On Tuesday, The New York Times published a lengthy article on the process by which the Obama White House decides whom to dispatch from this earth with robot drones. There's a couple of things worth noting upfront.
First, given the access the Times was accorded to write this story, it's pretty much a certainty that the White House is pretty happy with the finished product. Second ... wow, is there ever some cause for concern! Just check out the way the White House defines "militants" for the purpose of after-action review of these drone strikes:
... Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.
Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good. "Al Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization -- innocent neighbors don't hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs," said one official, who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.
"This counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths," the Times reports. I'll say! It's a "counting method" that various characters created by Joseph Heller could love, in that it removes the word "count" from the word "accountability." These drone strikes only kill militants because "militants," strictly defined, means "military-aged males who are killed by drone strikes." (Not that anyone is performing rigorous background checks on these piles of corpses.)
Well, in response to this, one concerned citizen has taken to the White House's "We The People" petitions portal to request the creation of a "Do Not Kill" list, which perhaps should be known as the "Please Consider According Me the Due Process of Law That I'm Constitutionally Entitled to Before You Allow Me to Be Summarily Executed by Joystick-Wielding Sociopaths" list. The proposed petition is presented thusly:
The New York Times reports that President Obama has created an official "kill list" that he uses to personally order the assassination of American citizens. Considering that the government already has a "Do Not Call" list and a "No Fly" list, we hereby request that the White House create a "Do Not Kill" list in which American citizens can sign up to avoid being put on the president's "kill list" and therefore avoid being executed without indictment, judge, jury, trial or due process of law.
The petition, which was posted Wednesday, requires 25,000 signatures by June 29 in order to be "reviewed by the Administration" and receive an official response. (Which will probably be something like, "LOL, sorry.") The petition currently has 272 signatures.
Well, it can't hurt, right? Unless, of course, signing the petition gets you one step closer to being put on the kill list.
"Militants": media propaganda [Glenn Greenwald @ Salon]
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