June 13, 2013: 42nd Anniversary of Initial Pentagon Papers Release

Today, in 1971, the New York Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers.  A full, declassified copy of the Pentagon Papers, officially titled “Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force“, can be found here.

The report was originally commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on June 17, 1967, for the purposes of creating an encyclopedia of US involvement in Vietnam from 1945-1967.  The report revealed that the government had been systematically lying to the American public and to congress.

The Pentagon Papers were leaked to the world by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.  Ellsberg worked in the intelligence sector and had access to the leaked documents.  Kissinger said of Ellsberg “He’s a genius. He’s the brightest student I’ve ever had.”  Ellsberg correctly believed the Pentagon Papers contained war crimes and lies that would end the war early if discovered and leaked the items to several senators and to the New York Times.

Senator Mike Gravel was brave enough to introduce the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record to ensure a public debate.

Robert McNamara later wrote “In Retrospect”, his memoirs, and apologized for the Vietnam war.  His apology would have consoled, I am sure, the 3 million+ dead Vietnamese, the million or so dead Cambodians and Laotians, and the 60,000+ American military dead had they only lived to read it.

Noam Chomsky writes about the Pentagon Papers, Robert McNamara, and his apology here.  Chomsky absolutely gets to the heart of things, as usual.  His discussion of our massacre of the South Vietnamese (that’s right…the South Vietnamese) is particularly scathing.

President Nixon’s reaction to the release of the Pentagon Papers was predictable .  Listen to his recorded conversation with Henry Kissinger and other officials (with transcript) here.  Regarding the leak of The Pentagon Papers, Nixon says

“[a]nd people have got to be put to the torch for this sort of thing. This is terrible…Well, I just wish that we operated without the bureaucracy.”

This rant was on a tape Nixon secretly recorded that had over 1 minute of recording deleted.  Makes you wonder what was deleted from the tape if he kept in his fondness for “…putting people to the torch…without the bureaucracy.”

When Nixon saw what the Times had started publishing, he conferred with advisors and sent a telegram to the Times threatening them with prosecution if they did not cease publishing the leaked documents.  The telegram read:

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger
President and Publisher
The New York Times
New York New York

I have been advised by the Secretary of Defense that the material published in The New York Times on June 13, 14, 1971 captioned ”Key Texts From Pentagon’s Vietnam Study” contains information relating to the national defense of the United States and bears a top secret classification.

As such, publication of this information is directly prohibited by the provisions of the Espionage law, Title 18, United States Code, Section 793.

Moreover further publication of information of this character will cause irreparable injury to the defense interests of the United States.

Accordingly, I respectfully request that you publish no further information of this character and advise me that you have made arrangements for the return of these documents to the Department of Defense.

John W. Mitchell
Attorney General.

The Nixon administration tried to prevent the Times from continuing to publish the Pentagon Papers, but lost a U.S. Supreme Court case, and the publishing was allowed to continue.

The recordings of Nixon’s conversations make it clear that he was hell-bent on prosecuting Ellsberg, not because he feared the release of materials that could damage national security, but because he wanted to send a message to any whistleblowers.

In the end, Nixon was revealed as a hate-filled, incompetent thug.  He was a villain and is reviled by history.

Ellsberg, on the other hand, has been enshrined in our nation’s history as a first amendment warrior…a man who truly “spoke” truth to power.  A patriot.

Now we watch as Obama crucifies Bradley Manning, Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou, Julian Assange and others.  The Inquisition these days is heading for Eric Snowden, who had the nerve to tell the world that the US government was illegally spying on a historically unprecedented scale.

History repeats itself.

Obama will pursue Eric Snowden just as Nixon pursued Ellsberg.  He will pursue him for the same reasons Nixon pursued Ellsberg…not to protect the nation, but to show all others that revealing US government secrets of its war crimes (like Manning), its torture regime (like John Kiriakou), its fraud and abuse (like Thomas Drake), or its illegal spy programs (like Snowden) will result in draconian punishment.

