Well, it's officially out: the White House memo that states that
the killing of American citizens overseas is not assassination if they
are associated with Al Qaeda and are a credible threat (who
decides so—the CIA informing the president?) and they can't
be feasibly detained or arrested. It's simply a "national security"
action. That's the very rationale the CIA has used for over six decades to
justify the overturn of legitimate governments and the killing of
leaders deemed by them to be a threat—the very actions that
led to the hatred and fear of the U.S government and military that
are a large part (there's admittedly much more) of the cause for the present
terrorism perpetrated by Al Qaeda and affiliated groups.
In this light, it is now not surprising that Guantanamo is still open;
that no civil liberties suits or other actions have been taken against
any officials of the Bush administration; that the Bush policy of "pre-emptive"
military action has not in the least been repudiated; that the so called "Patriot Act", the greatest affront to the Constitution and threat to civil liberties in our lifetimes, has not only not been repealed, but in effect strengthened.
It was heartening and hopeful to hear Obama (rightly) criticize these policies when he was a candidate. But the change that we may have hoped for there has now been finally and thoroughly dashed. As president, he has simply (logically?) extended the policies of his predecessors; and whether our military is removed from Iraq and Afghanistan (probably never completely in any case), and whatever credit Obama and his administration might want to take for that, the present drone attack policies will simply add to the disastrous war policies of the previous administration in insuring a plentiful supply of those who hate us. You can kill selected leaders, but can you kill off a whole generation—one whose hate is seared in more deeply with every drone attack?
It is interesting (or perhaps disheartening, depending on your viewpoint) to see hawks such as Lindsey Graham now coming to Obama's defense, as the ACLU on one side and the Libertarians on the other criticize these draconian policies of justification of assassination (which inevitably includes the killing of innocent victims) in the name of national security.
Bin Laden is dead. But, at least by present measures, he has won, or is winning, the pronouncements of our government not withstanding. His goal was simple.
It was not to try to destroy by force our nation or its military. He knew that was impossible. Instead, he struck the symbolic blow in the attacks on the WTC in 2001—one that would plant the seeds of destruction,
which would then grow from within, by disastrous policies set in motion by our own "leaders". If Bin Laden hated freedom as many say, he picked the best way to destroy it. Frighten the complacent and protected country into dismantling their own freedoms themselves.
Ben Franklin put it well: "Those who are prepared to sacrifice freedom for a little security, deserve neither freedom nor security."
But Abraham Lincoln, as he did so often, put it best, in one of the famous debates with Stephen Douglass, in Edwardsville, IL ironically, on September 11 (1858):
What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our land. All of them may be turned against our liberties without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. . Accustomed to trample on the rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises. [Emphasis is Lincoln’s]
Visit us at: