twenty-four hours and would have disappeared. It belongs among the refinements of totalitarian governments in our century that they don’t permit their opponents to die a great, dramatic martyr’s death for their convictions. A good many of us might have accepted such a death. The totalitarian state lets its opponents disappear in silent anonymity. It is certain that anyone who had dared to suffer death rather than silently tolerate the crime would have sacrficed his life in vain. This is not to say that such a sacrifice would have been morally meaningless. It would only have been practically useless. None of us had a conviction so deeply rooted that we could have taken upon ourselves a practically useless sacrifice for the sake of a higher moral meaning.

        To which Arendt responds:

        Needless to add, the writer remains unaware of the emptiness of his much emphasized “decency” in the absense of what he calls a “higher moral meaning.”

        But the hollowness of respectability — for decency under such circumstances is no more than respectability — was not what became apparent in the example afforded by Sergeant Anton Schmidt [A Feldwebel in the German Army who helped the Jewish underground, was arrested and executed.] Rather it was the fatal flaw in the argument itself, which at first sounds so hopelessly plausible. It is true that totalitarian domination tried to establlish these holes of oblivion into which all deeds, good and evil, would disappear, but just as the Nazis’ feverish attempts, from June, 1942, on, to erase all traces of the massacres — through cremation, through burning in open pits, through the use of explosives and flame-throwers and bone-crushing machinery — were doomed to failure, so all efforts to let their opponents “disappear in silent anonymity” were in vain. The holes of oblivion do not exist. Nothing human is that perfect, and there are simply too many people in the world to make oblivion possible. One man will always be left alive to tell the story. Hence, nothing can ever be “practically useless,” at least, not in the long run. It would be of great practical usefulness for Germany today, not merely for her prestige abroad but for her sadly confused inner conditon, if there were more such stories to be told. [Like that of Sergeant Anton or the two peasant boys in Gunther Weisenborn's Der lautlose Aufstand who were drafted into the S.S. but refused to serve and on the day of their execution wrote in their last letter to their families: "We two would rather die than burden our conscience with such terrible things. We know what the S.S. must carry out."] For the lesson of such stories is simple and within everybody’s grasp. Politically speaking, it is that under conditons of terror most people will comply but some people will not, just as the lesson of the countries to which the Final Solution was proposed is that “it could happen” in most places but it did not happen everywhere. Humanly speaking, no more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation.

        As Susan Neiman explains, the example of Sargeant Anton Schmidt and the two German peasant boys is Kant’s answer

        to conservative critics, today as in the past, who believe the mass of humanity is driven by crude desires. Perhaps, they argue, a few great souls act on moral principles. But most of us have nothing more noble in view than bread and circuses. Our appetites for refinements of gluttony and varieties of entertainment remain nearly insatiable, and nothing else really moves us. If our lives revolve around consuming the objects of these simple passions, a benevolent despotism which manages those passions is the best form of government. We care about getting stuff, and distraction from pain; they care about getting it to us. Who could possibly complain?

        This argument was used to defend despotism in the 18th century, and then as now it depended on the premise that people don’t want to be challenged, but happy. If Kant’s thought-experiment works, the consequences are great. As part of the good life we want all kinds of pleasure, but we want something else as well: a sense of our own dignity that allows us to deny pleasure itself if it violates something we hold higher. Of course wanting dignity isn’t the same as having it; many a sweet lazy dream of something grander remains just that. But if most of us can imagine wanting to be Kant’s hero, even for a moment, then a government that appeals to our best instincts can’t be dismissed out of hand. If each of us can imagine a moment in which we want to show our freedom by standing on the side of justice, each of us should work towards a world in which freedom and justice are paramount.

        http://www.einsteinforum.de/fileadmin/einsteinforum/downloads/victims_neiman.pdf

        1. Goat_farmers_of_the_CIA

          “Politically speaking, it is that under conditons of terror most people will comply but some people will not, just as the lesson of the countries to which the Final Solution was proposed is that “it could happen” in most places but it did not happen everywhere. Humanly speaking, no more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation.”

