• This is a huge cost for a pointless war that pleases Israel and enriches the armament companies
By Paul Craig Roberts
We are now witnessing the expansion of Obama’s “kill list.” The list began under the Bush regime as a rationale for murdering suspect citizens of countries with which the United States was not at war. The Obama regime expanded the scope of the list to include the execution, without due process of law, of U.S. citizens accused, without evidence presented in court, of association with terrorism. The list quickly expanded to include the American teenage son of a cleric accused of preaching jihad against the West. The son’s “association” with terrorism apparently was his blood relationship to his father.
On February 10, The Wall Street Journal revealed that the Obama dictatorship now intends to expand the kill list to include those accused of acting against foreign governments. Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an “Algerian militant” accused of planning the January attack on an Algerian natural gas facility, has been chosen as the threat that is being used to expand Obama’s kill list to include participants in the internal disputes and civil wars of every country.
If the Obama regime is on the side of the government, as in Algeria, it will kill the rebels opposing the government. If the Obama regime is on the side of the rebels, as in Libya, it will kill the government’s leaders. Whether Washington sends a drone to murder Putin and president of China Hu Jintao remains to be seen. But don’t be surprised if Washington has targeted the president of Iran.
The elasticity of the kill list and its easy expansion makes it certain that Washington will be involved in extrajudicial executions of those “associated with terrorism” over much of the world. Americans themselves should be alarmed, because the term “association with terrorism” is very elastic. Federal prosecutors have interpreted the term to include charitable contributions to Palestinians.
The next time former Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) gets on an aid ship to Palestine, will D.C. give the green light to Israel to kill her as a terrorist agent for her association with aid to Gaza, ruled by the “terrorist organization,” Hamas?
Already a year or two ago, the director of Homeland Security said that the federal police agency’s focus had shifted from terrorists to “domestic extremists,” another elastic and undefined term. A domestic extremist will be all who disagree with Washington. They also are headed for the kill list.
Where is the government going with this? The most likely outcome is that everyone disliked or distrusted by those who have the power to add to the kill list will find themselves on the list. As the Founding Fathers knew and the American people have forgotten, no one is safe in a dictatorship. Clearly, the American public lacks sufficient comprehension to remain a free people. All indications are that the large majority of Americans fear alleged terrorists in distant lands more than they fear their government’s acquisition of dictatorial powers over them—powers that allow government to place itself above the law and to be unaccountable to law. This is despite the fact that 99.999% of all Americans will never, ever, experience any terrorism except that of their own government.
According to a recent poll of registered American voters, 75% approve of Washington’s assassination of foreign citizens abroad based on suspicion that they might be terrorists, despite the fact that the vast majority of the Gitmo detainees, declared by the U.S. government to be the most dangerous men on Earth, turned out to be totally innocent. Only 13% of registered voters disapprove of the extrajudicial murders carried out by Washington against foreign citizens, whether based on wrong intelligence, hearsay or actual deeds.
Registered voters have a different view of the extrajudicial murder of U.S. citizens. In what the rest of the world will see as further evidence of American double standards, 48% believe it is illegal for Washington to murder U.S. citizens without due process of law. However, 24% agree with the Obama regime that it is permissible for the government to murder its own citizens without trial.
Are we to be reassured or alarmed that 24% of registered voters believe that the terrorist threat is so great that suspicion alone, without evidence, trial and conviction, is sufficient for Washington to terminate U.S. citizens? Should we not be disturbed that a quarter of registered voters, despite overwhelming evidence that Washington’s wars are based on conscious lies—“weapons of mass destruction,” “al Qaeda connections”—are still prepared to believe the government’s claim that the person it just murdered was a terrorist? Why are so many willing to believe a proven liar?
If we add up all the costs of the “war on terror,” it is obvious that the costs are many magnitudes greater than the terror threat that the war is alleged to contain. If terrorists were really a threat to Americans, shopping centers and electric substations would be blowing up constantly. Airport security would be a sham, because terrorists would set off the bombs in the crowded lines waiting to clear security. Traffic would be continually tied up from roofing nails dispensed on all main roads in cities across the country for each rush hour. Water supplies would be poisoned. Police stations would be bombed and police officers routinely terminated. Instead, nothing has happened, despite Washington’s killing and displacement of huge numbers of Muslims over the past 11 years.
The cost of the “war on terror” is not merely the multitrillion-dollar financial bill documented by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes. The cost of Washington’s wars is the main reason for the large national debt, the threat of which politicians are using to destroy the social safety net. This is a huge cost for a pointless war that pleases Israel and enriches the armament companies.
Paul Craig Roberts is a former assistant undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury and former associate editor of The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of many books including The Tyranny of Good Intentions, Alienation and the Soviet Economy, How the Economy Was Lost and others.
Cities, States Move to Ban Drone Use
• Across America, people rise up against use of unmanned surveillance aircraft in their localities
By Keith Johnson
From the cold shores of the Pacific Northwest to the sunny beaches of the Gulf Coast, a growing number of concerned Americans are grounding efforts by state and local agencies to deploy spy drones over the skies of United States cities.
In Seattle, Washington, angry citizens recently forced Mayor Mike McGinn to direct the city’s police department to pack up two newly purchased Draganflyer X6 remote control helicopters and ship them back to the manufacturers.
Similar rebellions are taking shape across the nation. But will there ever be enough public support to stave off the onslaught of these invasive, and potentially dangerous, surveillance devices?
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently disclosed that it has issued 1,428 permits to domestic drone operators since 2007, and estimates that as many as 10,000 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) could be introduced into the nation’s already congested airspace within the next five years. Of course, this proliferation was made possible through years of intense lobbying by the drone industry, culminating in the passage of last year’s FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which compels the nation’s aviation authority to modify U.S. airspace rules and allow for widespread deployment of UAVs by 2015. Does that mean that it’s too late to stop them?
