“The people on the list might be me.” — Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), speaking during his March 6 filibuster about the “kill list” maintained by the Administration of President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama has big plans to change the United States. Most frightening is that he can back up his Machiavellian plan with a personal army that targets any real or perceived enemies, even if it means killing American citizens without trial or arrest.
It is nothing new. Tyrants have employed personal armies for 2,000 years, beginning with Julius Caesar’s Praetorian Guard. Joseph Stalin wielded his Peoples Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) and Adolph Hitler had the infamous Schutzstaffel (SS). Obama commands the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).
While the President didn’t create this hybrid of the military and CIA, it operates under his command. JSOC is made up of the most elite soldiers in the world, and they follow Obama’s orders. The funding, which is in the billions of dollars, comes from taxpayers (the actual amount is classified); and there is zero Congressional oversight.
The commandos who make up JSOC were born from the ashes of Operation Eagle Claw, President Jimmy Carter’s failed rescue of American hostage held in Iran in 1980.
Headquartered at Pope Field and Fort Bragg in North Carolina, JSOC has already been woven into myth by the Obama Administration and popular media for the operations of one of its components: Navy SEAL Team 6, which killed Osama bin Laden.
The potential for even a good President to abuse force became apparent under the Ronald Reagan Administration, when JSOC was subsequently put on a tighter leash. But it was slipping under the radar even then. In 1993, one of JSOC’s most secretive missions was the disastrous raid against the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas, which led to the deaths of 75 people, including 20 children and two pregnant women.
Nixon Had His Enemies List, Obama Has A ‘Hit List’
After 9/11, the neocons in the George W. Bush Administration decided America needed a sleek fighting force to combat enemy Islamic terrorists rather than the standardized armies that the Pentagon had established during the Cold War.
The military machinery of the past needed Congressional approval to wage war. As for the CIA, it, too, was constrained in 1975 when President Gerald Ford issued Executive Order 11905 banning the United States from undertaking “political assassinations.” Presidents who followed worked around this rule. After the Twin Towers fell, the Bush Administration followed through on the famous words of Vice President Dick Cheney: “If you want to fight the bad guys, you have to take the gloves off.”
For the most part, Cheney got his way, although he argues to this day that there was too much interference by Congress. Obama doesn’t make that claim and for good reason: He is free to execute his enemies, including American citizens, as he sees fit.
No doubt, the United States has a great deal of enemies; and those who are actively planning to murder and maim Americans need to be killed or captured. (If you have read my previous writings for Bob Livingston, you know I am no fan of Islam or Muslims who retain their religious roots while living in, and profiting from, the American way of life.)
But nothing gives Obama the right to be judge, jury and executioner against Americans he sees as his enemy.
By hook or by crook, the President has the perfect environment to press ahead with his tyranny. The Republican Party is so tied to its neoconservative ideals that Republicans actually complain that the President isn’t tough enough. At the same time, the Democratic Party, backed by the full weight of popular media, refuses to criticize anything Obama does. When it comes to murder, the President is beyond reproach (rather amazing when you consider Nixon was almost impeached for lying).
In his new book Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, New York Times bestselling author Jeremy Scahill writes that Democrats would not tolerate such Presidential action from John McCain had he won the 2008 election. According to Scahill, Obama has been granted a blank check to vastly expand drone strikes while blatantly ignoring the Constitution by denying habeas corpus.
Before you dismiss my words as a right-wing rant, consider this warning from an influential Democrat. Michael Boyle, a professor at LaSalle University and former adviser to the Obama Campaign, wrote:
The creation of this “kill list” — as well as the dramatic escalation in drone strikes, which have now killed at least 2,400 people in Pakistan alone, since 2004 — represents a betrayal of President Obama’s promise to make counterterrorism policies consistent with the US constitution. …
[T]he president has routinized and normalized extrajudicial killing from the Oval Office, taking advantage of America’s temporary advantage in drone technology to wage a series of shadow wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Without the scrutiny of the legislature and the courts, and outside the public eye, Obama is authorizing murder on a weekly basis, with a discussion of the guilt or innocence of candidates for the “kill list” being resolved in secret on “Terror Tuesday” teleconferences with administration officials and intelligence officials.
Obama: Why Criminals Shouldn’t Have Guns
So how does the President get away with murder? As far as we know, he has authorized the execution of only two American citizens so far. (Apparently, the former Constitutional law professor believes arrests and trials are messy and time-consuming.)
Under Obama law, you don’t have to be innocent until proven guilty; you just need to be dead before being arrested. Such was the case for Anwar al-Awlaki, who was born in 1971 in New Mexico to parents who had recently emigrated from Yemen.
By all accounts, al-Awlaki seems to have grown up like a typical American boy. The last 10 years of his life are much disputed between radicals — both those in the Obama Administration who ordered his “hit” and the Muslims who denounced it.
What everyone agrees upon is that al-Awlaki became more and more radicalized because of what he considered a criminal occupation of Iraq by the United States. He seems to have been an opportunist with a magnetic personality and, for a time, he was a celebrity to his supporters (strangely enough that sounds like the President).
That al-Awlaki was mixed up with some bad characters or was a casual acquaintance with them is beyond dispute. (He was an imam to two of the 9/11 hijackers in San Diego, and he knew Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who executed 13 people during the Fort Hood shootings in November 2009.)
But some in U.S. intelligence believe that al-Awlaki was more of a wannabe jihadist than a real threat. Of course, we will never know because in 2011, while he was in Yemen, two Predator drones fired Hellfire missiles, killing him and three other suspected al-Qaida members.
Just weeks later, his 17-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was born in Denver, was killed by a drone along with nine others. According to Scahill, Obama was “upset” when he learned of the teenager’s death, which a former White House official called “a mistake.”
Oh well, these things happen.
Here is the rub: These things are not supposed to happen if you are an American citizen — not even for the elder al-Awlaki, who may have been inciting terror. When you stop denying one subset of Americans due process, you are on a slippery slope toward eliminating other Americans whom the President and his secret cabal classify as enemies. If you think I am making a huge leap in logic, consider what we learned last week: Obama’s Internal Revenue Service was targeting Tea Party groups before the 2012 election.
We should fear the blatant abuse of power by Obama and the unwillingness of Congress or anyone in the mainstream media to call him out on it.
It is possible that in the not too distant future we may find the President will find libertarians like us to also be the enemy. The Constitution protects us only if the President abides by it or if Congress and the people force him to abide by it. So far, Obama seems intent only on protecting his grand ambitions with nary an objection.
Yours in good times and bad,