Dear Dirty America


Obama’s Got a Kill List, A Kill Committee, & A Convenient Kill Phraseology

May 29
19:00 2012
Los Angeles

People just don’t seem to believe that Barack Obama and his crew have a “kill list” for suspected, possible terrorists. The American-born cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki was on that list. He’s no longer with us. So was Awlaki’s sixteen year old son. Awlaki’s nephew was also taken out in the strike. They were taken out by predator drone strikes.

Here’s to shedding a little light on the “kill list”, and the process of determining who goes on it, and why. It’s from a very detailed NY Times article today.

As it’s written:

It is the strangest of bureaucratic rituals: Every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference, to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be the next to die.
This secret “nominations” process is an invention of the Obama administration, a grim debating society that vets the PowerPoint slides bearing the names, aliases and life stories of suspected members of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen or its allies in Somalia’s Shabab militia.
The video conferences are run by the Pentagon, which oversees strikes in those countries, and participants do not hesitate to call out a challenge, pressing for the evidence behind accusations of ties to Al Qaeda.
“What’s a Qaeda facilitator?” asked one participant, illustrating the spirit of the exchanges. “If I open a gate and you drive through it, am I a facilitator?” Given the contentious discussions, it can take five or six sessions for a name to be approved, and names go off the list if a suspect no longer appears to pose an imminent threat, the official said. A parallel, more cloistered selection process at the C.I.A. focuses largely on Pakistan, where that agency conducts strikes.

The nominations go to the White House, where by his own insistence and guided by Mr. Brennan, Mr. Obama must approve any name. He signs off on every strike in Yemen and Somalia and also on the more complex and risky strikes in Pakistan — about a third of the total.

The article (from which the excerpt above is taken) also explains the possible disparity in details of casualties between human rights activists, and people like John Brennan, who is Mr Obama’s counter-terrorism chief. Glenn Greenwald, who also appreciated the above article, highlights this point as well:

…Obama’s rhetorical emphasis on avoiding civilian deaths “did not significantly change” the drone program, because Obama himself simply expanded the definition of a “militant” to ensure that it includes virtually everyone killed by his drone strikes….

…consider what this means for American media outlets. Any of them which use the term “militants” to describe those killed by U.S. strikes are knowingly disseminating a false and misleading term of propaganda. By “militant,” the Obama administration literally means nothing more than: any military-age male whom we kill, even when we know nothing else about them. They have no idea whether the person killed is really a militant: if they’re male and of a certain age they just call them one in order to whitewash their behavior and propagandize the citizenry (unless conclusive evidence somehow later emerges proving their innocence).

So we end up with people like Brennan, who say there has never been one single noncombatant killed in a year of drone strikes. How can this be true? Any fool can see “collateral damage” reports in any major news outlet. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia. Drone-heavy areas for the US. Plenty of families and innocent bystanders have been killed by drone strikes.

But now it makes sense. If you’re Brennan, or Obama, you inflate the phrasing of what an innocent bystander is. Or isn’t. From the in-depth NY Times article, “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 is where human rights groups say, you just killed a bunch of innocent people! But our counter-terrorism officials say, That’s not true. There were people in the strike zone. What were they doing there? Probably being terrorists. Unless you can prove they weren’t, we’re going to stand by our destructive drone strike and pretend everybody obliterated or mangled in the strike stands deserving of it.

So yes, Obama’s got a “kill list”. He’s got a “kill committee”. And he’s even got a sleeker “kill phraseology” that allows him and his team a certain impunity on these stickier issues of bombing multiple countries overseas under the war on terrorism, which seems to be changing into a sneaky global invasion dictated by 100 members of an elite ‘national security’ team.

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