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Cole writes: "We have long recognized that those charged with law enforcement or security are at risk of overestimating their own certainty, and have therefore required that the government obtain a warrant from an independent judge before conducting a search, unless there is not time to do so. If we require such process even for the search of a backpack, shouldn't we demand at least as much before the President orders the non-battlefield killing of a human being?"

Villagers offer funeral prayers for people reportedly killed by a US drone attack in Miranshah, capital of the Pakistani tribal region of North Waziristan, June 16, 2011. (photo: Hasbunullah/AP)
Villagers offer funeral prayers for people reportedly killed by a US drone attack in Miranshah, capital of the Pakistani tribal region of North Waziristan, June 16, 2011, (photo: Hasbunullah/AP Photo)

An Executive Power to Kill?

By David Cole, The New York Review of Books

10 March 12


he President of the United States can order the killing of US citizens, far from any battlefield, without charges, a trial, or any form of advance judicial approval. That’s what Attorney General Eric Holder told a group of students at Northwestern Law School yesterday, in a much anticipated speech. The Constitution requires the government to obtain a judicial warrant based on probable cause before it can search your backpack or attach a GPS tracking device to your car, but not, according to Holder, before it kills you.

Holder’s speech marks a victory of sorts for those who have condemned the secrecy surrounding the administration’s aggressive targeted killing program. At a minimum, we now have a better basis for a debate about the extent to which a democratically elected leader should be entitled to single-handedly order the execution of those he represents. So those inside the Obama administration—including State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh—who reportedly fought a pitched battle for this disclosure, deserve credit for the increased transparency it has brought.

But on the merits, the executive authority Holder asserted is deeply disturbing in the days of lethal strikes by unmanned drones. Garry Wills argued in Bomb Power that the nature of the Presidency was fundamentally altered with the introduction of the nuclear bomb; but in some ways, drones may ultimately mark an even more tectonic change. The nuclear bomb is so devastating that it cannot realistically be deployed (and has not been used since we dropped them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, killing more than 200,000 people). The drone, by contrast, can be deployed, and has been, with increasing frequency. It allows for relatively pinpoint targeting, and the collection of detailed intelligence about suspects’ whereabouts so that, at least in theory, collateral damage can be limited. And perhaps most significant of all, those directing the drone—from computer screens at military bases thousands of miles away—face no risk of loss of life. Thus, the built-in check on killing, namely, that the one engaged in the killing risks being killed himself, is gone. Drones offer a new and seemingly costless (apart from the $4.5 million price tag) way of doing battle, and therefore change the calculus of war dramatically.

The extent of the change is reflected by the fact that no president has previously asserted the power to order the killing of an American citizen far from the battlefield. If you are inclined to trust Obama with such power, what about the next administration? Or the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Russia, or China? In international law, what the United States does is often a precedent (or pretext) for others, and we will not have a monopoly on drone killing for long.

So how does President Obama, the constitutional law professor who has vowed to fight terrorism within the constraints of both domestic and international law, justify such a dramatic taking of life without judicial process? It is not illegal or even controversial, of course, to shoot to kill enemy soldiers on a battlefield in wartime. An American citizen who chooses to fight for the other side takes the risk that he will be targeted along with his fellow enemy soldiers.

But while he didn’t mention him by name, Holder was out to justify the killing in September 2011 of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, an American preacher and propagandist living in Yemen, more than 1,500 miles from the Afghan battlefield. Al-Awlaki was allegedly connected with the Christmas Day “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and a foiled plot to place bombs on cargo planes flying from Yemen to Chicago. But while the underwear bomber was arrested, charged, and convicted by a US federal court, al-Awlaki was simply eliminated with a drone strike.

Holder asserted that the president can order a targeted killing when: (1) we are at war; (2) the target lives abroad and is an operational leader of al-Qaeda or an “associated force”; (3) there is no feasible option for capture; (4) the individual poses an “imminent” threat of attack; and (5) the order is carried out consistent with law-of-war principles governing the use of force. Killing even a US citizen in those circumstances is consistent with “due process of law”, Holder asserts, even if no court reviews the executive’s decision before or after.

But each of the factors Holder lays out raises as many questions as it answers. If the “armed conflict” with al-Qaeda has no end in sight, is this effectively a permanent standing authority in terrorism cases? Will the authority continue to exist if and when we pull out of Afghanistan? (The Administration seems to suggest that it will, in view of the fact that al-Awlaki was not in Afghanistan or directly connected to that conflict.)

Second, what constitutes an “associated force?” Al-Awlaki was said to be a leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, but that entity did not even exist on September 11, 2001, and was created only in 2009. Must there be evidence that the associated force has coordinated military activities against the United States in connection with the ongoing armed conflict in Afghanistan, or is any terrorist group inspired by Osama bin Laden’s rhetoric an “associated force?” Holder does not say.