          This is the kind of thing that should be hammered into the retrograde, crypto conservative brains of closet reactionaries like film director Michael Haneke, who with his anti-Humanist propaganda, technically and artistically polished but morally rotten in its message, wants us to accept evil as part of our natures and just go with the flow all the way to hell.

          1. bluntobj

            Followup, apologies for getting distracted:

            “The “you will be disappeared” hoax serves two purposes: 1) to shock and awe people into surrender, and 2) as a rationalization for people’s own immoral acts.”

            Agree with 1, and even 2, in that people would rather receive food stamps, social security, welfare, and disability than oppose the government that gives it to them. If you consider that as an immoral act, I’m 100% with you.

            I also agree that if you were a principled person, death would be preferable, as in your second example. I’m reminded of the Tunisian lad who immolated himself.

        2. bluntobj

          While I do like the Hannah A. quote, I wonder why you reference it here?

          Are you making a case that “disappearing” an opponent or undesirable is not possible, that someone would notice and report it to the world?

          Oh, and would the media report such a thing? Certainly when Abu Graib occured the MSM in the US had a field day, but would such a sensational expose occur for an equally long period?

          With a press corps that were pissed that they had no access to the president on a recent golf outing, and expressed that displeasure by only asking one quesiton when they had an opportunity: “Did you beat Tiger?”

          With a media that actively cheered the hunt and destruction of Dorner without an examination of why he did what he did, and wondering if there was any merit to his charges of corruption in the LAPD? (It’s like a template for every wronged cop movie ever made!)

          With a media that barely pursued the ramifications of ACA, CISPA, NDAA, assassination of Americans overseas, etc., then issues weak justifications supporting the administrations position?

          To say that the people that vanished into those “holes of oblivion” didn’t disappear, you are correct. Their bones and memories were recovered after a long and brutal war and against many who did not wish to remember.

          However, they went into the “holes of oblivion,” aided and abeted by those who wanted: “a benevolent despotism which manages those passions is the best form of government. We care about getting stuff, and distraction from pain; they care about getting it to us. Who could possibly complain?”

          Those who disappeared would complain, if they had not been made dead. That is what we are objecting to, here: the capability of the government to do so.

          The sum of your quotes, from my perspective is: “yeah, it did not happen everywhere then, so it’s a canard to say that it could happen here now because people will find out about it in the course of history.”

          Which is a great comfort to those who suffered and died at the hands of the inheritors of Kant’s intellectual work.

          This is brilliance though; I didn’t think Kant had it in him:

          “a benevolent despotism which manages those passions is the best form of government. We care about getting stuff, and distraction from pain; they care about getting it to us. Who could possibly complain?”

          I’m requoting because this describes the 47% (lulz) or more that supported the administration in it’s recent election, on both the giving or receiving ends. Do these people care abouut NDAA? Drone strikes? Who would be a greater supporter of rendition and disappearance, repub war wacko’s or the 55 million on food stamps and disability that don’t care as long as they get their next check?

          I don’t have the confidence in their “nobility” and willingness to face a firing squad rather than join a “homeland security taskforce.” I’m guessing that you do?

  2. Middle Seaman

    Agencies with excessive powers always over react, target innocent people and end up living on the thin line between legal to illegal use of force. The FBI, the police and even intelligence agencies do it in Democracies and, of course, in lesser regimes.

    That’s not news. That’s not surprising. That’s not the main danger. Using drones inside the US, have a patriot act and the obscene claim that the government can kill you legally outside the legal system, these are severe dangers.

    1. from Mexico

      I find your realist ontology, the belief that things fall into discreet categories and that nothing exists between the Gestapo and the GPU on the one hand and on the other hand the state’s instruments of violence — the police and the army — being under the control of democratic institutions, to be problematic.

      The metaphor of a “police state Richter scale” is much more realistic than your binary.

  3. Richard Kline

    Well Marcy Wheeler won’t call that an assasination, but it certainly looks like one to me. No valid reason is given for loosing the dog on a prone individual—but of course the guy wasn’t resisting, so it’s difficult to justify shooting him unless he can be _made_ to resist. And prosecuting him would be a real problem: read the post, despite repeated attempts by an agent provocateur to get the guy on tape with threatening remarks _they didn’t have any!_ that would justify a conviction, let alone a long one. A felon in possession just wasn’t going to put him out of circulation for long.

