Obama and JSOC Targeting People Not Included under AUMF

The WaPo has an important story today–apparently following up on the NYT’s JUnc-WTF story from last week–describing the way Obama has expanded the scope of the use of special operations forces. Some key details are:

  • Obama has deployed JSOC in 15 new countries since taking over as President, for a total of 75
  • JSOC has about 4,000 people in countries besides Iraq and Afghanistan
  • JSOC has 100 people in Pakistan but would like to triple that
  • Obama has changed the reporting structure in some good ways (reading Ambassadors into operations and reporting through regional commands) but has apparently increased direct conversations with JSOC (though remember that JSOC was supposed to be doing operations reporting directly to Cheney before)
  • JSOC is whining about needing civilian approval for targeting people in countries against which we are not at war, like Somalia and Yemen

But the most disturbing part of the story is something that parallels something in the Gitmo Review Task Force Report: Obama is claiming the right to target people not included under the Authorization to Use Military Force passed in response to 9/11.

Former Bush officials, still smarting from accusations that their administration overextended the president’s authority to conduct lethal activities around the world at will, have asked similar questions. “While they seem to be expanding their operations both in terms of extraterritoriality and aggressiveness, they are contracting the legal authority upon which those expanding actions are based,” said John B. Bellinger III, a senior legal adviser in both of Bush’s administrations.

The Obama administration has rejected the constitutional executive authority claimed by Bush and has based its lethal operations on the authority Congress gave the president in 2001 to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons” he determines “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the Sept. 11 attacks.

Many of those currently being targeted, Bellinger said, “particularly in places outside Afghanistan,” had nothing to do with the 2001 attacks.

If Obama is purportedly relying on the AUMF to authorize JSOC missions, then his authority should be limited to those who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the 9/11 attacks. But, at least according to John Bellinger, these operations are targeting people who had nothing to do with the attacks–presumably, people whose ties to al Qaeda are so attenuated that they couldn’t be claimed to have had a role in 9/11.

As I noted last week, the Task Force on determining what to do with Gitmo detainees included the following among four possible reasons to indefinitely detain people who couldn’t be tried:

Significant organizational role within al-Qaida, the Taliban, or associated forces. In contrast to the majority of detainees held at Guantanamo, many of the detainees held a leadership or other specialized role within al-Qaida, the Taliban, or associated forces. Some provided operational, logistical, financial, or fundraising support for al-Qaida. Others were al-Qaida members who were selected to serve as bodyguards for Usama bin Laden based on their loyalty to the organization. Others were Taliban military commanders or senior officials, or played significant roles in insurgent groups in Afghanistan allied with the Taliban, such as Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin.


History of associations with extremist activity. Some of the detainees approved for detention have a history of engaging in extremist activities or particularly strong ties (either directly or through family members) to extremist organizations.

The first of these reasons is already arguably overbroad: I’m not sure the US can prove that members of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin were actively tied to 9/11. But in addition to that first reason–which after all includes the multitudes who were alleged bodyguards to Osama bin Laden and therefore set the bar for significant involvement very low–the government has another category of people (along with categories covering those with advanced training and/or an expressed intent to return to the fight), it claims it can detain indefinitely detain those who have “a history of associations with extremist activity” even if that history is not personal, but is instead traced through family members. Since these are presumably not people with a significant role in al Qaeda (because otherwise you wouldn’t need a second category), they may well be people with ties to some other organization, one that doesn’t qualify as an “associated force” that the first reason would cover.

Which should mean that they wouldn’t be included in the AUMF’s definition of targets. Which should mean that Obama’s claimed authority to hold these people (indefinitely) doesn’t hold. The Report does claim that everyone being held indefinitely is being held legally–meaning they should fit that AUMF definition of some tie to 9/11. But this “association with extremist activity” appears to include far more.

Which is why Bellinger’s comment is so troubling. Mind you, I have no illusions about the many obscure ways our government has used special operations for years, even in countries where we shouldn’t be deployed. But this just seems like a very dangerous morphing of the war on terror in a way that could include extremists of all sorts.

65 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Don’t think they’re relying on the AUMF but on executive order(s). My guess is that one of them is the 07-FEB-2002 memo in which Bush says he concurs that the Taliban is not entitled to the protections of Geneva Convention.

    Sy Hersh also wrote in 2005:

    …The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia.

