Our Faith in the “Kill List” President

I want to echo what Jason Kuznicki writes on the front page about President Obama’s secret kill list and what it means for our democracy. Especially this:

He deserves to lose.

And worse. He deserves to walk onstage not to cheers, but to hisses, boos, and a shower of rotten vegetables. He deserves a place in presidential history somewhere far beneath Warren Harding or Richard Nixon, both now counted rank amateurs when it comes to subverting the republic. Obama deserves the reputation of a Catiline or a Hipparchus, if only we remembered who they were.

No, I don’t think Romney would be better. For the next four years, government by kill list is baked in the cake. Romney’s been mum about the whole thing, and that’s just what we would expect from someone who thinks himself worthy of the power, and who hopes to enjoy it come January.

Let that sink in: presumably both contenders for the presidency believe themselves worthy of the frightful and secretive power to craft, maintain, and execute a kill list, a list that can conceivably include anyone, you and me included.  Obama asks us to trust him; and Romney, who wouldn’t dare apologize for the executive’s kill list, who’s not ashamed of American power and believes his country to be the greatest force for good the world has ever known, will surely follow in a killer suit.  As we cannot see into the commander-in-chief’s Holy of Holies, we are told to have faith in the president and in his use of this deadly and secret power.  It is for our safety, after all, and the salvation of all we hold dear.

It’s the long train of abuses and usurpations that have uncritical bipartisan support that most concern me.  Jason’s right: this election won’t put a stop to the system that has given us a choice between two individuals who desire this power.  It will be one more act of faith in a kill-list commander-in-chief.

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22 thoughts on “Our Faith in the “Kill List” President

  1. Oh dear, Oh dear. I feel you are over influenced by the sinister sound of the term “kill list”. We can’t be certain that such a list exists. But, assuming it does and executive consent is needed for some reason before the activation of an operation in connection with it, it represents a tactic in the current war in which America is engaged. The job of the commander in chief is to try and ensure victory and to protect Americans. I suggest that we don’t have enough information to decide whether a kill list, whatever it actually is, is an effective tactic for achieving the military and political goals. I think your assumption that it is evil and immoral is based solely on its sinister sounding name.

    • I feel you are over influenced by the sinister sound of the term “kill list”.

      An inappropriately inflammatory name for a list of people to be killed. Call it, say, a “list of presents”, and there’s no need to dwell on the fact that it’s a list of people with a present but no future.

      • @MikeSchilling

        We cannot say that persons on a kill list definitely have no future. We could rename the list as a “special enemies list” whose death will advance the cause of keeping Americans safe to a greater degree than the death of random enemies.

        The name chosen may revolt the sensibilities of those who would rather not face up to the realities of warfare but it probably reassures those who want to believe the government is serious about obtaining victory.

  2. @GordonHide —

    I agree that “kill list” belongs in the same lexicon as “death panels,” but that doesn’t excuse the policy that it pretends to describe. That policy is a species of murder, and murder is never just, never morally correct.

    • Yes. But I don’t hire a President to NOT get his hands dirty. I do hire a president who I hope to hold accountable, and who ought to answer for when he gets his hands dirty.

    • I think you’ll find that murder is unlawful. The commander in chief of American forces is empowered by the constitution to combat America’s enemies up to and including killing them. War casualties are not “murdered” unless illegally killed.

  3. Singling out individuals and killing them (and perhaps their families and neighbors) as they sleep in their dwellings is assassination, which is murder for political ends. This is not lawful. And it is not moral. This is not combat; it’s a police action. Police are not empowered to gun down suspects unless their own life is immediately threatened. You can rationalize it all you want, but murder is murder.

    • @Rodak

      I don’t have to “rationalise” it. The dictionary definition of murder clearly says illegality is the name of the game. It is not illegal to kill your enemies who are at large and intent on killing Americans in an armed conflict. Also the term “assassination” does not apply as it also implies illegality.

      • @GordonHide —

        Terrorism isn’t “war”–it is crime. The National Guard was not sent out to capture Timothy McVey or the Unabomber–it was the police. Police are not empowered to gun down suspects, even if their guilt is certain, unless their own lives are immediately threatened.
        You will note that it was the FBI that was sent over to investigate the attack on our embassy that resulted in the ambassabor’s death. This is because terrorism is criminal. It is especially the case, perhaps, that American citizens should not be assassinated, although I wouldn’t stress that distinction personally. But I’m not going to convince you. It is your attitude and the attitudes of people who agree with you that give us the world we have. Confucius say: Lie back and enjoy it.