Like Nixon, Obama’s real goal is to chill whistleblowers.  Obama has more Espionage Act whistleblower scalps than all other US Presidents combined.

Obama has made constant war while holding the Nobel Peace Prize and has peeled back the civil rights protections of the country while being its first African-American president.  As a constitutional law professor, he has overseen war without specific congressional authorization, established due process-free zones all over the world in the form of black prison sites, and has been the author of a doctrine that allows for the due process-free assassination of American citizens.

Like Nixon, Obama will be judged harshly by history as his assaults on our freedoms and values are laid bare.

Speak out to protect our whistleblowers.

Police State: The House of Two-Way Mirrors

A “Panopticon” is a prison where the inmates are always, always, potentially under surveillance.   The inmates are never to know when they are being observed, but the observers have access to all inmates at any time.  The system is set up so that even the shadows of the observing prison guards are invisible to the inmate.  The inmate has no choice but to be obedient all the time or face the consequences.

This prison model was conceived by philosopher Jeremy Bentham.  It was written about by Michael Foucault, influential French philosopher, in his book “Discipline and Punishment”.

Knowing that you are always under surveillance makes obedient citizens as well as obedient prisoners.

Yesterday, The Guardian newspaper broke a story revealing how the US government has been secretly recording the phone numbers called and length of conversations as well as incoming call numbers and other information for millions…millions of American Verizon customers suspected of no wrongdoing whatsoever, on a daily basis.

The BBC reported today that “tens of millions” of Americans have had their call information captured by the government as part of this assault.

The Guardian UK issued an editorial today titled “Civil liberties: American freedom on the line”.  In the piece, they write

Few Americans believe that they live in a police state; indeed many would be outraged at the suggestion. Yet the everyday fact that the police have the right to monitor the communications of all its citizens – in secret – is a classic hallmark of a state that fears freedom as well as championing it.

The NSA and FBI, sought and obtained, in complete secrecy, a court order from a top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to have access to Verizon’s metadata.  The Order had been in place with Verizon for seven years per Diane Feinstein.  It is formally unclear at this point whether any other telephone companies are involved.  I know where I would put my money on that question.

The FISA Court Judge who issued the order was Roger Vinson, a Reagan-appointed tea partier who overturned Obamacare in Florida.  I reprint his name here in the hopes that I can, in a tiny but personally satisfying way, contribute to his eternal historical damnation.

The FISA courts came about in 1978 as a legislative solution to systematic governmental abuse of its eavesdropping powers against civil rights leaders and anti-war groups.  The Church Committee was tasked to investigate this intelligence abuse.

By the time the Church Committee hearings began, the NSA was reading a mere 150,000 messages a month involving its own citizens.

Amateurs.

Today we read that, even with the “protection” of the FISA courts, millions and millions of communications, per day, are being monitored from only one service provider, Verizon.

Mission creep is inevitable as this sort of unconstitutional contagion is institutionalized.

The FISA courts were meant to provide some oversight to our intelligence communities.  Not a terrible idea, of course, in a society that is rumored to be democratic.  The legislation creating the Courts made it a criminal offense for government officials to eavesdrop on the electronic communications of Americans without first obtaining a warrant from the newly created FISA Court.

How effective are the FISA courts at providing oversight?

How much of a hurdle do they provide between our privacy and a total-surveillance police state?

Glenn Greenwald, a ferocious and insightful journalist for The Guardian, writes

From its inception, it [The FISA Court] was the ultimate rubber-stamp court, having rejected a total of zero government applications – zero – in its first 24 years of existence, while approving many thousands. In its total 34 year history – from 1978 through 2012 – the Fisa court has rejected a grand total of 11 government applications, while approving more than 20,000.

…and here we are today, 35 years after the FISA court’s creation.  The government is using the same machinery meant to provide oversight to allow unfettered surveillance of Americans.

Read this unbelievable, four page document, the FISA Court Order, released yesterday from The Guardian, that shows what kind of world we really live in.

