Targeted Assassinations: Challenging US Policy - by Stephen Lendman
The WikiLeaks "Afghan War Diaries" provided documented evidence of America's out-of-control lawlessness, including Special Forces death squads (Task Force 373) extrajudicially murdering or capturing suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda figures, many hundreds or perhaps thousands on a so-called Jpel (joint prioritized effects) list, also willfully killing civilian men, women and children, the London Times Kabul-based Jerome Starkey reporting earlier on these crimes, suppressed in US media accounts, presenting an embedded view of the war, omitting the targeting of Americans until then Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair acknowledged it in February, explaining that:
CIA operatives and Special Forces death squads have been authorized to kill US citizens abroad, suspected of terrorist involvement, Blair saying:
"If we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that," the criteria being "whether that American is involved in a group that is trying to attack us, whether that American is a threat to other Americans. Those are the factors involved. We don't target people for free speech. We target them for taking action that threatens Americans or has resulted in it," based on suspicions, not evidence.
Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen living in Yemen, was perhaps the first "announced" candidate, targeted for opposing US belligerency, not crimes.
In late June, Deputy White House National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John O. Brennan, acknowledged a hit list with dozens of other names, saying:
"There are, in my mind, dozens of US persons who are in different parts of the world, and they are very concerning to us, not just because of the passport they hold, but because they understand our operational environment here, they bring with them certain skills, whether it be language skills or familiarity with potential targets, and they are very worrisome, and we are determined to take away their ability to assist with terrorist attacks."
"If an American person or citizen is in Yemen or in Pakistan or in Somalia or another place, and they are (suspected of) trying to carry out attacks against US interests, they also will face the full brunt of a US response. What we need to do is to apply the appropriate tool and the appropriate response," leaving little doubt what he meant, putting all Americans at risk globally, based on suspicions, not proof - potential targets for lawless assassinations with impunity.
It was standard policy under George Bush's November 2001 Military Order Number 1, authorizing the capture, kidnapping, or otherwise neutralizing of non-citizens (and later citizens) suspected of terrorist involvement, holding them indefinitely without charge, evidence, or due process, treating them as non-persons, disappearing them forever, the practice continuing under Obama.
Last September, it was learned that then Central Command head General David Petraeus issued a secret directive to send covert US Special Operations forces to friendly and hostile states in the Middle East, Central Asia, the Horn of Africa, and by implication anywhere in the world to "penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy" terror threats and "prepare the environment" for planned military attacks.
On June 4, Washington Post writers Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe headlined, "US 'Secret War' Expands Globally as Special Operations Forces Take a Larger Role," saying:
The Obama administration "has significantly expanded a largely secret US war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups with Special Ops forces in 75 countries, compared with about 60 at the beginning of last year."
On June 5, London Sunday Times writers Tim Reid and Michael Evans repeated it, headlining, "Obama secretly deploys US special forces to 75 countries across the world," saying:
He usurped even greater power than George Bush to pursue an "aggressive secret war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups," using increased drone attacks and 9,000 Special Forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of civilians, operations continuing daily.
Petraeus' order "also allowed for US special forces to enter Iran to gather intelligence" for potential future operations. The Pentagon's Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order authorizes Special Ops forces sent anywhere, and its Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) deploys covertly to kill suspected suspects, including US citizens.
Washington Denying Anwar al-Awlaki's Right to Legal Representation