The SAME Unaccountable Government Agency Which Spies on ALL Americans Also Decides Who Gets ASSASSINATED by Drones

George Washington's picture

“The [Government Agency] — Now Vested With The Power To Determine The Proper ‘Disposition’ Of Terrorist Suspects — Is The SAME AGENCY That Is At The Center Of The Ubiquitous, Unaccountable Surveillance State Aimed At American Citizens.”

The Washington Post reports that the same agency which spies on all Americans also decides who is assassinated by drone or otherwise:

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”


The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.


Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaeda continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight.




Obama has institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war.




White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is seeking to codify the administration’s approach to generating capture/kill lists, part of a broader effort to guide future administrations through the counterterrorism processes that Obama has embraced.




The United States now operates multiple drone programs, including acknowledged U.S. military patrols over conflict zones in Afghanistan and Libya, and classified CIA surveillance flights over Iran.


Strikes against al-Qaeda, however, are carried out under secret lethal programs involving the CIA and JSOC. The matrix was developed by the NCTC [the National Counterterrorism Center], under former director Michael Leiter, to augment those organizations’ separate but overlapping kill lists, officials said.




The result is a single, continually evolving database in which biographies, locations, known associates and affiliated organizations are all catalogued. So are strategies for taking targets down, including extradition requests, capture operations and drone patrols.




The database is meant to map out contingencies, creating an operational menu that spells out each agency’s role in case a suspect surfaces in an unexpected spot. “If he’s in Saudi Arabia, pick up with the Saudis,” the former official said. “If traveling overseas to al-Shabaab [in Somalia] we can pick him up by ship. If in Yemen, kill or have the Yemenis pick him up.”




The administration has also elevated the role of the NCTC, which was conceived as a clearinghouse for threat data and has no operational capability. Under Brennan, who served as its founding director, the center has emerged as a targeting hub.

As Glenn Greenwald notes:

The central role played by the NCTC in determining who should be killed – “It is the keeper of the criteria,” says one official to the Post – is, by itself, rather odious. As Kade Crockford of the ACLU of Massachusetts noted in response to this story, the ACLU has long warned that the real purpose of the NCTC – despite its nominal focus on terrorism – is the “massive, secretive data collection and mining of trillions of points of data about most people in the United States”.


In particular, the NCTC operates a gigantic data-mining operation, in which all sorts of information about innocent Americans is systematically monitored, stored, and analyzed. This includes “records from law enforcement investigations, health information, employment history, travel and student records” – “literally anything the government collects would be fair game”. In other words, the NCTC – now vested with the power to determine the proper “disposition” of terrorist suspects – is the same agency that is at the center of the ubiquitous, unaccountable surveillance state aimed at American citizens.


Worse still, as the ACLU’s legislative counsel Chris Calabrese documented back in July in a must-read analysis, Obama officials very recently abolished safeguards on how this information can be used. Whereas the agency, during the Bush years, was barred from storing non-terrorist-related information about innocent Americans for more than 180 days – a limit which “meant that NCTC was dissuaded from collecting large databases filled with information on innocent Americans” – it is now free to do so. Obama officials eliminated this constraint by authorizing the NCTC “to collect and ‘continually assess’ information on innocent Americans for up to five years”.


And, as usual, this agency engages in these incredibly powerful and invasive processes with virtually no democratic accountability:

“All of this is happening with very little oversight. Controls over the NCTC are mostly internal to the DNI’s office, and important oversight bodies such as Congress and the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board aren’t notified even of ‘significant’ failures to comply with the Guidelines. Fundamental legal protections are being sidestepped. For example, under the new guidelines, Privacy Act notices (legal requirements to describe how databases are used) must be completed by the agency that collected the information. This is in spite of the fact that those agencies have no idea what NCTC is actually doing with the information once it collects it.


“All of this amounts to a reboot of the Total Information Awareness Program that Americans rejected so vigorously right after 9/11.

What has been created here – permanently institutionalized – is a highly secretive executive branch agency that simultaneously engages in two functions: (1) it collects and analyzes massive amounts of surveillance data about all Americans without any judicial review let alone search warrants, and (2) creates and implements a “matrix” that determines the “disposition” of suspects, up to and including execution, without a whiff of due process or oversight. It is simultaneously a surveillance state and a secretive, unaccountable judicial body that analyzes who you are and then decrees what should be done with you, how you should be “disposed” of, beyond the reach of any minimal accountability or transparency.