This AMERICAN FREE PRESS reporter recently spoke with Amie Stepanovich, associate litigation counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), whose organization filed a petition with the FAA shortly after the aforementioned legislation was passed into law.
“We asked the FAA that, in addition to considering safety issues, they also address the very real privacy concerns that are involved with the integration of drones in the national airspace,” said Stepanovich. “[On February 14,] the FAA finally responded and said they would take public comments on what privacy requirements should be for drone operators—first in the six test sites they are going to decide on in the next couple of months—and then further into full drone deployment throughout the country. This is a fairly big victory for privacy concerning drone use, but we probably need legislation in order to really confront it.”
Stepanovich added that although EPIC does not lobby for legislation, they have been tracking efforts throughout the country.
“Charlottesville, Virginia, is really the first to pass a provision that creates a two-year moratorium on drone use so they could further study the technology and decide what protections are needed to be put into place,” said Stepanovich. “There are similar movements going on in Washington state, California, as well as legislation being introduced in many states, including Florida, Massachusetts, North Dakota and Oklahoma.”
According to Stepanovich, Oregon is one of the latest states seeking to place extremely strict controls on UAVs flying over their airspace.
“A version of the Oregon bill that I’ve seen appropriates the licensing authority from the FAA for drones operating within the state,” she said. “And if a drone operator does not receive a license from the proper Oregon state authority, a privately-operated drone can be subject to fines and penalties. And as far as public drones are concerned, any surveillance that is collected would be inadmissible as evidence in a court of law. There would also be fines and penalties applied to a violation of that provision.”
Although police and sheriff agencies currently use drones on a limited basis, Stepanovich suggests that the federal government is actually encouraging local law enforcement to become increasingly dependent on these intrusive surveillance devices.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is a component of the Department of Homeland Security, has—as far as we know—the largest drone fleet in the country, including 10 Predator B drones, which have incredibly invasive surveillance equipment on them,” said Stepanovich. “These drones are not only being flown by CBP in conjunction with their own mission—which is to protect the border from criminal activity—but are also lent out to other law enforcement agencies for whatever purpose. This is an incredibly broad authority that CBP has to operate drones, not only on the border, but around the country, and subjects people to surveillance at any point in time.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that the leading opponents of anti-drone legislation are, almost exclusively, members of the law enforcement community.
“In the state of Florida, one lawmaker has proposed legislation that would require a warrant before law enforcement could operate a drone for surveillance purposes,” said Stepanovich. “The state law enforcement agencies have come back and asked for an exception to that requirement for crowd surveillance, which means they can operate a drone to monitor sporting events, demonstrations, political protests or other gatherings of [two or more] people. That’s just one example of where drones are intended to be used quite liberally if law enforcement has its way.”
Keith Johnson in an investigative journalist and host of the Revolt of the Plebs radio program.
The Domestic Drone Threat
By Ron Paul
In late February, senators threatened to put a “hold” on the nomination of John Brennan to be Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director over his refusal to answer questions about the use of drones to kill Americans on United States soil. That the president’s nominee to head the agency that has used drones to kill perhaps thousands overseas could not deny their possible use at home should be shocking. How did we get to this point?
The Obama administration has rapidly expanded the use of drones overseas, as they appear a way to expand U.S. military action without the political risk of American boots on the ground. In fact they are one of the main reasons a recent Gallup survey of Pakistan, where most U.S. drone strikes take place, found that 92% disapprove of U.S. leadership. This is the lowest approval rate Pakistan citizens have ever given to the U.S. And it is directly related to U.S. drone strikes. The risk of blowback increases all the time. However the false propaganda about the success of our drone program overseas leads officials to believe that drones should also be used over U.S. soil as well.
In an attempt to ease criticism of the use of drones against Americans, some in Congress propose more oversight, as if that should make us feel any better. In the recent hearings, CIA nominee Brennan suggested that he was open to a congressional proposal to set up a secret court to oversee the president’s program to kill Americans by drone. Should we cheer that a court selected by government officials will meet in secret to oversee the president’s secret decisions on killing Americans without charge or trial? Has the Constitution been so eroded that we accept such a horrific and terrifying prospect?
While touting the success of its overseas drone program, the U.S. administration refuses to even admit publicly that the CIA has an overseas drone program. In response to a recent American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information request regarding the existence of the CIA’s drone program, the Department of Justice responded, “the very fact of the existence or nonexistence of such documents is itself classified.” How is that for government transparency?
Recently, Federal Aviation Administration Unmanned Aircraft Systems Executive Jim Williams stated that no armed drones would presently be permitted in U.S. airspace. But what good are the promises of government officials when the Constitution, and especially the Fourth Amendment, has been gutted? More than 1,400 applications to use drones in U.S. airspace have been approved, including for police, universities, and at least seven federal agencies. Do we want to live in a society where the government is constantly watching us from above? The East Germans and Soviets could only dream of such technology in the days of their dictatorship. We might ask ourselves how long before “extraordinary” circumstances will lead to a decision to arm those drones over U.S. territory.
The U.S. government justified its attack on Saddam Hussein in Iraq and against Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, and elsewhere, with claims that these despots were killing their own citizens without trial or due process. It is true that extra-juridical killing is the opposite of justice in a free society.
As Judge Andrew Napolitano wrote recently about the president’s assassination program, “When [the president] kills without due process, he disobeys the laws he has sworn to uphold, no matter who agrees with him. When we talk about killing as if it were golf, we debase ourselves. And when the government kills and we put our heads in the sand, woe to us when there is no place to hide.”
Ron Paul, a former U.S. representative from Texas and medical doctor, continues to write his columns “Texas Straight Talk” for the Campaign for Liberty.