Third, what does it mean to say that capture is not feasible? Holder says only that it’s a “fact-specific” inquiry that “may depend on, among other things, whether capture can be accomplished in the window of time available to prevent an attack and without undue risk to civilians or to US personnel.” In al-Awlaki’s case, he was put on the targeting list in early 2010, so there was a pretty long “window of time available.” Reportedly Yemen tried to capture him once, but he escaped. Does one failed attempt make capture not feasible? And perhaps more disturbingly, does the fact that drones make it possible to kill without any risk to US personnel make any risk to US personnel “undue"?

Fourth, and in many ways most problematically, what constitutes an “imminent” threat of violent attack? Much has been leaked about al-Awlaki’s alleged involvement in terrorism, but no one has claimed he was involved in any particular attack at the time the administration killed him. How can an attack be “imminent” if no attack is about to be launched? According to Holder, “the evaluation of whether an individual presents an ‘imminent threat’ incorporates considerations of the relevant window of opportunity to act, the possible harm that missing the window would cause to civilians, and the likelihood of heading off future disastrous attacks against the United States.” But he also claimed that al-Qaeda is “continually planning attacks” and “has demonstrated the ability to strike with little or no notice,” so therefore the President need not wait until “the precise time, place, and manner of an attack become clear.”

This appears to define “imminence” away. If al-Qaeda and its associated forces always present what the administration defines as an “imminent” threat then imminence ceases to have meaning. But this requirement is critical, because surely such killing, away from the battlefield, should only be undertaken as a last resort. As long as the individual is not engaged in an imminent attack, there is always a possibility that his capture may become feasible. Imminence is designed to ensure that lethal force is a last resort. But Holder and the Obama administration appear to have turned it into just another policy option.

Finally, does due process require some sort of judicial process? Holder said no: “The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.” But in this setting, why wouldn’t judicial process be required? Holder admitted that due process applies, at least when a citizen is targeted. The Supreme Court has long said that due process requires balancing the private interest at stake, the governmental interest, the risk of error, and the burden of providing more process. Holder conceded that the interest in not being killed illegally is paramount, but noted that so is the government interest in preventing an imminent attack.

But he paid far too little attention to the risk of error or the burden of providing further procedural guarantees. The risk of error where the executive acts as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner, in secret, could hardly be greater. One need only look at the over 600 men once condemned as the “worst of the worst” but now released from Guantanamo to see that the executive can make mistakes. Holder provides no assurance that a demanding review process is undertaken, or of how it is constructed to minimize risk of error, or even what standard of proof is employed.

Moreover, he opposes any judicial process, even where there is time to provide it. In a case like al-Awlaki’s, where a person has been on a “kill” list for nearly two years, surely the minimal burden of making one’s case to an independent judge in camera would be worth the time and effort required. Notice and an opportunity to be heard may not be realistic, but Holder did not explain why it would impossible for the executive to make its case to an independent judge, much as it does for “foreign intelligence” searches and wiretaps under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. We have long recognized that those charged with law enforcement or security are at risk of overestimating their own certainty, and have therefore required that the government obtain a warrant from an independent judge before conducting a search, unless there is not time to do so. If we require such process even for the search of a backpack, shouldn’t we demand at least as much before the President orders the non-battlefield killing of a human being?

Villagers offer funeral prayers for people reportedly killed by a US drone attack in Miranshah, capital of the Pakistani tribal region of North Waziristan, June 16, 2011, (photo: Hasbunullah/AP Photo) your social media marketing partner


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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.

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Founder, Reader Supported News

+1 # globalcitizen 2012-03-10 10:01
Well, I'll get more red marks, negative votes for this truth, but the degeneration of all class ideologies into totalitarian, fascist policies includes Liberalism. Western Enlightenment took only 200 plus years to degenerate into WESTERN FASCISM. How did this happen?:

Obama Plans More Middle East Wars

My comment (partial):

Once the social principles and agenda by revolutionary Liberals in the Enlightenment were breached, corrupted, by allowing the continuence of existing class hierarchies and its millenium, Patriarchal class mechanism, the result was the failure and crippling of the Enlightenment.

NAPOLEON, the first capitalist class tyrant put into place class laws with its degenerating class cycle, which devolved class republics, class-democracy , into class Empire and inverted totalitarianism . This Orwellian class principle turned upside down, through generic corruption, in the
form of class deformed language, the very deformed functions of the class hierarchy and Patriarchal class mechanism, that are substitution, co option and false social conflated claims that transmuted the crippled Western Enlightenment into Western Fascism.
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-03-10 11:47
I just want your definition of "liberal", that's all.
-1 # globalcitizen 2012-03-10 12:06
Billy Bob:

I can see why liberals have so much trouble with my concept, but in a social theory based on ideological, class degeneration, there cannot be any independent, indivisible defintion of social reforms or social principles.