Americans on U.S. Soil May Be Targeted

This might be acceptable if the U.S. government was only targeting really bad guys, and if drones were not being used inside the borders of America itself.

But drones are becoming pervasive within the U.S.  Indeed, some of the numerous drones flying over American soil – projected by the FAA to reach 30,000 drones by 2020 – are starting to carry arms.

When torture memo writer John Yoo was asked last year whether drones could kill people within the United States, he replied yes – if we were in a time of war:

(Of course, since the U.S. has declared a perpetual war – and see this-  drones will always be in fashion.)

Indeed, the military now considers the U.S. homeland to be a battlefield.  The U.S. is already allowing military operations within the United States.    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.

Government officials have said that Americans can be targets in the war on terror.   Obama has authorized “targeted assassinations” against U.S. citizens.

And it is not very comforting that the U.S. government labels just about every U.S. citizen as a potential terrorists.

The U.S. Activates Skynet

In the Terminator science fiction series, computers and machines – organized by “Skynet” – track people down who threaten the status quo of the machines and then selectively assassinate them.

The powers given to the NCTC remind me of Skynet. Especially given how fast the military is advancing its robotic capablities:

  They remind others of The Matrix.

Greenwald comments on the machine-like aspect the NCTC’s operations:

The Council on Foreign Relations’ Micah Zenko, writing today about the Post article, reports:

“Recently, I spoke to a military official with extensive and wide-ranging experience in the special operations world, and who has had direct exposure to the targeted killing program. To emphasize how easy targeted killings by special operations forces or drones has become, this official flicked his hand back over and over, stating: ‘It really is like swatting flies. We can do it forever easily and you feel nothing. But how often do you really think about killing a fly?’”

That is disturbingly consistent with prior reports that the military’s term for drone victims is “bug splat”. This – this warped power and the accompanying dehumanizing mindset – is what is being institutionalized as a permanent fixture in American political life by the current president.




At Wired, Spencer Ackerman reacts to the Post article with an analysis entitled “President Romney Can Thank Obama for His Permanent Robotic Death List”. Here is his concluding paragraph:

“Obama did not run for president to preside over the codification of a global war fought in secret. But that’s his legacy. . . . Micah Zenko at the Council on Foreign Relations writes that Obama’s predecessors in the Bush administration ‘were actually much more conscious and thoughtful about the long-term implications of targeted killings’, because they feared the political consequences that might come when the U.S. embraces something at least superficially similar to assassination. Whoever follows Obama in the Oval Office can thank him for proving those consequences don’t meaningfully exist — as he or she reviews the backlog of names on the Disposition Matrix.”

But one thing is clear.  Warmongering is always good for the super-elite, and bad for everyone else … And it destroys freedom and prosperity.

Given that the national security apparatus has been hijacked to serve the needs of big business and to crush dissent, it’s not far-fetched to think that information gained from drones will be used for purposes that are not necessarily in the best interests of the American people.

As Greenwald notes:

The core guarantee of western justice since the Magna Carta was codified in the US by the fifth amendment to the constitution: “No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” You simply cannot have a free society, a worthwhile political system, without that guarantee, that constraint on the ultimate abusive state power, being honored.


And yet what the Post is describing, what we have had for years, is a system of government that – without hyperbole – is the very antithesis of that liberty. It is literally impossible to imagine a more violent repudiation of the basic blueprint of the republic than the development of a secretive, totally unaccountable executive branch agency that simultaneously collects information about all citizens and then applies a “disposition matrix” to determine what punishment should be meted out. This is classic political dystopia brought to reality (despite how compelled such a conclusion is by these indisputable facts, many Americans will view such a claim as an exaggeration, paranoia, or worse because of this psychological dynamic I described here which leads many good passive westerners to believe that true oppression, by definition, is something that happens only elsewhere).




As the Founders all recognized, nothing vests elites with power – and profit – more than a state of war. That is why there were supposed to be substantial barriers to having them start and continue – the need for a Congressional declaration, the constitutional bar on funding the military for more than two years at a time, the prohibition on standing armies, etc. Here is how John Jay put it in Federalist No 4:

“It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it; nay, absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans. These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people.”

