Readers could be forgiven for thinking they stepped into a parallel universe while reading The New York Times on Monday, Jason Hirthler writes at CounterPunch, as the paper reported that “the U.S. was debating slaughtering another American by drone strike. And that this ‘debate’ was occurring in the hallowed halls of justice.”
One envisions our suave and insuperable President bent in the thinking man’s pose in a chair before assembled military chiefs, their jowly faces and watery eyes lending a providential gravity to their badges and epaulettes. Settled on their haunches, their consciences unfettered, they listen to the Decider-in-Chief describe his preference that the Pentagon, and not his personal executive paramilitary (CIA), conduct strikes against Americans. Better for transparency, it is said to be. Although transparency must not a high priority, considering none but the brave are privy to the supposedly classified evidence that the American in question and in Pakistan is actually guilty of plotting against his own country. Not that the existence of the evidence alone would merit a sudden strike without a court ruling. But we digress.
… Surely, though, the unnamed threats espoused by the President, without foresight, by Intelligence Chief James Clapper, without proof, and by Mr. Rogers, without sense, take precedence over decades of finely calibrated international law? Law designed to protect weak from strong and defenseless from militant? Surely it is better to err on the side of paranoia than peace? We must prize security above all. Once this oft-repeated maxim of the mass mind surfaces in one’s head, it soothes one’s fears that we might indeed be living in a parallel universe, one where we seem to celebrate the very things we despise, namely peace and justice and the sanctity of law.
For just a disorienting moment, though, it appeared that we lived in such a place. A world where a Pakistani man whose son is vaporized by an American drone and who demands a reckoning from the local CIA station chief, is first denied a hearing, then abducted for his persistence. Where this criminally complicit station chief is hustled out of the country at first light and furrowed away in that dense haystack of military bureaucracy. A world in which the executive supervisor of a global assassination program—conducted by airborne robots manned by field officers in Las Vegas La-Z-Boys—is able to publicly flout the law of his land and mistake policy for legislation. A world where anti-frackers are surveilled alongside anti-capitalists, and animal-rights activist and environmentalists strike fear into the hearts of the FBI. Even as our drone program inordinately slaughters civilians and produces,according to former military general Stanley McChrystal, 10 terrorists for every innocent slain.