So long as class hierarchies and the millenium class-Patriarch al, historical mechanism is not dismantled, there can only be generic corruption, despotism and degenerating class cycles. This would explain why class hierarchies TURNED UP SIDE DOWN social principles, SOCIAL PATRIOTISM into corrupted class principles, which degenerate over time, by all class parties, including LIBERALS, into proto fascists, inverted totalitarians morphing into classical Fascists.

There can be no independent, indivisible social force within class history, so long as class hierarchies can deform language, deform politicians into class ideologues, class thugs and warmongering psychopaths, first lying about Iran's nuclear military program, then justifying this lie for covert wars, state terrorism, economic war fare, today's definition of democratic party, fascists.
0 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-10 15:43
Now this socialist is confused. Are you saying that the liberals are not liberals because they have abandoned class equality, or that they were not truly liberal to begin with, or that they were liberating only their own merchant or middle class, or their revolution failed, or the enlightenment was not enlighted, or what?

It seems to me that the problem is associated with that of writing the consitution where all men are created equal unless thay are of color, or Native American Indians, or don't hold land, or are otherwise not equal (to the writers of the constitution). "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others."
-1 # globalcitizen 2012-03-10 16:07

You can't have it both ways. All ideologies, and the whole of all class ideologies routinely promote social principles, by falsely claiming them, even as they at the same time, like yourself, attack social ideolgies that promote social principles.

You seem not the slightest interested how revolutionary liberals devolved into class apologists, while claiming social Enlightenment. Please read my social manifesto and come bac with some real arguments.
0 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-10 18:17
Not sure why you say I'm not interested, but your writing is somewhat difficult to read. I'm not sute sure the phrase 'class tyrant' (Napolean) means, for instance. It's word you use a lot but which seems to mean different things in different places. The sentence "When class parties, psychopaths and War criminals warmonger for their fascist, class agenda, the world must end class history and their class rule." confuses me too. When you say 'class' do mean only one of the classes?

I'm working my through you referenced site. Just as side note, yu say "
"...Hegel would watch this degenerating class cycle on the Enlightenment and civil society, just as the ancient Greeks did, millenniums ago, and condemned the cowardice,..." says "UNFORTUNATELY, HEGEL the man was not nearly so revolutionary as Hegel the philosopher. Once ensconced in his well-paid chairs of philosophy, he made his peace with the German princes (or at least bit his tongue often enough to protect his position)."
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-03-10 16:54
I don't know either. I think he's saying that liberalism and fascism are the same thing. I think he also considers Obama a "liberal".
0 # The Voice of Reason 2012-03-11 20:33
Iran's human rights violations are relentless and offensive to human dignity. They torture and rape innocent citizens in prison, they want to destroy the Jewish and Baha'i religions, and they openly support terrorism to reach this offensive objective.

America's history of abuse of blacks is no better. So if, as you say, class hierarchies are to be abolished, we must recognize the abuses are on all sides. Then we need a plan that unites all and serves to advance the human condition.

The present day order is overrun with greed, violence, dominance. Russia, China, Islamic republics, 'democracies' and socialists have no idea how to unite the world in a common cause, and can only think of violence when their economies fail.

This blackmail of an oil economy is jeopardizing the stability of the global community, and what do the Saudis and Big Oil do with all that money, except build weapons to kill us. You can say one side is worse than the other, but they are both 'lamentably defective' in global governance. The crash when their bankrupt policies bottoms out will shake everyone everywhere, and likely destroy 100 cities. And then what will do--try to get another job? rebuild with the same defective flaws?

Change of heart cannot be legislated. But dire circumstances usually dictate.
+3 # Capn Canard 2012-03-10 13:19
globalcitizen, I personally would suggest that a sort of "natural law", perhaps an instinctual social level of behavior where people group together for mutual aid as the only possible solution, as a shorthand I call it "Qualitative". The group human-social-be havior is, I believe, beneficial for the whole social group rather than the rickety old competition model based on accumulation of land/wealth/pow er. my short hand for this old model is "Quantitative", which I maintain has left a very wide trail of wreckage created by despots who routinely use fear to motivate their less than well informed subjects/believ ers/drones/foll owers. The only reason I entertain such an illusion is that the current paradigm is a complete failure. And I suspect that there is no way to crawl out of that cesspool of egomaniacal disaster. ...some rambling thoughts...
0 # globalcitizen 2012-03-10 14:16
Capn Canard:

The social principles promoted by the Enlightenment were based on the concept of "natural laws", including the social wealth theory of Adam Smith who defined free markets as independent of Mercantilism, the Feudal definition of totalitarian class alliance between feudal trading corporations and the class state of Absolutism. That same top down class despotism under Capitalism is called Fascism.