        • @GordonHide —
          The distinction between “war” and “crime,” btw, is that the target of warfare is warriors; the target of terrorism is non-combatants–and the latter is criminal. Calling a civilian terrorist “an enemy combatant” so as to make his murder appear legal as an act of war, is nothing but a bit of Orwellian manipulation of language, meant to justify the unjustifiable by means of suggestion. I’m surprised that an obviously intelligent man like yourself has proven so susceptible to this rather transparent tactic.

          • Your enemy has no doubt he is at war. The fact that there are so many like you in the US and Europe who cannot face the reality is one reason you aren’t doing very well. In fact Western powers do make some concessions to terrorists. According to the Geneva convention they could shoot persons fighting out of uniform with little ceremony.

            I cannot understand why you wish to handicap those defending America by constraining them to rules that even criminals do not respect. One day you may experience the contempt that your enemies hold for your attitude and the hatred they feel at not being treated as enemy combatants but as criminals.

          • @Rodak —
            And just by the way. The legislature has authorised the use of military force by the commander in chief in pursuit of eradicating the terrorist threat.

            If the law makers make it legal it hardly matters that you don’t think it is.

  4. a list that can conceivably include anyone, you and me included.

    I think you need to do some research, Kyle. The “list” isn’t an expansion of Presidential power, or evidence of an abuse of Presidential power.

    • @ GordonHide —

      Certainly congress has authorized it. That’s because both sides of the aisle are on the payroll of those plutocrats who are collecting the trillions being spent on this senseless “war” against the Muslim boogey-man, based on a supposed “existential threat” to our way of life that just doesn’t have any reality whatsoever. We are paying to have our own pockets picked. What a nation of clueless yahoos we are!

  5. @ GordonHide —

    “One day you may experience the contempt that your enemies hold for your attitude and the hatred they feel at not being treated as enemy combatants but as criminals.”

    Really? What’s your scenario? Afghanistan invades the east coast on camel back? The Libyan navy blockades U.S. shipping routes? The Somali air force bombards Washington DC on its way to fire bomb Los Angeles? Give me a break.

    • @Rodak
      So you have contempt for them and their ability to bring the war home to you personally.

      Are you sure the reason you want to treat your enemies as criminals is not based on racist contempt rather than a high minded love for the rule of law?

      The financial state the West is now in is in no small part due to the vast military and security expenditure apparently needed to contain the depredations of the few camel jockeys who have earned your contempt.

      You are so deluded you don’t even recognize when you are being given a good leathering.

      • @ GordonHide —

        I don’t have contempt for them at all. In fact, I think that we should get the hell out of their territories and let them live in dignity according to what their concept of dignity happens to be.
        That said, I am just being realistic about the capability of any of these peoples to threaten the United States, in the United States, with anything other than an occasional criminal act.
        If you can show me otherwise, please do so, and stop crying “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” with the rest of the propaganda-conditioned chicken littles who march to the cadence of the neocon drum majors.

      • @Rodak —

        You are deluded if you think that the constant and apparently unending “pin pricks” of a guerrilla strategy are not having a major effect on US foreign policy, defense expenditure and security expenditure. These is turn have and will affect the economic strength of the US and its allies. There is also the debilitating effect on the political will to resist developments in the world which are against US interests.

        • @GordonHide —

          I understand full well the effects of these “pinpricks” and I also realize that the response taken by our Master Class to those same pinpricks is entirely unwarranted. Muslim terrorists are the contemporary equivalent of the infiltrating commies used by the Master Class post WWII–the Red Scare–to keep the bleating marinos herded into a quivering mob and voting for the reactionary candidates that would do the Masters’ bidding in terms of fiscal policy. There is Big Money in Perpetual War, and that is the goal–not “national security” which is perfectly sound in existential terms despite al-Qaeda, et al. — to the extent that al Qaeda, et al. all real entities of any size in the first place. Don’t be gulled like the hicks out in East Jesus, man.

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