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The Silence of the Sheep

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"In an admission that took the intelligence community and its critics by surprise, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair acknowledged in a congressional hearing Wednesday that the U.S. may, with executive approval, deliberately target and kill U.S. citizens who are suspected of being involved in terrorism."

That's the lead paragraph of the news story I wrote for InterPress News Service last Friday. Since then, I just haven't been able to get this thing out of my mind.

Think about it: "...may, with executive approval, deliberately target and kill U.S. citizens who are suspected of being involved in terrorism."

That means that the president of the United States can decide who lives and who doesn't. Not a court. Not a jury. Just the president.

The proposition is overwhelming in its simplicity. And in its stupidity. And in its cavalier abandonment of our most precious principle: the rule of law. That quaint tradition we always cite as the root of our American "exceptionalism."

The key word here is suspected. Killing U.S. citizens who are suspected of being involved in terrorism.

That means we must all believe that our intelligence mavens are perfect, infallible, incapable of error.

But common sense and history should tell us this cannot be true. Our intelligence folks make mistakes all the time. They are humans and humans cannot be infallible. And their performance in recent years has not been all that stellar. Think WMD. Think 9/11. Think Maher Arar. Think Brandon Mayfield. Think Richard Jewel and Steven Hatfill.

Lots of little slipups here!

But those errors are correctible. After we go ahead and kill someone, there's no do-over. There's nothing more final than death.

I found Admiral Blair's revelation so troubling that I consulted some of the country's most respected Constitutional scholars to see if I was missing something.

Unfortunately, I wasn't. As Professor Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois Law School, told me, "This extrajudicial execution of human beings constitutes a grave violation of international human rights law and, under certain circumstances, can also constitute a war crime under the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949. In addition, the extrajudicial execution of U.S. citizens by the United States government also violates the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution mandating that no person "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

He said, "The U.S. Government has now established a 'death list' for U.S. citizens abroad akin to those established by Latin American dictatorships during their so-called 'dirty wars'. The Bush Administration reduced the United States of America to a Banana Republic waging a "dirty war" around the world in gross violation of international law, human rights law, and the laws of war."

And where is the outrage? Mostly, it isn't. Our elected officials are driven by fear or actively trying to drive us with fear, or both. And we who elected them are busy being terrified and looking the other way while we try to find jobs and pay the mortgage and feed the kids.

But even in good times, we Americans are not the best-informed citizens. We are far more likely to rail inchoately against "government interference" in our lives. Witness the tea-baggers.

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http://billfisher.blogspot.com

William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)
 

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Talk about the American sheeple!The "underwear" bo... by 911TRUTH on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 11:20:20 AM
Until there is a real investigation into 9-11, civ... by Bill Cain on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 11:42:40 AM
And the Amerikan Sheeple are just OK with that as ... by 911TRUTH on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 10:45:23 PM
Bill, many, many people are watching, listening, a... by boomerang on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 11:30:02 AM
Required for all sheeple.... by Rusty on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 11:46:19 AM
So my friend decides to switch his allegiance to ... by Larry Tierney on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 12:32:13 PM
What's your point?Bill Fisher... by William Fisher on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 1:22:50 PM
In this oxymoronic "war on terror", did you ever a... by Nick van Nes on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 10:50:43 PM
"What happened here was the gradual habituation of... by Walter L. Bradley Jr. on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 1:54:26 PM
As a former Obama supporter I've experienced what'... by Miriam Callaghan on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 2:22:08 PM
Could you supply the author and the year of this q... by Bill Cain on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 3:42:16 PM
I think there is a two edged sword here. Our gover... by HarveyY on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 2:26:35 PM
"I'm cautious but know that terror fighting requir... by Bill Cain on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 3:35:16 PM
You like wire-tapping with court approval - this w... by Peter Warner on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 10:41:43 PM
You like wire-tapping with court approval - this w... by Peter Warner on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 10:43:33 PM
has been the law of the land for some time. The po... by Maxwell on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 12:05:32 PM
Think about it: "...may, with executive approval, ... by Nick van Nes on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 3:37:21 PM
Since William Fisher has not given any references ... by zephyr on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 5:04:26 PM
Here's a source by way of ABC News - so yes, it's ... by J. Edward Tremlett on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 6:15:34 PM
Glen Beck Show of the left. I hate what is happeni... by Janiece Senn on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 5:13:12 PM
we are not here to deliver the news. We are here t... by Mark Sashine on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 5:37:14 PM
I agree with Janiece.It seems you have no problem ... by zephyr on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 5:52:44 PM
Because you seem to lack the ambition and/or the a... by Blaine Kinsey on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 8:50:58 PM
blaine kinsey, is a reasonable request. High schoo... by zephyr on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 1:20:19 PM
Although you caution me to take care, you are the ... by Blaine Kinsey on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 3:33:38 PM
"We are here to give our opinions including our wo... by J. Edward Tremlett on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 6:22:53 PM
The little Israeli flags people are sporting in th... by J. Edward Tremlett on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 7:06:05 PM
What more proof do you need?"In an admission that ... by Mark Sashine on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 8:15:07 PM
"Hereis a question though: how come you prefer to ... by J. Edward Tremlett on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 9:48:25 PM
has suffered of late. Is it not apparent that the ... by WML on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 2:11:35 AM
To give the sheeple credit, they are making huge e... by Perry Logan on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 6:07:15 AM
AMEN brother!... by mike buchan on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 7:32:37 AM
...makes one look demagogic, foolish, and way more... by Chris Mihal on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 8:06:56 AM
Chris, you are my hero for today. I can't thank yo... by Your Friend Fairpay on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 9:24:56 AM
This capacity to pretend to be a child is unbeliev... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 10:18:41 AM
While you may simply be referring to MFF, since he... by Chris Mihal on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 11:23:05 AM
"Fear is a toolof the mass media, but do you hones... by J. Edward Tremlett on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 11:55:25 AM
people with intelligence and the ability of ration... by arlen custer on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 11:18:49 AM
I would like to clarify that when I was expletive... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 1:44:02 PM
You appear to be having a discussion about you gra... by Your Friend Fairpay on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 2:55:04 PM
that William Fisher did not provide with this catc... by zephyr on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 1:36:11 PM
of the entity in the govt disposal which performs ... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 1:55:13 PM
and think many here are missing the point, as they... by Nick van Nes on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 4:31:54 PM
Yes, most people responding to this article are aw... by zephyr on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 4:15:27 PM
And if you think you're mad now, wait until you fe... by Nick van Nes on Monday, Feb 8, 2010 at 4:45:16 PM
Ya as a tsunami that floods us all under because t... by arlen custer on Friday, Feb 12, 2010 at 8:04:25 AM