    THIS is what assassination _has always looked like in the US_, it’s not new. Numerous Black Panthers were de facto assassinated. Read about the Red Scare in the 1920s, multiple assassinations. No one should see this as a new policy; they only thing new is that the policy looks so bad that someone feels it necessary to advance a new [phoney] legal rhetoric to absolve the powers that be after the fact.

    What I find most troubling of all in this account, however, is that the agents involved are allowed to _completely conceal their identity_. That is a huge threat to the public. If agents of the state can attack you at command while remaining unidentified you have, de jure, a death squad. Complete legal immunity, complete personal immunity, no public or press oversight really possible. Power like THAT can and will be abused. The state has always assassinated political undesirables, but there have been repurcussions. De jure death squads however are a new twist. We’ve had vigilante death squads at times and places, usually in collusion local authorities (San Francisco, Wyoming, Texas as instances). But to have the highest authorities of the country overtly training and maintaining a domestic death squad is new. We do this all the time overseas, it was inevitable that ‘the method’ would come home in time. Well, it’s here . . . and someone NOT Obama is going to use it come the day.

    1. from Mexico

      It seems to me Bush’s doctrine of preventive war has come home to roost.

      Guilt is no longer established by proving what someone has done, but upon speculation about what they might have done (where causality cannot be tangibly demonstrated, as in witch trials) or might do. When it comes to criminal law, Occam’s Razor bit the dust. This has turned the clock back at least 500 years in criminal jurisprudence.

      And there was another sea change that occurred under Bush. Before him, we used proxys — such as the many puppet dictators we set up around the world — and covert ops to carry out our assasinations, torture and mass murders, which gave us plausible deniability. Now we’re doing the dirty deeds ourselves, overtly.

    2. diptherio

      Speaking of assassination by the US gov’t, I came this great archival recording of Jim Garrison, Mort Sahl and Sen. Bob Dornan on Steve Allen’s show, discussing the Kennedy assassination. Slightly off topic, but I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that while the domestic death-squad may be a new trick, the horror-show has been fully operational since at least 1963. Some of you are probably old enough to remember Garrison, but this is the first time I’d hear him personally discuss the case…pretty powerful stuff. (His description of the reasons for killing JFK sounds strangely familiar (the desire to invade S. Vietnam), as does Dornan’s “point-scoring” rhetorical style. While Garrison exudes respectability and calm, composed, rationality, Dornan sounds like Glenn Beck caught a time-machine back 50 years and ended up of the Steve Allen show.)

      But back on topic…Once again the FBI sets up a citizen for some BS terrorism charges. How many times is this now? Executing the brother is going a little farther than they have in the past (or maybe not), but it’s definitely par for the course. Kill a black, out-spoken muslim and see if anyone protests, then proceed to the rest of the population. This kind of thing would send chills down my spine if I wasn’t already convinced that our justice system is entirely under the control of Beelzebub (metaphorically speaking).

      1. Texas Nate

        The problem with Garrison is that he was full of it. Kennedy is the one who started escalation that led to the Viet Nam war. He was much like Obama, never met a military action he didn’t like.

  4. Max424

    I want to be known as the best pool player ever since before the dawn of man began. This means, I need to be among the all-time elite in every phase of the game. So I strive to be a fundamentally perfect positional player, a deceptively devious safety artist, legendary banker, a prodigious shot maker, a man possessing a booming break and a zen master when it comes to decoding tricky caroms, kicks and combos.

    And the same holds true for great nation-states, I think. If you want to be known as the best country in the universe, going back through all the Big Bangs to the truly antecedent Big Bang One,* you gotta be good at everything, and that includes killing your own citizens on their native soil with –almost!– surgical precision.

    Note: Now who holds the all-time title as the Baddest of the Bad, do ya think? Is it the 3rd Reich? Stalinistic Russia? The Mongols? How ’bout Rome in its heyday, or maybe some mean ass tribe (most likely clear cut and gone now) in the rough and tumble jungles of the Amazon or New Guinea?

