U.S. Labels ALL Young Men In Battle Zones As “Militants” … And American Soil Is Now Considered a Battle Zone

Posted on June 1, 2012 by WashingtonsBlog

All Military-Age Men Are Labeled “Militants” In Areas of Conflict

Glenn Greenwald has two must-read posts on the reason that virtually everyone the U.S. kills is called a “militant” or “suspected militant”.

He wrote Monday:

Virtually every time the U.S. fires a missile from a drone and ends the lives of Muslims,American media outlets dutifully trumpet in headlines that the dead were ”militants” – even though those media outlets literally do not have the slightest idea of who wasactually killed. They simply cite always-unnamed “officials” claiming that the dead were “militants.” It’s the most obvious and inexcusable form of rank propaganda: media outlets continuously propagating a vital claim without having the slightest idea if it’s true.

This practice continues even though key Obama officials have been caught lying, a term used advisedly, about how many civilians they’re killing. I’ve written and said many times before that in American media discourse, the definition of “militant” is any human being whose life is extinguished when an American missile or bomb detonates (that term was even used when Anwar Awlaki’s 16-year-old American son, Abdulrahman, was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen two weeks after a drone killed his father, even though nobody claims the teenager was anything but completely innocent: “Another U.S. Drone Strike Kills Militants in Yemen”).

This morning, the New York Times has a very lengthy and detailed article about President Obama’s counter-Terrorism policies based on interviews with “three dozen of his current and former advisers.” I’m writing separately about the numerous revelations contained in that article, but want specifically to highlight this one vital passage about how the Obama administration determines who is a “militant.” The article explains that Obama’s rhetorical emphasis on avoiding civilian deaths “did not significantly change” the drone program, because Obama himself simply expanded the definition of a “militant” to ensure that it includes virtually everyone killed by his drone strikes. Just read this remarkable passage:

Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.

Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good. “Al Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization — innocent neighbors don’t hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs,” said one official, who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.

This counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths. In a speech last year Mr. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s trusted adviser, said that not a single noncombatant had been killed in a year of strikes. And in a recent interview, a senior administration official said that the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under Mr. Obama was in the “single digits” — and that independent counts of scores or hundreds of civilian deaths unwittingly draw on false propaganda claims by militants.

But in interviews, three former senior intelligence officials expressed disbelief that the number could be so low. The C.I.A. accounting has so troubled some administration officials outside the agency that they have brought their concerns to the White House. One called it “guilt by association” that has led to “deceptive” estimates of civilian casualties.

“It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants,” the official said. “They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.”

The next day, Greenwald noted:

In 2006, the pro-Israel activist Alan Dershowitz created a serious scandal when he argued – mostly in order to justify Israeli aggression — that “civilian causalties” are a “gray area” because many people in close proximity to Terrorists — even if not Terrorists themselves — are less than innocent (“A new phrase should be introduced into the reporting and analysis of current events in the Middle East: ‘the continuum of civilianality’ . . . . Every civilian death is a tragedy, but some are more tragic than others”).

Even more repellent was John Podhoretz’s argument in 2006 that “the tactical mistake” which “we made in Iraq was that we didn’t kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything,” specifically that the real error was that the U.S. permitted “the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35.” In other words, “all military-age males” in Sunni areas should have been deemed “combatants” and thus killed. Podhoretz’s argument created all sorts of outrage in progressive circles: John Podhoretz is advocating genocide!

But this is precisely the premise that President Obama himself has now adopted in order to justify civilian deaths and re-classify them as “militants.” Here is the rationale of Obama officials as described by the NYT: “people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good.” Probably up to no good. That’s a direct replica of Dershowitz’s argument, and is closely related to Podhoretz’s. They count someone as a “militant” — worthy of death — based purely on the happenstance of where they are and the proximity they’re in to someone else they suspect is a Bad Person. If such a person is killed by a U.S. missile, then, by definition, they are “militants,” not “civilians” — even if we don’t know the first thing about them, including their name.

Will This Policy Apply to Americans On U.S. Soil?

This may sound like something far away which won’t directly affect Americans.

But the military now considers the U.S. homeland to be a battlefield.  As we noted in March:

Fox News reports:

FBI Director Robert Mueller on Wednesday said he would have to go back and check with the Department of Justice whether Attorney General Eric Holder’s “[criteria] for the targeted killing of Americans also applied to Americans inside the U.S.

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“I have to go back. Uh, I’m not certain whether that was addressed or not,” Mueller said when asked by Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., about a distinction between domestic and foreign targeting

Graves followed up asking whether “from a historical perspective,” the federal government has “the ability to kill a U.S. citizen on United States soil or just overseas.”

“I’m going to defer that to others in the Department of Justice,” Mueller replied.

Indeed, Holder’s Monday speech at Northwestern University seemed to leave the door open.

Constitutional expert Jonathan Turley writes:

One would hope that the FBI Director would have a handle on a few details guiding his responsibilities, including whether he can kill citizens without a charge or court order.

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He appeared unclear whether he had the power under the Obama Kill Doctrine or, in the very least, was unwilling to discuss that power. For civil libertarians, the answer should be easy: “Of course, I do not have that power under the Constitution.”

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The claim that they are following self-imposed “limits” which are meaningless — particularly in a system that is premised on the availability of judicial review. The Administration has never said that the [Law Of Armed Conflicts] does not allow the same powers to be used in the United States. It would be an easy thing to state. Holder can affirmatively state that the President’s inherent power to kill citizens exists only outside of the country. He can then explain where those limits are found in the Constitution and why they do not apply equally to a citizen in London or Berlin. Holder was not describing a constitutional process of review. They have dressed up a self-imposed review of a unilateral power as due process. Any authoritarian measure can be dressed up as carefully executed according to balancing tests, but that does not constitute any real constitutional analysis. It is at best a loose analogy to constitutional analysis.

When reporters asked the Justice Department about Mueller’s apparent uncertainty, they responded that the answer is “pretty straightforward.” They then offered an evasive response. They simply said (as we all know) that “[t]he legal framework (Holder) laid out applies to U.S. citizens outside of U.S.” We got that from the use of the word “abroad.” However, the question is how this inherent authority is limited as it has been articulated by Holder and others. What is the limiting principle? If the President cannot order the killing of a citizen in the United States, Holder can simply say so (and inform the FBI Director who would likely be involved in such a killing). In doing so, he can then explain the source of that limitation and why it does not apply with citizens in places like London. What we have is a purely internal review that balances the practicality of arrest and the urgency of the matter in the view of the President. Since the panel is the extension of his authority, he can presumably disregard their recommendations or order a killing without their approval. Since the Administration has emphasized that the “battlefield” in this “war on terror” is not limited to a particular country, the assumption is that the President’s authority is commensurate with that threat or limitless theater of operation. Indeed, the Justice Department has repeatedly stated that the war is being fought in the United States as well as other nations.

Thus, Mueller’s uncertainty is understandable . . . and dangerous. The Framers created a system of objective due process in a system of checks and balances. Obama has introduced an undefined and self-imposed system of review ….

Before you assume that Mueller’s comments are being blown out of proportion, remember that it has been clear for some time that Obama has claimed the power to assassinate U.S. citizens within the U.S. As we pointed out in December:

I’ve previously noted that Obama says that he can assassinate American citizens living on U.S. soil.

This admittedly sounds over-the-top. But one of the nation’s top constitutional and military law experts – Jonathan Turley – agrees.

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Turley said [on C-Span]:

President Obama has just stated a policy that he can have any American citizen killed without any charge, without any review, except his own. If he’s satisfied that you are a terrorist, he says that he can kill youanywhere in the world including in the United States.

Two of his aides just … reaffirmed they believe that American citizens can be killed on the order of the President anywhere including the United States.

You’ve now got a president who says that he can kill you on his own discretion. He can jail you indefinitely on his own discretion

Remember, government officials have said that Americans can be targets in the war on terror.

And Northwestern University’s law school professor Joseph Margulies said:

Obama and Bush … both say we are in a war not confined to particular battlefield. … Both say we can target citizens without judicial oversight and that can happenanywhere in the world.

Indeed, the Army is already being deployed on U.S. soil, and the military is conducting numerous training exercises on American streets. And see this.

And the numerous drones flying over American soil – projected by the FAA to reach 30,000 drones by 2020 – are starting to carry arms.

Remember, the Department of Justice attorney who wrote the memo “justifying” torture – John Yoo – also recently said that drones could be used against Americans living on U.S. soil in time of war:

 

Of course, America has been in a continuous declared state of national emergency since 9/11, and we are in a literally never-ending state of perpetual war. See this, this, this and this.

And the government has basically announced that it can label any American citizen a terrorist for no reason whatsoever.

So if a military-age man is killed in a U.S. city because he happens – even unknowingly – to be near a suspected bad guy, will the report simply read “another militant killed”?

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U.S. Army Starts Targeting Children

Posted on December 11, 2012 by WashingtonsBlog

Image by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

American Military Starts Assassinating Children

Obama and the American military label all young men – between the ages of say 15 and 35 – who happen to be in battle zones as suspected insurgents who they can target and kill.

Under the Bush administration, children were tortured.

Now, the U.S. military is starting to target children for assassination in battle zones. As the Nationreports:

In a despicable article in Military Times, the US military says that children are legitimate targets in the war in Afghanistan because sometimes the Taliban and other insurgents use kids.

