Parsing Obama’s Speech on Drones, the War on Terror, and Guantanamo

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I particularly liked this Real News Network segment, in which Paul Jay and Michael Rattner, the President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights who brought the first case opposing detentions at Guantanamo Bay, went through Obama’s speech late last week on drone policy and Gitmo, focusing on key statements and teasing out what they really meant.

There’ a lot of good analysis here, and I wanted to highlight one particularly important section. Rattner described how, despite the claims to the contrary in other media outlets, that Obama’s latest statement on drone policy has increased the number of targets:

I mean, we’ve seen a lot of this in the white paper that was leaked a few weeks ago about what the standards were for killing people with drones. This is really a repeat of those standards. They’re not the legal standards. When you’re outside a war zone, it has to be imminent, concrete, and specific, the threat. There has to be no other way to stop it. It’s not a question of is it feasible to arrest them. The question is: is it possible to arrest them?

The U.S. in that white paper said, we’re broadening the concept of imminence. Imminence usually meant, you know, the person’s about to push the button and a rocket’s about to launch on our country. They’ve broadened that. It could be someone continually planning or something. So they’ve broadened it. We no longer have a concept of imminence. He didn’t add anything good in that speech about that concept at all. In fact, he reaffirmed the concept of killing people outside a war zone that we’re already familiar with.

This is consistent with McClatchy’s reading. From its article Obama speech suggests possible expansion of drone killings (hat tip Lambert):

But Obama’s speech appeared to expand those who are targeted in drone strikes and other undisclosed “lethal actions” in apparent anticipation of an overhaul of the 2001 congressional resolution authorizing the use of force against al Qaida and allied groups that supported the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

In every previous speech, interview and congressional testimony, Obama and his top aides have said that drone strikes are restricted to killing confirmed “senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces” plotting imminent violent attacks against the United States.

But Obama dropped that wording Thursday, making no reference at all to senior operational leaders. While saying that the United States is at war with al Qaida and its associated forces, he used a variety of descriptions of potential targets, from “those who want to kill us” and “terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat” to “all potential terrorist targets.”

I hope you’ll watch the video in full, or read the transcript.

More at The Real News

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  1. nonclassical

    ..expect McClatchey media to become “less controversial”, as Koch bros. purchase that, McClatchey is primarily conservative, featuring Krauthammer, etc, etc; having defined not in their interest to even carry New York Times editorialists, as of last year…

  2. Z

    I wish that when obama sermonized about Guantanamo with his trademark “Is this who we are” bullshit, that the Code Pink lady would have stood up and said: “No, that’s who YOU are.”


    1. Jim Haygood

      … which would have been decent shorthand for “that’s who your ringleaders are.”

      Obama himself is an SASP (semi-autonomous sock puppet).

    2. banger

      No, that is who WE are. We the citizens who love to wallow in fear are the cause of Guantanamo because we believe, like children, that our leaders are taking care of us. Americans love violence–we drool over action heroes slaughtering hordes of “enemies.” We still have the death penalty here and allow and condone torture. Medea Benjamin represents a minority, a very small minority.

      1. Elliot

        That might be who YOU are, but it is not who I am, nor anyone I know. Don’t smear me or others with your condescending BS about bloodthirstiness. Own your own kinks but don’t impute them to others.

        1. Banger

          Really? Like most Americans of the intellectual class yo seriously underestimate the power of the unconscious. Of course we don’t routinely slaughter people we have to have a public life but inside there is that violence.

        2. Susan

          I believe Banger called it correctly, even though you don’t like it. I believe you are in denial.

      2. from Mexico

        There’s been a lot of scolding going on in LGBT-land too:

        • Here’s Susie Day:

        Bradley Manning has done something horrible to LGBT-town — far worse than revealing war crimes. He raises the question: Do LGBT people, in some way, owe our improving legal status to those very war crimes Manning revealed?


        Let that be a lesson to every LGBT-town queer who seeks acceptance in President Obama’s US of A. When it comes to government-sponsored mass killings and human rights abuses, maybe “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” isn’t such a bad idea, after all.

        • And Steven Thrasher:

        To the Professional Homosexual, there is no moral quandary in selling out one’s own queer soul, liberated by a once-radical movement, by accepting endless militarism and corporate greed in return for personal fortune. And since Professional Homosexuals control so many LGBT organizations and spaces, they threaten to drag the entire community down with them.


        In accepting this vile hypocrisy—in which an individual like Private Manning is shamed by the LGBT community while corporate raiders like Wells Fargo are praised—the average homosexual becomes as culpable as the Professional Homosexual in selling out the movement…

        [T]hat same homosexual becomes as beholden to the military-industrial complex as the Professional Homosexual when he fails to call out SF Pride as a bully. The powerful group found perhaps the most marginalized, powerless homosexual in the nation, pulled him into the spotlight for a few hours, took a giant shit on him, roughed him up a little, called him names, and then kicked him back into the gutter.

        The entire LGBT community— not just the Professional Homosexual class—is to blame for the militarization of the movement.

        • And Andy Thayer:

        So why is it that all of the big gay non-profits, from the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – “Gay Inc.” – have failed to utter a word of support for Private Bradley Manning, let alone really campaign for him? He’s gay, has moderately high name recognition, and unlike any number of air-head celebrities, he’s actually done something to support social justice, rather than mined charitable causes for personal fame and fortune.


        If a homophobe had so much as broken Chaz Bono’s finger nail, rest assured that assured GLAAD, NGLTF and HRC would have been on the case. But why the silence about Manning?

        It’s political cowardice. A failure to take on “difficult” political subjects, particularly when doing so might bite the (Democratic Party) hands that feed them.


        Bradley Manning’s great sin, in the view of the gay NGOs, was in exposing not just the depravity of the Bush administration’s foreign policy, but Barack Obama’s as well.


        At the end of the day, Gay Inc. sees its source of jobs in Democratic administrations, its executive directorships with six-figure salaries, its charity balls and other celebrity-driven hoopla as more important than gay rights. And when individual LGBTs like Bradley Manning through their own courage expose the human rights fakery of Democratic politicians, they can twist in the wind.


        The Obama administration is leading the attack on the most important whistle-blower of our era, a gay man whose persecution was tinged with homophobia. The Honduran coup, which it supported and Manning helped expose, is murdering LGBTs and others at a horrific rate. While Gay Inc. keeps quiet, while lapping up favors from its political allies, we must not.