    The President’s decision enables Rumsfeld to run the operations off the books—free from legal restrictions imposed on the C.I.A. Under current law, all C.I.A. covert activities overseas must be authorized by a Presidential finding and reported to the Senate and House intelligence committees. (The laws were enacted after a series of scandals in the nineteen-seventies involving C.I.A. domestic spying and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.) “The Pentagon doesn’t feel obligated to report any of this to Congress,” the former high-level intelligence official said. “They don’t even call it ‘covert ops’—it’s too close to the C.I.A. phrase. In their view, it’s ‘black reconnaissance.’ They’re not even going to tell the cincs”—the regional American military commanders-in-chief. (The Defense Department and the White House did not respond to requests for comment on this story.)

    And of course, some of these EOs or NSPDs were likely the classified ones.

    [edit: Specifically, NSPD-9 dd. 25-OCT-2001.]

    • harpie says:

      From Rayne‘s link to NSPD-9:

      The essence of this strategy was contained in NSPD-9. It was the first major substantive national security decision directive issued by this Administration. It was presented for decision by principals on September 4, 2001 – 7 days before September 11th. The directive was signed by the President, with minor changes, and a preamble to reflect the events of 9/11, on October 25, 2001.”

      September 6, 2001-Presidential Daily Brief (PDB): “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US.” After being briefed on the document by a C.I.A. analyst, Bush responds, “All right, you’ve covered your ass now.”

      “Farewell to All That: An Oral History of the Bush White House”, 1/2/09

    • ShotoJamf says:

      Sy Hersh also wrote in 2005:

      When I heard about this story this morning, I wondered about Hersh. I seem to recall that he was working on a (related?) piece that was to take about a year to complete. Is that correct?

  2. ghostof911 says:

    We all know this is all doublespeak used to create a smokescreen to cover up their own atrocities.

    Don’t be distracted by the shiny objects.

  3. scribe says:

    Your unease is well-founded; the Admin has changed the label and therefore the semantics and therefore the boundaries of who and what the USG is fighting.

    Buried in this post, the lede

    Brennan explained that the administration’s plan covers two distinct challenges: the immediate challenge of destroying Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, and the longer-term challenge of dealing with violent extremism generally.

    Unsurprisingly, they had to find and now appear to have found something to keep them going after defeating/destroying AQ. They are thus confirming the cynics who said the USG had no interest in catching bin Laden b/c that would deprive them of their reason for continuing a war and that having a war was the main reason for having a war (in Afghanistan or elsewhere).

    Note how they were rolling this one out in August, unlike Card and Iraq. Who says these people never learn? On Brennan’s speech, the further explanation:

    Facing the second challenge [described above] involves tackling the political, economic, and social factors that help drive individuals to extremist organizations. Brennan said the President’s approach is fundamentally new, and involves five key elements. First of all, the administration will not focus its entire foreign policy on fighting terrorism, but rather, will focus on broader engagement with other countries and peoples. The second element of his approach is a clearer, more precise definition of the challenge. He also seeks a broader, more accurate understanding of the conditions that fuel violent extremism because any comprehensive approach must address these underlying conditions. The fourth element is a recognition that in order to address these factors, we must meet the basic needs of ordinary people, not through military operations, but through social, political, and economic campaigns. The final facet of the President’s approach is to ensure these social, political, and economic factors discourage rather than encourage violent extremism. All of these elements represent a fundamentally different strategy to rid the world of violent extremists and assure the American people are kept safe.

    This would encompass, of course, things like the government infiltration and hijacking blog threads to move the debate in ways the government would like and information operations of all sorts, an initiative I’ve most recently seen as associated with Cass Sunstein.

    Interesting footnote: note Sunstein’s paper was published in the Univeristy of Chicago Journal of Law and Economics, and apparently was funded (or otherwise supported by) Olin funds.

    Does anyone really think Elena Kagan disagrees with Sunstein on this?

    • DWBartoo says:

      “Intellectual” thugs, the bunch of them, but they shore do talk purty, and, as Leen points out, they done made the Endless war on unpriviledged belligerency, both “kinder” and “gentler”.

      Guess this buypartisan stuff really do work.

      Yeppers, we haz seen the future and there ain’t no lookin’ back.

      (‘Cuz if’n ya do, the big bad SCOTUS will do for you, assumin’ the brown shirts wearing the Sunstein-Bee Pee label ain’t got yer first.)