Revolutionary Liberals had a social agenda to promote independent, indivisible, middle social classes that would end class history, class hierarchies, and Patriarchal despotism. However the failure to follow through and the creation of the class state under NAPOLEON meant that revolutionary liberals had corrupted into class liberals defending their class ideology.

Beethoven, initially, dedicated his musical piece and support for the French revolution, but renamed it "Eroica", when Napoleon betrayed social patriotism for class-nationali sm and colonialism and called himself an Emperor. Beethoven tore out the dedication page and declared:

" So he is no more than a common mortal. Now too, he will tread underfoot all the rights of man, indulge only in ambitions, now he will think himself superior to all men, become a tyrant."

+2 # Capn Canard 2012-03-10 17:42
I find myself both intrigued by your comments. I would like to believe that humanity can climb up out that slime that is mercantilism! (lol) I see that as the major obstacle to humanity ever getting beyond wars for oil, water, ethnic hatred, racial tensions, or religious theologies and faith based ideologies etc etc etc. I see the only way to become better is if there was a mass information network where everyone is connected so much so as to make all people feel as if they are part of the same social group. i.e. so that we can feel the pain of others as if that were their pain as well. Yes, of course we do have these internets but how it all manifests in the near future/present, well perhaps that remains to be seen? Until then I believe we can anticipate continuing, or even nonstop, war. This unrelenting push for profits and control of land/resources seems to be the source of these problems. I suggest it will take big ideas to get rid of such big problems. Here is one little idea: get rid of money. Totally eliminate money and redefine wealth. Just one idea...

Perhaps political theory is starting to become moot? At least I would like to believe that...
+4 # globalcitizen 2012-03-10 10:46
Wiki Leaks has revealed the class deforming functions of Western hierarchies, both within and between class states. Dominant Western class thugs force former Stalinist States, part of the European/NATO alliance, THROUGH CORRUPTION, THREATS, BLACKMAIL, to participate the the U.S. FASCIST EMPIRE policies of torture, rendition, and secret black sites....ALL ILLEGAL.

This top down despotic, class/empire relation allows even Obama to threaten Spanish judges from prosecuting Bush for his crimes, a LIBERAL WHO HAS DEGENERATED INTO FASCIST THREATS, BRIBERY, and prosecution of whistleblower who expose WAR CRIMES BY BOTH PARTIES......AG AINST BRADLEY MANNING/JULIAN ASSANGE, through the culture of INVERTED TOTALITARIANISM , the ORWELLIAN inverted principle of class despotism.

This mercenary proto fascism degenerates into a full blown police state and more victims, prosecuted whistleblowers, EVEN WITHIN POLICE FASCISM. Meet another Assange, Manning...a police officer victim of WESTERN FASCISM:

NYPD: Making the Crime Numbers Look Good, Seemingly At Any Cost

The incredible story of Adrian Schoolcraft, an NYPD officer in the 81st Precinct who after whistleblowing on corruption and under-reporting of serious crimes was, for his trouble, taken in handcuffs to a psychiatric ward, "This is a culture. This is happening..."
+5 # Billy Bob 2012-03-10 11:48
Are you suggesting that Obama is a liberal?
+2 # globalcitizen 2012-03-10 12:08
Billy Bob.....I said many times, he has degenerated into a fascist ideologue.
+7 # Glen 2012-03-10 14:13
Global, Obama did not "degenerate". He was as much groomed and converted as George W. was. He knew exactly what was going on and what he would be expected to do upon entering office. Thanks for adding a great observation to the discussion.
+4 # je proteste 2012-03-10 15:42
Glen, he was no more converted than he has degenerated. Yes, he knew what was going on - but he knew it well before he decided to run. Just by running, he was breaking a promise to complete his term as Senator, if he was elected. (By the way, why was a nobody asked such a question? He had only been a state senator, at that point.)

I thought this was a set-up long before he began his presidential campaign.
+2 # Glen 2012-03-10 19:17
By converted, I mean tutored. Should have said that. Of course, George W. had to also be dried out. I, too, felt it was a set-up, and realized the set-up plan was in effect for a number of presidents long before Obama. George H.W. Bush was obviously a crowned head and the media made sure that crown would lower on the proper head. George W. was the most obviously groomed for the job.

Now we are stuck with the wealthiest running for office, and entertaining us with amazing nonsense, or the one who is the crowned head. I will bet money, Obama is once again the crowned head for this next "election".
+1 # je proteste 2012-03-11 13:30
Well, tutored or groomed I would accept - but he already was very much what he currently is.

