Scary Things Coming Out of the Woodwork

From February 5th on Yahoo News by Adam Clark Estes.

(I couldn’t let this crazy piece of reporting go un-shared. Either the moon is having a very strong effect on leadership segments, or I need to go back on Prozac soon. It’s scary out here alone in the dark.)

Human rights advocates were floored on Monday night when NBC News published the details of an alarming Justice Department memo detailing the protocol for sending drones after United States citizens. It’s not as if they hadn’t suspected that the Obama administration’s top secret drone attack protocol contained some unsavory details. They just didn’t expect them to be so frightfully broad. . .Put simply, the government believes that a lethal drone attack against an American citizen is justified if the targets are a) “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaeda or b) “an associated force.”

One of those two qualifiers is infinitely more worrisome than the other. Going after leaders of al Qaeda makes sense. . . .

But what does “an associated force” mean? It seems like the guy who sells the terrorists bomb supplies would probably qualify, but what about the unknowing neighbor or the hired hand? Can we just kill them too in good conscience? Quite unfortunately, the government isn’t exactly sure. The memo suggests that anyone who “present[s] an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States” qualifies for assassination “a lawful killing in self defense,” but that “does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.” In other words, an “informed, high-level” official can order the killing of any American citizen that was “recently” involved in threatening “activities.” As Isikoff points out, the memo fails to define both of those terms.

“This is a chilling document,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.  “Basically, it argues that the government has the right to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen. . .A couple of years ago, The New York Timesprovided some insight into how subjective the process of deciding when to kill and when not to kill American citizens based on a top secret memo that justified the killing of al-Awlaki. That document as well as this latest leak from the Justice Department essentially says that a lethal attack, likely by a drone, is the method of choice whenever a capture mission would put other American lives on the line.

. . .the Obama administration is keeping it completely secret, despite years worth of calls to disclose its decision-making process.

This could be the beginning of an enlightening time for those who demand answers about the government’s shady drone program. . . .

A commenter on this news story wrote the following:

Attorney General Secretly Granted Gov. Ability to Develop and Store Dossiers on Innocent Americans
In a secret government agreement granted without approval or debate from lawmakers, the U.S. attorney general recently gave the National Counterterrorism Center sweeping new powers to store dossiers on U.S. citizens, even if they are not suspected of a crime, according to a news report.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder granted the center the ability to copy entire government databases holding information on flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and other data, and to store it for up to five years, even without suspicion that someone in the database has committed a crime, according to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story.
Whereas previously the law prohibited the center from storing data compilations on U.S. citizens unless they were suspected of terrorist activity or were relevant to an ongoing terrorism investigation, the new powers give the center the ability to not only collect and store vast databases of information but also to trawl through and analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior in order to uncover activity that could launch an investigation.
The changes granted by Holder would also allow databases containing information about U.S. citizens to be shared with foreign governments for their own analysis.
A former senior White House official told the Journal that the new changes were “breathtaking in scope.” (Source: Wall Street Journal via Wired Magazine Online 12.13.12)

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