Note the rich mission-creep in the Order’s language as a “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA)” effortlessly and predictably becomes a tool used for purely internal phone calls from “we-the-people” to”we-the-people”.

The bulk of the four page Fisa Court Order is spent discussing the gag provisions providing that no one should ever know the NSA and FBI have sought and obtained such records.

The government has not stopped with getting Verizon’s records on tens of millions of Americans.

Not by a long shot…

Today, in a separate NSA police state scandal, it was revealed that the NSA has obtained direct access to the customer files of the major internet players.  A top-secret NSA document has just been leaked to the Guardian who, today, exposed the “Prism” program.  The program is ongoing, and the leaked information includes material from as recently as April 13, 2013.

Ever hear of Prism?

Me either…no one had that did not have top-secret security clearance.  The leaked information consists of NSA training materials, a 41 slide presentation.

Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian write

some of the world’s largest internet brands are claimed to be part of the information-sharing program [Prism] since its introduction in 2007. Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan “Your privacy is our priority” – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007.

It was followed by Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL in 2011; and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. The program is continuing to expand, with other providers due to come online.

Collectively, the companies cover the vast majority of online email, search, video and communications networks.

The article goes on to inform us as to the breadth of access the NSA has directly, meaning no permission is needed from the providers.  The NSA is “…able to obtain: email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more.”

The NSA states in the leaked materials that the internet providers gave permission for this, but Google, Facebook, and Apple say no such permission was given.  Many corporate officials had not heard of Prism.

The Washington Post also has excellent coverage on the late-breaking PRISM scandal which can be read here.

Our government is spying on us, and there is no meaningful congressional oversight.  They watch us perpetually, and we see nothing they are doing.

We live in a thinly veneered police state.

We all need to wake up and realize we live in a house of two-way mirrors…and we need to start looking for metaphorical rocks.

Stand against this privacy-shredding, free-speech chilling, totalitarian behavior in any way you can.  As Frederick Douglass said “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

Haven’t we had enough of this?

May 31st – June 1st: Anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots

The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 had their anniversary this past weekend.

How many of us remember this event?

Take a second and think about the specifics you might remember about this amazing and particularly vicious event.  It has largely been white-washed, pun intended, from our collective memory.

I don’t recall being taught about the Tulsa Riots in high school or college or law school, but the event was truly horrific and of a scale that demands, at a minimum, a permanent place in history.  The major media was nearly silent on the anniversary of this incident, as it is understandably more important to talk about Justin Bieber.

The Digital Library at Oklahoma State University houses the Oklahoma Historical Society’s Encylopedia.  It has an excellent, and chilling, account of what happened as well as many contemporaneously taken photos.  I have summarized below from this Encyclopedia and appreciate their keeping the details of this event alive.  I also came across a very good article in a blog worth reading, Lawyersgunsandmoney.

In 1921, Tulsa Oklahoma was a town of about 100,000 people and had a vibrant african american community.  Most of the city’s ten thousand African-American residents lived in the “Greenwood District” (depicted below), [known as the Black Wall Street] a vibrant neighborhood that was home to two newspapers, several churches, a library branch, and scores of black-owned businesses.

The Greenwood District, and its financial success, was the product itself of segregation.  Above it is pictured in the ruins of the race war.

Segregation, ironically, gave rise to a nationally renowned black entrepreneurial center. As families arrived and homes sprang up in the Greenwood District, the need for retail and service businesses, schools, and entertainment became pronounced. A class of African-American entrepreneurs rose to the occasion, creating a vibrant, vital, self-contained economy that would become “Black Wall Street”, the talk of the nation.

Black Wall Street, more commonly known simply as Greenwood Avenue, had it all: nightclubs, hotels, cafes, newspapers, clothiers, movie theaters, doctors’ and lawyers’ offices, grocery stores, beauty salons, shoeshine shops, and more. So developed and refined was Greenwood Avenue, the heart of the Greenwood District, that many compared it favorably to legendary thoroughfares such as Beale Street in Memphis and State Street in Chicago. (taken from Greenwood District)

The success of the black businesses in the Greenwood District undoubtedly played a part in its being burned and destroyed.