        1. from Mexico

          It is the morality of Martin Luther King that informs all three of the above. Throughout his writings, King in the clearest of terms insisted that people not sit on the sidelines, that they not concern themselves with only their own narrow self- or group-interest. that they take a stand for justice:

          [The philosophy of the Civil Rights Movement] says that it is as much a moral obligation to refuse to cooperate with evil as it is to cooperate with good. Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as the cooperation with good. (“Love, law, and civil disobedience”)

          And again:

          Our position depends upon a lot more than political power, however. It depends upon our ability to marshal moral power as well. As soon as we lose the moral offensive, we are left with only our ten percent of the power of the nation. (Nonviolence, the only road to freedom”)

          And again:

          It is hardly a moral act to encourage others patiently to accept injustice which he himself does not endure. (“Our struggle”)

          And again:

          It may well be that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition is not the glaring noisiness of the so-called bad people, but the appalling silence of the so-called good people. It may be that our generation will have to repent not only for the diabolical actions and vitriolic words of the children of darkness, but also for the crippling fears and tragic apathy of the children of light. (“The current crisis in race relations”)

          And again:

          First, we are challenged to rise above the narrow confines of our individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. (“Facing the challenge of a new age”)

          And again:

          What we are witnessing today in so many northern communities is a sort of quasi liberalism which is based on the principle of looking sympathetically at all sides. It is a liberalism so bent of seeing all sides that it fails to become committed to either side. It is a liberalism that is so objectively analytical that it is not subjectively committed. It is a liberalism which is neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm…

          There are in the white South more open-minded moderates than appear on the surface. These persons are silent today because of fear of social, political and economic reprisals. God grant that the white moderates of the South will rise up courageously, without fear, and take up the leadership in this tense period of transition. (“Give us the ballot – we will transform the South”)

          And again:

          But I say to you, there are certain things within our social order to which I am proud to be maladjusted and to which I call upon all men of good will to be maladjusted.

          If you will allow the preacher in me to come out now, let me say to you that I never did intend to adjust to the evils of segregation and discrimination. I never did intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry. I never did intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never did intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, and the self-defeating effects of physical violence. And I call upon all men of good will to be maladjusted because it may be that the salvation of our world lies in the hands of the maladjusted. (“The American Dream”)

          And again:

          When nonviolent protests were countered by local authorities with harassment, intimidation, and brutality, the federal government has always first asked the Negro to desist and leave the streets, rather than bring pressure to bear on those who commit the criminal acts. We have always been compelled to reject vigorously such federal requests and have rather relied on our allies, the millions of Americans across the nation, to bring pressure on the federal government for protective action in our behalf. Our position has always been that there is a wrong and a right side to the question of full freedom and equality for millions of Negro Americans and that the federal government does not belong in the middle on this issue. (“Behind the Selma March”)

      3. Cynthia

        Ironically, if we completely ignored the extremely low threat of actual terr’ism and took all of that money and spent it on preventative health care, people in general would live longer, happier lives. Except for the psychopaths who profit from the fear/power game.

        The fear paradigm was planned and executed. I had a manager in the late 80s admit it when they were starting to throw out benefit plans and work rules. He had just returned from a company conference where they were taught how to use intimidation and instill fear. I remember how he chuckled, remarking that fear can motivate you to do anything we want. About the same time Reagan killed the fairness doctrine and they started using the fear doctrine on everyone.

  3. Z

    Here’s a place in his speech where he uses his semantical acrobatic slight-of-hand to try to conflate our privacy with the government’s:

    Indeed, thwarting homegrown plots presents particular challenges in part because of our proud commitment to civil liberties for all who call America home. That’s why, in the years to come, we will have to keep working hard to strike the appropriate balance between our need for security and preserving those freedoms that make us who we are. That means reviewing the authorities of law enforcement, so we can intercept new types of communication, and build in privacy protections to prevent abuse. That means that – even after Boston – we do not deport someone or throw someone in prison in the absence of evidence. That means putting careful constraints on the tools the government uses to protect sensitive information, such as the State Secrets doctrine. And that means finally having a strong Privacy and Civil Liberties Board to review those issues where our counter-terrorism efforts and our values may come into tension.

    The Justice Department’s investigation of national security leaks offers a recent example of the challenges involved in striking the right balance between our security and our open society. As Commander-in Chief, I believe we must keep information secret that protects our operations and our people in the field. To do so, we must enforce consequences for those who break the law and breach their commitment to protect classified information. But a free press is also essential for our democracy. I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable.

    What does OUR privacy have to do with THEIR state secrets?


    1. diptherio

      This is what happens when we elect lawyers…reminds me of his “most of the behavior engaged in by the big banks was unethical but not illegal…” It’s times like this I wish for W back; at least his militarist nonsense sounded exactly like what it was: some stupid bullshit.

      1. banger

        Indeed, bring our last President back. When he was in office the left began to rise from it’s supine position after 9/11. But the PR industry had Obama in the wings just in the nick of time–you got to admire the puppet-masters they know what they are doing.

  4. Mary Bess

    No news here, despite the rhetoric. Obama seems to be getting worried about his commission of war crimes. Maximizing the benefit of having been The President will require him to travel abroad once he leaves office. What if he can’t go anywhere without being arrested? He’d be stuck here with an increasingly irate citizenry. The banksters won’t need him anymore. Who will pay him tens of thousands to listen to his jive?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “Who will pay him tens of thousands to listen to his jive?”

      I’ve met Obama (twice during the 2008 primary season) and Bill (After Bill was President/before his heart issues), and I have despised Bill for a long time. Obama was nothing special. You could walk into a local chapter of college Democrats and find a half dozen Obamas which is part of the reason he rose so rapidly. There are legions of lesser Obamas. One would be in the right place at the right time. If the Democratic Convention wasn’t in Boston, its likely Teddy may not have been matched with the keynote speaker, and no one would have tuned in for Obama’s speech. Did anyone listen to Mark Warner in 2008 or the L.A. mayor in 2012? The answer is no. I could understand why someone might pay to see Bill give a speech. All the gushing about Bill in person isn’t hyperbole. I still don’t like him, but I suspect Obama is going to find he’s not a hot commodity on the speech circuit. Without the Presidential appeal, his cult of personality will wither or become too weird to have any kind of mass appeal.

      I suspect he is having problems raising money for his library. Poor people (i.e. Americans and Democratic voters) don’t have any money, and Obama doesn’t have the nouveau tech money Bill had available to him which more or less leaves people devoted to causes and Bush backers.

  5. MaroonBulldog

    I’m not so sure Obama is conflating our privacy with the government’s “privacy”; rather, I am concerned that his words may betray a belief (or design) that “privacy” is not a “civil liberty” (like, say, freedom of the press).