      (Double ugggh!!)


    • emptywheel says:

      Actually, Ambinder was VERY late to the party on the terminology change (I had written about it months before). And they have used a new terminology in more recent things–it’s like that Ambinder piece killed the term.

    • Mary says:

      I agree. The new, “cold war” justification for the CIA to become “too big to jail” and be diverted huge swaths of money, so they can engage in or encourage assassination, terror, lawbreaking, threats, disappearances, black sites, etc. all as Exec Branch endorsed and protected, covert actions.

      Notice Brennan ommitted assassinations in his elemental listings – I guess when it’s fundamental it becomes somehow less elemental.

  4. BoxTurtle says:

    As long as ObamaLLP is only targeting Scary Brown People, I doubt many folks outside of FDL care.

    They’re targetting American citizens, who don’t even have an arrest warrant against them. But those citizens are Moslems, so no problem.

    Or they’re friends of Moslems. Or maybe just a little brownish. Or maybe hiking through the desert. Or hanging around the border fence.

    Boxturtle (Or said something mean about Rahm)

  5. eCAHNomics says:

    No good will come of this. Like CIA, it will is already running amok, would be a good guess.

  6. Leen says:

    when will our MSM interview the father of the two sons who were blown away by US special forces. You know the guys who killed two Afghani pregnant women along with a girl.

    The father was given 30,ooo and a couple of sheep. Probably had to sign something that said he would not talk to media in the future.

    U.S. Admits Role in February Killing of Afghan Women


  7. Leen says:

    latest at Informed Comment

    BBC is going to do a substantive coverage of the flotilla tomorrow (SAt). Wonder if they will ask when Israel will release the tapes of Israeli soldiers shooting 4 bullets into the head of the Turkish American activist at close range? Wonder if Chris matthews ( who played the Israeli released tape 9 times in 7 minutes) will ask for those Israeli tapes?

    Allegedly the MV Rachel Corrie will be trying to get to the Gaza tomorrow

    • thatvisionthing says:

      You’ve probably already seen this? Can’t remember how I get to stuff when I’ve got 24 windows open :-)

      Gaza Flotilla: Israel “Passengers Linked to Hamas, Al Qa’eda, Terrorist Organisations”
      Posted by Scott Lucas
      Enduring America – June 6

      The Israel Defense Forces have just issued their latest press release. We are posting it without comment and without endorsement of the allegations:

      The following passengers on board the Mavi Marmara are known to be involved in terrorist activity. The Mavi Marmara attempted to break the maritime closure on the Gaza Strip on Monday, May 31st 2010, and was boarded by Israel Navy forces.

      — gives several passenger names including —

      …Ken O’Keefe (Born 1969), an American and British citizen, is a radical anti-Israel activist and operative of the Hamas Terror organization. He attempted to enter the Gaza Strip in order to form and train a commando unit for the Palestinian terror organization.

      comment gives link to this youtube of O’Keefe — beaten bloody by the Israelis, then released, telling his own story of the attack on the flotilla

  8. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Thanks Marcy! We’d better start watching what we say about the new decider!

  9. dagoril says:

    Wonder how long it will take for us to start taking out the heads of foreign corporations, on behalf of our own corporations? So much of their money is flowing into our government, it’s only a matter of time with our amoral political class at the helm.

  10. Jim White says:

    Hmmm, I wonder what it would be like if other countries decided to use extrajudicial killings of Americans….

    At any rate, this expansion of JSOC’s assignments can’t end well. Keep in mind that when McChrystal ran JSOC, his signature was disregard for collateral damage, hiding prisoners from the ICRC and torturing those who weren’t killed in the initial attacks. McRaven, whom Spencer Ackerman has said is called “McChrystal squared” was McChrystal’s hand-picked and personally mentored successor.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    • Mary says:

      You know, an odd thing about that rhetorical question, with the sequencing of these threads, is that Ed Koch was targeted for assassination by a foreign power – apparently he wasn’t crazy about the concept at the time.


      Military officials of Uruguay, who were members of a secret Southern Cone intelligence alliance called Operation Condor, threatened to assassinate U.S. Congressman Edward Koch in mid-1976, according to a just published book, The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents (The New Press 2004). Written by investigative journalist John Dinges, the book reveals that the CIA intercepted the threat but failed to take any actions in response to it or to warn Congressman Koch for more than two months.
      In an interview for the book, Koch said that the then Director of Central Intelligence, George Herbert Walker Bush, informed him in October 1976 that his sponsorship of legislation to cut off U.S. military assistance to Uruguay on human rights grounds had provoked secret police officials to “put a contract out for you.”