I am continually amazed that no one found it remarkable that someone who had not yet been elected to any high office was being asked about a possible run for the presidency in the next election. (This occurred right after his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Being chosen for that was weird enough.)

He was already an insider, had already indicated his willingness to play, and was chosen to be senator in a shoo-in race - (the only kind he'd ever won) - and looking at a shoo-in presidential race for the Dems in 2008 (after the disaster that Bush was already proving to be.)

Then most Dems and left-leaning Independents allowed themselves to be distracted by the 'historic election' twaddle - and almost nobody was willing to admit that neither of the candidates in the 'historic election' was going to prove anything but MOTS.

Funny that Richardson, a Mexican-America n, wasn't included in the 'historic election' scenario, although his election would certainly have qualified. Richardson, however, was truly progressive, ethical, and courageous. So he was immediately declared 'second tier,' along with the other progressives.

Anyone who tried to point this out was a racist and/or a sexist. (I was apparently both.) And people continued to fight over the irrelevant: race and sex. It was horrifying.
+1 # Glen 2012-03-12 07:19
You posted a neat chronology of the events and progress of Obama. Initially, it wasn't obvious what was happening, but as George W.'s term worn on and more was known about not only Obama but the system and the major changes that have taken place in the U.S. government, the selection process became blatantly apparent. Just as John McCain and Sarah Palin ran as entertainment and were never meant to win, we are witnessing the same now with these bogus GOP candidates.

And yes, it is horrifying. Also horrifying to note the techniques and strategies have been in place quite some time. Of course, now, if one pays attention it is glaringly apparent that these "candidates" and their sponsors don't care at all whether citizens are concerned or not.
+3 # Billy Bob 2012-03-10 16:57
He didn't "degenerate". Either he is/was/and will always be liberal, OR he is/was/and will always be a fascist. Your degeneration theory makes as much sense as Martin Luther King degenerating into a klan member, or a gay person "being cured".

Under torture or a lobatomy someone can "degenerate" to whatever. But people's true intentions are what they are. If you think Obama is a fascist, then he always was.
+1 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-10 18:26
I can't vouch for any of this, and there is a lot garbage on the net, but there are also indications that he had some CIA connections early on.

The way the electoral financwe works it's virtually impossible for anyone who is not a fascist -- that is, closely aligned with big money -- to be elected for a major office. That much should be obvious to all.

As far as democracy and the working people go, the system is busted. Fascism is the natural outgrowth of capitalism and it's structural concentration of money and power.
+2 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-10 18:34

Legal Experts Destroy Rationale for Obama’s Assassination Policy … And Slam Democrats for Supporting It
Obama Expanding Program Started by Cheney
By Washington's Blog
March 08, 2012 "Information Clearing House"
+2 # Activista 2012-03-10 12:35
Thank you global citizen for finding all these great information bits - is great resource.
0 # je proteste 2012-03-10 15:43
Would you please define 'police fascism'?
+9 # RMDC 2012-03-10 11:19
Thanks David Cole. Your careful legal thinking is always appreciated. I agree that the drones have fundamentally altered global politics. I wonder if in the old days of the CIA's many attempts to murder Castro if they would simply have used a drone to blow up a truck he was riding in. It is the ability to see anyone from space that makes all this possible.

This power will make the degneration of the USG into the overt fascist and terrorist regime quite rapid. Its truly ruthless destruction of Libya is now being followed by the same assault on Syria. There isn't even the pretext of nation building anymore. It is just destruction driven by hatred for the nationialism of people like Assad or Qaddafi. The US hates Iran because it acts independent of the US. The Washington regime does not blow up Bahrain or Qatar because they show no independence.

When the neo-cons talked about a uni-polar world, they meant it. And that means a monopoly on violence. But as Cole writes, this won't last for long. Such terrorism always blows back.
+11 # John Locke 2012-03-10 12:27
The power to be the Prosecutor, Judge and Executioner of a US Citizen, is no different then the power of any other Dictator or King; Husain did this and all dictators do this…does this not show what form of government America is now under? In a Democracy and a country that believed in its constitution this could not happen…This is compelling evidence that Democracy is dead in Amerika.
+1 # Stephanie Remington 2012-03-11 18:48
It's only dead if we don't stand up for our rights and get them back.
+9 # glenn 2012-03-10 11:27
There is also the little matter that the U.S. congress has not declared war against any country since the 8th of December 1941. We called the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam "police actions". Since then polititions have used the words "war" and "enemy" to whip up jingoistic enthusiasms; but there is no constitutional authority for any president here, congress has not declared war on Iraq, Afghanistan or even "global terrorists".
+5 # Activista 2012-03-10 12:26
Israel drones killed 14 people of Gaza in aerial drone attacks since Friday. Look at the map 6 million + Israel (Netanyahu with friend Obama $3.3billion military aid) started another war on sand strip (like concentration camp) of 1.5 million) with Egypt to the South.
+1 # RMDC 2012-03-11 07:42
Activista -- good to remind people of this. Why are we not calling for a no fly zone over Israel. The Israeli governmeng has kiilled more of its own people than any nation in the middle east. Palestinians are "its own people" because under the Geneva conventions Israel as an occupying power after a war has an obligation to protect the lives and property of the conquered/occup ied people.