    Recall that our imperator, er, commander-in-chief, was once a professor of constitutional law–so he surely knows that there is no mention of a right to privacy in the Bill of Rights; that our “constitutional right” to privacy is supported by nothing but dictum in cases like Roe v. Wade (dictum because the result in the case can be supported without the prop of privacy); and that dictum can be talked out of future cases as easily as it was talked in to past ones.

    I think his reference to “prevent abuse” refers to efforts to “build in protections” of our privacy; these protections will balance our “privacy” with the government’s interest in using thetools that “law enforcement” will use to “intercept new types of communication.” And he asssures us that these protections, this balancing, will prevent abuse because there will be a strong “Privacy and Civil Liberties Board” to “review issues.”

    If he thought Privacy were a Civil Liberty, our commander-in-chief could just name his reviewer the “Civil Liberties Board”; any liberty interest in privacy would be covered by that reference. By mentioning both in the title, he may suggest that “Privacy” and “Civil Liberties” are two different things.

    Of course the board will be as strong as he wants it to be.

    1. banger

      We can fiddle and diddle over this but his rights to do what he wants are inherent when the national security state was created after WWII. What is different today is that there may be a government procedure to deal with civil liberty issues. Sort of like internal police review boards that usually exonerate police for using excessive force–but sometimes they do deal with officers that have clearly gone beyond a certain standard. I would guess this would mean that a CIA operative cannot simply kill his girlfriend for cheating on him without being, at least brought before a review board. There have to be some constraints on the security services. I mean the government can’t order a drone strike on your car just because you gave an agent the finger because he cut you off. Hey, I’m thankful for small things.

    2. Hugh

      The right to privacy is not enumerated, that is it is not specifically mentioned, in the Constitution, but just because a right is not enumerated does not mean it doesn’t exist or that the Constitution does not recognize its existence. The Ninth Amendment is perhaps the least cited because it explicitly states this and so undercuts most of the rationalizations of our ruling elites to restrict and limit our rights:

      The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

      1. MaroonBulldog

        The right of privacy, as we know it, was unknown in 1789 when the Bill of Rights was drafted. Just saying. The fourth amendment protection against unwarranted search and seizures was not about privacy, it was about government trespass on persons, places, and things.

        1. Hugh

          Rights recognized or not recognized at the Framing, enumerated or not enumerated in the Constitution, are precisely what the Ninth Amendment speaks to. The Constitution and Bill of Rights do not confer rights upon us. They merely mention some of the rights we possess. The Ninth Amendment recognizes that we have others as well.

          I do not know what you mean by the right to privacy as we know it did not exist at the time of the Framing. We live in a very different world. Almost none of our rights as we know them existed at that point. The private sphere was much larger then. As a result, there was little need to invoke a right to privacy as we do now. But invoked or not, the right existed throughout.

      2. dSquib

        The ninth is my favourite amendment. Couldn’t be much broader. And as you say, so rarely cited, as a consequence.

        And I’m not an “originalist” really. It’s just that the constitution only ever seems to “evolve” to greater executive power.

        It’s time to deemphasise these rearguard actions on certain rights and rather seek to expand on what we have, starting with a conceptual broadening of the third. (yes, the third) It’s not as if soldiers quartering on people’s property at home is a likely outcome to protect against, so let’s bring it into the present with an understanding of all the other ways the military industrial complex detracts from our lives and property.

    3. from Mexico

      MaroonBulldog says:

      Recall that our imperator, er, commander-in-chief, was once a professor of constitutional law–so he surely knows that there is no mention of a right to privacy in the Bill of Rights; that our “constitutional right” to privacy is supported by nothing but dictum in cases like Roe v. Wade…

      The initial slogan of the American Revolution, “No taxation without representation,” belonged in the sphere of “limited monarchy” whose fundamental principle was consent of the subjects. We have difficulties today in perceiving the great potency of this principle because the intimate connection of private property and freedom is for us no longer a matter of course. To the eighteenth century, as to the seventeenth before it and the nineteenth after it, the function of laws was not primarily to guarantee liberties but to protect private property; it was private property, and not the law as such, that guaranteed freedom. Not before the twentieth century did people emerge who were free without owning private property, making laws necessary to protect persons and personal freedom directly, instead of merely protecting their private properties. In the eighteenth century, however, and especially in the English-speaking countries, private property and freedom still coincided; who said private property, said freedom, and to recover and defend one’s property rights was the same as to fight for freedom.

  6. JGordon

    I think it’s really amazing how whenever the Obama regime asserts that it will do less illegal spying, extra-judicial assassinating, and paranoid secretiveness careful parsing of speeches and proposed laws mysteriously turn up allowances for much more of the above.

    Of course, I support the regime, because when the regime can assassinate you or disappear you into a hole for the rest of your (short and torture-filled) life, the only rational choice it to support it. As Dmitry Orlov said, when you live in a Fascist state you have exactly one freedom: the right to look and act like a Fascist. That’s why I think Obama is a great guy, and I hope you all can support him too.

    1. MaroonBulldog

      You still have the right to throw the Fascist out at the next election, and vote for the candidate of the other fascist party.

  7. AbyNormal

    Waleed Shiraz, 22, was pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and taking various foreign language courses before he became disabled.[3]

    “My father was asleep in the hujra as usual after a normal day, and I was studying nearby. . . . I had liked studying in the hujra, because it is peaceful and quiet. There was nothing different about our routine in the prior week.” Waleed recounted the subsequent sequence of events. “[When we got hit], [m]y father’s body was scattered in pieces and he died immediately, but I was unconscious for three to four days. . . . [Since then], I am disabled. My legs have become so weak and skinny that I am not able to walk anymore. . . . It has also affected my back. I used to like playing cricket, but I cannot do it anymore because I cannot run.”

    “I have two younger brothers, who are both unemployed, and I don’t have a father and I am disabled. I have been completely ruined. . . . [My brothers] can’t go to school, because I can’t afford to support them, buying their books, and paying their fees. They are home most of the day and they are very conscious of the fact that drones are hovering over them. [The presence of drones] intimidates them.”

    “If the drones had not become routine and my father had not died and I hadn’t lost my leg, today I would have completed my MA in Political Science.” Waleed explained, “I can’t dream of going back to college.”

    1. banger

      We can and should blame Obama for this. But we also have to look in the mirror–this is who we are. We are people delighted to look at movies of roguish action heroes fire away and kill hundreds of people without a twinge of regret and consider this as the height of heroism because “enemies” are just cockroaches. It is we who have been stampeded by the national security state to allow these things to happen because we can’t handle fear.

