As many Americans know by now, the United States Government has expanded rapidly and more or less unimpeded for the greater part of the past century. Some of this is warranted, most of it is not, and to a large extent the most egregious leaps in size were under the auspices of “protection.” The ill-advised “Patriot Act,” which principled representatives sought to vote down, stripped us of many of the rights and personal liberties we formerly took for granted, citing “the greater good,” as the reason and including the most basic right of every American: The right to a fair trial.
With the “black-bag” systems that the Patriot Act put in place to protect us from the legions of terrorist that were always lurking in the shadows (hiding under our beds and in our closets, just waiting to grab our ankles or drop a dirty bomb into the middle of our family picnics), the government or its operatives in foreign countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq had the authority to take any person they suspected of being a terrorist off the street and straight to prison, bypassing any possible means for that person, innocent or guilty, to defend against the charges.
With the recent assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born militant preacher with alleged al Qaeda connections who was killed by an American drone strike, our government very publicly has gone a brazen step further. The death of al-Awlaki demonstrates that it no longer cares for nor respects the most basic rights of its citizens, which have been assured to us since the birth of our nation. There is little debate on whether Anwar al-Awlaki was guilty of treason, possibly murder and even further, contributing to terrorist acts; however, his crimes are of no consequence in this situation because he never had the chance to answer the charges against him. In an unofficial “war” against a foe that spans countries, peoples, organizations and even US Citizens, you are guilty until shot in the head, or captured and tortured. And that is the only option.
Until only recently, most Americans had never heard of the White House National Security Council’s secret committee that is the sole decider over a death list for people branded as “terrorists.” And as of my writing this, I’m sure 95% of Americans still won’t have any idea that this goes on. But it is quite real and quite terrifying.
A specially assigned commission (assigned by who??) reviews data provided to them by our intelligence agencies and foreign agencies working with the US. They make a recommendation to the President on who should be added to the list. The President, in this case, Obama, agrees or vetoes, and that person is added to the “kill or capture” list. In the case of al-Awlaki, he was killed. But none of this is open to the public, the family of the person on the kill list, the media, or anyone else. It’s all kept behind closed doors, with the secret committee, which has no rules to govern it. To quote Reuters:
“There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.”
There you have it, fellow Americans! A secret shadow group that can single you out to be assassinated, even if you are a US citizen, without your getting a chance to answer for your crimes. And because there are no rules, anyone is fair game and they can’t be questioned about it. Why, I could end up with a bullet in my head just for writing this post. Or just for eating a microwave dinner at home, if they should single me out and have the wrong man. It won’t matter if I’m guilty or just happen to have some bad luck and someone made a typing error in the White House secretarial pool. I’ll be dead without a peep, because in the new black bag America, you don’t have any rights. But at least I’ll save on lawyer fees – that cash can go towards buying me a nicer coffin at my funeral.