      According to documents obtained by Dinges and interviews he conducted for The Condor Years, the CIA station chief in Montevideo received information in late July 1976 that two high-level Uruguayan intelligence officers had discussed their ability to have Chile’s secret police, DINA, send agents to the United States to kill Koch. The station chief, identified in the book as Frederick Latrash, reported the conversation to CIA headquarters but recommended that the Agency take no action because the officers had been drinking at a cocktail party when the threat was made.

      Only after Chilean operatives carried out the September 21, 1976, assassination of former ambassador Orlando Letelier did the CIA warn Koch and share the intelligence with the FBI and the State Department, according to the new book. A car bomb planted by those agents killed Letelier and an American woman, Ronni Moffitt on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington D.C. Considered at the time to be the most egregious act of international terrorism ever committed in the U.S. capital, the Letelier-Moffitt assassination was quickly linked by the FBI to a shadowy six-country alliance, Operation Condor, created by Chile to enable the military governments to track down and kill their opponents inside and outside of Latin America.

      The basic Condor method of operation, according to FBI and CIA documents, was for member countries to assist each other in carrying out assassinations against each other’s enemies

      The two sides of the coin for Obama’s Operation Vulture is that in addition to conspiring covertly with intelligence agencies (or even just random military officers or persons of power) in his little fifedom of alliances, he can send in assassination squads to kill their people, claim it is legal and then what does that mean or say about guys in our intel agencies or random persons of cheneyesque power giving the thumbs up to foreign operative to assassinate in the US?

      No wonder Obama kept Mueller – the only weaker link than Obama himself. The “mystery” that never was, of Dawn Johnson, gets more solved every day. The mystery of what the hell happened to Koh and Johnsen was probably solved ages ago, when political power became currency.

      It’s so fun to see Bellinger’s addiction to spin still so strong that he just can’t help but mug for the camera. The man who has sat, all this time, on this direct knowledge of and participation in directing officially authorized depravities against people he knew were innocent mistakes. That someone calling themselves a journalist goes to something like that as a source of moralizing for their story is a sad statement on where we are as a nation.

  11. klynn says:

    Thanks for the post EW.

    Is JSOC being farmed out in any way to Interpol? I realize this may be a crazy question. Just curious after O extend immunity to Interpol in December.

    The idea that JSOC hires subcontractors (bad actors at that) and may use them in related work with Interpol, made me wonder if we just granted immunity to bad actor subcontactors through a “backdoor” so no one notices.

    Is there a division of military police under JSOC? I just assumed the answer was yes and that JSOC MP’s would be the Interpol overlap. That was just my assumption, not based on any documentation.

  12. TarheelDem says:

    Many of those currently being targeted, Bellinger said, “particularly in places outside Afghanistan,” had nothing to do with the 2001 attacks.

    This raises a few questions.

    How exactly does Bellinger know who is being targeted?

    Does the AUMF really restrict action to one past event? In that case, everything done under its authority has been outside scope. Because the folks who clearly had something to do with the 2001 attacks died in the attacks; it was a suicide mission. If that is the case, the conditions of the AUMF were fulfilled a long time ago. So how exactly does that prevent future attacks?

    My sense is that the AUMF was not as restrictive as Bellinger makes it sound. His argument looks like a knee-jerk “worse than Bush” diversion from the problems in Bush’s policy and execution.

    That said, the article does raise concerns that must be followed up. For example, does “JSOC has 4000 people…” include contractors? What is the legal authority that Obama is claiming in order to prevent future attacks? What “Constitutional executive autority” specifically are the Bushies claiming that Obama has rejected? For example, I have heard Obama assert a “commander-in-chief” authority to prevent attacks on the US. What more was Bush claiming?

  13. Synoia says:


    The US now has its own Star Chamber, a disgraceful institution, with its own accusations of attainder.

    it can detain indefinitely detain those who have “a history of associations with extremist activity” even if that history is not personal, but is instead traced through family members

    Constitutional rule of law, my ass. Rules for thee, not for me.

    • DWBartoo says:

      Where is that taken from, Synoia?

      I have no doubt that “we” as a nation are “there”.