      1. diptherio

        Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I think the mentality you highlight can be traced back to the end of WWII when the OSS decided it would be a good idea to hire some Nazi spies for our side, since they were the ones with intelligence on the USSR (Alan Dulles, I think). Reinhard Gehlen, IIRC, was the head Nazi spy we hired.

        Predictably, our ex-Nazi spies fed us a bunch of bullshit about the USSR’s great strength and desire to conquer the world. This had the salutary effect (from their perspective) of greatly increasing the budget of Gehlen and his boys; as well as providing plenty of fodder for fear-mongering social-control tactics on the home-front. After a brief interlude, the PTB replaced the USSR as the symbol of all things threatening with Sadaam Hussein. Rouge dictators became the new boogie-man, followed more recently by “terrorists.”

        We’re going on three generations now of being fed fear-mongering, hyper-macho, us-vs-them propaganda by our MSM; the fact that so many Americans today seem drawn to the action-hero view of world events should come as no surprise. We’ve been conditioned from the cradle with a Manichean world-view, and that sort of deep conditioning doesn’t go away over night.

        However, one might argue that the success of TV series like Game of Thrones and The Wire, which portray much more ambiguous sides to conflict and tend to indict the structure of power-relations, rather than individual bad actors (so to speak), portend a reversal of this trend in the American collective psyche: that the worm has finally started to turn, as it were. Let’s hope that this is the case. I have seen quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that disillusionment with the PTB is at a high point (at least for my lifetime), which might be paving the way for a more nuanced take on foreign policy by the general populace.

        1. from Mexico

          Here’s the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson on the subject:

          [T]here is ample psychological evidence that we are hardwired to distinguish between “us” and “them” and to behave inhumanely toward “them” at the slightest provocation, as science journalist David Berreby recounts in his book Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind… If we want to avoid this kind of facultative sociopathy, we need to avoid pushing the wrong psychological buttons, just as the president of the United States avoids pushing the fabled red button that is supposed to initiate a nuclear strike.


          [T]he evil alien argument is to portray one’s adversaries on earth as evil, such as the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” or Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an “axis of evil.”… This kind of language is designed to bring out the facultative sociopath in all of us by dehumanizing our adversaries. Our political leaders are cautious about pushing the fabled red button that is supposed to initiate a nuclear strike, but they bang away at our psychological buttons all the time.


          The emotions of fear, anger, and hatred have such powerful effects on our bodies and minds that they are literally toxic over the long term, eating away at our immune systems and even our brains, as my evolutionist colleague Robert Sapolsky recounts in his book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. A national policy or any other belief system that attempts to sustain strong emotions such as fear and hatred over the long term is almost certain to fail and to produce severe negative side effects over the long term. Human potential can be developed only when we are not scared, angry, or hungry. Our evolution as a species required periods of safety and satiety, which we recognize and communicate through laughter… If we aren’t laughing and enjoying each other’s company, we aren’t developing our potential.

          –DAVID SLOAN WILSON, Evolution For Everyone

          1. Banger

            Right on! Yes, we need to be laughing and partying more to develop our full potential. This fact is increasingly obvious to those who study human beings. That is why I tend to encourage people to ignore the crisis de jour and focus on the big picture rather than the narrow one the mainstream insists is all there is, that is, that history is “one damned thing after another” as Churchill once quipped.

        2. Banger

          More people are cynical than ever before but wish they were not such that they’ll make themselves believe the mainstream narrative even if they know it is false to avoid pain.

          1. AbyNormal

            wow…i googled ‘psychology broken trust from government’ (before i could stop myself) an lookie what popped up for the 3rd link

            Mother do you think they’ll drop the bomb
            Mother do you think they’ll like the song
            Mother do you think they’ll try to break my balls
            Ooooh aah, Mother should I build a wall
            Mother should I run for president
            Mother should I trust the government
            Mother will they put me in the firing line
            Ooooh aah, is it just a waste of time
            Hush now baby, baby don’t you cry
            Mama’s gonna make all of your
            Nightmares come true
            Mama’s gonna put all of her fears into you
            Mama’s gonna keep you right here
            Under her wing
            she won’t let you fly but she might let you sing
            Mama will keep baby cozy and warm
            Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe
            Of course Mama’s gonna help build the wall

            Mother do think she’s good enough for me
            Mother do think she’s dangerous to me
            Mother will she tear your little boy apart
            Oooh aah, mother will she break my heart
            Hush now baby, baby don’t you cry
            Mama’s gonna check out all your girl friends for you
            Mama won’t let anyone dirty get through
            Mama’s gonna wait up till you get in
            Mama will always find out where
            You’ve been
            Mamma’s gonna keep baby healthy and clean
            Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe
            You’ll always be a baby to me
            Mother, did it need to be so high.

            pink floyd

      2. Jim


        How is it possible, in you opinion, to handle fear?

        Should techniques or methods( if there are any) of dealing with fear be part of a new political vision?

      3. MaroonBulldog

        “It is we who have been stampeded by the national security state to allow these things to happen because we can’t handle the fear.”

        I’m not so sure it’s we. As Stalin said, “Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.” Stalin must have studied the Chicago way of conducting elections.

  8. from Mexico

    BARAK OBAMA: Moreover, we have to recognize that these threats don’t arise in a vacuum. Most, though not all, of the terrorism we face is fueled by a common ideology – a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West, and that violence against Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause.

    If we substitute the US’s secular religion – an abiding faith in American exceptionalism, manifest destiny (US world hegemony and full spectrum dominance) and free-market fundamentalism – for “our Holy Faith,” then Obama is merely regurgitating the Requerimiento, the “just war” rationale offered up by the Spanish to lend moral and intellectual legitimacy to Spain’s conquest and enslavement of the American Indians:

    [The Pope] made donation of these isles and Tierra-firme to the…King and Queen…with all that there are in these territories…

    So their Highnesses are kings and lords of these islands and land of Tierra-firme by virtue of this donation…and indeed almost all those to whom this has been notified, have received and served their Highnesses, as lords and kings, in the way that subjects ought to do, with good will, without any resistance, immediately, without delay, when they were informed of the aforesaid facts. And also they received and obeyed the priests whom their Highnesses sent to preach to them and to teach them our Holy Faith; and all these, of their own free will, without any reward or condition, have become Christians, and are so, and their Highnesses have joyfully and benignantly received them, and also have commanded them to be treated as their subjects and vassals; and you too are held and obliged to do the same…

    But, if you do not do this, and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their Highnesses; we shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their Highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him; and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their Highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us.