We have the report of an official with the NAACP, Walter White, from 1921, post riot, to give us a review of the economic strength of this particular black community in Tulsa just before the race riots.  Walter White  traveled to Tulsa, in disguise, to survey the damage caused by the 1921 race riot. His report is well worth reading and can be found here.

White’s report states

[T]he Negro in Oklahoma has shared in the sudden prosperity that has come to many of his white brothers, and there are some colored men there who are wealthy. This fact has caused a bitter resentment on the part of the lower order of whites, who feel that these colored men, members of an “inferior race,” are exceedingly presumptuous in achieving greater economic prosperity than they who are members of a divinely ordered superior race. There are at least three colored persons in Oklahoma who are worth a million dollars each; J. W. Thompson of Clearview is worth $500,000; there are a number of men and women worth $100,000; and many whose possessions are valued at $25,000 and $50,000 each. This was particularly true of Tulsa, where there were two colored men worth $150,000 each; two worth $100,000; three $50,000; and four who were assessed at $25,000.

There was resentment of black success in Oklahoma, and racial tension filled the city.

And then…the spark…

Walter White’s NAACP report states

…a white girl by the name of Sarah Page, operating an elevator in the Drexel Building, stated that Dick Rowland, a nineteen-year-old colored boy, had attempted criminally to assault her. Her second story was that the boy had seized her arm as he entered the elevator. She screamed. He ran. It was found afterwards that the boy had stepped by accident on her foot. It seems never to have occurred to the citizens of Tulsa that any sane person attempting criminally to assault a woman would have picked any place in the world rather than an open elevator in a public building with scores of people within calling distance.

The young man, Dick Rowland, a shoeshiner, was arrested and put in jail…the same jail that had been broken into 8 months earlier by a lynch mob, who carried out the lynching of a suspected murderer.  The black community was justifiably concerned that yet another lynching would occur.

Knowing their government would not protect the young black defendant, a group of black veterans went down to the jail and volunteered their services to protect the jail from any mob activity.  Their offers of help were rejected.

A group of whites then tried to break into the armory (jail)  where Dick Rowland was being held.  A handful of local guardsmen were able to turn the mob away.

Then, about 75 black World War I veterans came down to the jail to protect the young defendant.  The group was confronted by an angry mob of whites that had formed outside the jail.  One of the veterans was attacked by a white man trying to disarm him.  A shot was fired by someone, and the riot blossomed.

The Oklahoma Historical Society has written “Tulsa police officers deputized former members of the lynch mob and, according to an eyewitness, instructed them to ‘get a gun and get a nigger.’ Local units of the National Guard were mobilized, but they spent most of the night protecting a white neighborhood from a feared, but nonexistent, black counterattack.”

Blacks were the targets of random violence across the city.  A lone black man was even killed inside a movie theatre.  Drive-by shootings were erupting across Tulsa.

At dawn, the day after the storming of the jail, the white assault on Black Wall Street began.

Thousands of whites poured into the Greenwood District setting fire to businesses.  A prominent black surgeon was seized, surrendered, and was shot in the street like a dog.

Many black homes were burnt to the ground resulting in black residents’ spending the winter in tents as they rebuilt “their city”.

During eighteen hours on May 31 and June 1, 1921, more than one thousand homes and businesses were destroyed.   Credible estimates place the number of riot deaths up to 300, although it is difficult to count the black dead.

By the time the violence ended, the city had been placed under martial law, thousands of Tulsans were being held under armed guard, and the state’s second-largest African-American community had been burned to the ground.

We need to remember the Tulsa Riots and keep this destruction and these racist murders firmly in our collective memory.

