Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Holder: Tough Times Call for Murderous Measures

When you're the U.S. Attorney General whose assignment is to sanitize state-sponsored murder, it is best to do so in a law school a thousand miles away, as opposed to, say, an actual Washington press conference. It helps if you do your 'splainin' to a select group of academics who understand, or pretend to understand, your legal nitpicking and double-speak, and who won't upset your gravitas. You reckon you can get away with saying there is a difference between "due process" and "judicial process" at a friendly place like Northwestern University in Chicagoland, the home turf of your boss's political machine.

You will not be facing a media mob shouting out inconvenient questions -- such as, why hasn't the government responded to a FOIA request for documents relating to the drone strike assassination of Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son? Exactly how many thousands of women and children have been part of your collateral damage, anyway? When you are Eric Holder, you intellectualize the slaughter, and try to get away with bullshit like this:  
Let me be clear: an operation using lethal force in a foreign country, targeted against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful at least in the following circumstances: First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.
Eric Holder conveniently did not find it necessary to mention any evidence of how the government determined that the target of the assassination was actually a "senior operational leader of al Qaeda", rather than, say, a loathesome provocateur, or why the "applicable law of war principles" could be applied in a country (Yemen) with which we are not at war. Here is just a little more of what he said:
Al qaeda leaders are continually planning attacks against the United States, and they do not behave like a traditional military – wearing uniforms, carrying arms openly, or massing forces in preparation for an attack. Given these facts, the Constitution does not require the President to delay action until some theoretical end-stage of planning – when the precise time, place, and manner of an attack become clear....
Some have argued that the President is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces.....
The Constitution’s guarantee of due process is ironclad, and it is essential – but, as a recent court decision makes clear, it does not require judicial approval before the President may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war – even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen.
So, by repeating the claim over and over again that Awlaki was an al Qaeda mastermind plotting attacks, Holder makes the case that saying something often enough makes it true. Yet, he and his boss refuse to provide the evidence behind the legalese, because they deem it to be top secret. Rather than admit that there is in fact no credible evidence, they hide behind the convenient curtain of national security. Bush taught them well.  

Holder was also careful to add that such targeted killings (he just hates, hates, hates that critics are calling them "assassinations") are ever so humanely carried out, so as not to impose "unnecessary suffering" on hapless innocents who may have the poor taste to get in the way. Here again is his dry legalspeak way of putting it: "Under the principle of proportionality, the anticipated collateral damage must not be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage. Finally, the principle of humanity requires us to use weapons that will not inflict unnecessary suffering".

In other words, if some women and children get killed along the way, their numbers are acceptable, and their deaths will not be needlessly prolonged. Isn't it too bad that President Obama is being forced into humanely killing people? These are the most extremely unique times in all of recorded history! Here a threat, there a threat, everywhere a threat-threat. "It is an indicator of our times," Holder cravenly pontificated on the need to kill. "Not a departure from our laws and values."

Besides, nobody really cares about targeted assassinations on foreign soil, as long as a photogenic Democratic president who loves his gorgeous wife and and adorable kids and cute puppy dog is doing it. He outlawed torture, didn't he? The drone targets hardly feel a thing when they have the good sense to die quickly, disappear from sight, and not linger on and on, calling attention to themselves. So let's continue expressing 24/7 outrage at a fat slob of a provocateur named Rush Limbaugh, and yammer some more about whether crazy Rick Santorum can win Ohio in the GOP sweepstakes tonight. 

Collateral Damage in Pakistan


DW2000 said...


Thank you.

Anonymous said...

(Earlier thread on this topic closed. Sorry for being off-topic)


Climate science is waaay above my pay grade. I'm a "believer" but respect your arguments (except for that silly Oppenheimer work of fiction). I listened to the Mann interview and pass on one idea to you that I hope you will investigate. He named a web site: skeptical science. To my uneducated eye it looks interesting and may offer you a wonderful place where you can challenge the science. They have a section on modeling issues.

Good luck!


Will said...

"Well, I don't want to be a lawyer, Mama, I don't want to lie."--John Lennon sings in "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier"

Glenn Greenwald rips Obama and Holder to shreds in his latest post, including using the very words of those two from just a few years ago to further illustrate his points:


Jonathan Hurley chimes in with a brief but humorous take on the situation:


Valerie said...

Even if one accepts Holder's argument - how does the Obama Administration explain away extraordinary rendition being worse under Obama than Bush?