    BARAK OBAMA: So this is a just war, a war waged proportionately in last resort, and in self defense.

    During the war, the lie most effective with the whole of the German people was the slogan of “the battle of destiny for the German people,” [der Schicksalskampf des deutschen Volkes], coined either by Hitler or Goebbels… [I]t suggested…that it was a matter of life and death for the Germans, who must annihilate their enemies or be annihilated.

    Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem

    1. banger

      Let me put it as plain as can be: there is no war–it is, mainly, an Orwellian device created to keep the security services in power. It is a rational policy carried out by rational Machiavellians–it has nothing to do with enemies or “threats” or ideology. It (the “war”) exists so that there is an enemy and if that enemy doesn’t exist the enemy will be created either through direct hire or by banging the stick against a hornets nest or a combination of all techniques. To me this is obvious.

      People use ideology to deceive people and, often, themselves. But in the end, power becomes the goal. They fill the unconscious need of the public for a virtual “Daddy” whose musculature is reassuring. I honestly believe that Americans do not want to live in a society that is deeply democratic and full of critical-thinking citizens who want to participate in the world of politics–they want to imagine that they ought to or could be that sort of person but really they want an authoritarian structure that allows them to be children playing with toys–most of that feeling is, again, unconscious where 95% of our life actually is.

      1. from Mexico

        banger said:

        I honestly believe that Americans do not want to live in a society that is deeply democratic and full of critical-thinking citizens who want to participate in the world of politics–they want to imagine that they ought to or could be that sort of person but really they want an authoritarian structure that allows them to be children playing with toys…

        That’s the quintessential conservative argument, as Susan Neiman explains:

        [Morality] is an 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. The bread and the cirucuses would take care of themselves.

        1. from Mexico

          And here Martin Luther King iterates the antithetical argument:

          Another thing in this movement is the idea that there is within human nature an amazing potential for goodness. There is within human nature something that can respond to goodness. I know somebody’s liable to say that this is an unrealistic movement if it goes on believing that all people are good. Well, I didn’t say that. I think the students are realistic enough to believe that there is a strange dichotomy of disturbing dualism within human nature. Many of the great philosophers and thinkers through the ages have seen this. It caused Ovid the Latin poet to say, “I see and approve the better things of live, but the evil things I do.” It caused Saint Augustine to say “Lord, make me pure, but not yet.” Plato, centuries ago said that the human personality is like a charioteer with two headstrong horses, each warring to go in different directions, so that within our own individual lives we see this conflict and certainly when we come to the collective life of man, we see a strange badness. But in spite of this there is something in human nature that can respond to goodness. So that man is neither innately good nor is he innately bad; he has potentialities for both. So in this sense, Carlyle was right when he said that, “there are depths in man which go down to the lowest hell, and heights which reach the highest heaven, for are not both heaven and hell made out of him, ever-lasting miracle and mystery that he is?” Man has the capacity to be good, man has the capacity to be evil.

          And so the nonviolent resister never lets this idea go, that there is something within human nature that can respond to goodness. So that a Jesus of Nazareth or a Mohandas Gandhi, can appeal to human beings and appeal to that element of goodness within them, and a Hitler can appeal to the element of evil within them. But we must never forget that there is something within human nature that can respond to goodness, that man is not totally depraved.

          –MARTIN LUTHER KING, “Love, law, and civil disobedience”

          1. banger

            There is struggle between different parts of our psyche. Right now we are kind of in-between it all. The enormity of what we face is deeply challenging and we may not make it–but I’m counting that we will. I believe we are moving in the right direction–but to do so more fully we have to admit where we are.

      2. MaroonBulldog

        Banger is fundamentally correct. There is no war. Or, if we call it “war,” we are adopting Newspeak, rather than English, to confound rather than clarify our thinking. As for Banger’s aspersion of 95% of the American people–that doesn’t matter, because their votes don’t matter. Elections don’t matter. America’s two parties, the Caps and the Hats, are a diversion, elections are a diversion. Behind the scences a vote-counting political machine, absolved from the law, decides all things that matter.

        1. Kraken

          Good insight. My favorite part is when they say that “they” want to take over the world and reestablish the Caliphate. Let’s see, they have no planes, no tanks, no carriers, no submarines. Sounds like a pretty tall order.

      3. Cynthia

        Progress will not be made until the focus of the dialog changes from “fairness” and “equality” to truth and justice.

        The “dialog” is highly structured, and the words are chosen with extreme precision to elicit a certain response and shape reality. The last century has seen propaganda nearly perfected as an art form.

        I’ve long thought that this country will first experience Brave New World and then 1984. Right now, the masses are kept in line and distracted by entertainment, sex, consumerism, and a plethora of drugs — exactly as Huxley predicted. This makes the herd docile and easy to manage, and it’s almost the perfect set-up for what appears to be coming — the world Orwell predicted. Over the years, the words “fairness” and “equality” have been stripped of their original meanings, which only confirms my suspicions. Propaganda lurks behind all of this.

        The government is essentially owned — lock, stock, and barrel — by a select few who have immense pools of resources and incredible power. How can we who recognize this compete with them in a “civil” manner, using the tools of government, when those very tools have been turned against us and employed to make de facto enemies of our friends, family, and neighbors? It makes no sense to me. These people want total control, and they won’t rest until they’ve achieved it. Our current trajectory will end in violence, whether we like it or not.

        History doesn’t necessarily repeat, but it does rhyme, and history has recited this ugly poem many times before.

  9. MichaelAnne

    Guess what, Jon put me in charge of drones! Bugsplat!

    Boy, Holmes really came back with his tail between his legs. Pinged! Harsh! He dressed Tamurlan up like Rudolph Valentino at that madrasa. That was so lame. They were like, why don’t you just give him a Boris Badenov costume? For penance I think Mister Brennan is going to make Holmes clean up after the marathon bombing. Better him than me. Alfreda laid it on pretty thick. It was her who put ‘rubble’ into the first responders’ scripts. Rubble. It’s like the big joke at No Man’s Island now. They’ll say to the cafeteria ladies, ‘Pull a chimichanga out of the rubble for me.’ Or when they pee they’ll say, ‘let me pull my penis out of the rubble here.’ First she tried to frame Chomsky and House for it, but Chomsky wouldn’t wear a baseball hat so she went with the Chechens. And they’re not as dumb as they look, so there’s a lot of people to execute, ultimate fighters and Russians and Turks and hostage negotiators and boating enthusiasts.

