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Article posted Oct 24 2012, 12:47 PM Category: Tyranny/Police State Source: CounterPunch Print

Codifying Murder: Obama's Endless Kill List


Of the three presidential debates, Monday's saw the only mention of U.S. drone warfare.  But after the challenger Romney quickly affirmed his support of President Obama's drone program, stating that it is "absolutely the right thing to do," the issue was summarily dropped by moderator Bob Schieffer.  The president thus skirted having to account for the most controversial facet of his foreign policy.

Of course, the clear bipartisan support for the administration's ongoing campaign of assassinations can only portend a future of expanded drone warfare and U.S. administered terror the world over--no matter the outcome of the presidential election.

Indeed, a Tuesday report in the Washington Post laid bare the Obama administration's plans to ensure that any future administration seamlessly continues its drone program.  As the Post reports, "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."

The process of streamlining the administration's program of "targeted" killings has reportedly led to the creation of a "disposition matrix," comprised of both the names of suspected terrorists and the resources expended on their targeting.  This matrix, the Post reports, "is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the 'disposition' of suspects beyond the reach of American drones."

Such efforts to expedite the worldwide campaign of terror have reportedly left the administration buoyant on the prospects of the program's indefinite continuation.  Officials, the Post reports, "seem confident that they have devised an approach that is so bureaucratically, legally and morally sound that future administrations will follow suit."

"The United States' conventional wars are winding down," the Post thus concludes, "but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years."

Sure enough, as the Post revealed in a separate report published last week, the C.I.A. has sent a formal request to the White House appealing for an additional ten drones to supplement its current fleet of over 30.  If approved, the paper reported, the request would "extend the spy service's decade-long transformation into a paramilitary force."

Yet, as the Obama administration works to extent the reach of its aerial assassins into every last crevice of the world, its claims regarding to the drone program's effectiveness and "targeted" nature remain in doubt.

According to a September report on U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, conducted by researchers at the N.Y.U. School of Law and Stanford University Law School, evidence that the program has made the U.S. safer is "ambiguous at best."  Moreover, despite administration claims of that there have been "no" civilian causalities, the report marshals substantial evidence to the contrary.

Assessments from U.S. officials regarding the "collateral damage" from drones, though, are heavily skewed by the administration's definition of combatants.

Remarkably, as the New York Times piece first revealing the existence of an administration "kill list" noted, the U.S. "counts all military age males in a strike zone as combatants ... unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent."

Kill first, we see, then ask questions.

Needless to say, all such reports ought to serve--at the very minimum--as an impetus for an independent review of the the drone program.  But as the Post reports: "Internal doubts about the effectiveness of the drone campaign are almost nonexistent."

The callous absence of doubt is evidently just as prevalent amongst the elite U.S. media.  For instance, in an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe Tuesday, Time columnist Joe Klein chillingly sought to justify the gravest horrors of the Obama drone program.

In a debate over drones with right-wing host Joe Scarborough, Klein went on to aver, "The bottom line, in the end, is: Whose four-year-old gets killed? What we’re doing is limiting the possibility that four-year-olds here are going to get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror."

The very fact that rationalizing the killing of children can freely emanate from amongst "respectable" circles in Washington is indicative of the severe moral deterioration from which the Obama administration's drone program was born.

Of course, the very fact that the defining program of Obama's foreign policy was discussed in far greater detail on a cable talk show sponsored by Starbucks than it was in all three presidential debates is quite revealing of the decay afflicting the nation’s political system.  It’s such a rotted system, though, that perpetuates our present class of amoral and unaccountable elites who so readily wage a global campaign of terror.

The twilight of the American Empire, it thus appears, will be remembered for its endless kill lists and its codification of murder.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin.  He may be reached at or via his website.

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Comments Add Comment Page 1 of 1

Posted: Oct 25 2012, 11:39 AM

10876 Without a Warrant: Police Drones—Recording Telephone & Private Conversations In Your Home & Business To Forfeit Property?

It is problematic local police will want to use drones to record without warrants telephone and private conversations inside Americans’ homes and businesses: Despite some U.S. cities and counties banning or restricting local police using drones without warrants to invade citizens’ privacy, local police have a strong financial incentive (Civil Asset Forfeiture) to use their drones or Federal Drones. Should (no-warrant) drone surveillance evidence be allowed in courts—circumventing the Fourth Amendment, for example drones covertly recording private conversations and electronic communications in Citizens’ homes and businesses, expect federal and local police Civil Asset {Property Forfeitures to escalate. Civil asset forfeiture requires only a mere preponderance of civil evidence for federal government to forfeit property, little more than hearsay: Any conversation, phone call or other electronic communication captured by a drone inside a home or business, police could take out of context to initiate arrests and civil asset forfeitures to confiscate a home, business and related assets. Local police now circumvent state laws that require someone first be convicted of a crime before police can civilly forfeit their property—by referring their investigation to a Federal Government Agency that may legally rebate to local police up to 80% of assets the Feds forfeit. Federal Government is not required to charge anyone with a crime to civilly forfeit property. There are more than 350 laws and violations that can subject property to state and federal government asset forfeiture in addition to illegal drug forfeiture laws. Increasingly local police are paid part or all their salary from proceeds realized from civil and criminal asset forfeiture. Police have to confiscate Citizens' property to keep their job. This is a clear conflict of interest. At the least, Congress should require the Federal Government prove by Clear and Convincing Evidence that a property is subject to Civil Asset Forfeiture, not a mere preponderance of civil evidence, little more than hearsay.

The passed Federal “Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000” effectively eliminated the “five year statue of limitations” for Government Civil Asset Forfeiture: the statute now runs five years (from the date) police allege they “learned” an asset became subject to forfeiture. It is foreseeable should (no warrant) government-drone electronic surveillance be admissible in courts, police will relentlessly sift through Citizen and businesses’ (drone captured emails, Internet data, private conversations and phone communications seized on private property in hopes of discovering crime or civil violation to cause arrests and property forfeitures. It is problematic without public oversight, a corrupt U.S. Government agency or local police, may use drone no-warrant searches of Citizens’ emails, Internet data and phone call communications to extort and blackmail Americans; sell (no-warrant drone acquired physical and electronic surveillance information) seized from Americans and private businesses.

Almost every week the media reports police arrested and convicted for selling drugs, extorting drug dealers, falsifying reports to cause arrests; perjury in court. It is foreseeable this kind of corruption will find its way into government / police drone search and seizure of lawful Citizens' private property to cause arrests and property forfeiture.

Under U.S. federal civil forfeiture laws, a person or business need not be charged with a crime for government to forfeit their property. Most U.S. Citizens, property and business owners that defend their assets against Government Civil Asset Forfeiture claim an “innocent owner defense.” This defense can become a “Catch 22” criminal prosecution trap for both guilty and innocent property owners. Any fresh denial of guilt made to government when questioned about committing a crime “even when you did not do the crime” may (involuntarily waive) a defendant’s right to assert in their defense—the “Criminal Statute of Limitations” past for prosecution; any fresh denial of guilt even 30 years after a crime was committed may allow Government prosecutors to use old and new evidence, including information discovered during a Civil Asset Forfeiture Proceeding to launch a criminal prosecution. For that reason many innocent Americans, property and business owners are reluctant to defend their property and businesses against Government Civil Asset Forfeiture.

Re: waiving Criminal Statute of Limitations: see USC18, Sec.1001, James Brogan V. United States. N0.96-1579. U.S. See paragraph (6) at:

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