Don’t Confirm Brennan, Torture AND Drone Assassinations Are Illegal

Coleen Rowley, February 25, 2013

Senator Rand Paul is not the only one with serious questions about the nomination of John Brennan for CIA Director! Many people are rightly concerned that the CIA Nominee failed to provide a clear answer to Paul’s question: “Do you believe that the president has the authority to order lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without a trial?”

This coming Wednesday, Feb. 27, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “Drones and the War On Terror: When Can the U.S. Target Alleged American Terrorists Overseas?” Unfortunately, besides being framed in a completely leading way, the only witnesses that will testify — all four — were drawn from the same Lawfare blog. Lawfare co-founder Benjamin Wittes (who doesn’t even possess a law degree himself) gloats about it. Have you ever heard of a congressional hearing that calls all of its “experts” from one certain pro-war agenda-driven blog?! (Note how the Lawfare blog byline, “Hard National Security Choices”, masks how these blogging lawyers tend to come up with the very easy answer that the law of force is the answer instead of the rule of law. Clearly the aim of this “Judiciary Hearing” should be questioned as it does not appear it is to fairly consider the range of views about the illegality of drone assassination without judicial process.)

Additionally, we here in Minnesota have initiated meetings and letters signed now by over 200 members of different peace groups asking our Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, given their important Judiciary Committee assignments, to use their influence to seek answers. We’ve asked several other serious questions about Brennan’s background with CIA torture black sites as well as his role in drone assassinations (in this latest full letter to Sen. Klobuchar.)

Finally, our Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) group sent a letter Senator Feinstein warning her about endorsing Brennan, who cooperated with former CIA Director George Tenet as he helped fix the Bush administration’s case for war on Iraq. It would be her next-to-worst mistake of her tenure on the Senate Intelligence Committee, we told her. The worst – we hope she now concedes – was voting to authorize the Iraq War. Read the letter in full here.

Let me also mention something else that seems to be going on in the “legal” debate that is now distracting people as it devolves into party partisanship. A number of law professors and legal commentators, from both the Right and the Left (even most recently Georgetown Law Professor David Cole who wrote: “Laying Down the Law–Why Obama’s targeted killing is better than Bush’s torture“) have turned what should be a much wider real debate based on facts and law into the narrow, more partisan-driven question of “What’s worse? (Bush’s) Torture or (Obama’s) Drone Bombing?”

Some like Cole, at least have the decency to preface their comments with “well they are both wrong, but…..” while Bellinger III and others of his Lawfare ilk post their challenges on the other side of the partisan “divide,” that in fact killing is worse than torture, using such common sense arguments that it’s better to be alive with your fingernails torn out than to be dead.

Isn’t this partisan “divide” as to whether to prefer torture or assassination as the lesser evil a bit like counting how many demons can dance on the head of a pin? It’s certainly confusing to those of us who think torture AND drone assassination are wrong, wrong, wrong. The unfortunate result, however–and perhaps the goal of the two party kabuki theater–is that the entire red herring “debate” distracts the partisans of both parties, making both Republicans and Democrats more complacent about both torture & drone assassination. This is how so many people come to ignore the right and wrong of it all and turn it into a mere political difference of opinion.

(Cross-posted from Huffington Post.)




6 Responses to “Don’t Confirm Brennan, Torture AND Drone Assassinations Are Illegal”

  1. well, if it’s legal, then…

    iran has the right to target mek members lobbying congress.

    syria has the right to launch missiles at opposition offices
    in paris and london.

    cuba has the right to assassinate convicted terrorists
    living in florida.

    mexico has the right to drone attack gun shows in houston.

    china can legally bomb the dalai lamma in india.

    …..what? they can’t? illegal, you say? but, but….

  2. The Silver Drone with Coca-Cola Cluster
    by michael hall

    What audacity it must take to set yourself apart from those who serve in the pressure cooker
    for a kid gangsta of capitalism to sip a cold coke tightly clasped
    while the other hand is stroking a joystick & with just gentle pressure
    8000 miles away human beings who have never done his or hers any harm are now droned into bugsplat

    What exceptional bravery this act of aggressive violence must trigger
    for s/he might suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or bear a blister on the finger
    with nerves of steel ne'er to complain for lives are at stake so s/he carries on & pushes the button of terror
    careful, what if the soda spilled thereby rendering the keyboard useless? Oh the horror!

    To wreak out death upon terrorists disguised as sheep-herding children, ah the in discerning bravery
    to slaughter dangerous pregnant women at a bridal shower, what pluck & heroism
    to kill marauding medics & first-responders daring to help the wounded from your earlier kill, irreproachable daring
    such gallantry and fearlessness one must exhibit to slaughter mourners at a funeral procession

    So to show recognition to the brave souls who kill at command at the press of a knob 1/2 a world yonder a distinguished 'warfare' medal of honor has been created to award those who have no honor
    announced with grandiose fanfare & full flags a' flapping just the other day by war criminal DS Panetta
    this will outrank the bronze star, the purple heart & what a triumph is that america?

    Such a propaganda coup d'état by the bureaucrats in subterranean dusty think tanks deem
    spun a wonderful way to legitimize a most immoral & illegal act that defines odium
    as they flim-flammed & came up with this 'combat' decoration for a most despicable accomplishment
    still i wonder what lucky american school kid will be the first to touch one or to toss it down a toilet

    Back at home in the united states of mordor vat is known now as da faterland
    a great cackle of cheering among thunderous applause droned at every school, church & walmart throughout the homeland
    to praise & pay tribute to those daring war-idols who've earned such a distinguished medal confer
    the much coveted and respected; 'Silver Drone with Coca-Cola Cluster'

    For who else should earn by total disregard to personal safety with such displays of video gallantry & virtual valor won
    nobody else could deserve such a high tribute & renowned award squealed Leon Panetta from atop a nefarious pile of splattered blood & bleached broken bones swept under the rug by the embedded media & acquiescent proletariat
    these extraordinary actions by lightening slight of hand manipulation upon a joystick of discriminating death with unthinking critical process performed by our blue-blooded obedient hired guns
    to illegally & immorally murder anyone anywhere anytime for any reason above the rule of law is now the definition of American Hero & the legalities for the justification of it are classified… 'secret'

  3. [...] at Huffington Post; shorter version at Anti-war blog and VIPS memo originally published at Consortium [...]

  4. Apparently these drone drivers are suffereing PTSD as well, probably because they KNOW that they are committing War Crimes and are worried that they might be arrested like Rumsfeld was threatened with if tghey ever visit Spain or Germany!

  5. Unlike Obama, at least Hitler did not employ V1's to assassinate German citizens right within the Homeland — oops, I mean "Fatherland".

    I often get confused keeping terminology straight between the Nazi Empire and this far better disguised Global Empire, posing as America — regarding; which one called it the "Fatherland" and which the "Homeland", which one employed a single-party Vichy facade in "occupied" France and which one used a bipartisan dual-party 'Vichy' (Rel 2.0) right in the Homeland, which one used terrorizing new technology V1 missiles from the sky and which one employed stealthy and unique technology 'Predator' drones and 'Hell Fire' missiles from the heavens, which one was only a wannabe European Empire and which one was actually a disguised Global Empire, which Empire had the submarines controlling the entire Atlantic Ocean and which one had the nuclear subs and nuclear carrier battle fleets encircling the whole Globe, etc., etc,. etc!

    If only 10% of the American people wrote, talked, discussed, debated, publicly exposed, and 'called-out' this Empire as an EMPIRE it would collapse of its own deceit.

    We are only held hostage by this disguised Empire because it is able to remain hidden, camouflaged, disguised and unrecognized — and thus able to get away with its deceitful posing as a normal and acceptable democratic Republic — when, in fact, it is a disguised Global EMPIRE.

    Merely shining light on this vampire of EMPIRE will kill it in an instant!.

    Best luck and love to the fast expanding 'Occupy Empire'
    educational and revolutionary movement against this deceitful,
    guileful, disguised EMPIRE, which can't so easily be identified as wearing RedCoats, Red Stars, nor funny looking Nazi helmets —- quite yet!

    Liberty, democracy, justice, and equality
    Over
    Violent/'Vichy' Rel 2.0
    Empire,

    Alan MacDonald
    Sanford, Maine

    We don't merely have a gun/fear problem, or a 'Fiscal Cliff'
    problem, or an expanding wars problem, or a 'drone assassinations' problem, or a vast income & wealth inequality problem, or a Wall Street 'looting' problem, or a Global Warming and environmental death-spiral problem, or a domestic tyranny NDAA FISA spying problem, or, or, or, or …. ad nauseum — we have a hidden EMPIRE cancerous tumor which is the prime CAUSE of all these 'symptom problems'.

  6. [...] McGovern on Brennan’s “heavy baggage” and former FBI agent-turned whistleblower Coleen Rowley on Brennan’s tortured past (no pun [...]