  10. AbyNormal

    Khalid Raheem is an elder member of his community.[10]

    “We did not know that America existed. We did not know what its geographical location was, how its government operated, what its government was like, until America invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. We do know that Americans supported the Taliban in our area, North Waziristan, to fight off the Soviets. But [now with] the Soviets divided and broken . . . we have become victims of Americans. We don’t know how they treat their citizens or anything about them. All we know is that they used to support us, and now they don’t. . . . [W]e didn’t know how they treated a common man. Now we know how they treat a common man, what they’re doing to us.”

    “We know that the consequences of drone strikes are extremely harsh. Our children, our wives know that our breadwinners, when they go out to earn a livelihood, they might not come back, and life may become very miserable for them in the years to come.” Khalid further explained, “Now we are always awaiting a drone attack and we know it’s certain and it’s eventual and it will strike us, and we’re just waiting to hear whose house it will strike, our relatives’, our neighbors’, or us. We do not know. We’re just always in fear.”

    1. banger

      Fear is the point. PNAC specifically emphasized that the U.S. should be feared not loved. It’s stunning how a Democratic Party has embraced what in the 1990’s was considered far-out on the right.

      9-11 changed everything–we ought to take a closer look.

      1. psychohistorian

        It reminds me of the old joke,

        So tell me God, am I suppose to fear you or love you?

    2. from Mexico

      As Gorbachev told Reagan: “We are going to present you Americans with a terrible dilemma. We are going to deprive you of an enemy.” And it was all too true, for, as Eric Hoffer put it, “Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.”

      Enter Khalid Raheem, Obama’s new devil. And just like the old communist devil, he doesn’t understand why he’s become the new terrorist devil. As John Stockwell described the old communist enemy: He is “far more Catholic than communist. Far more Buddhist than communist. Most of them couldn’t give you an intelligent definition of communism or of capitalism.”

  11. from Mexico

    Regarding Obama’s unprecedented war on whistleblowers and the freedom of the press, what Obama is doing, as this paper explains, is to punish conduct “that, in previous generations, would not have been subject to punishment.”

    Obama is pushing the envelope on punishing “conduct that is mala prohibita, or wrongful only because it is illegal,” allowing punishment where “consciousness of wrongdoing be totally wanting.”

    As the author goes on to explain:


    Another area of serious concern in federal criminal law is that statutory crimes often have inadequate mens rea requirements. In writing new crimes, Congress takes pains to identify the actus reus elements that describe the act to be prohibited, but all too often specifies no mens rea requirements or inadequate mens rea requirements. This is troubling because mens rea requirements are an essential safeguard against unjust convictions and disproportionate punishment.

    As the Supreme Court explained in Morissette v. United States, the concept of punishment based on acts alone, without a culpable state of mind, is “inconsistent with our philosophy of criminal law.”115 In our system, crime is understood as a “compound concept,” requiring both an “evil-doing hand” and an “evil-meaning mind.”116 The historic role of the mens rea requirement is to exempt from punishment those who are not “blameworthy in mind” and thereby to limit punishment to persons who disregarded notice that their conduct was wrong.117 Mens rea also serves to achieve proportionality of punishment for blameworthy acts—to make sure the law imposes a punishment that “fits” the defendant’s crime. It is mens rea, for example, that guarantees that the harsher penalties for intentional homicides will not be applied to accidental homicides.118


    To be sure, more recent cases cast doubt on Morissette and Freed in this respect. Among these cases are Arthur Andersen LLP v. United States,132 Ratzlaf v. United States,133 and Staples v. United States.134 In each case, the Supreme Court adopted heightened mens rea requirements, and two of these cases (Arthur Andersen and Ratzlaf) went so far as to make ignorance of the law a defense.135 Each time, the Court ratcheted up mens rea requirements for the stated purpose of preventing conviction for morally blameless conduct.

    These cases, I believe, are best read as making a culpable mental state a prerequisite for punishment for all crimes, even regulatory offenses. As I have noted elsewhere:

    [T]he Supreme Court has dramatically revitalized the mens rea requirement for federal crimes. The “guilty mind” requirement now aspires to exempt all “innocent” (or morally blameless) conduct from punishment and restrict criminal statutes to conduct that is “inevitably nefarious.” When a literal interpretation of a federal criminal statute could encompass “innocent” behavior, courts stand ready to impose heightened mens rea requirements designed to exempt all such behavior from punishment. The goal of current federal mens rea doctrine, in other words, is nothing short of protecting moral innocence against the stigma and penalties of criminal punishment.136

    The fact remains, however, that Freed and cases like it have never been overturned. Unless that happens, confusion will persist—and, with it, the possibility that moral blameworthiness may be not be required for some crimes, especially regulatory offenses involving health and safety concerns.137

    One thing, however, is certain: as long as courts fail to make proof of a culpable mental state an unyielding prerequisite to punishment, federal prosecutors will continue to water down mens rea requirements in ways that allow conviction without blameworthiness.

    1. MaroonBulldog

      Lots of words about mens rea. Of course you realize that the average criminal trial in the U.S. lasts less than five minutes. That’s all the time it takes for the judge to ask the defendant the questions to make the record that the bargained-for guilty plea was entered knowingly and voluntarily.

      Good luck to anyone who wants to raise lack of mens rea as a defense to prosecution under a novel statute.

      1. from Mexico

        I see your pessimism as being overwrought, and not helpful to anyone, except the oligarchs.

        You’re far from being alone. This is the bane of the New Left, for, as Robert Huges put it: “The intellectual, under these conditions, is thought to be as helpless against power and control as a salmon in a polluted stream, the only difference being that we, unlike the fish, know the water is poisoned.” Or as John Diggins put it, the New Left intellectual “answers a deep need, if only the need to rationalize failure.”

        So the New Left sits around, paralyzed, wollering in its orgy of victimization and helplessness, convinced that ideas no longer matter. It would be difficult to find a worse dead end than this. Meanwhile, the neocons have mounted a highly successful counterrevolution. The neocon insugency has not lost sight of something that now seems completely lost on the Left. “What rules the world is ideas,” observed Irving Kristol, one leader of this insurgency, “because ideas define the way reality is perceived.”

        Or as George Orwell put it:

        In England such concepts as justice, liberty, and objective truth are still believed in. They may be illusions, but they are very powerful illusions. The belief in them influences conduct, national life is different because of them… The English electoral system, for instance, is an all but open fraud. In a dozen obvious ways it is gerrymandered in the interest of the monied class. But until some deep change has occurred in the public mind, it cannot become completely corrupt. You do not arrive at the polling booth to find men with revolvers telling you which way to vote.