    Well, the US ain’t nothin’ till we can far outstrip those weaklings in the things they did best. And in my opinion, we will.

    So I say, bring on the Grim Reaper drones. Let them dispense wisdom and justice from American skies, like some death wielding Santa Clause, for there are plenty of evildoing targets all around each and every one of us.

    But not us. Right, Mr. Assassin-in-Chief-No-Collateral, not us!

    Please!

    *Or you can go all the way back to Big Bang Zero, which ever you prefer.

    1. Max424

      Note on … Please!

      It’s down to beggars vs the silent types, I’m afraid.

      I myself am a beggar. In this particular instance, at least, begging could be seen as a form of aggressive –if pathetically useless– semi-protest.

      On the other hand, the silent types are either: a) in on it, b) not in on it but readily approve, c) too scared to utter a peep, or d) worst of all, and this would include the majority of Americans, to dumbed down to know the difference even if they knew what was going on.

  5. fresno dan

    People – it is already much, much worse than this article implies. The presumption is that someone that the government views as criminal can be assasinated.

    Well, with the Chris Dorner case, we know that the government thinks that innocent bystanders (collateral damage) can be killed (the only reason the two latina women weren’t killed is poor markmanship).
    So, what will happen to police officers who fire upon two women in a truck that does not match color or make, and are shot in the back???
    Investigated (well, yes they are being investigated for firing their weapon. Anybody care to bet if they will be Prosecuted?? Fired???? Demoted?????
    My point is that the government can already kill any citizen consequence free.

    1. harry

      Cant we all just leave and go to Canada? Then Obama can be alone with his security professional types and they will have to resort to “eliminating” double agents.

    2. Nathanael

      Fresno Dan: what will happen sooner or later, if this trend goes on, is that people will start organizing local gangs to defend themselves from the police gang. This is probably already happening in LA.

      The police gang is not guaranteed to win. The most useful thing you can have as a gang or an army is the support of the local population.

      1. Nathanael

        I’m not looking forward to this world, but it seems like we’re barrelling ahead towards it.

        We still have elections. If people in LA get upset enough about the police, they can elect a city council which can disband and disarm the police gang, while establishing a more reputable gang as the new police.

        1. anyone

          Ahh Nathaniel, you were on SUCH a roll. And then that ugly word elections reared its ugly head again. Sorry, you’ve a way to go yet Grasshopper.

  6. dutch

    There is no question but that this was a targeted assassination. And as has already been pointed out, this is nothing new. The Obama administration’s “legal” opinions authorizing the summary execution of Americans simply make the policy explicit and public. Realizing this puts Obama’s claim to have the “most transparent administration in history” in an entirely new light – transparently evil.

    1. ambrit

      So, production values are now a legitimate measure of the truth or falsity of an argument? Get real, this ain’t Hollywood mister, it’s America.

  7. Mcmike

    Indeed. Nothing new about the govt killing “bad guys” in the process of arrest… Or just shooting indiscriminately into unruly crowds from time to time.

    What drone killings do is take away the kabuki of arrest, and take away the pretence that the killing was self defence by the cops.

    Its as if the SWAT team rolls up an electric chair in a van and throws the switch right there in the street. Or in the case of old anti nazi movies, drags the guy out of his bed, so they can shoot him against a wall outside in the alley. Except theres no cops, no vans, just one minute the guy is there at a wedding, and the next theres blood everywhere.

    1. Max424

      “Or in the case of old anti nazi movies, drags the guy out of his bed, so they can shoot him against a wall outside in the alley.”

      It never occurred to me what a lavish expenditure of valuable time that was. Your right, just shoot the f-cker in his bed.

      Hell, you could probably execute 6 or 7 more rebel-insurgent-terrorists during the course of an evening’s work, once you add up the wasted minutes saved.

      Productivity: what it’s all about –for corporations, governments, goon squads, hit teams, whomever.

      1. McMike

        You know those Nazi’s, had a keen sense of drama and stage craft.

        The extra effort required to get the guy out in the street paid dividends in terms of public spectacle.

        Same goes for Romans and their Christian problem.

