The White House is "Judge, Jury and Executioner" of Both Drone and Cyber-Attacks

George Washington's picture


NBC News reports:

Legal experts expressed grave reservations Tuesday about an Obama administration memo concluding that the United States can order the killing of American citizens believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida — with one saying the White House was acting as “judge, jury and executioner.”


Anyone should be concerned when the president and his lawyers make up their own interpretation of the law or their own rules,” said Mary Ellen O’Connell, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and an authority on international law and the use of force.




“This is a very, very dangerous thing that the president has done,” she added.

Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional lawyer who writes about security and liberty for the British newspaper The Guardian, described the memo as “fundamentally misleading,” with a clinical tone that disguises “the radical and dangerous power it purports to authorize.”


“If you believe the president has the power to order U.S. citizens executed far from any battlefield with no charges or trial, then it’s truly hard to conceive of any asserted power you would find objectionable,” he wrote.

Senator Wyden said:

Every American has the right to know when their government believes that it is allowed to kill them.

Top constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley notes:

In plain language, [the Obama administration memo]  means that [any Americans can be assassinated if] the President considers the citizens to be a threat in the future. Moreover, the memo allows killings when an attempt to capture the person would pose an “undue risk” to U.S. personnel. That undue risk is left undefined.

I think I've seen that movie before ...

Given that drones are being deployed in the American homeland, some fear that the war is coming home.

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.    The Army is already being deployed on U.S. soil, and the military is conducting numerous training exercises on American streets.  (For more background, see this, this, this, this, and this.)

Similarly, the White House has claimed the unilateral power to launch pre-emptive cyber-strikes against foreign nations.  As FireDogLake notes:

Like with the drone program, President Barack Obama is presiding over the creation and development of a power that previous presidents never imagined having. The national security state is effectively appointing him and all future presidents the proverbial judge, jury and executioner when it comes to cyber warfare.

As Greenwald makes clear, virtually all of the U.S. efforts regarding so-called "cyber-security" are actually efforts to create offensive attack capabilities.

And given that the government may consider normal Americans who criticize any government policy to be terrorists - and that the military is fighting against dissent on the Internet  - it is obvious that the cyber-attack capabilities are coming home to roost.

Of course, indiscriminate drone strikes are war crimes (and here and here) , and cyber-attacks are a form of terrorism. But that won't stop the U.S. ... because it's only terrorism when other people do what we do.

As Greenwald noted last year:

We supposedly learned important lessons from the abuses of power of the Nixon administration, and then of the Bush administration: namely, that we don’t trust government officials to exercise power in the dark, with no judicial oversight, with no obligation to prove their accusations. Yet now we hear exactly this same mentality issuing from Obama, his officials and defenders to justify a far more extreme power than either Nixon or Bush dreamed of asserting: he’s only killing The Bad Citizens, so there’s no reason to object!

Greenwald notes in an article today:

The core distortion of the War on Terror under both Bush and Obama is the Orwellian practice of equating government accusations of terrorism with proof of guilt. One constantly hears US government defenders referring to "terrorists" when what they actually mean is: those accused by the government of terrorism. This entire memo is grounded in this deceit.


Time and again, it emphasizes that the authorized assassinations are carried out "against a senior operational leader of al-Qaida or its associated forces who poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States." Undoubtedly fearing that this document would one day be public, Obama lawyers made certain to incorporate this deceit into the title itself: "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen Who is a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qaida or An Associated Force."


This ensures that huge numbers of citizens - those who spend little time thinking about such things and/or authoritarians who assume all government claims are true - will instinctively justify what is being done here on the ground that we must kill the Terrorists or joining al-Qaida means you should be killed. That's the "reasoning" process that has driven the War on Terror since it commenced: if the US government simply asserts without evidence or trial that someone is a terrorist, then they are assumed to be, and they can then be punished as such - with indefinite imprisonment or death.


But of course, when this memo refers to "a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qaida", what it actually means is this: someone whom the President - in total secrecy and with no due process - has accused of being that. Indeed, the memo itself makes this clear, as it baldly states that presidential assassinations are justified when "an informed, high-level official of the US government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the US".