        –GEORGE ORWELL, “England Your England”

  12. washunate

    One thing that fascinates me is the almost complete abandonment of Obama Administration defenders in the face of evidence-based criticism. It really feels like a sea change from a few years ago.

    To me, that is progress.

    1. Jim Haygood

      It would be … if they weren’t waiting for MSM guidance on who our next savior will be.

    2. Cynthia

      Reading Jeremy Scahill’s tweets the other night got my blood boiling. It is all too absurd. We are plainly trying to escalate the war on terror, so that we can continue everything that goes with it; decreased liberty, increased military spending, more foreign adventures, etc. I can find no other rational or answer.

      So the question becomes, what are the Powers that Be’s projections for twenty years from now? I think they are going to push it further than any of us could imagine. Twenty years from now, we will look back and remember the good old days of the PATRIOT Act, NDAA, espionage chargers against whistle blowers, and say “man, things were so much better then. How did we let it get to this point?”

      Think back ten years ago, could you have envisioned targeted assassinations of US citizens? NDAA being passed into law? NSA scooping up 1 billion+ e-mails per day? Just wait to see what else they come up with. The trajectory could not be more clear.

  13. diptherio

    Call of Duty

    A man rushes home from work
    to sit before his Playstation 3,
    He logs in and links up with others
    who may be across the street or across the sea.
    But they join together as one,
    and to a common cause they commit:
    to wander around the cyber-Middle East
    and blow-up a bunch of shit.
    With fantasy weapons in their fantasy world
    they are a force that none can withstand.
    They sow cyber-terror in the cyber-hearts
    of the cyber-Taliban.
    After an hour, his wife calls for dinner
    and the man logs out with a sigh,
    for there’s no greater joy after a day at the office
    than to realistically grease some guy.

    Away far off around the world
    an Afghan woman looks to the sky.
    She squints and scans the horizon
    and silently asks her God, “Why?”
    “Why now these American soldiers
    bringing their new reign of terror?
    Why their uranium bullets all over the ground
    and their demonic drones in the air?”
    “After the Soviets and the Warlords,
    haven’t we suffered enough?
    Why must our lives, like this landscape,
    be always so rocky and rough?”
    “You are the All-Merciful, the All-Loving,
    so today, please show us your love.
    Be merciful, don’t let the demonic drones come
    and rain down their death from above.”
    In the distance a voice calls her name,
    her child, and she turns to go,
    thinking “Maybe today the soldiers won’t come.”
    “Maybe, you never know.”

    At a military base in Nevada
    PFC Jacobs sits down.
    He’s just chugged two cups of coffee
    and he’s ready for another round.
    He flips on the screen in front of him
    and it flickers to glowing life,
    showing him a runway on an airbase
    somewhere deep in the Land of Strife.
    He cracks his neck and wraps his fingers
    around the familiar joy-stick;
    he’s got a mission to destroy some Taliban schmoe
    and he’s damn well gonna get that prick.
    He steers his drone out onto the runway
    and reports that he’s taking off.
    An hour later he’s targeting a shack so rickety
    even Ted Kaczynski would scoff.
    But he saw some fucker go in there
    and he thinks that it might be his guy.
    So he centers the shack in his cross-hairs
    and lets his missiles fly.

    From her kitchen she hears the explosion,
    then the high-pitched, fearful wail
    of a woman she knows, and she knows what has happened
    without having to hear the tale.
    It was the woman’s last son, her youngest,
    and he’d just gone to feed the goats
    in the tumble-down shack on the side of the hill
    when he was slaughtered by remote.
    He was a good lad, in the bloom of adolescence,
    just barely turned fifteen.
    But all the Afghan woman can think
    is, “thank God it wasn’t me.”

    Meanwhile, back on the home-front
    the dinner time dishes are done.
    The domestic obligations wrapped up for the evening,
    now it’s time to get back to the fun.
    Oh, how we love our flat-screens with their Hi-Def,
    our surround sound and our trusty Wi-Fi,
    for there’s no greater thrill for an American
    than to realistically grease some guy.

    “The U.S. Military reports that another Taliban war-leader was killed yesterday in Afghanistan by drone air-strike. The Military is denying reports of civilian casualties, saying that the only collateral damage from the operation were two goats. A Military spokesperson said that the owner of the goats may receive monetary compensation for their loss. This is NPR.”

    1. MaroonBulldog

      Shades of W. H. Auden:

      “The faces along the bar
      Cling to their average day,
      The lights must never go out,
      The music must always play,
      Lest we should see that we are
      Lost in a haunted wood,
      Children afraid of the night
      Who have never been happy or good”
      —?Septmeber 1, 1939″

  14. AbyNormal

    “heavily constrained,”…

    Tahir Afzal’s brother died in a drone strike.[6]

    “It was in the afternoon around two o’clock and he was on his way to work. They were in a car. A drone struck and four people died in it, including children who were walking on the road. . . . There were lots of drones wandering over that day. They were wandering all over, and as the car passed by, it was targeted.” Tahir told our team, “He was my older brother, and I miss him a lot.”

    “[Before, e]verybody was involved in their own labor work. We were all busy. But since the drone attacks have started, everybody is very scared and everybody is terrorized. . . . People are out of business, people are out of schools, because people are being killed by these drone attacks.” Tahir emphasized, “It’s not a [fictional] story. It’s brutality that we are undergoing and that needs to be stopped.”

  15. gozounlimited

    Obama is already killing outside of the war zone….unless you call NY, NJ, Boston, Conn., OK, war zones before Obama made them war zones with weather weapons and CIA terrorists. Our terrorist in chief has more than drones in his arsenal of death and destruction. Covertly, he is using geoengineering to reign terror and abuse on unsuspecting citizens …. right now… in the US. Today our cavalier terrorist in chief will address America as America Strong. Obudda…… you can take your American Strong and shove it….not interested in your next act of terrorism affecting all of America instead of your chosen localities. LEAVE US ALONE!!!!!!!

    1. Cynthia

      To me it’s simple: giving any one person the power to be judge, jury and executioner is not an authority I’m willing to grant a President because it creates the precedent for more egregious abuses in years to come. Case closed. End of story. This War on Terror charade needs to end. OBL is dead, and it’s time we return to some sort of normalcy and RULE OF LAW. That’s not to say that we can’t continue to be vigilant against those scary boogiemen, but our leaders must rule as accountable, elected officials, instead of as control freak tyrants.