        1. ambrit

          “Same goes for Romans and their Christian problem.”
          Well, evidence is mounting that the Great Fire of Rome was, if not set by them, certainly spread by Millennial Christians.
          So, if you’re convicted of arson on Imperial Rome, what was the punishment? Why, death by burning! Thus, lots and lots of Early Christians ended up as unwilling spectators at Neros’ Barbecue. (Real Martyrs for the Faith if there ever were such.)

          1. McMike

            Indeed. Our post-9/11 National Scapegoat State is not very original.

            If we follow form from history, then the Muslims really will take over in the long run.

    2. anyone

      Its as if the SWAT team rolls up an electric chair in a van and throws the switch right there in the street. Or in the case of old anti nazi movies, drags the guy out of his bed, so they can shoot him against a wall outside in the alley. Except theres no cops, no vans, just one minute the guy is there at a wedding, and the next theres blood everywhere.

      Kinda cool, conceptually at least, isn’t it? No wonder the rubes are buying it so unquestioningly.

  8. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

    I would be interested in obtaining the 10 practice videos. Do your detainees actually lie still when a “bite” command is given to these “dog” creatures?

    We have a similar problem on Mongo with our K12 Detention Teams. They use baby sand worms, captured and transported from Mongo Commons. Using a combination of drugs, tasers and pepper spray, a small 50 ft baby sand worm can be more or less controlled, until Voice is used to give the “swallow” command.

    But then there is usually substantial collateral damage afterwards, and it gets expensive replacing all those squad cars, buildings and highly trained detention workers.

    I wonder if we could do this more cost effectively on Mongo if we imported some of these “dogs”?

  9. Norman

    Re: the warning, what makes you think you’re not already being watched or being tracked? A sad day when the F.B.I. has to stage these scenes. It seems that’s what this modern F.B.I. is good at, especially since they don’t go after the real crimes/criminals that made them famous in the past. I bet old Mr. Hoover is turning over in his grave watching his beloved F.B.I. today.

  10. from Mexico

    dutch said:

    The Obama administration’s “legal” opinions authorizing the summary execution of Americans simply make the policy explicit and public.

    The assasinations have to be “explicit and public” — no less than public spectacles — in order to acheive the desired effect. This, as Hannah Arendt put it in The Origins of Totalitarianism, is what happens when “terror is no longer used as a means to exterminate and frighten opponents, but as an instrument to rule masses of people who are perfectly obedient.”

    The other thing that happens is that the police terror “strikes without any preliminary provocation, its victims are innocent even from the point of view of the persecutor.”

    As Arendt goes on to explain: “This was the case in Nazi Germany when full terror was directed against Jews, i.e., against people with certain common characteristics which were independent of their specific behavior.” We get some of that in the US, as I it’s pretty clear that the poor, the mentally challenged and the Muslims are America’s Jews.

    But as Arendt goes on to point out, it is really the GPU and not the Gestapo that perfected police terror. And this seems to be more where we are in the United States, as she goes on to explain:

    In Soviet Russia the situation is more confused, but the facts, unfortunatley, are only too obvious. On the one hand, the Bolshevik system, unlike the Nazi, never admitted theoretically that it could practice terror against innocent people, and though in view of certain practices this may look like hypocrisy, it makes quite a difference. Russian practice, on the other hand, is even more “advanced” than the German in one respect: arbitrariness of terror is not even limited by racial differentiation, while the old class categories have long since been discarded, so that anybody in Russia may suddenly become a victim of the police terror… [I]t is decisive that they are objectively innocent, that they are chosen regardless of what they may or may not have done.

    1. McMike

      Don’t forget one feature: there’s always a class exempt from the terror.

      You need not only the cruelty of random arbitrary state violence that is openly extrajudicial, but it must be against a backdrop of an exempt elite class.

      (Sure, they turn on themselves from time to time, but that’s the exception).

      1. from Mexico

        What you find is a class of elites that thinks it’s exempt from the terror.

