Presidential assassinations of U.S. citizens
By Glenn Greenwald
January 27, 2010
(updated below – Update II)
The Washington Post‘s Dana Priest today reports that “U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people.” That’s no surprise, of course, as Yemen is now another predominantly Muslim country (along with Somalia and Pakistan) in which our military is secretly involved to some unknown degree in combat operations without any declaration of war, without any public debate, and arguably (though not clearly) without any Congressional authorization. The exact role played by the U.S. in the late-December missile attacks in Yemen, which killed numerous civilians, is still unknown.
But buried in Priest’s article is her revelation that American citizens are now being placed on a secret “hit list” of people whom the President has personally authorized to be killed:
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence officials said. . . .
The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. If a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, “it doesn’t really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them,” a senior administration official said. “They are then part of the enemy.”
Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called “High Value
Targets” and “High Value Individuals,” whom they seek to kill or capture.
The JSOC list includes three Americans, including [New Mexico-born Islamic
cleric Anwar] Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months
ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official
said that Aulaqi’s name has now been added.
Indeed, Aulaqi was clearly one of the prime targets of the late-December missile strikes in Yemen, as anonymous officials excitedly announced — falsely, as it turns out — that he was killed in one of those strikes.
Just think about this for a minute. Barack Obama, like George Bush
before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens murdered based
solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim that they are associated
with Terrorism and pose “a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and
interests.” They’re entitled to no charges, no trial, no ability to contest
the accusations. Amazingly, the Bush administration’s policy of merely
imprisoning foreign nationals (along with a couple of American citizens) without
charges — based solely on the President’s claim that they were Terrorists
— produced intense controversy for years. That, one will recall, was
a grave assault on the Constitution. Shouldn’t Obama’s policy of
ordering American citizens assassinated without any due process or checks of
any kind — not imprisoned, but killed — produce at least as much controversy?
Please read the rest,, and watch for Greenwald’s ongoing updates, at the
source: Salon.com – http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2010/01/27/yemen/index.html