      Study Brave New World and 1984. It becomes more obvious by the day that these two books are the blueprints — the how-to manuals — for the people who run this country.

  16. Bloviate Johnson

    Obama christened a weeked of commercialized militarism with another tired glorification of war. It’s taboo for what passes as the press to describe the time honored procedure of the military intentionally killing civilians. Our gulags are here in the USA. All is not lost, maybe there is hope to bring an end to the war of terror. After all, Wall Street decided that completely destroying south east asia and killing millions of more people wasn’t going to work. While enormously profitable and popular, the industrial purveyors were overwhelmed.

    1. barrisj

      Also, a first-rate unpacking on the always-insightful Chas. Pierce blog:

      What Obama’s New Killing Rules Don’t Tell You
      In a landmark speech on counterterrorism yesterday, President Obama outlined rules for the conduct of lethal operations abroad. The speech itself may mark a turning point as the president tries to steer the country away from “perpetual war,” and toward a counterterrorism policy that better balances security and rights. The administration also published written rules for the use of lethal force, an important response to years of criticism of the administration’s secretive killing program. Many hoped this moment would herald a new era of transparency. To be sure, these steps bring clarity to some issues. But, the framework he presented also raises some troubling questions and leaves important older questions completely unanswered.

  17. AbyNormal

    Sadaullah Wazir, teenager, former student from the village of Machi Khel in Mir Ali, North Waziristan, was severely injured in a September 2009 drone strike on his grandfather’s home.[1] Sadaullah has filed a complaint before the UN Human Rights Council.[2]

    “Before the drone strikes started, my life was very good. I used to go to school and I used to be quite busy with that, but after the drone strikes, I stopped going to school now. I was happy because I thought I would become a doctor.” Sadaullah recalled, “Two missiles [were] fired at our hujra and three people died. My cousin and I were injured. We didn’t hear the missile at all and then it was there.” He further explained, “[The last thing I remembered was that] we had just broken our fast where we had eaten and just prayed. . . .We were having tea and just eating a bit and then there were missiles. . . . When I gained consciousness, there was a bandage on my eye. I didn’t know what had happened to my eye and I could only see from one.” Sadaullah lost both of his legs and one of his eyes in the attack. He informed us, “Before [the strike], my life was normal and very good because I could go anywhere and do anything. But now I am not able to do that because I have to stay inside. . . . Sometimes I have really bad headaches. . . . [and] if I walk too much [on my prosthetic legs], my legs hurt a lot. [Drones have] drastically affected life [in our area].”

  18. Hugh

    Here is my parsing of the speech:

    The important parts are Obama wants to move the war on terror away from its original 9/11 focus on al Qaida to “terrorism” from whatever source, that is to turn the whole world, especially the third world, into a field of counter-terrorism operations. No more large scale operations like Afghanistan but lots of drones and special ops. For those who remember this is essentially the program that Cheney was trying to put together in the Bush Administration. The major difference is that Cheney also wanted to keep Afghanistan/Iraq operations on the table too.

    As for the rules for the use of lethal force, these rules do not determine whom the Obama Administration can take out rather they are vague enough that they can be used to justify whomever the Administration decides on other grounds it wants dead.

    Imminence is a doctrine that comes out of the Supreme Court case Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969). Obama, without a legal or Constitutional basis, is trying to expand this to any imminent and/or continuing threat, as it defines each of these terms.

    1. skippy

      Would indigenous peoples un-happy about resource extraction be included in the term terrorist[s?

      Skippy… Hillary please pick up the courtesy white phone…

  19. Cynthia

    Here’s a recent cartoon by Mr. Fish, which has me a bit baffled:

    I understand why Obama is depicted as the Wicked Witch of the West. That’s no-brainer. What I don’t understand is why the cartoon is entitled “Monkey Business.” I suspect it has something to do with Obama’s wicked enthusiasm for predatory drones. But I don’t see how this can be described as “monkey business.” Can someone please enlighten me on this without invoking racism?

    1. Cynthia

      Oh, now I get it:

      According to The American Heritage Dictionary, “monkey business” is not just slang for silly, but it’s ALSO slang for “mischievous, or deceitful acts or behavior.” Something which I don’t know.

      Well done, Mr. Fish!

    2. tongorad

      “Monkey Business” = the flying Monkeys of the Wizard of Oz.
      Obama as the Wicked Witch of the West and his drones are his flying monkeys. Hence “Monkey Business.”

  20. allcoppedout

    British military involvement ceased to be big scale after 1956 – when we just happened to have an army of 80,000 lurking near Suez. We still ran wars and little really leaked to the press. Most Brits have no clue we killed more in Indonesia than Iraq.
    The question is how we allow these speeches to be other than mitigation in the criminal trials of the speakers. What we have to say on the matter may be no more than the chattering gossip in a bunch of primates as tensions between leaders rise.

  21. Jill

    The job of Obama is to make the illegal, “legal”. This speech is one more example of his “work”.

    We have due process outlined in our Constitution. What Obama describes is not due process according to the rule of law. It is the new process by which those who run things claim they have a right to kill anyone they want.

    Scahill pointed out that one of the citizen targets alleged crimes had been put before a grand jury. The grand jury did not find there was enough evidence to indict him. The droneonators took care of that lack of evidence by killing him instead. Harry Reid, as Scahill also pointed out, said if ever four men should have been killed it was these four men (well-3 men and a boy).

    This is what new process is all about.

    Peaceful resistance may be futile but it is still necessary.

  22. clarence swinney

    The majority of food we eat comes form multinational agriculture conglomerates.
    Con-Agri, Adm, Cargill etc. Those super wealthy firms get subsidies from the government.
    The small farmer provides for family and few neighbors.
    Yet-The USDA is expanding a program to fight rural poverty thru federal funding.
    Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited South Carolina to announce his so-called Strike Force Initiative.
    The goal of Strike Force is to help farmers, food producers and other businesses get access
    to money for [projects such as new wells, greenhouses, community gardens, kitchen space and summer meals for low-income school children.
    My point is why should we subsidize very wealthy conglomerates?
    Try going back to community banking! 3000 counties—7000 banks—10 control 80% of deposits.

  23. geral

    See my reports on USA’s efforts at world inhumane domination; note that all USA prisoners of war are chipped and most are targeted for assassination (usually by drones) by intel after learning of activities and associates of the subject.

    So long as the United States is at war, their power is preserved, and now that they have attained empire the USA must expand the war or fall, for concerning the arts of peace they know nothing and have never engaged in any employment higher than torture, murder, war. Aristotle



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