        In War and Peace and War, Peter Turchin does a great job of looking at “the other side of the wheel of fortune” when ascendent elites, who always believe they are exempt, finally meet their Waterloo. Oddly enough, unlike what popular mythology teaches us, it’s not the commoners who end up thinning out the population of elites, but other elites (even though they end up thinning out the population of commoners too, but not in nearly the proportion as they kill off other elites). Turchin uses 13th and 14th century France as one of his examples. As Turchin explains, during the 13th century, the golden age for the elite:

        Extracting greater revenues from peasants meant that the landlords went beyond skimming the surplus and started cutting into the resources that peasants needed to survive. Landlord oppression was undermining their own economic basis, as peasants declined by flight, starvation, or even death in futile rebellions.

        “Ye nobles are like ravening wolves,” wrote Jacques de bitry in the thirteenth century. “Therefore shall ye howl in hell…who despoil your subjects and live on the blood and sweat of the poor.” Whatever a peasant amasses in a year, “the knight, the noble devours in an hour.”

        But then the wheel of fortune changed. Between 1300 and 1350, the social fabric of the French society began unraveling, first in the frontier regions, and later in the center. Wars and civil wars became the order of the day, and the massive “pruning” of the French nobility occurred. The worst disaster, that of Crecy, wiped out 10,000 of the “flower of the French nobility” and Poitiers accounted for another 2500, Thousands died at the naval battle of Sluys (1340), in the local civil wars and at the hands of the Jacks and routiers. “In short,” Turchin concludes, “by 1360 there were fewer ‘noble thugs’ to cause trouble.”

        1. McMike

          I agree about the elites. God help us if they ever stop competing amongst themselves.

          Yet I think it is still valid to say that the appearance of a bifarcated system (at least during periods of the elite’s stability) is an important feature of totalitrarian system.

          Some animals are more equal than others and all that.

          They make themselves Gods, and expect the commoners to think that way too. Yet, like the God, they are not immune to battling amongst themselves.

        2. Nathanael

          You are SO right. I’d love to talk to you, you seem to have come to the same conclusions as me from an independent study of different sources.

        3. Mr. Jack Mehoff

          Mex, you’re among the finest of thinkers, but when you wrote; “The worst disaster, that of Crecy”, whatever made you consider that a disaster? I’m not at all sure I would….

      2. Goat_farmers_of_the_CIA

        The problem with Arendt’s take on Totalitarianism as it appears on the last chapter of her famous book, is that in its psychological approach, as McMike’s comment reveals, ignores issues of class and economics. This is made clear in Corey Robin’s essay on the subject:

        http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n01/corey-robin/dragon-slayers

        In fact, as Robin argues it is the second chapter, “Imperialism”, that is the more relevant. When from Mexico wrote in a comment above about “Bush’s wars coming home to roost” he’s pointing to a phenomenon Arendt was already aware of. As Robin explains:

        “If Arendt matters today, it is because of her writings on imperialism, Zionism and careerism. Composed during the 1940s and early 1960s, they not only challenge facile and fashionable applications of the totalitarianism thesis; they also eerily describe the dangers that the world now faces. By refusing to reckon with these writings, the journalists, intellectuals and academics who make up the Arendt industry betray her on two counts: they ignore an entire area of her work and fail to engage with the unsettling realities of their own time. The latter would not have surprised Arendt: empires tend to have selective memories. The history of ‘imperialist rule’, she wrote at the height of the Vietnam War, ‘seems half-forgotten’, even though ‘its relevance for contemporary events has become rather obvious in recent years.’ America was so transfixed by ‘analogies with Munich’ and the idea of totalitarianism that it did not realise ‘that we are back, on an enormously enlarged scale … in the imperialist era.’ “

    2. jurisV

      Your post, especially the that last quote from Arendt, sent chills up and down my spine — because it explained a lot of the craziness that my relatives experienced living in the Soviet Union; and which I couldn’t quite understand until I read your comment.

      True terror is what they were living under. If one can’t figure out the criteria that makes you suspect you live in constant fear. It was extremely effective because no-one was safe at any level under Stalin’s regime — not the military, not the intelligentsia, not the Checka, not high Government officials. Not even the “… terror police” that Arendt mentions in that quote that you included.

      Does Arendt discuss how it grew out of the Russian Revolution to become so lethally crazy, yet so very effective in controlling the people until the inevitable collapse several decades after the madman died? Her book that you cite is now on my list. THANK YOU!

