RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Kucinich writes: "The targeted killing of suspects by the United States is slowly and quietly becoming institutionalized as a permanent feature of the US counterterrorism strategy. Unless members of Congress begin to push back, such killings will continue - without any oversight, transparency or accountability."

Congressman Dennis Kucinich. (photo: AP)
Congressman Dennis Kucinich. (photo: AP)

Obama Administration Must Account to Congress for Targeted Assassinations

By Dennis Kucinich, Reader Supported News

17 November 12


The White House will not even release the legal advice about its drone kill policy. The American people needs full oversight

ccording to news reports, President Obama maintains a list of alleged militants to be assassinated. Some are US citizens. None will get to plead his case. The president tells us to trust that this is all perfectly legal and constitutional, even though Congress is not allowed to see any legal justification. The weapon of choice in these assassinations: remote-controlled planes called drones.

The targeted killing of suspects by the United States is slowly and quietly becoming institutionalized as a permanent feature of the US counterterrorism strategy. Unless members of Congress begin to push back, such killings will continue - without any oversight, transparency or accountability. Victims of drone strikes - including US citizens - are secretly stripped of their right to due process and are arbitrarily deprived of their life, in violation of international human rights law.

The attempted characterization of drones as a precise weapon is irrelevant and chilling because it values the alleged high-tech efficiency of the killing above the rule of law. Drones are a weapon that must be subject to the same constraints and laws as every other weapon employed by the US government. As the authors of a recent groundbreaking report by Stanford and New York Universities on drones in Pakistan powerfully stated:

"In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling 'targeted killing' of terrorists, with minimal downsides of collateral impacts. This narrative is false."

Four years into the Obama administration's vast expansion of the program, members of Congress and the public are still being denied access to internal legal memos, which purportedly serve as the basis of the legal justification for such killings. More than a decade after 9/11, even people in support of the program recognize its risks. A former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst and adviser to the administration likened the policy to mowing the lawn:

"You've got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back."

In other words, the perceived short-term benefits may be obscuring significant long-term costs.

These strikes do not occur in a vacuum. They have very real consequences for our long-term national security. In Pakistan, they have fueled significant anti-American sentiment and serve as a powerful recruitment tool for terrorists. According to some estimates, our drone strikes have resulted in the death and injury of thousands of innocent civilians. Despite repeated claims that such drone strikes are vital to ensuring our safety, the number of "high-level" targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low - estimated at just 2%.

The world is now our battlefield. Our credibility as a voice for human rights has been undermined. A dangerous precedent has been set for all nations.

All US government officials, including the president, want to ensure the safety of the United States. At the same time, we have a responsibility to the American people to ensure that programs being conducted in our name are done with at least a minimum of transparency and accountability. We have a responsibility to re-evaluate these policies if there is any indication that they could be harmful to us in the long run.

Regardless of where one stands on the efficiency of the United States' use of drone strikes as a cornerstone of its counterterrorism strategy, we can all agree that Congress must fully exercise its oversight powers to ensure that the program is being conducted in accordance with the law. This means examining what civilian protection measures - if any - the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) use when conducting drone strikes; requiring the administration to make available its legal justification for such strikes; and evaluating the strategic value of this program in comparison to other available counterterrorism tools.

We must reject the notion that Congress and the American people have to be kept in the dark when it comes to modern warfare. We must begin with a full and robust debate on the ramifications of these policies. We must insist upon full accountability and transparency. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+11 # Milarepa 2012-11-18 00:51
Thank you, sir, but aren't you whistlin' dixie here? I understand that every Tuesday the President himself sits down and approves drone strikes against individuals on his 'kill list'. So we're far beyond the point of no return. It isn't US credibility that's being undermined - as if that mattered when women and children are being droned to death - there no longer is any credibility. In Iraq, Afghanistan and other places around the world the US is now a criminal organization and has been for some time. Sticks and stones, yes, but Orwellian newspeak like 'the lawn needs to be mowed', also used in Israel these days, has raised the semantic puke factor to new levels worldwide. That's the world we live in, sir!
+10 # Helen 2012-11-18 07:09
Thank you, Mr. Kucinich.
+8 # lcotler 2012-11-18 08:37
One would think that a Congressman of Mr. Kucinich's stature could get the President to read this "letter" and, perhaps, expect a response. What are the chances?