In the original incident, which I cited in October, The New York Times reported it this way:

The…case of three children allegedly killed in a coalition strike was reported by local officials in Helmand Province’s Nawa district. The officials said that the children were killed in a NATO strike on Sunday afternoon as they were gathering dung to burn as fuel, a common practice in the desert reaches of southern Afghanistan where there are few trees.

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The Marja governor said that NATO forces watched as improvised explosive devices were being planted, and targeted the insurgents planting them. “As a result two I.E.D. planters were killed and the shrapnel killed the three children who were wandering nearby,” he said. Other reports said that three insurgents had been killed.

A spokesman for the international forces, Maj. Adam Wojack, said that the coalition forces were aware of the allegations and that the episode was being investigated. “I.S.A.F. did conduct a precision airstrike on three insurgents in Nawa district, and the strike killed all three insurgents,” he said.

“None of our reporting shows any civilian casualties or any children.”

But on December 3 Gannett, which owns Military Times, ran an article headlined: “Some Afghan Kids Aren’t Bystanders.” It said:

When Marines in Helmand province sized up shadowy figures that appeared to be emplacing an improvised explosive device, it looked like a straightforward mission. They got clearance for an airstrike, a Marine official said, and took out the targets.

It wasn’t that simple, however. Three individuals hit were 12, 10 and 8 years old, leading the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul to say it may have “accidentally killed three innocent Afghan civilians.”

But a Marine official here raised questions about whether the children were “innocent.” Before calling for the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System mission in mid-October, Marines observed the children digging a hole in a dirt road in Nawa district, the official said, and the Taliban may have recruited the children to carry out the mission.

Shockingly, the article quotes a senior officer saying that the military isn’t just out to bomb “military age males,” anymore, but kids, too:

It kind of opens our aperture,” said Army Lt. Col. Marion “Ced” Carrington, whose unit, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was assisting the Afghan police. “In addition to looking for military-age males, it’s looking for children with potential hostile intent.”

War crimes?  It would appear so.

But the U.S. government exempts its own acts from the definition of terrorism … even as it labels others as terrorists for doing the exact same things.

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Does the Government Only Label Bad Guys As Terrorists?

Washington’s Blog
September 30, 2013

Preface: Whether you believe this is a conspiracy by the government – or just over-reaction, incompetence or cronyism – the end result is idiotic … and counter-productive.

Former NSA boss Michael Hayden compared privacy advocates to terrorists:

“If and when our government grabs Edward Snowden, and brings him back here to the United States for trial, what does this group do?” said retired air force general Michael Hayden, who from 1999 to 2009 ran the NSA and then the CIA, referring to “nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twentysomethings who haven’t talked to the opposite sex in five or six years”.

“They may want to come after the US government, but frankly, you know, the dot-mil stuff is about the hardest target in the United States,” Hayden said, using a shorthand for US military networks. “So if they can’t create great harm to dot-mil, who are they going after? Who for them are the World Trade Centers? The World Trade Centers, as they were for al-Qaida.”

Hayden provided his speculation during a speech on cybersecurity to a Washington group, the Bipartisan Policy Center, in which he confessed to being deliberately provocative.

Similarly, Slate reported last year:

If you’ve ever cared about privacy while using the Internet in public, you might be a terrorist. At least that’s the message from the FBI and Justice Department’s Communities Against Terrorism initiative. The project created flyers to help employees at several types of businesses—including military surplus stores, financial institutions, and even tattoo shops—recognize “warning signs” of terrorism or extremism. An admirable goal, perhaps, but the execution is flawed—particularly for the flyers intended to help suss out terrorists using Internet cafes.

The flyers haven’t been publicly available online, but Public Intelligence, a project promoting the right to access information, collected 25 documents that it found elsewhere on the Web. As Public Intelligence puts it, “Do you like online privacy? You may be a terrorist.”

Complaining about the taste of your tap water could also get you labeled as a potential terrorist.

Having “strange odors” or “bright colored stains on clothes” (what if you eat mustard or ketchup?) could get you labeled as a potential terrorist.

Complaining about U.S. drone assassinations could get you labeled a terrorist.

So could expressing fears of big brother or of economic collapse … or otherwise believing that we’re in a crisis.  (Irony alert:  if you’re afraid of the government, the government might go after you?)

Indeed, any American could be labeled as a potential terrorist by our government on a whim.

For example, the following actions may get an American citizen living on U.S. soil labeled as a “suspected terrorist” today:

And holding the following beliefs may also be considered grounds for suspected terrorism:

In other words, the “terrorism” label has become so ridiculously broad as to lose all meaning … and some government officials are simply using it to harass anyone they wish to punish.

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