      Obama may wish all to look forward, but one appreciates all who notice the “scenery” change in the “evolving present”.

      The “wars” of “inner space” are upon us.

      Be careful what you think.

      And, most discreet in what you say …

      And who you say it to.


  14. alank says:

    …then his authority should be limited to those who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the 9/11 attacks…

    Putatively, the Saudis.

  15. Mary says:

    “or through family members”

    Obama signs off on the rationale for disappearing KSM’s and Siddiqui’s children. They had ties to extremism through family members. Also the murders of Al-Qaeda’s No. 3 daughters and granddaughter – they had ties to extremism through family members.

    • bmaz says:

      Well, except minors are kind of generally presumed by law not to be competent to understand or form such associations and agreements. If they could not competently enter a contract to collaborate with terrorists, how can they be legally murdered on such a basis?

      • Mary says:

        What is this thing you call law? Have you confirmed with Bellinger and Cap’n Jack that it exists?

        If the President does it, it’s legal.

        @31 – You know, IIRC, HC was pushed the revision of the AUMF once upon a time.

        @32 – I do feel for them – but luckily they have memos from DOJ that explain what torture isn’t, especially if you are worried about murder and havoc on the streets and are a part of the Executive branch.

        I’m glad they do, but you have to wonder why anyone with any kind of Muslim identity or Persian/Arab/etc. ethnicity works with administrations like the Bush and Obama admins. It’s nice to think that we do have some people with cultural and language skills and background who are willing to help disrupt terrorist plots, but you have to wonder when they see the accessories of murdered children and pregnant women with the bellies carved up and ongoing invective from the US press, never checked in the least from the figureheads in the WH, and all the rest that comes with the job, how they manage.

        I’m self-interested enough to be glad they do, but it would be nice to have someone in the WH who lead in a direction that put their efforts to good use, rather than to enhance political power and give bragging rights. The main difference between Bush and Obama is that Bush wanted the severed heads brought to his office for him to see and touch and gloat over; Obama wants the drone program at a safe remove, so there are no dead eyes staring at him as he finger steeples.

      • DWBartoo says:

        “…legally murdered …”

        There is such a category under the law?

        What “law”, or, as Mary asks, “What is this thing …?

        At best, we have something masquerading as “law”.

        I know, as members of the legal profession, lawyers, and judges, and such-like cannot, professionally, admit this, or even imagine it’s possibility …

        Perhaps as mere citizens, they have an obligation to at least consider it’s implications?

        The law may be a beautiful thing. What we have before us is ugly, looking to become more so.


        • bmaz says:

          “Legal murder”. There is such a category under the law?

          Depends on your view and rhetorical distinctions. The correct way I probably should have phrased it is Legally justified murder. Murder, by general definition is an unlawful killing. There are, however, killings that are presumptively unlawful but are, nevertheless, legally justified. This is the effective framework for self defense and defense of others etc.

          • DWBartoo says:

            But the law now says that if you defend yourself, then you become an “unprivileged belligerent”.

            I don’t say that and you don’t say that, but that is, in fact, the “law” as the powerful are clearly telling us, wouldn’t you say?

            When the aggressor claims “self-defense” and the “law” believes them and not those whom they have “unlawfully” harmed, idle talk of the “rule of law” is mere prattle.

            What solid basis of law exists, here, and now, today? What you speak, bmaz, to is reason, which has my complete respect. However, reason and justice have fled, and when or if they shall return no one among us can say.

            Brute power, and brute power alone, bmaz, is deciding all things, and the fatal flaw of willful blindness offers the practitioners of the law no excuse.

            At the moment the sword is far more powerful, apparently than any pen.

            We pen-wielders must surely know that.

            “We” have the appearance of the rule of law, in this time, in this nation. but there is no substance.

            The law is become a joke, but no one I know is laughing.


    • Mary says:

      If it was posted before, I didn’t see it, so thanks. It’s a very good, very important piece imo.

    • behindthefall says:

      from the link:

      The Obama administration has continued to justify the programme as aimed at high-value targets, suggesting that it can degrade al Qaeda as an organisation by a “decapitation” strategy, according to Addicott. However administration officials now privately admit that the objective of the programme is to “demoralise the rank and file”, he said.

      That won’t work, according to Addicott, because, “These are tribal people. They don’t view life and death the way we expect them to.

