I’ve known Mark Karlin (online) for a while. As editor of BuzzFlash, he was generous enough to run my voting rights and other articles on more than a few occasions. He’s an excellent analyst in addition to his editorial skills and a solid progressive Democrat from Chicago. All the more reason to take his article below is a fair warning about the potential abuse of power. Michael Collins
By Mark Karlin, Editor
BuzzFlash and Truthout
These are the powers of a modern day Nero, not the leader of a nation based on the foundation of a Constitution guaranteeing specific rights and legal recourse.
Sometimes, it even takes BuzzFlash at Truthout a little time to write commentaries about killer issues, in this case literally.
According to the Wall Street Journal (in a February 15 article), Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, John Brennan, ambiguously left open the possibility that US citizens could be targeted for assassination in the United States:
John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency, didn’t rule out the use of unmanned drones in the U.S. when quizzed about the matter.
Mr. Brennan’s written answer came in response to questions from the Senate intelligence committee following his confirmation hearing last week. The Senate intelligence committee released a declassified version of Mr. Brennan’s responses in a 30-page document Friday.
Mr. Brennan, the White House’s counterterrorism chief, was asked, “Could the Administration carry out drone strikes inside the United States?” His reply was: “This Administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so.”
A few days back, Democracy Now analyzed excerpts from the Brennan Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on his nomination, including this one:
SEN. RON WYDEN: Let me ask you several other questions with respect to the president’s authority to kill Americans. I’ve asked you how much evidence the president needs to decide that a particular American can be lawfully killed and whether the administration believes that the president can use this authority inside the United States. In my judgment, both the Congress and the public need to understand the answers to these kind of fundamental questions. What do you think needs to be done to ensure that members of the public understand more about when the government thinks it’s allowed to kill them, particularly with respect to those two issues, the question of evidence and the authority to use this power within the United States?
JOHN BRENNAN: I have been a strong proponent of trying to be as open as possible with these programs, as far as our explaining what we’re doing. What we need to do is optimize transparency on these issues, but at the same time optimize secrecy and the protection of our national security. I don’t think that it’s one or the other. It’s trying to optimize both of them. And so, what we need to do is make sure we explain to the American people what are the thresholds for action, what are the procedures, the practices, the processes, the approvals, the reviews. The Office of Legal Counsel advice establishes the legal boundaries within which we can operate. It doesn’t mean that we operate at those out of boundaries. And, in fact, I think the American people will be quite pleased to know that we’ve been very disciplined, very judicious, and we only use these authorities and these capabilities as a last resort.
If ever there was the epitome of obfuscating bureaucratic blather, Brennan achieved it in pointedly not ruling out the killing of US citizens on US soil. READ THE REMAINDER OF POST AT BuzzFlash.com
Some time before February 2010, the President of the United States authorized the assassination of a U.S. citizen living overseas. The citizen was identified by the White House as a terrorist.
Unlike previous government programs to kill individuals overseas, this one wasn’t a covert operation. The program was openly announced, without qualification. Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, discussed the plan in February at a congressional hearing. A few weeks later, John O. Brennan, the president’s National Security Adviser, announced that the marked man was one of “dozens” of U.S. citizens put on the presidential death list because “they are very concerning to us.”
The principal of unfettered executive power, absent political and judicial restraint, was officially established. Executive power now supersedes established law.
We have come to the point where the president can openly designate a U.S. citizen as a terrorist removing all rights, including the right to life. The administration implied that this was for overseas targets only. But recall that the illegal wiretapping program was originally for overseas calls only. It rapidly spread to domestic surveillance as well.