I think the UN needs to declare a no fly zone over all of Israel and then invade and occupy Israel to restore democracy and peace to Israel and an Independent Palestine.
+7 # Activista 2012-03-10 12:56
"three days after Obama assured Benjamin Netanyahu of ‘unshakeable support' ..Israelis can easily violate all international laws to ‘defend' their interests.
... unprovoked Israeli air strike which tore apart a Palestinian popular activist's car, killing him and his son-in-law. The assassination was followed by 10 other strikes. At least 14 Palestinians were killed by yesterday afternoon."
Clinton condemns rockets fired at Israel
search with phrases above and "evaluate" who started .. this could be new war ..
+6 # Richard Raznikov 2012-03-10 17:32
Clinton is a monster. Has everyone seen the video of her when shhe was informed of Qaddafi's death? It's really frightening. She says, "We came, we saw, he died!" She laughs. Incredible.
+4 # globalcitizen 2012-03-10 13:11

Stephen Lendman maps out the degeneration of Israel, from a class state into a Fascist totalitarian rogue state, endorsed by Obama, and self congratulated by Obama, that he does not call their apartheid, fascist system, racist and totalitarian:

Israel's Ruthless Golani Brigade

Israel like all class states throughout class history have degenerated into criminal, corrupt, totalitarian states, i.e. failed class states:

America Gets Stupid, Again, on Iran


"It is estimated that up to a million people died as a function of George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq....Now, there is Iran. Over and again the intelligence community has told the powers that be that Iran is not engaged in a nuclear weapons program.

And over and again the men and women in Congress and the White House have insisted that these traditional sources of information are wrong and that the stories that are coming from other sources (in this case the Israeli government and its special interest agents in Washington) know better..."

STUPID IS AS FASCISM DOES, a mindless criminal congress, president, and corrupt judicial fascists who go after whistleblowers but not WESTERN WAR CRIMINALS.
+4 # Activista 2012-03-10 15:39
"It's a ruthless killing machine. In 1947-48, it participated in displacing about 800,000 Palestinians, massacring many others, committing numerous atrocities, and destroying 531 villages and 11 urban neighborhoods in cities like Tel-Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem."
wish AIPAC founders would learn where the money goes ... thanks
+5 # Emil Sinclair 2012-03-10 15:57
The title of the article should read, "An Executive Power to Murder?"
+4 # Emil Sinclair 2012-03-10 17:03
"(T)he executive authority Holder asserted" is not only "deeply disturbing"; it is unconstitutiona l and a violation of other U.S. law(s) as well as international law(s), not to mention truly terrifying and terrorizing!
+1 # Emil Sinclair 2012-03-10 18:43
In addition, "due process (of law)" within the context of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and parallel Article of the U.S. Bill of Rights, obviously means due process JUDICIALLY OR IN (A) COURT(S) OF LAW. So, Holder's quibbling about due process versus "judicial process" has absolutely no basis in fact, and all of these authoritarian, autocratic, "dictatorial (and/or 'unitary') executive", repression, mass-murder proponents and/or supporters (particularly mass-murder because they have entered our government, military and country into completely unconstitutiona l and otherwise illegal "wars of aggression", according the U.N. Charter, "the supreme international CRIME"), and who are also actually carrying all of this out, slash perpetrating it now, obviously believe that they are above the law, which they are NOT, and/or believe that they have the so-called "authority" to "make 'law'" on the fly as they please, without ANY deference to Congress and the judicial court system(s) and/or co-equal branches of the U.S. government, as very specifically and unequivocally outlined in the U.S. Constitution as well...
+1 # Emil Sinclair 2012-03-10 19:29
...Thus, all of the immediately foregoing, and especially Holder's and others outright admission of all these crimes, makes all of what they are doing criminal and traitorous, and all of them guilty of treason and crimes against U.S. law(s) and humanity. All of it is also impeachable offenses; and I understand that impeachment proceedings are already under way against ObamaKON which are being kept quiet and/or covered-up by the U.S. "fourth estate" media, the corporate-fasci st propaganda arm of the corporate-fasci st U.S. government.