We have become such a terrible country. No wonder the rest of the First World democracies look upon America with suspicion and disdain.

Denis Neville said...

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?” - Mahatma Gandhi

The irony of it all! Our first African-American President and Attorney General willingly executing Americans without due process.

Whatever happened to due process? [the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees that “No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”]

What about his oath of office as required by the United States Constitution? “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

“A careful and thorough executive branch review of the facts in a case amounts to ‘due process,’” according to Holder.

Trust them. Positively Orwellian.

The terrorists have won.

Jonathan Turley, “If we are going to adopt Chinese legal principles, we should at least have the integrity to adopt one Chinese proverb: ‘The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.’ We seem as a country to be in denial as to the implications of these laws and policies. Whether we are viewed as a free country with authoritarian inclinations or an authoritarian nation with free aspirations (or some other hybrid definition), we are clearly not what we once were.”


Bread and circuses.

Obamabots are out in full force. They blindly trust Obama. Just think of the alternative they preach. What they don’t consider is the precedents that Obama is setting for future presidents.

“In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable - what then?” - George Orwell, 1984

Denis Neville said...

The legality of murdering people…

“The role allotted to the American people is to applaud, if and when notified that a successful assassination has occurred.” – Andrew Bacevitch

David Swanson, “Murder Is Legal, Says Eric Holder”:

“Here's 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama: "Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists ... Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary." [Obama, the Constitutional lawyer. “A hypocrite despises those whom he deceives, but has no respect for himself. He would make a dupe of himself too, if he could.” - William Hazlitt]

“If the people of Iraq and Afghanistan hadn't risen up and defeated the trillion-dollar U.S. military with some homemade bombs and cell phones, and were Iran not threatening to fight back if attacked, this might be all fun and games. Except that Holder isn't talking about those wars that still sort of look like wars. He's talking about a war paralleling the Soviet Threat, a war that is everywhere all the time, a war that encompasses the murder of anybody anywhere as an "act of war," even if there's nothing warlike about the victim or the situation other than the fact that we are murdering him or her.”

“…the president, whether President Obama or President Romney or President Santorum or any man or woman who later becomes president, and nobody else. That one person alone is to decide what is appropriate and lawful and feasible…The president alone can give you due process without ever explaining it to anybody else. Who knew?”


The 99 percent are the real enemies, not the terrorists, in the eyes of the one percent. Homeland Security and the growing police state are meant for the 99 percent, not terrorists. The one percent are preparing for what they see as the coming class war. In the meantime, continued distraction with bread and circuses.

Don’t forget to applaud.

Kat said...

Denis-- the Gandhi quote is perfect for our time.

Denis Neville said...

Saddest part of a very sad day [March 5, 2012], which will live in infamy…

Peter van Buren, “We Take Care of
Our Own: Eric Holder and the End of Rights”:

“Historians of the future, if they are not imprisoned for saying so, will trace the end of America’s democratic experiment to the fearful days immediately after 9/11…Those same historians will remark from exile on the irony that such horrendous policies were not only upheld by Obama, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and professor of Constitutional law, but added to until we came to the place we sadly occupy today…”

“So while the popular media remembers today as the day Rush apologized for calling someone a slut and Republican candidates ignored the wave of history to carp about birth control, historians will look back on March 5, 2012 as the day America gave up on its experiment with unalienable rights, rights that are natural, not given, rights independent of governments, what our Declaration explained to an unsure forming nation as ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’”

“The saddest part of a very sad day: the majority of Americans - the consent of the governed - seemingly do not care what Holder said, and are even now bleating on internet forums and likely in comments below to this article about the need to kill more, adding terrified, empty justifications to Holder’s clever statements. We did not have our freedom taken from us, we gave it away.”


Bread and circuses feel so good!

Jay - Ottawa said...

How can we say we are a democracy governed by "the rule of law"? As one writer put it, we are "a nation under lawyers." Who, I might add, work for the moneymen. With no respected, unshakeable body of law standing between you and men in power, where are your rights, your freedom, your property, your loved ones?

Holder's view of the law should scare the wits out of Americans. Comparisons with Europe of the 1930s or Orwell's "1984" are no longer misapplied hyperbole.

The Black Swan said...

