Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Recommended Reading


Another great article, this one from one of the various emails I get from publications featuring top stories, I think. This one is about a guy who found himself on the U.S.'s drone kill list.

How to Survive America's Kill List

What a headline.

The beauty of this article is that it puts into stark view just how fucked up this country's drone program is. It lays out how we threw out any semblance of policy against assassinations and then plunged headfirst down a path toward "the U.S. government can kill anyone at any time for any reason."

This shouldn't only have become alarming when U.S. citizens were added to the list of "anyone," but...

Kareem now had no doubt he was on America’s infamous “Kill List.” Most Americans don’t even know we have such a thing. We do. Officially, it goes by the ghoulish bureaucratic euphemism “Disposition Matrix.” 
Seemingly conceived in the Obama years, the lethal list – about which little is known outside a few leaks and court pleadings – appears to sort people into targeting for capture, interrogation, or assassination by drone. It was run by a star-chamber of two-dozen security officials and the president. According to a 2012 New York Times report, they met once a week to decide which targets around the world lived or died. 
These meetings became known as “Terror Tuesdays.”

The chillariousness (chilling hilariousness) began in the 1998, under President Clinton.

Finally, in 1998, under Bill Clinton, and then again in the George W. Bush years, classified Justice Department memoranda were written explaining, according to The Washington Post, that “executive orders banning assassination do not prevent the president from lawfully singling out a terrorist for death by covert action.”


Then 9/11 happened, and our "leaders" chucked democracy into the dumpster.

Robotized killings began almost immediately. The first known drone assassination took place in Afghanistan in 2001. By 2012, we were flying at least 16 drone missions per day, mostly for reconnaissance but some for more deadly reasons, and we had committed lethal drone attacks in six countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Iraq and Yemen. These were supported by a pan-Arabian archipelago of airstrips, with bases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, even the Seychelles. 
A crucial Rubicon was crossed in 2011, when the Obama administration decided to drone-bomb New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and suspected Al Qaeda terrorist.

The fact that we're randomly killing people via robot plane every goddamn day is bad enough. But did you know that they've given the task of choosing who gets put on the kill list to computers, too?

In 2014, former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden said in a public debate, “We kill people based on metadata.” 
According to multiple reports and leaks, death-by-metadata could be triggered, without even knowing the target’s name, if too many derogatory checks appear on their profile. “Armed military aged males” exhibiting suspicious behavior in the wrong place can become targets, as can someone “seen to be giving out orders.” Such mathematics-based assassinations have come to be known as “signature strikes.”

There is so much fucked up shit in this article, you really need to read the entire thing.

But TL;DR:

The question before Collyer would challenge the most gifted legal mind. At issue is the fact that America, in the wake of 9/11, has become two countries. 
One is a democracy, visible to the population and governed by the lofty laws and rules and constitutional principles we learned about in Schoolhouse Rock. 
The second nation is an authoritarian state-within-a-state, governed exclusively by the executive branch. In this parallel world, all rights redound to a bureaucracy that may kill anyone it pleases at any time, restrained only by the inclinations of the executive.

It's difficult to fit into my head the idea that the country I've been told so often I should be proud of is using Google algorithms to choose assassination targets and killing thousands of innocent civilians, including many children, in its attempts to murder people without trial. And we Americans go on about our daily lives, the vast majority of us, if we're even aware, having convinced ourselves that it's all fine because those people live in other countries we don't relate to because they're full of brown people. Because that's just how it is over there, right? It's always been that way. Nevermind that this country is the one who made it that way, and not that long ago.

The Middle East did not used to be a horror-fest. We made it that way. And we've been making it worse and worse and worse in the name of fighting the increasingly horrifying terrorist groups we created. We sowed the Middle East with death and now we're surprised with what we reap.

Bilal Abdul Kareem is not an enemy of the American people. He is a man who went to the Middle East and found human beings experiencing human reactions to the death and horror rained onto them from above by the U.S. That made him an enemy of the U.S. state.

I would be an enemy of the state before I would be an enemy of Kareem. But thanks to my whiteness, I probably won't end up on the kill list.

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