“…Unbound Powers…”

President Obama gave a speech last Thursday, May 23, 2013 regarding his use of drones to kill anyone he deems killable, anywhere in the world, for as long as he determines is necessary.  (Full text and audio of the speech here.)

This speech follows, by one day, the letter from Obama’s Department of Justice confessing to and rationalizing the due-process free murders of four Americans.

First of all, let’s review the propaganda run-up to the President’s big drone speech.

As is typical of image-building exercises, the President’s message was first leaked to the New York Times.

Specific details of a “classified policy guidance” regarding drone assassinations appear in the leak here (4th paragraph from the top):

A new classified policy guidance signed by Mr. Obama will sharply curtail the instances when unmanned aircraft can be used to attack in places that are not overt war zones, countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The rules will impose the same standard for strikes on foreign enemies now used only for American citizens deemed to be terrorists.

This leak was in an edition of NYT put out May 22, 2013, the day before the President’s speech.

The NYT article doesn’t mention that the details were an “anonymous” leak, of course, but given the nature of the details, you would assume the information had to come from the President’s administration.

The article does point out, however, that the new policy guidance from Obama is “classified”.

I wonder if there will be any witch hunt prosecutions for this self-serving administration leak?

This NYT leak can’t be found anywhere else prior to its release.

PBS refers to the NYT leak as a “… preview [of] the president’s remarks.”

Sometimes, “previews” of classified information land a normal citizen in jail for decades, but leaks/previews are just fine when they cast our leaders in the desired light.  The Obama administration, while being as tough as any administration on whistleblowers, is fond of using self-serving leaks when they are helpful.

So, why the NYT?  Why leak there before the speech?

In my opinion, the President is using this paper because the NYT will print any anonymous bit of tripe the government wants, without factual vetting, as we saw beautifully illustrated in the Iraq War.  (see their more kindly worded apology for doing so) 

In addition, the NYT is still the respected paper of what Chomsky calls “the Establishment Left”…left beyond which no major media discussion can occur…and, importantly, the most credible way to reach President Obama’s civil rights critics on the left.

The purpose of the President’s speech was to pacify critics of his drone use.

Incidentally, the critics have a point.

The Washington Post recently reported “…the CIA and the military have carried out an estimated 416 drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen [since 2002], resulting in 3,364 estimated deaths, including militants and civilians.”

416 separate military attacks with no specific congressional approval.

The fun with propaganda continues.  Let’s see the post-speech reviews.

The day after the speech, the NYT editorial page ran an op-ed article entitled “The End of the Perpetual War“, purporting to review the speech.

The article is an amazing piece of propaganda.

It makes you wonder if this is the “quo” part of some implicit quid-pro-quo arrangement where the NYT gets the leaked details before anyone else and then trumpets the President’s speech as amazing and successful in return.

The post-speech article “gushingly” calls the speech the “…most important statement…” on the war on terror and states the speech was  “…a momentous turning point in post-9/11 America.”

What rubbish.

The post-speech op-ed goes on to state:

For the first time, a president stated clearly and unequivocally that the state of perpetual warfare that began nearly 12 years ago is unsustainable for a democracy and must come to an end in the not-too-distant future.

The actual text of the President’s speech contains absolutely nothing clear, unequivocal, or otherwise about the war on terror’s ending  “…in the not-too-distant-future”.

The speech actually says, in its only reference to an end to the AUMF (war powers given post 9/11) :

And that is why I intend to engage Congress about the existing Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, to determine how we can continue to fight terrorism without keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing.

The AUMF is now nearly 12 years old. The Afghan war is coming to an end. Core al Qaeda is a shell of its former self. Groups like AQAP must be dealt with, but in the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States. Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states.

So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate. And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further. Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end.

Where did the NYT op-ed writer get that “in the not too distant future” part?

It is absolutely not in the President’s speech.

It is, however, exactly the impression that Obama wants to convey, and so, the NYT was happy to say it for him.

So…when will the war end?

Obama’s military officers have been much more specific than the President’s saying simply that the war “…must end.”