      How do the ones in charge of these operations expect people to view life and death: “Oh well, there went Daddy. Find another Daddy for us, Mommy.”

      • DWBartoo says:

        Addicott is merely parroting Dean Rusk who was parroting those who considered shooting people of the Philippines (back when we became a nation to be “reckoned with”) as young as twelve, as ” … more fun than shootin’ rabbits …”

        Obama swears it is not empire “we” seek … merely total control.

        It is imperative that people understand that first part.


        • behindthefall says:

          There also seems to be some surprise at the “underdog” biting back. Is that “tribalism”? Or is that courage?

          • DWBartoo says:

            I know what you and I think, behindthefall.

            However much a risk we place upon our children by saying so.

            This is not the time of “Rapture”.

            This is the time of revelation.

            Each, human being will be seen for what they truly are.

            We are all … witness.

            Be. (What else is there to do?)

            The “wars” this time, are not about the “outside”, the “world” but rather, are about “inside”, how intelligent the “thinking man”, homo sapien sapiens, to give “him” “his” proper, self-fashioned name, really is.

            Once upon a time …

            The “wars” of “inner space” were hard on certain humans; those who believed, deeply and seriously believed, that’ “might makes right”, that power is ALL that matters, hard, as well, for those who believed that money was ALL that mattered.

            The “pragmatists” believed that both mattered and nothing else did.

            Most of the rest of the humans understood rather quickly, but their myths, which they believed, kept them from doing anything about it.

            The relative few who persisted in trying to understand were glad of all their friends and such small appreciations as they possessed.

            It was a time of great uncertainty.

            (Tune in tomorrow for the next exciting adventure …)

            That marvelous tome, “The Human Race”. by Willie Maykit and Betty Whoant, comes ever more to mind, these days, as we are much, much closer to the “finish” line …


      • Mary says:

        In the context of that piece (which I think is really good) they make the point that the program isn’t even about “decapitating” al-Qaeda by taking out a few prominent leaders anymore. Instead,

        …administration officials now privately admit that the objective of the programme is to “demoralise the rank and file”

        IOW, the Obama campaign has been to just go around killing so many rank and file “Taliban” (at least maybe on some days when there’s a meal in it for them Taliban) in so many places – death from the sky – that they become too demoralized at the thought of retribution from the sky to carry on.

        I think that’s the context for the observation that this isn’t working bc that view – our view (that if, for example, family members of JSOC or people having the same name as CIA operative, or guys who stock the vending machines at NSA etc. were suddenly to start being bombed randomly there would be a demoralization that would cause them to quit wanting to be affilliated with JSOC, CIA, NSA, etc.) isn’t the same view taken by the populations from which the people we are bombing are drawn.

        I don’t know if the analysis is correct, bc I’m no expert, but they are saying that bc of different world views, tribal ties, cultural background, etc. when the US sits in air conditioned rooms, directing drones to blow up grandchildren of Taliban rank and file, the response isn’t for the community to crumble,but rather to harden and spread.

        • PJEvans says:

          …administration officials now privately admit that the objective of the programme is to “demoralise the rank and file”

          I seem to remember a government some 70 years ago trying that.
          It didn’t work – it hardened the attitude of the people they were targeting. And the government doing the bombing was defeated.

      • prostratedragon says:

        I suspect that what he means but would probably never say is that “these are tribal people, so we can’t infiltrate them as intensively as would be required for the decapitation strategy to work.”

        Because that strategy ordinarily would require a way to hamper the restructuring of the target group after the existing leadership is killed.

        • DWBartoo says:

          Someone will have to stop America. “We” will not stop “ourselves”.

          The question is when?

          Those who would control the world cannot, by definition, control themselves, cannot accept any limitation. Neither can they hide these truths from any but themselves.

          Looking forward, but blind to what “we” have become.

          (“What” “we” allow, or cannot know, because of National Security, to be done in “our” names …)


      • b2020 says:

        Maybe they are embarking on a long term project of selective breeding: Kill anybody who as an insurgency gene, and eventually you will win. The smaller the bombs, the more “surgical” the genocide. Explains the “Sippenhaft” angle nicely – citizens are not responsible for their governments, but non-citizens will be held responsible for their parents. Straight from the plantations, that concept.

      • b2020 says:

        ‘However administration officials now privately admit that the objective of the [program] is to “demoralise the rank and file”’

        In which country?

  16. Jeff Kaye says:

    Feint left, turn right. But now the pretense of feinting left is over.