  11. The Hansen Medal for FBI Integrity

    The only good thing about these cowardly FBI scumbags is that they’ve got no legislative authorization for their Gestapo. If you ever got a real president with balls in there, she could just shut FBI down with an executive order.

  12. sierra7

    (Nice to read that Hannah A. is still being read and quoted)

    I’m not too surprised at reading the “legal” outcomes of this fiasco…..the ultimate sentence “….79 months….and considering the extraordinary assets that were mobilized and used, you have to wonder if (really?) “budget time” was/is imminent like in the Waco disaster……(DEA and FBI plus other “national security” organizations were contemporaneously before congress for budget talks just before, during and after that mess).
    Another commenter mentioned the Black Panthers….very good!
    (Extra credit for further reading!)

    “Our Presidents should not be able to conduct secret operations which violate our principles, jeopardize our rights, and have not been subject to the checks and balances which normally keep policies in line.”

    Morton Halperin
    Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of
    Defense for International Affairs

    “In its consideration of covert action, the Committee was struck by the basic tension–if not incompatibility–of covert operations and the demands of a constitutional system. Secrecy is essential to covert operations; secrecy can, however, become a source of power, a barrier to serious policy debate within the government, and a means of circumventing the established checks and procedures of government. The Committee found that secrecy and compartmentation contributed to a temptation on the part of the Executive to resort to covert operations in order to avoid bureaucratic, congressional, and public debate.”

    The Church Committee

    “The nation must to a degree take it on faith that we too are honorable men, devoted to her service.”

    Richard Helms, then DCI
    April, 1971

    “The National Security Act of July 1947 established the CIA as it exists today. Under the Act, the CIA’s mission was loosely defined, since any efforts to flesh out its duties in specific terms would have unduly limited the scope of its activities. Therefore, under the Act, the CIA was charged to perform five general tasks. The first is to advise the National Security Council on matters relating to national security. The second is to make recommendations to the NSC regarding the coordination of intelligence activities of the various departments. The third duty is to correlate and evaluate intelligence data and provide for its appropriate dissemination. Fourth, the CIA is to carry out “service of common concern”. Finally, the CIA is authorized “to perform all other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the NSC will from time to time direct…”.

    “It is from this final directive that the wide-ranging power to do everything from plotting political assassinations and government overthrows to buying off local newspaper owners and mining harbors has come. The wording of that final directive has allowed presidents of the United States to organize and use secret armies to achieve covertly the policy aims that they are not able to achieve through overt means. It allows presidents both present and future to use the resources of the nation’s top intelligence agency as they see fit.”

    Church Commission Report
    http://pw1.netcom.com/~ncoic/cia_info.htm#The%20National%20Security%20Act%20of%20July%201947

    The last sentence in the above quote from the Church Commiccion Report is exquisitely relevant to how our proceeding presidents “acted” in relevance to “national security” since 1947. The Act gives each succeeding president more power IF the public remains ignorant of our ongoing foreign policies, especially since the mid 20th century.

    The record is/has been clear for all those who wished to dig up the information; before computerization, there were the Federal buildings in each major city wherer you could get lots of infomration about our foreign activites….even covert ones! (After Reagan abolished “free” information ir has been relatively more difficult, but up to a certain degree could be gotten.

    My latest letter to editor on the subject:

    Posted Feb. 11, 2013 Union Democrat Sonora California:
    : http://www.uniondemocrat.com/Opinion/Letters/Letters-to-the-editor-for-February-11-2013