In sum, there are factions in many governments that crave a state of endless war because that is when power is least constrained and profit most abundant. What the Post is reporting is yet another significant step toward that state, and it is undoubtedly driven, at least on the part of some, by a self-interested desire to ensure the continuation of endless war and the powers and benefits it vests. So to answer Hayes’ question: the endless expansion of a kill list and the unaccountable, always-expanding powers needed to implement it does indeed represent a great success for many. Read what John Jay wrote in the above passage to see why that is, and why few, if any, political developments should be regarded as more pernicious.

Note: While it may be tempting to say that spying and assassination are part of the new “post-9/11 reality”,  widespread spying on Americans, assassination, militarization of the police, the Patriot Act, indefinite detention,  and most of the other abuses were launched or contemplated long before 9/11.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
SWIFT 760's picture

All this shit started in Israel, the lunatic fanatical fucktards. Fuck Israel. 

Vigilante's picture

For a moment I thought Israel won't come up in this one..

Oh well...

Jugdish's picture

How does one amerikan get a job watching another amerikan jerking off to porn all day and scowering the internet for ladyboys and truck stop prostitutes with mullets and no teeth on backpage, craigslist, and fuckbook? What if I rigged my webcam inside my toilet so every morning they could watch me shit chipotle corn gibblets? Shouldn't the fuckin NSa compensate me for that shit? Fuckin cheap bastards. If anyone knows how to get a job in that database center please inform. I bet the gov't benefits are amazing and you can spy on all your buddies that have secret ladyboy fetishes.

JuicedGamma's picture

Damn dude... You are a fucking comedian^^^^^^^genius! Just blew coffee through both nostrils.

Kastorsky's picture

youre saying it, like it's a bad thing.

cmon, 90% of amerikans vote for obama, bush, clinton, romney, honey booboo

so, fuck them.

just don't be there when it starts.

better don't be there at all - don't pay taxes, don't buy shit

ozziindaus's picture

As bad as it sounds, I'd rather be surrounded by cockheads who are clueless to the shit the government is really up to. Could you imagine a world where the 90% knew what you know?

a growing concern's picture

I watched a show called "Militias Rising" or something like that last night.  Half the people in these militias across the country seem like high school drop-outs with an inferiority complex that they're trying to overcome by shooting shit and playing Army.  


No way in hell I want to have anything to do with a group of people like that when shit gets real.

Ar-Pharazôn's picture

if a TV show said so........................

JPM Hater001's picture

My sister is disabled and runs a bar.  Her friends all hang out and smoke dope with her all day long.

They are a far more real group of people than the vast majority I know.

Zero-risk bias's picture

That's an interesting concept to consider.

Still, I think it's not so much a case of 90% not knowing, it's more of them being comfortable with it.

Like GW said:

".. which leads many good passive westerners to believe that true oppression, by definition, is something that happens only elsewhere".

I think it's more a case of people being defeatist, at home and abroad.

lakecity55's picture

George, I have that concrete and rebar order ready for you.

Put it deep.

Mine is down 25 feet.

a growing concern's picture

That's what she said.  Wait, what?

Zero Govt's picture

"White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is seeking to codify the administration’s approach to generating capture/kill lists.."

He's had next to nothing to do since 9/11, how much experince has he got to write the code?

They took 9 years to find Osama Bin Hiding, easily the most inept witch-hunt in history. A $5m 'Most Wanted' bounty would have every ex-SAS retiree out there and brought in within a year. Instead the US spent $80bn a year on an epic farce whose bill should have had every muppet in Defence and all contractors sacked never to work again

Where's the Report on this shambles???

Carmagnole's picture

"Instead the US spent $80bn a year"

That's precisely the point. If they had caught Osama Bin Hiding in less than 6 months, the Defence Muppets would not have had the $720Bn to have fun playing the epic farce with.

Don't you know it's for your own good that the Pentagon spends the funny money the american taxpayer will have to pay back? What do you have against the owners of the militaro-industrial complex?

