Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 05, 2013

Kangaroo Justice - Might Makes Right Will Kill You

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, [...] nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; [...]
Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution

NBC News scoops: Justice Department memo reveals legal case for drone strikes on Americans

The White Paper (pdf), which is not a formal legal reasoning, tries to explain that the United States can kill a citizen if:

(1) an informed, high level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; (2) capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible; and (3) the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.
There was no "imminent threat" of a violent attack against the United States when it killed Anwar al-Aulaqi, a preacher who himself never took up arms and a U.S. citizen. The White Paper is covering up the crime by redefining "imminent" in a way no sane person can accept. As NBC explains:
[T]he confidential Justice Department “white paper” introduces a more expansive definition of self-defense or imminent attack than described by Brennan or Holder in their public speeches. It refers, for example, to what it calls a “broader concept of imminence” than actual intelligence about any ongoing plot against the U.S. homeland.

“The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States 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,” the memo states.

Instead, it says, an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of a violent attack and “there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.” The memo does not define “recently” or “activities.”

So if one may once have been involved in murky "activities" and one may not have renounced that involvement one is thereby an "imminent threat". This is just laughable.

Just like the silly justification for preemptive cyber-attacks the real reasoning in the White Paper is simply "might makes right".

For many centuries just people have worked to eliminated that archaic notice of "justice". The U.S. is now reintroducing it to the world.

But "might is right" is not justice. It is a refutation of the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." It will, in time, come back to haunt the United States and its people. Real justice can come in rather mysterious ways.

Posted by b on February 5, 2013 at 6:45 UTC | Permalink


"But "might is right" is not justice. It is a refutation of the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." It will, in time, come back to haunt the United States and its people."

You sure that isn't "Do unto others before they do it to you." with regard to American morality?

Posted by: вот так | Feb 5 2013 7:05 utc | 1

What these fascists are doing is setting the "legal groundwork" to changing justice in America into being anything that the ruling oligarchs want to do to reinforce their dominant positions and smite any challengers or popular resistance. All the tactics they have used against dissidents at home and "the foreign menace" abroad in secret are now being legalised so they can be used openly against anybody and everybody inconvenient to these fascists.

Posted by: вот так | Feb 5 2013 7:19 utc | 2

This is all meaningless and complete crap from the start.

Amendment 5 ...

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury ... without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

... is only talking about being charged and detained for trial ... due process.

Amendment 6 ...

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

... is talking about the due process ... and summary execution is out of the question! And it doesn't say no US citizen, it says no person.

Nothing can 'override' the constitution. Not laws nor lawyers ... nor these uncommon criminals.

Obama, Brennan, Holder ... they all need to be behind bars. They are murderers and war criminals.

This paper is prima facie evidence that they clearly pose an imminent threat to the lives of US citizens.

But their capture is unfeasible.

.,. What? They're calling for is their own executions? I've heard of self-loathing but this is extreme indeed.

Posted by: john francis lee | Feb 5 2013 8:41 utc | 3

The very sad thing is that MLK is remembered for his 'I have a dream today' sentiments, whereas Obomber will be remembered for his slogan 'I Have a Drone Today!' The reverse engineering of liberties, to protect said liberties by nullifying them, makes as much sense as my grandmother having two handles and a flat tire. The polispeak of 'enemy combatants' and trials on islands where we don't pay rent, has been a throbbing thorn in the side of anyone who believes in [what ever is left of] true justice. We really have become a virus with shoes [Bill Hicks].

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 5 2013 10:01 utc | 4

Two comments.

1981 paper entitled "MIGHT MAKES RIGHT"

and how Taos NM is addressing this: Crimes Against Peace, a talk by retired Town of Taos attorney>

Posted by: erichwwk | Feb 5 2013 13:06 utc | 5

Daniel, we pay rent to Castro for Gitmo--he's never cashed the checks, but we pay $4000/yr I believe in rent.