These authoritarians and totalitarians have no shame, and are "hiding all of it in plain sight" now, aka flaunting it all right in our faces without even really trying to hide it anymore, telling us that they must very strongly believe that these totally unconstitutiona l and illegal "powers" are cemented into place now, and that there's supposedly nothing the American people can do about it; in other words, that things are already beyond the point of no return, God forbid. And, extremely threatening, terrifying and terrorizing as it is, they may be right because it now appears that short of a successful, righteous "coup d'etat" from within the U.S. government AND military to take this government and country back and restore them to the Constitution, and nothing but the Constitution so help them, slash us God, there is little chance that our truly constitutional form of government will ever truly be restored.
+3 # Stephanie Remington 2012-03-10 17:23
I’m glad RSN reposted this article, but this piece omits some important topics of discussion. Here are a few.
1) Cole objects to “lack of assurances” of the existence of “a demanding review process,” but only hints at the tyrannical nature of having secret laws used to justify killing people without any opportunity to review the legal rationale much less know or refute the specific charges against a target. Have we really arrived at the point in this country where all we demand from our elected officials are “assurances” that they’re not up to no good?
2) Holder’s claim that due process does not require judicial process is false (See Glenn Greenwald for more specifics on this and my first point: )
3) Holder claimed that the list of conditions that trigger an assassination include “at least” those he enumerated, indicating that there are other conditions not yet mentioned that the administration will use to justify further killings.
+4 # Stephanie Remington 2012-03-10 17:24
I have several problems with the statement about drones allowing for "relatively pinpoint targeting.” 1) The firebombing of Dresden was "relatively" pinpoint targeting compared to the nuclear blast at Hiroshima. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t devastating. 2) If targeting by drones is as accurate as claimed, does that mean that the hundreds of children killed by them were targeted deliberately? 3) If confidence in the “limited collateral damage” inflicted by drones along with the elimination of risk from the killer who drops the bomb leads to such widespread use that the equivalent number of people killed and maimed is the same, “relatively,” as dropping fewer bombs by a method that is supposedly less discriminating, the alleged benefits go exclusively to rogue politicians willing to claim them.
+3 # Activista 2012-03-10 20:40
Stephanie - the drones are the bombs of choice - see Israel/Gaza - initial airstrike, on Friday afternoon, killed two people in Gaza these were drones. But I am sure that in the future such a "clean" strike will lead to new war.
Drones are easy to obtain, cheap, selective strike is assassination. - perfect terrorist weapon. Of course we will forget when it hits US who started first - where the idea came from.
+1 # bluepilgrim 2012-03-11 11:31
I don't really want to pursue 'conspiracy theories' but can't help noticing that these drones came into wide use not long after 9/11, and that many of the truthers have said those planes were remote controlled. So it seems, given the time lag between what technology the government has and when it become publically used, that the drone technology was easily available in 2001 to those in government who were into the war machine. It would be interesting to know what really happened, but that might not come out for another hundred years, if ever.

So maybe drones have already hit the US, controlled by the terrorists in the US military industrial complex?
+2 # Subliberal 2012-03-10 23:54
Globalcitizen is incoherent to the point of incomprehensibi lity, so whatever the hell he's saying, he's probably wrong.

Also, TL/DR

In any event, as far as the modus operandi of a "liberal" is evident, Mr Cole says, "...we now have a better basis for a debate..."

Hey! We can have a *conversation* about sanctioning murder!

*That's* liberalism. Forget that there is a Bill of Rights, forget only Congress can declare a war, forget that the president is not a member of the judiciary and isn't even a cop, forget there's a damn Constitution. Everything is debatable!

That's why Chris Hedges said "The liberal class' solution to the bleak political landscape is the conference, where liberals go to feel good about themselves again."
0 # Subliberal 2012-03-11 00:00
@ Globalcitizen: I mentioned this before and I'm gonna say it again.


As you can plainly see, it's rude, it insults the reader with the presumption that the reader cannot figure out the important words, and I for one will not read copy with shouting in it. The way to emphasize words is to *asterisk* them or use underscores _like this_.

Thank you.
+1 # Emil Sinclair 2012-03-11 12:29
PLEASE! I was completely "with" and/or in agreement with your first comment immediately above this one; but you are "dead" wrong on so-called "shouting". Under freedom of speech, people can write any darn way they please; and NO ONE has any right to try and stop them from doing so! It's one thing to make a polite suggestion or request; but, if they choose to continue to write the way they were before your request or suggestion, that's totally up to them and nothing but their free speech right to do.