Are you one of those insignificant non-profit-taker whose opinion doesn't matter to the decision-makers who get the benefits of the money-laundering scam, by any chance?

dunce's picture

The govt. must get a court approval to tap terrorist phones but does not need any outside approval or oversight to put anyone on a kill list. What is wrong with this picture? Heads of state can not be assasinated by law ,but it seems no one else is exempt. If it is OK to whack them in Yemen, why not France?

Questan1913's picture

Zero Govt


There seems to be an error in your bolded sentence.......It should read  "White House state terror adviser John Q. Brennan is seeking to codify the administration's approach to generating domestic capture/kill lists..."


a growing concern's picture

Well that, and he said something about spending a bunch of money to find bin Laden.  Lol.  Because third-world medical care can keep someone alive on dialysis for more than a decade...

Bear's picture

One of the candidates will be worse for America than the other, even though both would kick the can down the road and saddle up to Wall Street. There is a whole lot more riding on this than our finances ... not voting for the correct one may insure the worst one.

Figure it out and vote with your brain for the least worse one.

Parrotile's picture

Figure it out and vote with your brain for the least worse one.

I wish you luck on that particular "Mission Impossible"

It says a lot for the American, and Western system of "elected democracy" as a whole, that the choice has degraded so very far from "may the best man win" to "vote for the least worst candidate".

Seeing as both candidates have enjoyed very substantial support form the Financial Industry, one wonders whether the final choice of Oval Office incumbent will have any real material effect on the progression of events already set in motion by those in real power (Goldman, Fed. Reserve, the usual suspects).

It seems now globally a case of:

1. If you have the right connections / wealth / asset base, you'll be assured a very comfortable future irrespective of such minor distractions as "pretend elections".

2. If you are one of the "usefully productive" masses you might be permitted to exist within increasingly tight constraints on what you do / say / think, with the certain expectation of far more onerous work terms in exchange for decreasing reward for your skills (whilst they are still of value).

3. If you are one of Dr Kissinger's "Useless Eaters" I'm afraid the future may not be quite as rosy as the TV ads imply . . . . . .

lakecity55's picture

I wonder why they have an O-Phone line and a Mittens line at the early poll?

If you vote for Mittens, though, you get a nifty bracelet that beeps every now and then....

Zero Govt's picture

Bankers robots GW, you've uncovered the truth

all they're designed for is to sign papers giving away Americans future income to bankers

Precious's picture

The Middle East gets an Arab Spring and North America gets a Robot Winter.

Obviously the "terrorists" have won.

philipat's picture

They hate us for our freedom??

Radical Marijuana's picture

Yes, but the "they" is primarily the government, and the people who control that puppet government.

Unfortunately, I also believed this story:

People who prepare for bad times (who are given the disparaging lable of "preppers") will, therefore, be specially targeted first, by their govenment, when those bad times come.

I have developed a well honed macabre sense of humour to try to psychologically cope with the conclusion to that article being IN FACT CORRECT: "the ultimate prepper and the ultimate terrorist is, indeed, the U.S. government."

When things go wrong, then the FACT that you have any gold or silver, or stored food, or whatever similar things, will become the reason for robotic police-soldiers to pay you a nasty visit. That IS one of the reasons that I believe it is impossible to be prepared! Being prepared makes you become a priority target for an automated government of the USA to label as a "terrorist."

Like I said, we are so seriously screwed that laughing at how evil it has become is about the only way left to cope with that reality. There is no doubt that the government of the USA has become the worst terrorist organization in the world! There is no doubt that that terrorist organization is going to make it a priority to impose democidal martial law, and will make those who have tried to become prepared for bad times become a priority target to attack, when that martial law takes a quantum leap, whenever the government, or the puppet masters that control that government, decide it is time to do that.

When a robotic tank rolls up to your front door, and demands your guns or gold, what are you going to do?

When a drone, without warning, fires missles at you, what are you going to do?

My answer is that I am totally unprepared for the psychotic breakdown of the society that I was born and raised in! My answer is that there is nothing sane which I can imagine is possible to cope with the real runaway insanity that has taken over North America, where the magnitude of the huge lies, backed by violence, that IS controlling the continent have been quantum leaping, on and on, and can be most reasonably be expected to do that again, and again, in the foreseeable future. All it takes is one more false flag attack like 9/11, and then the gloves come off, and the robot soldiers and drones are deployed to smash all opposition to the runaway plutocracy that has already taken over the USA.