Posted by: scottindallas | Feb 5 2013 13:25 utc | 6

Old street saying.."What goes around, comes around." Where Chris Kyle was concerned, it sure did.

Posted by: ben | Feb 5 2013 14:25 utc | 7

Osama bin Laden often stated he and his followers were angered by DC's one-sided support of Israel. Would opposition to taxpayer-supported subsidies of Israel constitute an "association" with al-Qaeda?

Posted by: Old Rebel | Feb 5 2013 14:54 utc | 8

Some lawyer's opinions on this paper:

Greenwald: Chilling legal memo from Obama DOJ justifies assassination of US citizens

Prof. Kevin Jon Heller: The DoJ White Paper’s Confused Approach to Imminence (and Capture)

Emtywheel: The Timing of the White Paper

Posted by: b | Feb 5 2013 17:05 utc | 9

It's stuff like this that makes me want to bury my head in the sand and just ignore everything. I know that's not the right thing to do, but it does make me envy the people who can ignore the world of politics. What can an average American do when both democrats and republicans in Washington agree that more war is always the answer?

Posted by: Kanzanian | Feb 5 2013 17:58 utc | 10

@ 10: " What can an average American do when both democrats and republicans in Washington agree that more war is always the answer?"

Work within your own sphere of influence to change awareness, and maybe a contribution or two for the folks you support. If nothing else, it's better therapy than doing nothing.

Posted by: ben | Feb 5 2013 19:00 utc | 11

Thanks for the links b, and all, depressing. But, not to worry, we've got the Superbowl.

Posted by: ben | Feb 5 2013 19:07 utc | 12

@ scottindallas [#6],

Since 1959, the U.S. sends a check for the lease amount every year, but the Cuban government has never cashed them. If there hasn't been a completed transfer of money, than, legally, no rent has been paid. An offer has/had been made, but it is/was not not accepted. I.e., you can offer $20 for a scrappy car, but can't take it with you if it isn't okayed.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 5 2013 23:06 utc | 13

"In other words, the Japanese constitution is simply to be ignored, pretty much the tactic that president Harry Truman inaugurated in the US to plunge the country into the Korean war (1950-1953) and the tactic Barack Obama has used in interventions like the one in Libya.

Simply ignore the constitution and its requirement that the US Congress alone can declare war. This is an example, as if another were needed, of how our elites view the "rule of law" to which they appeal so often."

Rest is here.

It has been done before and it will be done again [and again].

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 5 2013 23:52 utc | 14

Thanks b for promptly putting up this information. The United States is sinking into despotism, like a ship going down hard by the bow.

It is depressing, especially so if it is your country. With preemptive cyber attacks declared within the president's prerogative, it might as well mean preemptive war without consulting Congress. And when they intend to do some targeted assassination of their fellow Americans, they just do a little edit to change what the word "imminent" means.

Posted by: Copeland | Feb 6 2013 0:58 utc | 15

@ 14: Thanks for the link. Article 9, something I wasn't aware of. Yep, just like us, ignore the constitution.

@ 15: "The United States is sinking into despotism, like a ship going down hard by the bow." More apparent every day.

Posted by: ben | Feb 6 2013 1:54 utc | 16

To put this perspective Anwar al-Awlaki was simply a critic of US Foreign policy. Far from being an Al Qaeda militant he was such a friend of the US government that he had been a guest at the White House. Then his views changed and he was "rubbed out" as the gangsters in Chicago used to say.

Obama was brought up in Indonesia in the aftermath of the massacres of up to a million PKI supporters. His step father was part of the Suharto regime and served in its military. His mother was not allowed to work there, as an anthropologist, without having the confidence of the regime which was backed by the US government which shared responsibility for the killings, the concentration camps, in which tens of thousands were held in terrible conditions. Obama spent his most formative years surrounded by adults deeply involved in fascistic and imperialistic crimes.

In his political career he has served as a part of the Chicago democratic machine whose most notable boss was Mayor Daley. It is a byword for cynicism, fraud, abuse of authority and contempt for the law.

