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.