    Special Ops is on a spending spree, according to Noah Shachtman at Wired, with approx. $100 million budgeted for their new HQ in Afghanistan.

    Meanwhile, from that WaPo story (and your quote):

    “While they seem to be expanding their operations both in terms of extraterritoriality and aggressiveness, they are contracting the legal authority upon which those expanding actions are based,” said John B. Bellinger III, a senior legal adviser in both of Bush’s administrations.

    “Contracting the legal authority”? Lawyers, help me out here. Does this mean that there are secret OLC memos giving Obama the authority, leaning upon the AUMF.

    It is high time the AUMF were retired. The U.S. is not under dire attack. Instead, it is attacking many other countries itself. This doesn’t mean that there are some “terrorists” planning some terror activity in the U.S., in the deluded hope it helps their cause, but this doesn’t rise to the level of changing basic governmental functioning, and becoming a terror state ourselves. The logic is embedded, as Marcy catches adroitly, in the phrase “history of associations with extremist activity” even if that history is not personal, but is instead traced through family members.”

    And re drones, @27, don’t forget this from the other day:

    According to the report by U.N. special rapporteur Philip Alston, which will be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council Thursday, while targeted killings may be permitted in armed conflict situations when used against combatants, fighters or civilians who directly engage in combat-like activities, they are increasingly being used far from any battlefield. The report states that “this strongly asserted but ill-defined license to kill without accountability is not an entitlement which the United States or other States can have without doing grave damage to the rules designed to protect the right to life and prevent extrajudicial killings.”

    Alston also criticized the U.S. invocation of the “law of 9/11,” which it uses to justify the use of force outside of armed-conflict zones as part of the so-called global war on terrorism. The report called for the United States and other countries to end the “accountability vacuum” by disclosing the full legal basis for targeted killings and specifically the measures in place to ensure wrongful killings are investigated, prosecuted and punished.

    Yeah, but the U.N.? How quaint!

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The extremists it doesn’t include are those in our own government. Not that they should be held indefinitely either, but quite a few should lose their jobs and toil in ignominy, not be employed at five or six figure incomes in “think” tanks, the media and for political parties.

  18. JThomason says:

    So yes then this is essentially a genocide directed toward the Pashtun, the last unyoked tribal people of the world. Utterly sickening. Perhaps the question needs be asked again “if I were truly free what would I do?”

  19. JThomason says:

    Obama chooses to crave Central-Asian resources rather than lead a recovery at home based on alternative energy. What change? They told me he sees the big picture. Maybe some power is going to fill the void or maybe these people will continue to exist autonomously.

    Could it be that the Chinese will be the ultimate beneficiaries of arbitrary US actions against tribal leaders?

    • fatster says:

      CHART OF THE DAY: The Scariest Job Chart Ever Just Got Even Scarier

      “What’s clear is that while we still have a rebound including Census hiring, we’re already flattening out on the dotted line. This is a shape not seen on the other lines [for earlier recessions]. suggesting that the fall is extremely deep, and the recovery is shallow.”


    • bmaz says:

      Have at it. They are effectively useless compared to significant writings and opinions of her own volition, which of course with Kagan you can literally count on one hand.

  20. R.H. Green says:

    “…the longer term challenge of dealing with violent extremism generally.”

    I found myself agreeing with scribe’s remarks @ 3(above). His quote from Brennan set me to thinking about how I always thought the term “terrorism” (and “war on terror”) were euphemisms, and how the term “extremism” (especially “violent extremism”) now defines the new enemy. Wondering what the term refers to, I suddenly recalled the Opium Wars in China. There England attacked China to overthrow the prohibition of the importation of opium, thus a military enforcement of “free trade”. I have thought that the Afgan adventure was about control of sources of oil and gas (and their pipelines), thus elimination of the Taliban and any other militant force in the region could be seen as vital to the protection of free petro-trade. Therefore, an “extremist” would be one who opposes such activity, and a “violent extremist” would be one who might oppose with the support of arms. The US now is fighting to make the world safe for trade in terms favorable to Corporate America. This view seems to add some caustic meaning to the term we heard pre-Iraq:”preparing the battlefield”.

  21. fatster says:

    AP source: Pentagon official tapped as intel chief

    Fourth time’s a charm? Obama to choose Pentagon veteran [James] Clapper as next intelligence chief


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