The military has been even more specific than the NYT op-ed’s fabrication that the President said the war would end “in the not-too-distant-future”.

Senior defense official Michael Sheehan, in a congressional hearing held May 16th, 2013, only one week before the speech and only eight days before the post-speech NYT op-ed, under oath and testifying before Senators, stated specifically…

without subsequent correction or “clarification” by Obama…

that the “War on Terror” would last at least another 10 to 20 years!

Funny the NYT op-ed did not mention this in their cheerleading post-speech piece.

How do you leave that out of a story about the “end of the perpetual war”?

Propaganda.

President Obama did, however, say something that was special in his speech…

You didn’t see it mentioned in the pre-speech NYT article.

You didn’t see it on the post-speech cheerleading NYT op-ed.

In the speech, the President gave us his view on the breadth of his powers to use military force, globally, under the AUMF.  This is the real story.

The President said

Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states [my emphasis]

President Obama views the AUMF powers he has been granted to be “…unbound powers…”.

The words in his speech were, of course, chosen carefully.  This was a much-anticipated speech he made, watched around the world.  These were not off-the-cuff remarks.

He meant what he said.

“…unbound powers…”

Isn’t this the real news story?

Why was this not reported in the lengthy, post-speech cheerleading NYT op-ed ?

President Obama then goes on to say, regarding the “unbound powers” of the AUMF:

  “And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further.

How would he expand something he believes and has told us is “unbound”?

Bit hollow, that reassurance…

In his speech, President Obama continued:

And that’s why, over the last four years, my administration has worked vigorously to establish a framework that governs our use of force against terrorists –- insisting upon clear guidelines, oversight and accountability that is now codified in Presidential Policy Guidance that I signed yesterday.

In the absence of any perceived limits on his powers under the AUMF, Obama and his employees tried to build their own cages, we are told.

He tells us they have even worked “vigorously” insisting on oversight and accountability.

Funny how the due process-free killing of four Americans was just admitted this month, despite having happened years ago.

We have bombed foreign countries over 400 times, and he is just getting around to telling us all about it.

This does not sound too much like vigorous accountability.

Obama is finally getting criticism for his nasty habit of bombing whomever, whenever and wherever he personally chooses.

The AP scandal seemed to wake people up.  He deserves much more rigorous and sustained criticism.

One Senator, Senator Angus King, from Maine gets it.  In the hearing with senior defense official Michael Sheehan, mentioned above, held May 16th, 2013, Senator King states:

SEN. ANGUS KING: Gentlemen, I’ve only been here five months, but this is the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing hearing that I’ve been to since I’ve been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution here today. The Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, clearly says that the Congress has the power to declare war. This—this authorization, the AUMF, is very limited. And you keep using the term “associated forces.” You use it 13 times in your statement. That is not in the AUMF. And you said at one point, “It suits us very well.” I assume it does suit you very well, because you’re reading it to cover everything and anything. And then you said, at another point, “So, even if the AUMF doesn’t apply, the general law of war applies, and we can take these actions.” So, my question is: How do you possibly square this with the requirement of the Constitution that the Congress has the power to declare war?

This is one of the most fundamental divisions in our constitutional scheme, that the Congress has the power to declare war; the president is the commander-in-chief and prosecutes the war. But you’re reading this AUMF in such a way as to apply clearly outside of what it says

Our President needs a real, active, critical press to call him out on his “unbound”  warmongering.  Maybe the AP scandal waked them.

Our congress needs to stand up and insist on being counted.  They should assert their power as the executive branch can’t be counted on to share it, and our checks & balances naturally demand their involvement.

Executive power has concentrated to dangerous levels as a result of the “war on terror”.

Speak out against this perpetual warmongering and totalitarian concentration of power.

Our Government Kills Us With Drones & Impunity

Today, May 22, 2013, the Justice Department confessed to killing 4 Americans with drones.

Four dead Americans.

Not one court date.  Not one arrest warrant.  Not one lawyer.  Not one  Judge.

