Andrew O’Hehir wrote this wonderfully articulated piece that SALON published this morning, with salient commentary on both John Brennan’s confirmation hearing on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the troubling Justice Department “white paper” spelling out the legal justification for the drone killings of American citizens.
The article’s name asks a question answered with the phrase ‘With post-Orwellian “Newspeak”‘, whereby ‘Ordinary words whose meanings seem clear enough on the surface, such as “war” or “enemy” or “self-defense” or “imminent” (not to mention the ever-fraught “terrorism”) turn out not to mean anything at all, or to be legalistic terms of art with endlessly expansive frames of reference’.
As an example, consider what the term “imminent threat” means to you, and then read about the way that this term is receiving a “Newspeak” spin to provide legal justification for the extrajudicial execution of American Citizens anywhere at any time by imperial decree.
O’Hehir says ‘the legal concept of an “imminent threat” is necessary here because it turns these drone attacks into urgent and justifiable acts of war rather than targeted assassinations of political or ideological opponents, which would be illegal under both American and international law. Since there is no specific, identifiable threat to Americans in most of these cases involving random people on the other side of the world, al-Qaida members and their fellow travelers are to be defined as presenting a permanent and chronic “imminent threat.” The “broader concept of imminence” makes it permissible to kill them whenever we get the chance’. Does “imminent threat” mean “permanent threat” or “chronic threat” to you?
In summary, O’Hehir states ‘We have no choice, for the moment, but to fall back on the idea that the president appears to be a thoughtful person and to take his decision to kill his own citizens on trust. But let’s quit pretending that putting our faith in the goodness of Caesar has anything to do with democracy.’ This is O’Hehir’s only remark upon which I take exception. We have the choice to regard the president as an intelligent person who regards his position of power as one in which he stands above the law, imperially and malevolently wielding this power. He has authorized the use of 30,000 drones by 2020 for surveillance in US Airspace by government, police and corporate entities. Do NOT put your faith in the goodness of Caesar.