    “From the initial imposition of the Patriot Act levied by the previous administration to the latest NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) the United States has gone from a country that, at least overtly, has conditioned its citizens that it acts in benevolent self interest not only with foreign peoples but with it’s own citizens. (See: Theory of “American Exceptionalism”)
    It’s citizens have been conditioned to believe that this government has the utmost respect for it’s founding constitution and the all protecting bill of rights which gives force to that which is declared in that constitution.
    Those two initial protective instruments are now superseded by hundreds, if not thousands of pages of “qualifying” phraseology subverting the very founding principles by which our government professes to rule and its citizenry broadly believe protect them.
    Recognizing that since 2001 this government has “ruled” under the Patriot Act and it’s modifications, has kept us in a state of “emergency rule” since; has initiated and dragged many other countries to assist it in human “renditions”, outright torture, brutal deaths, even declares any American citizen a “legitimate” target anywhere in the world that citizen may defy it’s foreign (and domestic) policies, it is perfectly clear to me that we have become a nation not of laws, but one of a nation ruled by very powerful, arrogant men (and women).
    We cannot let this discussion be reduced to just the “use” of drones in warfare, but what power are we relinquishing to one individual, the president, to use this instrument anywhere in the world on anyone who presents even a “future” threat to our “interests”!
    What powers will the next president declare to be his own, no longer of the people’s representatives all in the name of “national security”?
    We continue to descend into an immoral abyss.”

    Each president since the passage of the National Security Act of 1947 has incrementaly accrued more and more power for covert activities around the world (The record is also very clear on that; there is voluminous material published over the decades well substantiated).

    The lessons (not) learned over those decades should have been that what we do and continue to do in foreign countries ruled by our corrupt political militart dictatorships, will eventually come to roost here in our own country.

    What would guarantee those policies? “Conversion from covert overseas to overt here?
    A supine (distracted by a consumer society and a potrate, corrupt Congress.

    Well, we have both, and have had both for decades.

    Because Congress (and the American people as a whole) have not held accountable our past presidents for evil doings in other countries we have become complacent (and complicit?) for all the evil that they have done in our name. We as citizens are just as guilty.

    The more evil we do in other countries the more our “liberties” (?) will be constricted here at home until such time that the average citizen realizes that our government will then come for him/her.

    What is a militant? A subversive? A “terrorist”?
    Those are diefined by our government who is doing the evil in so many parts of the world.

    How long, under the Patiot Act and the NDAA would it be before this dissertation be considered seditous?????

    Our presidents and Congress are now totally intellectualy and politically corrupt.

    As a once famous (in our negative way) spokesperson said,
    “What is to be done?”

    Wake up America!

  13. Bill Frank

    “We have abandoned the common good. We have been stripped of our rights and voice. Corporations write our laws and determine how we structure our society. We have all become victims. There are no politicians or institutions, no
    political parties or courts, that are independent enough or strong enough to resist the corporate onslaught. Greater and greater numbers of human beings will be consumed. The poor, the vulnerable, the undocumented, the weak, the elderly, the sick, the children will go first. And those of us watching helplessly outside the gates will go next.” Chris Hedges 2/13

  14. steve from virginia

    Whatever happened to, “C’mon out with your hands up!”

    Any respectable big city detective would have gone in there and collared the guy by himself.

    What looks like overwhelming force to you, looks like bandrupting excess and waste to me.

  15. dede

    Hello,

    I have writtine about fraudulent forereclosures that continue to take place in stlouis. The problem becomes when the fraud is being perpetrated by the very people in positions of pwoer it is rather difficult to obtain ‘ Due Process” It is a network of frad that is happening in stlouis , mo. I would like to invite you to St.Louis and tour the fraud that is happening in great numbers each and every day.
    I currently have one homeowner whom is listed in the facebook site which clearly shows the fraud taking place. Yes , sahe filed for bankrupcy however, her consultation with her attorneys at that time , the homeowner provided the Deed to the Home. The attorneys failed to list the property as unsecured debt and refused to do so with each and every excuse they could use to steal property from this homeowner. The homeowner ultimately began a great deal of researching only to find the as she suspected the County officials had everything to do with the fraudulent foreclosure.
    The New Childresn fund Entrim – Appointed position of course is Julie Leicht. It appears the Foreclosing attorney- Millsap and Singer placed a altered deatch certificate in the file. They also backdated documents to create the assumption of the loan.
    This gets better. Her ex- employer was and is the master Servicers for the bankrupcy courts, wellsfargo , MSD. She was dualed tracked and worst of all terrorized by these people.
    It became clear with the documents she had available and presented , the courts and others wanted to keep her quiet regarding the fraud. Visit my site on facebook
    stayinyouhomecitywide.
    We will have a video reflecting all the fraud which seem to lead back as the homeowner had stated to the Centenne Corporation. Please respond

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