This is the crucial point: the memo isn't justifying the due-process-free execution of senior al-Qaida leaders who pose an imminent threat to the US. It is justifying the due-process-free execution of people secretly accused by the president and his underlings, with no due process, of being that. The distinction between (a) government accusations and (b) proof of guilt is central to every free society, by definition, yet this memo - and those who defend Obama's assassination power - willfully ignore it.


Those who justify all of this by arguing that Obama can and should kill al-Qaida leaders who are trying to kill Americans are engaged in supreme question-begging. Without any due process, transparency or oversight, there is no way to know who is a "senior al-Qaida leader" and who is posing an "imminent threat" to Americans. All that can be known is who Obama, in total secrecy, accuses of this.


(Indeed, membership in al-Qaida is not even required to be assassinated, as one can be a member of a group deemed to be an "associated force" of al-Qaida, whatever that might mean: a formulation so broad and ill-defined that, as Law Professor Kevin

Jon Heller argues, it means the memo "authorizes the use of lethal force against individuals whose targeting is, without more, prohibited by international law".)


The definition of an extreme authoritarian is one who is willing blindly to assume that government accusations are true without any evidence presented or opportunity to contest those accusations. This memo - and the entire theory justifying Obama's kill list - centrally relies on this authoritarian conflation of government accusations and valid proof of guilt.


They are not the same and never have been. Political leaders who decree guilt in secret and with no oversight inevitably succumb to error and/or abuse of power. Such unchecked accusatory decrees are inherently untrustworthy (indeed, Yemen experts have vehemently contested the claim that Awlaki himself was a senior al-Qaida leader posing an imminent threat to the US). That's why due process is guaranteed in the Constitution and why judicial review of government accusations has been a staple of western justice since the Magna Carta: because leaders can't be trusted to decree guilt and punish citizens without evidence and an adversarial process. That is the age-old basic right on which this memo, and the Obama presidency, is waging war.

We've previously pointed out the absurdity of the government's circular reasoning in the context of indefinite detention:

The government’s indefinite detention policy – stripped of it’s spin – is literally insane, and based on circular reasoning. Stripped of p.r., this is the actual policy:

  • If you are an enemy combatant or a threat to national security, we will detain you indefinitely until the war is over
  • But trust us, we know you are an enemy combatant and a threat to national security

See how that works?

The Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves, as the separation of powers they fought and died for is being destroyed.  We’ve gone from a nation of laws to a nation of powerful men making laws in secret, where Congressional leaders themselves    aren’t even allow to see the laws, or to learn about covert programs.  A nation where Congressmen are threatened with martial law if they don’t approve radical programs.

Indeed, Bush and Obama have literally set the clock back 800 years ... to before the signing of the Magna Carta.

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malek's picture

Was that memo written by John Yoo as well?

CUFE's picture

Think about it, we -Americans- collectively have been hammering the earth into -Democracy- aka socialism with the end result of an utopian dream which will equate to austerity for the masses. Is it time for us to pay the price?-
Don’t be a Klingon, instead join the Enterprise:
“Become a mindless zombie in The United World Federation,
Accept and welcome The Great Plan aka the “Great Transition”
Christopher –Albert- Pike was relpaced from his duty,
Could he have been a front man for The Knights Templar of Jerusalem, the first International Socialists>Communists, who hammer in this utopian Unity,
Spock and his fellow Illumined ones will take care of you,
Give up your individuality, be a worker bee, be gleeful, and be told what to do,
In this Darwinian Age, the End Justifies the Means,
Survival of the fittest and man is God is what the masses see and now believes,
The Founding Fathers Dream and Vision has been twisted, co-opted,
By “1000 Points of Light”, “Zeitgeist”, and men like Manly P Hall with his “Secret Destiny of America”, ALL perverted,
So don’t be a Klingon, instead Join the Enterprise,
Because if you don't, there will be starvation or a drone or scud for you, don’t be surprised “
CUFE Jan 24 2013
Aid for the poem
Star Trek
Captain Christopher Pike preceded Captain James T Kirk >Backwards = (KTJ) Knights Templar of Jerusalem
Klingon’s > Holding on to the old order of things
Worker Bees >the mindless crew
Spock > the Illumined One, who keeps the emotions of the Captain and crew in Check

the grateful unemployed's picture

making law in secret? you give them too much credit, they're a bunch of gangsters, and when they gave guns to the drug gangsters in mexico (roval gangs) it came no surprise to anyone (now drones are going to be deployed along the border as part of the amnesty program. oie vay)

Vooter's picture

Anyone who still votes in this country is an asshole.

lakecity55's picture

GW: For what it's worth. This is very interesting, but I do not know how reliable these guys are. It does seem to mesh with all you have posited:

At least it's a good read.  Have you ever seen these guys' website?