Four dead.

They were just incinerated on the side of the road.

I am used to complete indifference in our politicians, our media and our culture to the deaths of little brown people.  Nothing new there.  That’s simply business as usual.  The US doesn’t even count collateral damage.

Instead, they adopt the policy that all military-aged men are enemy combatants.  The policy makes things easy…they are all guilty.  No muss, no fuss.

The Policy is as follows (on page 3 of 8):

“…Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent…This counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths.

You will note, as a great indication of how servile our major media is, they continue to report the deaths of unknown and unidentified people as “militants”, despite our government’s having been busted calling ALL slain military aged males “militants”.

Just look at the headlines this week…they STILL use the word “militants” for unknown people, without a whisper about the true definition of “militant”:

USA TODAY

Fox News

The Boston Herald

…just some more dead little  brown people, who will never be named again.

But enough talk of these unknown and unidentified dead little brown people…

The particular batch of corpses Justice is confessing to today are Americans.  You know, real humans.

The NYT has coverage of the Department of Justice confession here.

At least our Justice Department still feels compelled to report, years after the fact, that it has killed Americans.  I suppose this counts as a due process win these days.

The government actually meant to kill one of the Americans, without a shred of due process.  Awlaki’s killing was reported around the world, since 2011 at least, as the work of American predator drones, but our government hid their act.  Until today.

The letter from Department of Justice, in a quaint nod to checks & balances of the past, informs some in congress of the fact that while bombing overseas, without specific approval, they happened to kill 4 citizens.  In the letter, completely bald assertions of fact are given about Awlaki, the one citizen of the four our government meant to kill.  Not one piece of evidence is mentioned…we are just supposed to take it on faith the President protected us by killing a real bad guy.

Maybe he was a bad guy.  We certainly will never know, and the government’s bald, unsupported accusations will never be tested in a court of law.

The confession from Justice today, literally, contains no notion that the government is “sorry” for killing three people who were completely innocent.  None whatsoever.

The fruits of Empire I suppose.

Read the letter.  It is one of those uber-chilling letters like the torture memo.  Nothing is scarier than your own government’s prose coldly rationalizing brutality.

We have always had bad guys as a nation.  Terrorism is older than our Nation.  We have actually been attacked by Japanese bombers and fighters.

Never before did our government find it necessary to kill its own citizens without any due process.

Why now is it so critical?

In a “post 9/11” world, we are told, everything is different.

This is a lie.  We can fight terrorism, or any other foe, without losing our way and our rights.  We are just chosing to allow our government to act with impunity.

When the government killed four at Kent State, “…four dead in Ohio…“, it set the nation into motion.

Protest and civil disobedience were the order of the day.

How many are we going to let them stack up before we’re roused from our nintendos, our reality shows, and our happy meals?

This is outrageous.

It is outrageous that we have seen such widespread complacency in the face of our government’s having seized the power to kill us without due process.

It is time to organize around these issues.  We need to speak out about this constitutionally-carcinogenic drone war.

Update – Our Government is Devouring our First Amendment

UPDATE

The New York Times ran what was called a “scathing” Op Ed yesterday, May 21, 2013, condemning the Obama administration’s assault on our First Amendment rights.  See my post of May 15th on the same subject.

History will show that President Obama has been the most destructive President to our civil liberties since Woodrow Wilson.

Intimidating, infiltrating, and emasculating press is what totalitarian governments do.

We should all be concerned about what is being done to our rights. The war against Wikileaks and the whistleblowers has naturally spilled over into our mainstream media.  Predictable to any child with a history book, this infringement-creep was not noticed at first by the mainstream journalist who cheered Assange’s persecution and waved flags at the attacks on Wikileaks.

Now that the wolves have come for the mainstream press, and, more importantly, their sources, we may see the President’s assault on civil liberties called what it is.

Without the free flow of information, it is impossible to have a democracy.

Speak out against this assault on our Freedom of Press.