Last week the Obama administration admitted publicly for the first time what the entire world has long known. Through its spokesperson, John Brennan and then personally, the President disclosed that the United States has been using remotely controlled drone technology to carry out targeted extra-judicial executions in various countries in the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere. Such capital sentences were, the President assured, careful, deliberate, responsible, and in full accord with the law.
Apart from questions international lawyers have about that latter claim, and despite the President's assurances, the criteria for targeting foreign nationals -- and now U.S. citizens -- remain extremely loose. Code Pink's Medea Benjamin and others have shown that their application inevitably results in the killing of civilians. In fact, hundreds of such instances of "collateral damage" have been recorded in Pakistan alone. Faulty intelligence, misidentifications of targets and failure to understand local cultures are among the reasons for such slaughter of innocents by remote control.
According to Benjamin in her book, Drone Warfare, the criteria for drone attacks on suspected terrorists are basically two. The targeted are first of all known leaders and members of terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda. Those falling under a second criterion fit a profile of suspicious activity such as keeping company with known terrorists, lending them support, or carrying weapons in a suspicious manner.
These, of course, are the same rules of engagement empires have always supplied their death squads to justify their murders of insurgents and the rebels-against-occupation whom empires routinely label "terrorists." As a matter of fact, they were the same ones used by the Roman Empire two thousand years ago to justify the assassination of Jesus of Nazareth. In Rome's eyes, he not only associated with insurgents and terrorists, Jesus was directly guilty of stirring up the people and of threatening institutions including the Jewish Temple system and the Roman Empire itself. His incendiary statements and messianic claims also made him a prime target for elimination.
If there were drone technology in Jesus' day, a first-century equivalent of Wikileaks might well have published the following memo from Pontius Pilate to Caesar Augustus about the well-known insurgent and terrorist, Jesus of Nazareth. (Biblical references have been anachronistically added to document sources for the memo's accusations):
Your Majesty Exalted Son of God:
You have advised that we here at the Jerusalem Praetorium should identify targets for Rome's careful, deliberate, responsible, and entirely legal drone operations. I write to inform you of one such target. This one goes by the name "Yeshua ben Miryam," though his nom de guerre is "Son of Man" (more about that below).
Of all the terrorist subjects recently reported by this office, this one most clearly fulfills the protocols for our very precise remotely controlled operations. This Jesus is not only a terrorist himself, he runs a gang of terrorists, and is armed and dangerous.
To begin with, Jesus (aka the Master) comes from the town of Nazareth in the Galilee. As you know from our country's experience about 20 years ago with the Jewish rebellion in Sephoris (just 5 miles from Nazareth) this has always been a hotbed of insurgents against our entirely peaceful purposes. You remember too that our policy in Sephoris was to presume that everyone in the area was somehow involved in the insurrection. That justified our death squads and scorched-earth policy. Somehow, this Yeshua escaped. I mean he should have been killed then, because no doubt he was some kind of message- runner (all the child-soldiers in his age cohort did that).
In any case, they say that his mother, Miryam, was some kind of insurgent poet. One of her pieces of cheap doggerel identifies a "mighty" jihadist God "who put down the powerful from their seat," and who "fills the hungry with good things, while the rich he has sent away empty" (Lk.1:46-55). What I'm saying is that this character Yeshua was fed insurgent doctrine with his mother's milk, if you will.
Besides, they report that this Yeshua of Nazareth has taken on your title "Son of God" (Mk.l:1). He apparently adopted this imperial pretension after he took over the "Baptizer Gang" run by that nationalist cult leader called John Baptizer. (Remember, he was a highly suspect character finally arrested and executed by our man in Galilee, Herod.)
Since then, our subject has not only been called "Son of God," he's been speaking everywhere about establishing an alternative to the Roman Empire. He calls it the "Kingdom of God." When questioned about his intentions, he speaks vaguely in code (they call it "parables") -- an evasive technique commonly used, as you well know, by insurgents everywhere. "Kingdom of God" seems to refer to what our Palestinian Province would be like if Yeshua's God rather than you, our august Emperor, were king. In any case, story has it that following a ritual baptism by John, this Yeshua had a vision informing him that he, not you august Caesar, is God's son (Mk.1:9-11). Here we clearly have a rival who must be eliminated.
And if his friends are killed in the process, don't worry; they're all terrorists as well. The name of one, Simon the Zealot, says it all (Mt.10:4). He's obviously a member of the Zealot insurgency that played such a destructive role against us in Sephoris and elsewhere. As for the others (there are 12 in the gang), it's difficult to identify them, because they all carry noms de guerre. Two of them are called "Sons of Thunder" (Mk.3:17). Another is "Rocky" (Mt.16:18). Still another is probably a Sicarius (one of those knife fighters responsible for assassinations of Roman soldiers). His code name is Iscariot -- note the "sicarius" reference (Jn.6:71).
As I indicated earlier, Jesus own nom de guerre is "Son of Man" (e.g. Mk8:27-38). Our temple informants tell us that this name bears high significance in the Jewish resistance. Apparently, it comes from some "Book of Daniel" these people hold as "sacred." In that book, the Son of Man is a Jewish hero responsible for the destruction of imperial enemies, past, present, and future. Needless to say, anyone assuming that title is a sworn enemy of Rome and its most peaceful benevolent order.
Yeshua's own hatred for Rome and vendetta against us is unmistakable. At one point he openly identified our young servicemen as demons. He is said to have used magical powers to symbolically drown them in the sea. But first he drove them into a herd of pigs, the filthiest animals these Jews can imagine (Mk.5:1-20). Not only was that insulting to our heroic young servicemen, they say it reminded many of Yeshua's compatriots of the first such drowning in their legendary history. Apparently, that was when Egyptian "legions" were drowned in the sea more than a thousand years ago. Once again, all of this was unambiguous code for Yeshua's intention to overthrow our empire.
Not only that, he has promised to bring down to rubble the Jews' Temple in Jerusalem (Mk.13). How he'd achieve this is unclear. True, his men are armed -- reason enough to eliminate them (Lk.22:36-38). It must be that he is part of the insurgency planning vengeful attack on those they see as collaborators among the Jewish clergy, especially the high priesthood. And a central target of their retribution is the temple. In fact, recently Yeshua took part in (and probably led) a demonstration there aimed at the merchants who make their living selling religious items (Mk.11:15-19). He and his violent demonstrators used whips against the peaceful temple entrepreneurs, overturned stalls and tables -- no doubt a preview of the more extensive destruction this violent man has promised. And don't mistake the depth of his violence. He makes no pretensions to be a man of peace. I have it on the best authority that he has said "Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword (Mt.10:34-36).
As you can see, august Emperor and Son of God, Yeshua ben Miryam unmistakably meets both of our cautious criteria for the use of our new drone technology. If not a member of the Zealot insurgency, he has close associates in the organization, and is probably an important adviser of theirs. His connection with the Sicarius assassins has already been noted. On top of this, he travels with an armed gang, and has targeted both our troops and temple property for destruction. More than that, his "Son of Man" and "Son of God" pretentions have designated the very empire itself for annihilation. (It must be that he hates our freedom.)