Wakanda's picture

The Second American Revolution, scanning the skies for BO's drones in a neighborhood near you.

Look at the bright side, the anarcho/liberty movement has never had a better gun and PM salesman, better organizer than Barry.

Watauga's picture


My list:


#1 was 1776-1783.

#2 was 1787-1790.

#3 was 1861-1877.

#4 was 1914-1922.

#5 was 1932-1945.

#6 was 1963-1968.

#7 started in 2001 and continues to this day.






Wakanda's picture

Centralized power?  No thanks.

This time we decentralize power.

Game on FiSHeS.

mendolover's picture

I'd like to see this poser stutter through a teleprompter presentation in Judge Judy's courtroom.

Hannibal's picture

Stealth martial law. Embrace the Chaos. Trust your Govt.

All comments are data mined by NSA. The panopticon is your friend!

lindaamick's picture

In the 80's when Sadam Hussein was a US friend we plied him with chemical weapons and military armaments.

When Russia attacked and waged war against Afghanistan the US trained and armed a group of Islamists who are now labelled Al Quaida. 

The US supports Al Quaida and other radical Islamic groups in Syria now.

The US attacks Al Quaida in Mali and Libya.

Anyone with more than 2 brain cells has to ask:  "Who is the enemy of the day?"  "I could be the enemy of the day".

"We could all be Al Quaida". 

There are too many instances to name where US friends who get money for arms suddenly become US enemies. 

Watauga's picture

Let's look at:

(1) Billions of rounds of ammo purchased by "domestic" agency--DHS.

(2) Proposed anti-2nd Amendment, gun control, legislation.

(3) FY12 NDAA authorizing Obama essentially unlimited power (to be used at his descretion).

(4) The widespread deployment of drones, nationwide, by federal, state, and even local police.

(5) Absolute descretion to launch cyberattacks.

(6) This DoJ memo.

Hmmm. . . .   Any guess where this is headed?

Bastiat's picture

No heading to it- we're there.  Nothing left but expanding vague definitions and action.

lakecity55's picture

"Death to Amerikkka!"

-B Hussein Odinga

spanish inquisition's picture

The revolving red/blue corporate entity that resides in the White House has declared war on its citizens.

TheMerryPrankster's picture

The United States finally has a King. Long live King Obama, who can decide on a whim if you are to live or to die.

Shall we close the courts and layoff the staffs to save time and money or shall we continue the pretense of justice to keep the sham civil and the sheep asleep?

Hope and change is not turning out well.

Watauga's picture

This just isn't fair.  President Obama is trying to protect you, and you criticize him for it.  It is all so unfair.

And not right.  Because really, it's all George Bush's fault anyway.  HE started the war on terror and did all kinds of mean things to terrorists.  So it is not fair to Obama to blame him for Bush's mistakes.

His enemies did the same thing on the economy.  They tried to blame Obama for budget deficits and increased debt when really, it was Bush's fault.  You can't expect Obama to not spend on programs that help Americans simply because George Bush ruined the economy.  Remember, Obama saved the economy.  If he can do that, certainly he is more than capable of making the correct decision on which Americans to kill.

Anyway, he should be entitled to kill whatever Americans he wants.  It wouldn't be fair if he couldn't.

Savyindallas's picture

I think you are being sarcastic, but Im not sure. There are a lot of democrats (most of them) who make such arguments -and they really beleive it. Just like the Republicans who excuse the banks for the sub prime crisis by claiming that Bush and the republicans (and the banks)  are not at fault were forced to require the banks to give loans to undeserving minorities.

q99x2's picture

Banksters are knocking off the alternate media authors left and right now. I listened to this guy on Coast to Coast make a really intelligent presentation about 911. His book "The Big Bamboozle" is also great. Looks like the Gov't took him down. Obviously a drone was not called for in his case.

Boeing 767 captain Philip Marshall was a “conspiracy theorist” who killed his teenage son and daughter, the family dog, and then himself.