My guess is that since he was in diapers he has been an asset of the CIA.

Posted by: bevin | Feb 6 2013 3:09 utc | 17

While Obama appeared enthusiastic in "not looking back" about the previous regime's unconstitutional maneuvering, he would be caught, if needed, and then no one would be around to say "not looking back". I hope someone tells him that! He is not a product of the ruling class, like Bush was.

Btw, thank you all for your insightful comments. Have been reading them for sometime now.

Posted by: Harry | Feb 6 2013 4:17 utc | 20

Following up on 17 and Anwar al-Awlaki ... he was not a threat, and his 16 year old son was definitely not a threat ...

All this anguish over the redefinition of "imminent" is wasted. It's all murder. They're all criminals. The US Senate is going to 'grill' (not) Obama's new CIA Director John "torture and drones" Brennan on Thursday. Maybe they'll send the man home, if not to jail, but I bet they confirm him.

Posted by: john francis lee | Feb 6 2013 5:37 utc | 21

That Israeli-American sense of "right to privacy" reaches the UK:

Great Britain plans broad online domestic spying regime

"UK officials plan to monitor Britons' online activities by placing surveillance devices on the country's telecom networks, a Parliamentary report says. The program would keep tabs on which websites were visited as well as who contacted whom.

On Tuesday the British Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee published the report outlining a massive, national surveillance program based in the country's very electronic infrastructure. The report does not specify the number of so-called "probes" to be installed across Britain's telecommunications networks, but says it would be part of a regime stockpiling information on nearly every move Britons make online."

The UK has already adopted the Israeli-American sense of "justice", this is the logical next step so they can better target any disobedience.

Posted by: вот так | Feb 6 2013 5:41 utc | 22

A few in Congress oppose these murders, or say they do.

Congress considers putting limits on drone strikes

They sound fairly wishy-washy, the it also an AP report, so there may be things left out.

This blogger is going at a different angle:

This Isn’t the Memo You’re Looking For

"As important as it is to see the white paper DOJ gave Congress to explain its purported legal rationale, it is just as important to make clear what this white paper is not.

First, is it not the actual legal memos used to authorize the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and who knows who else. As Michael Isikoff notes in his story, the Senators whose job it is to oversee the Executive Branch — even the ones on the Senate Intelligence Committee that are supposed to be read into covert operations — are still demanding the memos, for at least the 12th time. The release of this white paper must not serve to take pressure off of the White House to release the actual memos.

Which brings me to an equally important point: memos. Plural..."

Posted by: вот так | Feb 6 2013 7:59 utc | 23

Globalizing Torture.

So, as an outsider, what do you think of the human race?

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 6 2013 22:46 utc | 24

Anti-war protesters interrupt CIA nominee Senate hearing

"Protesters opposed to US assassination drone attacks have interrupted a US Senate hearing on the nomination for John Brennan, President Barack Obama's choice to be the next director of the CIA."

Posted by: вот так | Feb 7 2013 23:48 utc | 25

Want to be a US diplomat? Got a million dollars? Call Obama

"If it happened in Russia or any other country the U.S. Government and the western mass media would be screaming corruption, foul, nepotism, cronyism, bribes, and transparency! What I am talking about is the “selling” of top diplomatic posts by none other than the U.S. president. Although the U.S. does not “sell” such postings openly, “wink-wink,” two respected researches at the University of Pennsylvania have very carefully compiled a “price list” for diplomatic postings.

In their report titled: “What Price the Court of St. James’s? Political Influences on Ambassadorial Postings of the United States of America” the authors of the study, Johannes W. Fedderke and Dennis C. Jett, looked into the issues surrounding the appointment of career diplomats as opposed to political appointees to ambassadorial positions worldwide. Their conclusion is that the price for obtaining the juiciest postings, such as London U.K. or “The Court of St. James,” in terms of political “campaign” contributions is between a whopping $650,000 and a staggering $2.3 million.

