The document is long, plodding, pedantic, and heavily footnoted. But to give you an idea of the Alice in Wonderland gobbledygook employed to justify murder-by-POTUS, this one sentence by DOJ lawyer James Barron pretty much sums it up:
"Instead, we emphasize the sufficiency of the facts that have been represented to us here, without determining whether such facts would be necessary to the conclusion we reach."
So... Off With Her Head, yo! The sputtering Red Queen has finagled her demented self from the pages of absurd fiction and into the annals of American shadow-justice. We are simply supposed to take an irritable monarch's word for it that the expatriate imam was a bad guy who did more than disseminate anti-American rhetoric on the Internet and inspire a lot of anti-American feeling among the ingrates on the receiving end of American imperialism, occupation, and worse. The fact is that the Fort Hood shooter was apparently inspired by Awlaki and took matters into his own weaponized-by-American Government hands.
The Awlaki drone hit was a revenge killing, pure and simple. But admitting this would make Obama and Company look like bloodthirsty barbarians instead of bureaucratic barbarians. Therefore, even if the alleged "facts" that the White House saw fit to censor did not exist, evidence is not necessary anyway. The president does not let pesky facts get in the way of either his Zen-like thought processes or of his baser brutal impulses.
The ass-covering, four-year-old memo was ultimately released, not to honor the demands of media and civil liberties groups, but for the usual reason: sleazy politics. Its author (Barron) had been nominated by a grateful Obama to a coveted federal judgeship. But the Senate -- especially the Democrats who have long railed against government secrecy -- made a big show of refusing to confirm him until Obama promised they'd get a peek at the secret document. Quick as a wink and a nod, they confirmed Barron without even seeing the need to read his drivel. He will now spend the rest of his compromised life deciding the fates of countless citizens appearing before him as he purports to uphold the same Constitution he just shat upon in his cut-and-paste legal opinion.
The New York Times ran a rather tepid editorial which, rather than condemning outright the state-sponsored killing of Awlaki, his teenage son, two other Americans, and countless thousands of Obama's foreign victims, suggested that in the future, an outside monitor might be needed to keep an eye on Presidents Who Kill. An independent legal panel (comprised, no doubt, of the usual revolving door suspects) might be in order to proof-read future "law-fare" documents for their accuracy and logic.
My published response:
I got a sick feeling reading the memo, a banal excuse for a cold-blooded deed, and not worth the paper it was redacted on. Under the flimsy rationale put forth by the newly-anointed Judge Barron, the president would even be justified in pre-emptively assassinating the right-wing killers now terrorizing the Homeland. Don't they, too, constitute an "imminent threat" to innocent Americans? After all, the whole world has been declared a battlefield.
This is all about a declining empire's grasp on power as the self-proclaimed "one indispensable nation."
The pathetic and Orwellian grasping at straw men in the memo is likely why the Obama administration officials fought so long and so hard to prevent their memo from ever seeing the light of day. Its vapid legalese and normalization of atrocity is exactly what Hannah Arendt was talking about when she coined the phrase "the banality of evil."
Barron was only following orders, you see. The Senate willingly confirmed him based on the promise of a document that they hadn't even read. Being kept in the insider loop is apparently their prime concern.
And if recent polls are any indication, the majority of Americans don't even give a damn about drones killing people who aren't one of us, or who do not represent "our values." Most people are also just fine with Obama droning more Iraqis as long as the hackneyed "boots on the ground" don't come into play and we don't sacrifice any more of our own precious blood and treasure.
Sickening.The majority of other reader comments, thankfully, do not at all adhere to the polled reactions of a nation full of quiet Americans. Here's a highly recommended one written by Counterpunch columnist Norman Pollack of Lansing, Michigan, that pulls no punches:
A halting step toward affirming the rule of law. No condemnation of drone assassination per se, only when involving a US citizen; no criticism of the FISA Court which itself denies the adversarial process and renders secret decisions; no criticism of Obama, who uses a hit list and personally authorizes assassination--and here, is the one who put forth David Barron's candidacy for federal judgeship; and no criticism of Holder and DOJ for for the abomination thereby produced.
Poor NYT, chained to the Obama administration, even when, as in Cairo, journalists are railroaded while Kerry lavishes praise on the US-Egyptian mutual partnership. Keep this up, with soporific editorials, and soon there will no longer be freedom of the press.
The memo rationalizing the murder of Awlaki should go down in judicial infamy and result in the moral condemnation of all responsible, beginning with POTUS and DOJ, but extending to a National Security State in toto, which condemns civil liberties to the ash heap. In the words of the folk song, Which side are you on? Time is running short; a fascistic mindset is in the ascendance. Awlaki's death should have been a wake-up call. Instead we sleep the sleep of complicity in the deeds of a murderous government.And as contributor "annenigma" points out,
The Obama administration did not 'finally' release this memo. The 2nd US Circuit court of appeals in NY got sick of the foot-dragging by the regime and released it themselves, so let's not pretend the administration showed ANY good faith effort to comply with the court's order. Let's also not pretend this regime has ANY respect for the Constitution.
If we do not stand up as one America to defend our U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, the very glue that binds us together as American citizens, we will no longer be bound by anything but the chains of the national security police state that are being clamped and tightened on us.
"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" Patrick Henry.And for the usual expert (and patient) parsing of all things obfuscatory emanating from the Security State, see Marcy Wheeler's analysis here. She provides the historical background lacking in other reports on the latest redacted document dump. Among other observations, she points out that Barron's memo was actually a follow-up to the original DOJ paper justifying Awlaki's assassination and in response to a blog post by a legal scholar claiming that it would be murder to kill him. That is why Barron's memo immediately starts out by defining criminal homicide in all its degrees, and why Obama is allegedly above such niceties.
Also well worth a read is Barry Grey's analysis over at the World Socialist Website.
Life under a personable homicidal de facto dictator with a million-
dollar smile truly is one scary spectacle, a pastiche of horrors worthy of Orwell... with an absurd dash of Lewis Carroll thrown in for good measure. Civil Liberties have indeed made a one-way trip down to the rabbit memory hole. And until we stop being scared, outrage-fatigued little bunnies in thrall to the corporate two-party scam, it's only going to get worse.
When even progressive darlings like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders can vote to confirm and elevate an apparatchik of the Imperial Presidency to a permanent judgeship, without even bothering to read his nonsense, we must accept the fact that fascism is not only just around the corner -- it's already here.
"If we look at the techniques of totalitarian government, it is obvious that the argument of ‘the lesser evil’… is one of the mechanisms built into the machinery of terror and criminality. Acceptance of lesser evils is consciously used in conditioning the government officials as well as the population at large to acceptance of evil as such…. Politically,the weakness of the argument has always been that those who choose the lesser evil forget very quickly that they chose evil.” – Hannah Arendt, 1964.