Chupacabra-322's picture

Title should read,

The Criminal White House is "Judge, Jury and Executioner" of Both Drone and Cyber-Attacks


It's a Global Criminal Cabal Crime Syndicate financed through the City Bankster London of which Wall Street is an extension of along with the Criminal Governments around the world. 

Watauga's picture

And if you didn't realize it before, Obama is pretty smart.  His advisors are, too.  If they decide to target, say, an American in Idaho who is building a "Citadel," then why shouldn't they be able to kill him?  They are smarter than him.  And Obama is President, so he can do that.

LasVegasDave's picture

Leave Kerodin out of this

madcuban's picture

Three quarters if that "article" was cut and pasted. Good work. I will say that I liked the "dont drone me, bro" picture though.

Ignatius's picture

I think it's called connecting the dots....

"Don't drone me, Bro"  is classic.

madcuban's picture

connecting the dots.  i read the orignal nbc article yesterday on the topic and one other related article.  nothing of importance and no revelation was added, just copied and pasted.  par for the GW course.

lakecity55's picture

Nice play, Bath House Barry

Full-On Dictator Mode!

What an evil, twisted freak.

We must now accept our new Drone Overlordz.


Outraged, I called 1 of my senators, the one who is actually conservative and spends time in the public.  The aide said the phone was off the hook about this; there is a lot of outrage. I suggested to the aide my senator should move fast, before he gets droned.

GinnyMS's picture

Eisenhower warned us of the dangers of the military-industrial complex, which now engulfs us and threatens the Constitution.

kurt's picture

The M-I complex is anticipating budget cutbacks. By bringing the enemy home they can save money on fuel and such.

Boxed Merlot's picture

The original story played out 2000 years ago.  It went like this:

Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.   John 11:47-53


This is the best documented story of an individual threatening the status quo and the basis of the outrage subsequent societies have sought to prevent ever since.  The rule of law works until it gets applied to those who sit to judge, then our base nature asserts itself.  I would contend this is the foundation of what is deemed to be a "Christian" nation and one that's not.  When we cross the Rubicon and use law to prop a preconcieved outcome rather than a process to determine truth it prevents humanity from rising above the status of an animal.


Watauga's picture

I agree, Merlot, but I would also point to Robespierre and his fellow French terrorists who serve as the model for all of this.  This is, plain and simple, a Velvet Reign of Terror that becomes, when "necessary," an Iron Reign of Terror.  It is absolutely amazing how a people that are free would not only allow, but actually promote, the transition from, say, the Articles of Confederation to Lincoln to FDR to LBJ to Obama.  Astonishing that a free people chose absolute tyranny. 

Setarcos's picture

Please do not insult other animals.

No other animal makes up stories to justify the persecution of their own kind.

No other animal wages wars and, besides, the story of Jesus is far from the best documented story of someone threatening the status quo and being killed as a consequence.

About 300 years before Jesus, Socrates was a far more credible and first-hand recorded person than Jesus ... and far more intelligible and consistent.

Wakanda's picture

Humans are an insult to the animal kingdom.

GinnyMS's picture

The lazy killing of a 16-year-old, a minor, is surely a demonstration of our "base nature." With the help of the grandfather, certainly the CIA could have kidnapped this kid and dragged him home to his family. But then, we cannot protect the lives of an ambassador and Seals in Benghazi. We cannot send in the Marines, because as Panetta put it, the risk assessment was "unclear." Since when have the Marines turned into vulnerable Boy Scouts? Dealing with uncertain risk is their job. Panetta et. al. were more concerned about the political risk if the mission failed. My fervent prayer is that the Seals died thinking that help was on the way, not that they had been betrayed. By the way, the underwear bomber's father begged the US embassy for help in stopping his radicalized son and got none.

Ignatius's picture

" By the way, the underwear bomber's father begged the US embassy for help in stopping his radicalized son and got none."

Have you heard or read Kurt Haskell's eye-witness revelations concerning the 'underwear bommber?'  The incident was quite different than what was portrayed to the public.

new game's picture


obvious to me, animals must be "smarter" than humans.

maybe your construct of an animal needs examination.

animals only seek to survive, do not lust for power, and do not kill needlessly.

and your god proclaims what???

Chaos_Theory's picture

I guess you've never watched a documentary on Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel about how many animal species organize around a dominant male and a pack of breeding females.  Until a younger tough male rises up and defeats the aging dominant male...dunno...sounds like a lust for power to me. 