I have little to add to this, but I won't be silent in the face of such evils. The citizens of this planet, and not just the United States, have lost the war against totalitarianism. It is almost impossible to imagine a way out of this. We are just now waking up to the fact that there is a war going on, and it is already over, and we have lost. When the most powerful people in the world can kill, invade, enslave, and steal with complete impunity, there can be nothing left for the rest of us. The only thing I can see is to withdraw any tacit support of this current human system and try and live outside of it as much as possible without becoming a threat to those with the guns.

I don't really know what to say or how to say it, it is overwhelming.

I would like to make one last point. I don't believe in this 99% v 1% paradigm. I would say it is .001% or maybe even less, versus everyone else and everything else on this planet. We need a new name/label for the reality we are living. I am not part of the 99%, I am part of humanity, a part of this planetary ecosystem. And humanity, and this planet, is under direct assault from its most depraved evolutionary branch.

It truly is Good versus Evil.

Anne Lavoie said...

Thanks Karen for once again writing about the crimes of this administration. Impeachment should be on the table and the main course.

The Day That Changed Everything was not 9/11/01 or 3/5/12. It was 1/20/09 when the Serial-Killing, Mass-Murdering-for-Corporate-Profit, Assassinator-in-Chief was inaugurated. How telling was it that Obama's Presidential Oath of Office to uphold the Constitution was botched.

Back in the early 2000's, I was curious about what exactly Osama bin Laden was saying. I had to search in the foreign press, but I found it. I have forgotten many of the details now, but what I recall was OBL saying he would cause us to destroy ourselves. All they had to do was feign plans of attack. The expense and logistics of chasing down bogus threats would accomplish his mission of the USA destroying itself. He probably addressed our liberties too but I just don't recall now.

George Bush went a long way towards bringing us to fiscal bankruptcy, and now Obama is finishing the job on the moral and legal fronts. OBL's strategy was undoubtedly based not just on his study of economics, but more specifically on the malignancy called Capitalism.

Capitalism is at the rotten core of the overwrought and overfunded endless and ubiquitous War on Terror that is killing our Constitution and Democratic Republic. Another type of Republic has taken its place.

Got Bananas?

Denis Neville said...

Think you have rights?

George Carlin hates to spoil your fun, but “You have no rights.”


If you think you do have rights, Carlin says go to Wikipedia and type in, “Japanese-Americans 1942.″

“In 1942 there were 110,000 Japanese-American citizens, in good standing, law abiding people, who were thrown into internment camps simply because their parents were born in the wrong country. That’s all they did wrong. They had no right to a lawyer, no right to a fair trial, no right to a jury of their peers, no right to due process of any kind. The only right they had was…right this way! Into the internment camps.

“Just when these American citizens needed their rights the most…their government took them away. And rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away. They’re privileges. That’s all we’ve ever had in this country is a bill of TEMPORARY privileges; and if you read the news, even badly, you know the list gets shorter, and shorter, and shorter.

“Sooner or later the people in this country are going to realize the government doesn’t give a fuck about them. the government doesn’t care about you, or your children, or your rights, or your welfare or your safety. It simply doesn’t give a fuck about you. It’s interested in its own power. That’s the only thing…keeping it, and expanding wherever possible.”

George Carlin is greatly missed.

“Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking - not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness." - George Orwell, 1984

Anonymous said...

Your last paragraph says it all. It's amazing how *outraged* liberals are about Lambaugh calling a woman a bad name or Romney being rich and white and legally minimizing his tax bill. Don't those guys have any shame???

On the other hand, killing innocent people in undeclared wars, using fear as a weapon to keep citizens in line, invoking secrecy doctrines at every turn, prosecuting and torturing whistleblowers, and sucking up to the rich, etc are A-OK as long as our beautiful president is doing it.

Zee said...


I still have the Science Friday link on my "favorites bar" so I don't forget to listen to the Mann interview when I can do so uninterrupted.

I will keep my ears open for the "skeptical science" web site and check it out.

Thanks you.

Kat said...

With these newly enumerated powers, I guess we must do all we can to reassure Obama's reelection. We wouldn't want them to fall into the wrong hands!

John in Lafayette said...

Freakin' brilliant response to Gail Collins today, Karen.


Karen Garcia said...

Thank you John, and thanks for reminding me that I forgot to keep my promise to copy and paste my nyt comments here. As background, Gail today voted her entire column to the Seamus episode for which Mitt Romney has become infamous. It has always reminded me of one of my favorite movies....