There is a perfect storm coming, which relates to another recent article on Zero Hedge about the runaway fascist monetary system that now surrounds us:


The government of the USA has achieved an almost perfect perversion and inversion, into a Bizarro Mirror World! IN FACT, "the ultimate prepper and the ultimate terrorist is, indeed, the U.S. government." THAT ESTABLISHED SYSTEM IS GOING TO MAKE IT BECOME A PRIORITY TO ATTACK ANYONE WHO IS AWARE OF THAT FACT, AND HAS IN ANY WAY PREPARED FOR IT.

Writing and reading articles like this one was probably like signing one's own death warrant, since the robotic killers will have overwhelming data banks, to be able to figure out who got prepared, and then wipe those preppers out as priority targets identified and destroyed by those computer directed drones. Of course, not knowing and not preparing did not help either, it merely put one lower on the list of targets to be destroyed, later.

Since the puppet masters that took control of the government of the USA are the most treasonous traitors there have ever been, and they were the supreme terrorists, OF COURSE, they are going to project that onto everyone else, and therefore, everyone else will be labelled a "terrorist" and be attacked, and those who will be first and foremost attacked will be those who were aware of what was happening, and attempted to get ready for that.

Since I have been worrying more and more about this for several decades, I have kind of got used to that, and I am resigned to being wiped out, since I find it absolutely impossible to imagine how I could ever effectively fight back against something like a robotic tank, or a flying drone.

I figure that I am already dead. In a sense, the smart missile sent to kill me has already been fired ...  I am just sitting around watching and waiting for it to finally arrive and kill me ... I can not imagine anything practical that I could do to prevent that from happening.

I am surrounded by an utterly insane murder/money system, that is growing at an exponential rate towards fulfilling its programming.  It is NOT going to be possible to ask the computer/machine entities processing data to decide to kill to reconsider their decisions. This is going to take human beings out of the loop. Attempting to shoot other human beings is not going to be able to make things better. This is an insane rush towards making the absolute worst science fiction nightmares become our reality, and there is nothing that I can imagine doing to prevent that, nor to survive it when it gets fully implemented, and turned on by the next significant event that it creates for itself to respond to ...

Parrotile's picture

One would have initially thought that using very expensive autonomous ordnance to kill off an "ordinary citizen", even a "prepper" would be an unnecessarily significant waste of resources, however I suppose the mindset "it's only Taxpayers' money after all" is by now well ingrained in the militias, so "cost" would be irrelevent.

Sir Edge's picture

Correct On Analysis of The Situation We Are In - Incorrect On The Analysis that We Can't Prepare

If That Were True The North Vietnamese Wasted Their Time Fighting First the French... Then the Americans... There was NO WAY they could beat two great Military Powers and acquire their Independence...

Its Our Duty To Prepare... Win or Lose...

Like its Our Duty to Uphold the Constitution if one is a politician, a solidier or an American citizen...

Neva Say Die... :o)

JPM Hater001's picture

"I figure that I am already dead. In a sense, the smart missile sent to kill me has already been fired ...  I am just sitting around watching and waiting for it to finally arrive and kill me ... I can not imagine anything practical that I could do to prevent that from happening."

Generally speaking I dislike long posts but I have to echo this.  I do feel that making noise is dangerous (dampening my 1st amendment rights) and is why I took down all my vids on Youtube but the last explaining why, which is coming down shortly.

I wont post the link but if you want to view it today I am removing it tomorrow.

Youtube channel JPMHater001

One World Mafia's picture

Al Qaeda R US

Hillary Clinton Admits US and Al-Qaeda On Same Side in Syria

Clinton Announces al-Qaeda as Legitimate Government of Libya

Al-Qaeda Terrorists Airlifted From Libya to Aid Syrian Opposition

For the Who's Who of Al Qaeda:

At least three major German newspapers - Die Welt, the FAZ, and the mass-market tabloid Bild - have published reports attributing responsibility for the Houla massacre to anti-government rebel forces or treating this as the most probable scenario.

NATO’s New Libya: Rebels cage black Africans in zoo, force feed them flags