Other than the facts that selling diplomatic positions is an obvious act of cronyism and bribery is supposed to be illegal, the main problem here is that for the over 30% of such diplomatic postings held by current and past political appointees chosen in this manner, no experience was, nor is, necessary. That’s right. You don’t have to have had one day of diplomatic training to be the head of a US mission abroad, as long as you are a “political” appointee chosen by the president: which might explain a lot about people who are in such posts worldwide, including here..."

Posted by: вот так | Feb 9 2013 13:22 utc | 26

Assange to White House staff: ‘Leak drone killing rules’

"Julian Assange addressed US officials on a popular TV channel, urging them to disclose to WikiLeaks the secret instructions on how decisions on eliminating American citizens using drones are being taken. Source confidentiality guaranteed."

I wonder if Assange is on the "hit list" now?

Posted by: вот так | Feb 9 2013 13:45 utc | 27

Assassination Court: Senators Mull Pre-Execution Trials
Secret Court Would Decide on Whether or Not to Kill Suspects

A "star chamber", exactly what Israel uses. This use of assassinations, while American in secret practice, is Israeli in open practice, and another example of Israeli influence molding American society. Israelis accept their government murders at will, Americans and Europeans are to "educated" to accept the same.

Posted by: вот так | Feb 9 2013 13:52 utc | 28

Maybe all this controversy about illegal executions was a way to introduce such a "star chamber" as a "compromise" between letting the president decide and civilised rule of law prevail?

Posted by: вот так | Feb 9 2013 13:57 utc | 29

Major panic at Gestapo West (or is it Shin Bet West?):

$1 million reward offered for fugitive LA ex-cop

“Hopefully, the reward will motivate people that may be involved with assisting him or might be reluctant to talk to us to call us and to put an end to this,'' Sgt. Rudy Lopez said ahead of the announcement by LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Sunday.

This comes after Los Angeles police officials announced they will reopen an investigation into the 2008 firing of former officer Christopher Dorner..."

Posted by: вот так | Feb 11 2013 4:16 utc | 30

Reichs-fuehrer Obama to strike again:

Obama to 'bypass Congress' on CISPA with cybersecurity executive order

The fascists cant get their way with Congress (for once), so who do you call?

Reichs-fuehrer Obama.

Posted by: вот так | Feb 12 2013 7:10 utc | 31

Icelandic MP planning Bradley Manning support trip despite US legal threats

"Birgitta Jonsdottir is an Icelandic Member of Parliament who nearly three years ago released a classified video of a US Apache helicopter killing civilians in Iraq. Known as ‘Collateral Murder,’ Jonsdottir made the footage public in a bid to express her support for Bradley Manning, the video's alleged source, who now stands trial for treason. The video was also instrumental in unleashing the witchhunt on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

“It's deeply troubling to me that he is the only one suffering the consequences – none of the people responsible for the war crimes in the video have been held accountable,” Jonsdottir says.

Following the release of the video, Washington has tried repeatedly to gain access to Jónsdóttir's private information. In 2011, Twitter was forced to release her user data after a subpoena from Washington demanded personal data from her feed dating back to 2009."

Posted by: вот так | Feb 12 2013 17:40 utc | 32

Banks refusing to issue $208m in insurance checks for Hurricane Sandy victims

"Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank and JP Morgan Chase are reportedly sitting on $130 million in insurance checks for thousands of victims of Hurricane Sandy, and are simply refusing to issue them, and no one knows exactly why. (A total of $208 million in insurance checks are still outstanding.)

At this point it’s really difficult to say what the banks have to do to get into enough trouble that someone finally holds them accountable for their actions.

The recent Libor fines are a start, but between the banks fleecing unemployed Americans, gaming the tax system (after being saved by those very taxes), and singlehandedly creating the economic crisis, it’s hard to argue with Matt Taibbi when he says the banks aren’t just too big to fail, they’re “too crooked to fail...”

Posted by: вот так | Feb 14 2013 7:24 utc | 33

The comments to this entry are closed.