Does Obama care what is said about him by credible, worthy people?
+10 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-11-18 09:46
‘You've got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.’
Pretty inhuman way of thinking, when the blades of grass are men, women & children.
+11 # futhark 2012-11-18 09:51
Police surveillance drones will soon be appearing over American cities and towns. Successful innovations in weaponry have historically been copied and used by parties on both sides of any conflict. Are we to accept drones as being the inevitable result of technological advance without subjecting their deployment to the filters of ethics and good sense? Is your vision of a safer and better world one in which drone aircraft enhance our national security?

If you answer "yes" to these questions, then you can feel good about yourself for having voted for either the Republican or Democratic candidate in the last election. If you answer "no" then it may be on your conscience for not having supported a candidate of one of the alternative parties who opposed use of and expansion of drone deployment.
+9 # DurangoKid 2012-11-18 11:35
Tell me how putting a persons name on a kill list without any due process is any different from a bill of attainder. I'd like to know. Is Barack Obama taking his queues from Henry Tudor?
+7 # Anarchist 23 2012-11-18 11:39
It is way past time to explode the 911 myth. Jet fuel grade kerosene, a hydrocarbon, can't melt steel which is an efficient conductor, conducting heat throughout the structure. If hydrocarbons could melt steel, why did all tho9se steel-workers need blast furnaces to do it? The drone warfare is inhumane and will be used against the domestic populace just as the whole 911 myth was,l to over-set Constitutional freedoms and reduce people to fungible flesh units. Ask any of the newly poor and homeless about 'American exceptionalism' We are in Fascist territory.
+10 # DemocracyNeedsDefenders 2012-11-18 13:27
It is not only unconstitutiona l, unethical, and illegal under U.S. and international law, it is also very stupid and sets a very stupid precedent.
Sooner or later, armed drones from other nations will be in U.S. skies - or patrolling the beaches in Cancun or wherever else you might choose to holiday.

Perhaps your children will be killed because they happened to be too close to somebody on another country's secret kill list. "Whoops! Sorry! Very Sad! but you can't blame us - they should have checked who was sitting at the next table!"
+7 # dbriz 2012-11-18 18:22
Congress has no clue. An "equal" branch of government, in name only. Replace "equal" with "subservient".

A few like Kucinich and Paul have been consistently doing their best to awaken the public. To little avail.

Make no mistake, what Kucinich is proposing in this article is a tepid request at best. A minimal request.

And it will be ignored by Congress and the public.

How odd that most on the left are prepared, (if one believes the tough talk at least) prepared to storm the WH in protest if Obama doesn't tax the "rich", or caves on SS or Medicare. Worthy enough goals and yet...

Yet hardly a peep is heard over the fact that he along with the previous administration has usurped Americans most fundamental and basic rights under the Constitution and Rule of Law.

As well, they have put us in violation of international human rights law.

Does anyone believe that after sixteen years of precedence some future administration will happily forfeit this power?

That the WOT will someday magically end?

That the ever expanding definition of "terrorist" will stop?

There will anytime soon be a day in which no "terrorists" exist?

And yet we slumber on, focusing on LOTE, all the while missing the greatest evil.

The ongoing loss of freedom and liberty, without which all the rest become mere government benevolence. Crumbs thrown out for us by our masters.
0 # Milarepa 2012-11-19 04:16
The US is beyond reform. No use wasting your energy trying to reform it - that's the Gorbachev story. Take care of yourself and your own. We're all in the human family. We're blessed to be alive and struggling. Don't look back, don't look up: somebody or something might be gaining on ya!
0 # stewwebb 2012-11-19 08:35
Stew Webb Federal Wjistleblower Sued FBI-DHS Targeted Assination by Obama FBI

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.