30 October 2012

Obama administration will expand its "kill lists"

Excerpts from the first of three planned Washington Post articles on "The Permanent War" (counterterrorism and targeted killing):
Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”

The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones...

Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaeda continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight.

We can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us,” a senior administration official said. “It’s a necessary part of what we do. . . . We’re not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, ‘We love America.’ ”...

Targeting lists that were regarded as finite emergency measures after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are now fixtures of the national security apparatus... Less visible is the extent to which Obama has institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war...

Before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the United States recoiled at the idea of targeted killing... Targeted killing is now so routine that the Obama administration has spent much of the past year codifying and streamlining the processes that sustain it...

Obama approves the criteria for lists and signs off on drone strikes outside Pakistan, where decisions on when to fire are made by the director of the CIA. But aside from Obama’s presence at “Terror Tuesday” meetings — which generally are devoted to discussing terrorism threats and trends rather than approving targets — the president’s involvement is more indirect...

During Monday’s presidential debate, Republican nominee Mitt Romney made it clear that he would continue the drone campaign. “We can’t kill our way out of this,” he said, but added later that Obama was “right to up the usage” of drone strikes and that he would do the same.
I'll defer any commentary.  I found this comment at The Guardian:
What has been created here - permanently institutionalized - is a highly secretive executive branch agency that simultaneously engages in two functions: (1) it collects and analyzes massive amounts of surveillance data about all Americans without any judicial review let alone search warrants, and (2) creates and implements a "matrix" that determines the "disposition" of suspects, up to and including execution, without a whiff of due process or oversight. It is simultaneously a surveillance state and a secretive, unaccountable judicial body that analyzes who you are and then decrees what should be done with you, how you should be "disposed" of, beyond the reach of any minimal accountability or transparency


  1. Yeah, it is heartbreaking. Obama's human rights record is abominable. I have been continually disappointed in his seeming abandonment of principle in general, especially with regard to gitmo. This is another disappointment.

    Even so, I would prefer him to remain in office in place of the ticking time-bomb that is Romney. At least I can't see Obama starting another 'actual' war.

    Also Romney's an unabashed sexist and homophobe. While I base my votes primarily off of policy stances, I feel that it has to be recognised what kind of moral character it represents for a person to hold the political views that he does. Romney's positions come from a position of cold, compassionless, unquestionable self-assuredness.

    1. Oh, and yes I know Obama did actively try to shut gitmo down when coming into office which proved extremely difficult, especially with a congress that wasn't on side, but his efforts appear to have permanently waned to that regard.

      But at least he has compassion. Romney turned in his humanity card a loooooooong time ago.

      Sorry also to immediately turn this comment thread immediately toward a debate about the election. Even here in Australia, seems we can't escape any remotely political discussion immediately reverting back to an Obama vs. Romney exercise.

  2. I like it. Good job, Mr. President.

  3. Yes, the morals of this are tricky - if we kill like this, aren't we just sliding into the same moral abyss as those we kill, who would kill us for no other reason, sometimes, than that we don't believe what they do? On the other hand, those who we do kill in this way, would kill themselves - or encourage others to do on their behalf - anyway as part of the act of killing us; it is usually in the form of the suicide bomb, yes? But since we see - daily - how these same people kill not only the Westerners/infidels at the time of the bombing, but also their own nations' people, some of whom are completely innocent except for the crime of being, say, in the wrong marketplace at the wrong time, then in the balance, those extrajudicial and surveillance-based killings can be justified because they save lives in the long term.

    Justified until, that is, the targeted 'terrorists' are not the only casualties and US forces are killing innocents, just as their targets might do.

    Like Jim, I am also from Australia and your election has been getting front page coverage in news bulletins here, along with live broadcasts of all debates and now lots of coverage about your awful hurricane. We count ourselves lucky.

  4. There are a lot of problems with the current use of drone strikes. National sovereignty of Pakistan being one of them (but we'll just keep bribing that government. No problem).

    Civilian casualties sadly happen, and with drone strikes, it is very difficult to know if the target was really a militant or a civilian. And as much as Bush is known for being a war-monger while Obama is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Obama has sent many more drone strikes against Pakistan - more than 300 in his first term.


    The largest problem with these attacks is that they create blowback. Killing militants and civilians, whether through drone strike or not, doesn't cause the rest of the world to love America more.

  5. Barnabas you do not know the language of "The Powers That Be"... when "They" say "Peace" they actually mean destruction... they tell you its not, what in fact is.... i feel nothing but anguish of what i know is still to come...... and "They" are ruthless in whatever they do and are starting with what was once the Great country of america bt has since now mutated into the Us business state. ....... Honesty no one wants to hear it... BUT you MUST hear and talk about the Paradigm yet reality that is our plane of existence hence The Truth! At the end of the day you can believe whatever you damn well want bt The Truth is The Truth and The Truth stands alone and there will be consequences to pay for the ignorance of man.. BEWARE OF THOSE WHO POSE AS YOUR SAVIORS!! READ THE BIBLE JESUS DIED FOR YOU READ THE BIBLE!!!!!!! BUT ONLY ONLY ONLY ONLY ONLY ONLY THE >>>>>>>KING JAMES <<<<<<<<< VERSION BECAUSE IT IS THE ONLY ONLY ONLY ONE WHICH DISPLAYS THE TRUTH! !!!!!!!!!! GOD BLESS! :) OH AND BE READY. ................................ IF YOU RECALL REMEMBER NOAHS ARCH! !!!!!!!! .... EVERYONE LAUGHED AT NOAH AND IT COST THEM THEIR LIVES!

    1. So the original greek translations had it wrong? Why? And what about the old testament? Is the old Hebrew OK or should we read some other version?

      You're obviously a person of some fervour, so I'm interested to hear your rationale in favour of the King James bible over any other, considering it's just one of the latest of many revisions.

    2. You seem to have bumped the caps lock button. It's right next to the A key, and we'd all be much obliged if you'd go ahead and give it another tap.


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