Setarcos's picture

OK but they don't carry it over for generations, such that they fight battles with 2000 year origins, as Christians and Jews do especially ... not so much Moslems and hardly at all Buddhists (personally I am areligious, so I'm just observing).

Boxed Merlot's picture

I'm just observing...


You're correct, I'm wrong.  This may not be the first recorded and documented case or only politically important for to be sure the Roman legal structure was established with the voluntary / sacrificial shedding of blood by idealists.  It's unfortunate subsequent generations co opt the edifices these ideals leave behind and attribute their existence to base animal instincts rather than the intervention of the divine providence of God. 

Laws are meant to be used to reveal the truth, not to be a rubber stamp to justify a preconcieved act of justice or vengence.  Any one of us can easily be found guilty of breaking a law, and whoever breaks one is guilty of breaking it all. 

By my incorrectly stating my first comment, I am now found to be fallable and further comments are now suspect.  It's how it works.  But to what degree is dismissal of further statements made to be applied? 

Many of our misconceptions arise from not understanding and misapplying terms like justice, injustice, nonjustice and mercy.

Our business, legal and government leaders politicize and obfuscate this elementary feature of a free society and many "religious" leaders have been complicit by way of tax exempt status for far too long.



Chaos_Theory's picture

If you're argument is animals don't have multi-generational religious wars, agreed (at least as far as we know).  I was rejecting your original argument that animals don't value power and just eat sleep and f-ck (to paraphrase).

BTW, if you don't think Muslims fight battles with ancient origins, you might want to relook at the original battle of Karbala in 680 when Ali was killed.  Concur on Buddhists.

Frankie Carbone's picture

Americans will gladly submit to a cavity search if it means that others must do the same.

Besides, what's the big deal about drones, email intercepts, assassinations, and suspension of habeas Corpus, or cameras in public bathroom stalls?

If you're not a terrorist, or a congressman (reference to the public stall) then what do you have to worry about?

All this stuff is too serious anyways man. Let's talk about something much more relevant and interesting.

Who's gonna make it to the Stanley Cup this year?

Peter Pan's picture

The ultimate in cavity searches will be microscopic drones inserted into a certain cavity prior to you boarding. Breaking wind   and expelling the drone will require you to submit to a bigger and bigger drone until you stop being a terrorist.

cossack55's picture

Who is Stanley and why does he wear a cup?

TheMerryPrankster's picture

Stan Ley invented spiderman and Marveil Comix he was the last vestige of the not so eternal flame of creativity.

His cup is a semi-holy chalice that is said to be enchanted with his abilities and whosoever drinketh from this cup shall be empowered to do infinite reboots of classic hollywood film franchises.

It is the holy grail of holy grails.

Money 4 Nothing's picture

Check out the MIAC Report released a couple years ago, this new revelation just doubled down on tyranny. And yes, they intend to use this initiative Domesticaly. When you find yourself the adverse party to your Governance, or have been an outspoken critic of US transitition into socialism, your labled Al Queada aka domestic enemy / enemy of the state.

This is intended to port end any uprising of a  Patriot movement that disagree with current policy of trashing every document that keeps us free.

Ulitmatly, the President makes the call and at that point, he is a Dictator making unilateral decisions against his citizens. Russia aint got shit on this new policy. The UN ATT Treaty is back on the front burner because they realised they cannot legislate away the 2A using Buffalo NY push back as their example.

ATT has been voted up and mid March this could quite possible become a world agreement for small arms ban. Search the details and read for yourself.  This 16 page document didn't accidently leak into the public domain for nothing, their putting us on notice.

Go Tribe's picture

Why can't we limit the government's right to bear arms? They are supposed to keep a well equipped militia, but we'd better start defining what well-equipped is.

WTFUD's picture

I always get very emotional when i listen to Obazzas " i had a drone"
Rips me to pieces non metaphorically speaking.

Peter Pan's picture

I personally agree with the policy and the powers the President has in relation to liquidating Al Qaida terrorists or groups that support them.

Now here is the tricky bit. From what has been in the news the US adminsitration supported al Qaida in its bid to topple Gaddafi.

So who is going to liquidate the President or those who supported them?

Just asking as this is not an area that I have a particular working knowledge of.