February 8, 2013
John Brennan is President Obama’s nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was once affectionately called Assassination Czar for his role in targeted assassinations with the use of drones for the Obama administration, has defended the policy by saying that Americans misinterpret that the US government “take[s] strikes to punish terrorists for past transgressions. Nothing could be further from the truth. We only take such action as a last resort to save lives when there’s no other alternative” to avert a threat to the nation.”
At the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing this week, Brennan was all but given approval with Senator Dianne Feinstein saying that he is “a fine and strong leader.”
Protesters appeared at the hearing to voice their disdain for Brennan, yet he continued to spout that Americans “really have a misunderstanding of what we do as a government, and the care that we take, and the agony that we go through” to ensure that innocent bystanders or civilians aren’t hit in targeted killings. “People are reacting to a lot of falsehoods that are out there.”
Brennan assured the Committee that if a person were killed “by mistake” during a targeted assassination, the Obama administration would acknowledge that fact immediately and publically.
Claiming “optimize[d] transparency” with regard to targeted assassinations, Brennan claimed that it is always carried out in the name of national security.
During Obama’s first term as President, Brennan held the position of Chief Counter-Terrorism adviser. While 4 Americans have been murdered by the targeted assassination program (one intentional and three claimed to be accidental), Brennan failed to given transparency to the Committee about the program by neglecting to define by what criteria an individual is placed on the secret kill-list.
Brennan worked for the CIA in Saudi Arabia and has established “enormous sway over the intelligence community.” His work with the Saudi Arabian government for the approval of drones in their skies have led to the murder of many individuals that were “identified” as al-Qaeda operatives.
A leaked document from the Department of Justice (DoJ) revealed guidelines of the Obama administration’s legal reasoning for conducting targeted assassinations. The document asserts that the government may lawfully kill a United States citizen if “an informed, high-level official” decides that the target is a high-ranking Qaeda figure or affiliate who poses “an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States” and that capturing him is not feasible.
Without the definitive threat of attack that could be construed as inevitable, the power of executive order is all that is needed to have a targeted assassination initiated.
The white paper includes redefinitions and expansions of self-defense and imminent attack with the ideology of a “broader concept of imminence” without the necessity of actual intelligence to support those assumptions. If the American is thought to be a threat to the US, they could become eligible of these targeted assassinations.
The document also states that Congress would be circumvented while Congressional committee’s intelligence could be considered classified legal advice which would justify the killing.
It has been estimated that 3,000 to 4,500 people have been murdered by drone attacks, with over 200 children becoming “casualties”.
This briefing paper was extracted from another document that surfaced in 2011 and states that due process is not applicable in cases where a US citizen is placed on the White House kill list. The document explains that “judicial enforcement of such orders would require the court to supervise inherently predictive judgments by the president and his national security advisers as to when and how to use force against a member of an enemy force against which Congress has authorized the use of force.”
Obama acquiesced to demands by Congress to see the memo on targeted assassinations so that his nomination of Brennan would go smoothly. Two intelligence committees are to receive the document from the DoJ; however its content must be reserved to its intended recipients for the sake of “national security”.
Americans are supportive of drone usage, yet are concerned about the innocent casualties involved while questioning the intention of the US government with regard to who they intend to kill. The knowledge that drones are used in targeted assassinations makes Americans nervous about the US international standing. There is also concern about who would be on the secret kill-list and the criteria of how an individual is singled out for such a fate.
In fact, the romance of drone attacks is that soldiers are not lost in combat; while this disassociated form of killing could turn against those other Americans who are dissenters of the federal government, protesting US policy and be an effective tool against any legitimate citizen uprising.
The Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus (CUSC) or “drone caucus” is a 60 member committee consisting of members of the House of Representatives. They have been instrumental in the overt pressure that Capitol Hill has endured from drone manufacturers in support of making drone technology a more prominent part of the US government’s armed forces response.
The CUSC is focused on educating educate “members of Congress and the public on the strategic, tactical, and scientific value of unmanned systems; actively support further development and acquisition of more systems, and to more effectively engage the civilian aviation community on unmanned system use and safety.”
Their supporters include:
• The Department of Homeland Security
• The Federal Aviation Administration
• Private sector corporations
• Drone manufacturers
Jennifer Lynch, EFF staff attorney, remarked that drones “could be revealing deeply personal details’ about American citizens.”
Lynch went on to state: “Drones give the government and other unmanned aircraft operators a powerful new surveillance tool to gather extensive and intrusive data on Americans’ movements and activities. As the government begins to make policy decisions about the use of these aircraft, the public needs to know more about how and why these drones are being used to surveill United States citizens. The use of drones in American airspace could dramatically increase the physical tracking of citizens – tracking that can reveal deeply personal details about our private lives. We’re asking the DOT to follow the law and respond to our FOIA request so we can learn more about who is flying the drones and why.”
The advent of drone use under Obama’s watch may be indicative of a movement toward using this technology to become a sort of counter-terrorism Air Force wherein the US government predetermines the targets and murdering Americans is justified under provisions within the NDAA.
Easing the use of drones into the social meme as normal and necessary, is bringing the ideals of a surveillance society to the forefront of American psyche without alarming the masses. As we become used to the idea of being watched, we will fight the invasion of our privacy less and less. Eventually, through incremental steps, it will become second nature.