Also, all capital letters is NOT always "shouting". It is often used "simply" for emphasis and is not meant as shouting or yelling at all. Yes, it would probably be (MUCH?) better to italicize the statements in question, but many comments sections including this one do not allow doing that, or using html code in order to "force" the site to do so. I, for instance, who use all capital letters sometimes, would personally much prefer using the html "bold" and "italicize", and perhaps "underlining", code commands, sometimes all at the same time, rather than all capital letters; but I don't have, and no one here has, that choice (that I know of anyway---yes, it's possible that I could be wrong, of course)...
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-03-11 13:12
Thank you Emil, You beat me to it. I was going to say pretty much the same thing.
+1 # Activista 2012-03-11 15:34
I agree - the capital letters for emphasis is effective communication ( I would rather use bold letters and HTML for URL etc.).
Again it seems that some communication types get VERY upset .. please filter.
0 # Emil Sinclair 2012-03-13 01:55
0 # Emil Sinclair 2012-03-11 19:05
[I had a paragraph or two more; but, because I forgot to save them in one of the text files that I save all of my comments in, I lost them, don't remember what I wrote, and don't have the energy to try and remember it; so I'm just going to let my comment stand as it is. (I sure wish sites like RSN---hint---wo uld stop this limiting to so relatively "few" words in one comment / post. I know it's in order to discourage longer comments, but people are just posting more, shorter comments to make up for it, so probably a similar amount of space and bandwidth are being used anyway---and plain text uses relatively little bandwidth anyway; if that's the excuse for only allowing such "short" comments; and limiting freedom of speech here.)]
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-03-11 13:17
To add to what Emil said, I'd like to say that using asterisks and underscores is nothing more than a clunky workaround for doing the exact same thing as capitalizing anyway. In fact, at least using all caps relies on the English language as we've inherited it without trying to reinvent it. The idea that using asterisks, etc. to convey the same thing sounds suspiciously to me like a consensus that was reached among YouTube users. The English language is de-evolving as we speak, partially because of an over-reliance on computer speak that, in a few decades, will go the way of CB radio jargon.

Catch ya on the flips side! Over and out, good buddy!
-1 # CreativeBlue 2012-03-11 17:42
Protestations to the contrary, all-caps has long been considered to be shouting and/or impolite. It also has the effect of being less readable.(

A simple Google search reveals literally hundreds of sources pointing to the etiquette of all-caps in Internet chat rooms and email usage, revealing that the consensus is that it is now and has always been very much considered shouting and offensive.(

This is not to say that the *occasional* use of all-caps may be useful.

In closing, I note that the overuse of all-caps is probably one source of the concern expressed by editors of RSN in re: the degeneration of civility in this comments section.
0 # Emil Sinclair 2012-03-11 19:29
Screw the consensus!! Since when do we have to all be conformists?! I agree about, and I too can't stand, comments of ALL caps in every single line and word of the comments; but, really, we all need to break out of conformism, and break away from the consensus. It is conformism that the globalist enslaver powers-that-be want and have been, through indoctrination, subliminal advertising and programming, propaganda and mind control been engineering into society for decades. We were ALL meant to be True Individuals, NOT conformists and capitulators [ I love making up new words :) ---not to be confused with capitalists and all-capitalizer s! lol ] to the consensus. Again, screw the consensus!...
0 # Emil Sinclair 2012-03-11 20:58
...[Btw, has anyone else noticed, since the latest updates to Windows 7 and/or the Google Chrome browser that Google Chrome now appears to have "taken over" the desktop and made itself stay "on top" of other windows, that you can't bring any other program windows "in front" of it, or to the forefront, and that you have to minimize Google Chrome in order to get to the other program windows stuck behind it (you can't even click on them if they're sticking out partly to one side of the minimized Chrome and get them to come to forefront, but they're still stuck behind Chrome until you minimize it)? This just started happening to me within the last couple of days, I never changed a setting requesting that Chrome always remain on top, I can't find any way to change the settings in Chrome or in Windows to stop it, it is driving me bananas, and I even noticed that I also can no longer get the minimizing Windows desktray to stay on top of Chrome if the latter is maximized, in which case I either have to hit the keyboard Start Menu key or minimize Chrome before I can get to the desktray---all extremely irritating (XP had/has an adjustment to keep the desktray on top, but Windows 7 does not---that I can find anyway---so, if there is such an adjustment in Windows 7, without having to take the dangerous chance(s) of fooling with the Windows Registry, do you know how to find it and can you tell me how to do so?; thanks)!]
0 # Emil Sinclair 2012-03-12 13:48
[I went and did a Bing search on the foregoing problem, and found a suggestion that adding the command, "--in-process-p lugins", to the end of the "Target" line, AFTER THE QUOTATION MARKS IN THE "TARGET" LINE (they don't tell you that it must go after the quotation marks; and, in fact, show it before the closing quotation mark, which I tried and it doesn't work that way; but does work after the closing quotation mark), in the Chrome icon "Properties" will correct the problem; and, sure enough, it appears to have done so.]


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