So That's Why They Kept the Drone Kill Memo Secret
So That's Why They Kept the Drone Kill Memo Secret
By David Swanson / commondreams.org
Jun 29, 2014

Now that the U.S. government has released parts of its We-Can-Kill-People-With-Drones memo, it's hard to miss why it was kept secret until now.

Liberal professors and human rights groups and the United Nations were claiming an inability to know whether drone murders were legal or not because they hadn't seen the memo that the White House said legalized them. Some may continue to claim that the redactions in the memo make judgment impossible.

I expect most, however, will now be willing to drop the pretense that ANY memo could possibly legalize murder. 

Oh, and yall can stop telling me not to use the impolite term "murder" to describe the, you know, murders -- since "murder" is precisely the term used by the no-longer secret memo.

The memo considers a section of the U.S. code dealing with the murder of a U.S. citizen by another U.S. citizen abroad, drawing on another section that defines murder as "the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought."

David Barron, the memo's author, needed a loophole to make murder-by-missile a lawfulkilling rather than an unlawful killing, so he pulls out the "public authority justification" under which the government gets to use force to enforce a law.  It's a novel twist, though, for the government to get to use force to violate the law, claiming the violation is legal on the Nixonian basis that it is the government doing it.

Alternatively, Barron suggests, a government gets to use force if doing so is part of a war. This, of course, ignores the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact and the illegality of wars, as well as the novelty of claiming that a war exists everywhere on earth forever and ever. (None of Barron's arguments justify governmental murder on U.S. soil any less than off U.S. soil.)

In essence, Barron seems to argue, the people who wrote the laws were thinking about private citizens and terrorists, not the government (which, somehow, cannot be a terrorist), and therefore it's OK for the government to violate the laws.

Then there's the problem of Congressional authorization of war, or lack thereof, which Barron gets around by pretending that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force was as broad as the White House pretends rather than worded to allow targeting only those responsible for the 911 attacks. 

Then there are the facts of the matter in the case of Anwar al Awlaki, who was targeted for murder prior in time to the actions that President Obama has claimed justified that targeting.

Then there are the facts in the other cases of U.S. killings of U.S. citizens, which aren't even redacted, as they're never considered.

Then there are the vastly more numerous killings of non-U.S. citizens, which the memo does not even attempt to excuse.

In the end, the memo admits that calling something a war isn't good enough; the targeted victim has to have been an imminent threat to the United States.  But who gets to decide whether he or she was that?  Why, whoever does the killing of course.  And what happens if nobody ever even makes an unsupported assertion to that effect? Nothing, of course.

This is not the rule of law.  This is savage brute force in minimal disguise.  I don't want to see any more of these memos.  I want to see the video footage of the drone murders on a television.  I want to see law professors and revolving-door State Department / human rights group hacks argue that dead children fall under the public authority justification.

3.5 ·
1
Trending Today
Revolution and American Indians: “Marxism is as Alien to My Culture as Capitalism”
Russell Means174,038 views today ·
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min43,735 views today ·
MP Says Government is Intentionally Making People Destitute to Prevent Organised Opposition
2 min23,592 views today ·
Welcome to Marinaleda: The Spanish Anti-Capitalist Town With Equal Wage Full Employment and $19 Housing
Jade Small18,052 views today ·
Every Town Needs a Remakery
Jeremy Williams17,299 views today ·
Five Maps That Will Change How You See the World
Donald Houston, University of Portsmouth7,665 views today ·
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min6,669 views today ·
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh6,555 views today ·
Have We Been Denying Our Human Nature for Four Hundred Years?
Lynn Parramore4,258 views today ·
Load More
New
Republican Fight to Criminalize Protest Tactics
5 min
Trouble, Ep. 1 - Killing the Black Snake
30 min
Five Maps That Will Change How You See the World
Donald Houston, University of Portsmouth
Hooded: A Multimedia Project to Challenge and Change How Young Black Men Are Portrayed
3 min
The Edible Bus Stop: Community Gardens From Neglected Sites
2 min
'Disaster': Trump Administration Signs off on Keystone XL Pipeline
Nika Knight
Escape From Syria - Faiza's Story
5 min
A Letter to Extremists
Nafeez Ahmed
Muslims This, ISIS That
3 min
Load More
What's Next
Study Finds U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan Miss Militant Targets and "Terrorize" Civilians
20 min
2013 In Review: Power, Politics and Resistance
56 min
There Never Was a Good War or a Bad Peace
6 min
Like us on Facebook?
So That's Why They Kept the Drone Kill Memo Secret