Monday, September 10, 2018

President Obama's Kill List

Originally Published May 30, 2012; Last Updated May 02, 2017; Last Republished May 02, 2017:

Constitutional authority of our presidents does not encompass the arbitrary or ad hoc development, possession or maintenance of a human being "kill list"1.

If recent news reports accurately describe President Obama's development, possession and maintenance of a "kill list" for suspected terrorists he has exceeded his authority and thus elected to pursue a personal or extra-constitutional presidency.

To the extent such a list is operational (i.e. persons killed) our president must be held accountable.


UPDATED 08/26/2012 The Magna Carta (The Great Charter)
"39. No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised [sic] or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land."

UPDATED 10/09/2018 NYT, How a C.I.A. Drone Base Grew in Niger's Desert

UPDATED 05/02/2017 IndepLens, National Bird – Full Film (Available until 5/16/2017) and ExposeFacts, What Have We Done: Executive Power, Drones, and Trump?
UPDATED 08/08/2016 NYT, U.S. Releases Rules for Airstrike Killings of Terror Suspects
UPDATED 07/12/2016 PS, Did The Dallas Bomb Robot Set A Precedent For Police? and BBC, Death robots: Where next after Dallas?

The justification articulated by the Dallas police to extra-judicially kill using a robot that delivered a pound of C-4 explosive is weak, to say the least and indicative of a person who thinks he's on a battlefield.

Instead of debating the usage of mechanical drones and bots to extra-judicially kill in our metropolitan areas, lets debate why we have enabled our civilian community police departments to create battlefields in our metropolitan areas?

Reminds me of the mechanical hound in Ray Bradbury's 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451.

UPDATED 06/20/2016 WSJ, Obama’s Drone Revamp Gives Military Bigger Responsibility, Keeps CIA Role
UPDATED 05/12/2016 Intercept, The Drone Papers and Commonwealth, The Government's Secret War with Drones

UPDATED 04/02/2016 WH,  POTUS Nuclear Security Summit Press Conference

During Q&A the President answers a question on the increasing number of DoD reported drone kinetic kill strikes (~15:00).

UPDATED 03/18/2016 WSWS, Pentagon deploying drone aircraft within the US and CSM, Why is the military flying drones over US soil? and EpochTimes, Pentagon Admits It Deploys Spy Drones All Over US and ScribdUSAToday, Evaluation of DoD's Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for Support to Civil Authorities and EPIC, Domestic Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Drones and FAS, DoD Use of Domestic Drones Complies with Law, IG Says (includes links to DoD guidance) and

UPDATED 06/26/2014 ThomsonReuters, U.S. drone strikes risk 'slippery slope' to endless war, panel says

A proudly practiced opaque or transparent capacity for unmeasured restraint or constraint is not desirable attributes for any nation credibly and continuously auditioning for the position of global leader.

UPDATED 04/24/2013 McClatchy, Obama’s Drone War Kills ‘Others,’ Not Just Al Qaida Leaders and Senate Hearing Blasts Obama’s Refusal to Share Details of Drone Program and WT, White House ducks drone hearings, draws senators’ scorn

Read more here:

UPDATED 02/06/2013 NYT, Memo Cites Legal Basis for Killing U.S. Citizens in Al Qaeda

If the leaked unclassified summary whitepaper accurately represents the classified original from our Office of Legal Counsel Torture and Killing  it makes John Yoo's torture until the torturee's organs fail standard seem positively progressive!

UPDATED 01/13/2013 ProPublica, Everything We Know So Far About Drone Strikes
UPDATED 11/26/2012 NYT, Election Spurred a Move to Codify U.S. Drone Policy

Kudos to the administration for its efforts to draft a comprehensive drone deployment policy--albeit consistent with our unfortunate tendency to shoot first and figure out a policy later! (But, hey we've only been utilizing drones for decades.)

The draft policy, in its entirety must be widely circulated for public comments, including from relevant international legislative and judicial bodies.

UPDATED 10/21/2012 WP, CIA seeks to expand drone fleet, officials say

It's difficult to understand any derived benefits from providing our CIA with stand-off weaponry before explicitly, transparently, and publicly defining the rules under which that stand-off weaponry will operate—there is plenty of mischief and burden to be derived from providing our CIA with stand-off weaponry.

Expediency or extra-constitution presidential authority or individual determinations and findings or ad hoc executive kill-lists is insufficient.

UPDATED 09/21/2012 Reuters, Appeals court skeptical of Obama secrecy around drone killings  
UPDATED 08/26/2012 Obama's Warfare: 'From Power To A Policy'
UPDATED 08/02/2012 NewYorker, Kill or Capture
UPDATED 06/21/2012 Boston, WH rejects requests for 'targeted killing' papers Déjà vu—why must we endure this tiresome dance with each president?

UPDATED 06/09/2012 ProPublica, Dissecting Obama’s Standard on Drone Strike Deaths

A drone strike may or may not relate to the President's extra-constitutional "kill list". Reports are unclear which drone strikes are targeted killings related to the President's extra-constitutional "kill list" and those related to Afghanistan battlefield operations.

Evidently there are drone and other killings unrelated to the President's extra-constitutional "kill list", which are based on assertions of vicarious authority of another thug, nation, sovereign entity, or proximity. Much more information is required to understand the constitutional status of the above categories of killings. 

However, based on published reports, at the very least, it appears our President et al. are globally applying ad hoc and novel logic to summarily execute those they designate or have otherwise determined present a real or perceived threat to our nation or are unfortunate enough to be in close proximity to same.

UPDATED 06/02/2012 ProPublica, The Best Watchdog Journalism on Obama’s National Security Policies  and ProPublica, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Drones
New Yorker, The President's Kill List


1. Of course there is nothing new, novel, or particularly shocking about a living entity killing in pursuit of life—presumably the fundamental concept underpinning our president's "kill list".

However, the constitution principles of separation of powers and due process combine to relief our presidents of all authority and thus responsibility for developing, possessing or maintaining a list of human beings to kill.

Killing on the basis of profiles, patterns, templates or proximity doesn't even satisfy the fundamental concept of pursuit of life, so you never reach the constitutional principles of separation of powers and due process.

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