Ever since I heard the Seamus story and started watching Mitt on TV, I was struck by the similarity to the National Lampoon "Vacation" movie, which came out the same year (1983) as the Romneys' ill-fated road trip. (A few bloggers have noticed the creepy coincidence too.) In the movie, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) ties Dinky the dog to the rear bumper and then takes off down the interstate with the pooch still attached to the car. Accidentally on purpose, it would seem.

The actress who plays Griswold's wife bears an uncanny resemblance to Ann Romney -- perfectly coiffed blond,an ultra-perky June Cleaver on steroids, long-suffering and similarly tone-deaf. They have little sympathy for the poor relations they encounter during their journey. When their old Aunt Edna unexpectedly dies (of neglect?) during the road trip, Clark simply ties her corpse to the roof of the station wagon and later dumps it in somebody's back yard under cover of darkness. But not before they go through the old lady's purse for whatever is left of her Social Security check.

The Romneys and the Griswolds are self-involved Questors of the good life, running roughshod over everyone in their paths and caring not a whit about the mess they leave behind, or even how they appear to others. If Mitt ever does arrive at his Wally World White House, will he take us on a merry-go-round to nowhere, or on a roller coaster ride through hell? One thing's for sure: all the Aunt Ednas will be tossed over the side.

Denis Neville said...

Empathy for Ann Romney, when she said, “So for me, having gone through a difficult period in my life, both with MS and with breast cancer, it has done something to my heart, and it softened my heart, and made me realize there are many people suffering in this country,”

Undermined by what she said next, “and they are suffering from things that are not financial. And some people are suffering from things that are financial, as well, but those that are suffering, I have a larger capacity for love, and for understanding.”

She doesn’t consider herself wealthy, but she is very wealthy. Hence, she cannot understand, as I do, having had two members of my family suffer catastrophic illnesses, that physical suffering and financial suffering go hand-in-hand.

And her Mittens’ promise to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, which will greatly exacerbate this suffering.

The Romneys haven’t a clue about what happens to all those tossed over the side.

Witness austerity’s ugliness in Greece:


Contrast them to Eleanor Roosevelt.

“All of us are familiar with people who are the partisans of departed virtue, but are afraid to defend an unpopular truth today. Mrs. Roosevelt never stood with this timid company. Her conscience was her counselor, and she followed its commands with unfaltering courage. Nor did she really understand what people meant when they praised her for taking so many risks. She would have taken the greatest risk of all if she had remained silent in the presence of wrong. She would have risked the integrity of her soul.

“A rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime once said: "The most important thing I learned is that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problems. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful, and the most tragic problem--is silence." Eleanor Roosevelt taught us that sometimes silence is the greatest sin.

“Do you remember what Dr. Samuel Johnson said about courage? "Unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other." Mrs. Roosevelt knew what those words meant. She lived their meaning every day of her life. Courage sustained by compassion - that was the watchword of her entire career. Always she thought not of abstract rights, but of living wrongs.

“She thought of the suffering individual, not of a theoretical principle. She saw an unemployed father, and so she helped him. She saw a neglected Negro child, and so she educated him. She saw dictators hurling the world into war, and so she worked unflinchingly for peace. She saw the United Nations divided by the conflict of ideology and power, and so she became the prophet of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Are we ready to fight similar battles against new foes in our own day? If not, our grief is an empty thing, and the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt is not among us.” - Ladybird Johnson Speech - Tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt, Tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt, Address To The First Anniversary Luncheon of the Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Foundation, Hilton Hotel, New York, April 9, 1964


Jay - Ottawa said...

When will Afghanistan emerge from the Middle Ages? Here's the latest: In recent talks President Hamid Karzai keeps insisting on taking over the prison inside the USA's Bagram Air Force Base. And he wants it now, not six months from now. But there's a problem:

"Many of the estimated 3,200 people being detained [in Bagram’s prison] cannot be tried under Afghan law because the evidence does not meet the legal standards required to be admitted in Afghan courts. Therefore, those people, including some suspected insurgents believed likely to return to the fight if released, would probably have to be released because Afghanistan has no law that allows for indefinite detention for national security reasons."


"Honestly, what kind of a backward country doesn't have a provision for the indefinite detention, on suspicion alone, of prisoners without charges or hope of trial? As a mature democracy, we now stand proudly for global indefinite detention, not to speak of the democratic right to send robot assassins to take out those suspected of evil deeds anywhere on Earth. As in any mature democracy, the White House has now taken on many of the traits of a legal system -- filling, that is, the roles of prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner."