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Aligning himself with presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, and at least one Bushwhacker, President Obama joined an American pantheon that has sanctioned all sorts of overseas shenanigans in the name of national security. Now that’s legacy bipartisanship with a vengeance. Literally.
What sets Obama apart from these notables is not just deciding to terminate an American citizen, a nasty terrorist hiding out in Yemen, but making the endgame so public. Even the notorious Bush staffer John Yoo never explicitly defended political murder by design. The ex-Constitutional law teacher promised transparency – and here it is. I for one endorse taking the fight over there, and without those costly, labor-intensive, endless wars. Behold the empty Bush boast rewritten: “Wanted: Dead or Dead.”
Consider, before you object, the incredible efficiency, savings and self-limiting collateral damage. If not quite painless, like mock suicide in M.A.S.H., political assassination is a great idea whose time has come – and will come again.
Par for Peace Prize Winners
Sure, legal fussbudgets like Salon’s Glenn Greenwald yammer about Constitutional improprieties, authorizing shooters to take out unindicted, untried citizens whose alleged crimes neutralize once inherent rights. Considering today’s progressives can’t even influence Democratic Supreme Court nominees, even this brilliant columnist isn’t likely to make Obama quake.
There’s no first-time breakthrough here, as presidents galore have okayed secret contracts on enemies, nefarious at times to dispatch entire governments, whether democratically-elected or not (Chile? Iran? Iraq?). Just this weekend the blast-from-the-past, fellow warrior Peace Prize winner, Henry Kissinger, was implicated in a 1970’s assassination plot against South Americans, proving this dream, too, never dies.
Hit Squads for the Ages
For the record, Dick Cheney stands out as the first V.P. with his own privately-run Hit Squad – and with his interminable enemy list, who’s shocked? Fearing evil creeps with nukes under every rock, he did what every patriot has to do: scorn the law and manipulate staff, intelligence and military forces. Give him credit for getting away with murder, so to speak, brashly outing a covert CIA agent, Valerie Plame, to get at her husband for anti-war positions. When in doubt, blame 9/11 and WMDs not yet found.
Others can focus on Obama’s inevitable Midterm gains for this certainly makes him the baddest socialist-Muslim-foreign-born president ever. Whacking terrorists also trumps any negatives accruing from recent gestures towards cutting nukes, driving the manic fringe manic. I wager wingnut birthers tone down nonsense about race and “non-citizenship” since rubbing out bloody Islamic traitors nearly makes him “one of us.” Maybe Obama is kin to Clarence Thomas, after all. Terrorist endings justify any means, and government by assassination fits perfectly the fringe war cry, “Shoot first, never ask questions, just like W.”
For some Obama voters, an official assassination plan sounds like more gloomy news, another right turn for the surging Obama team. Not at all, for what better exhibits decisive change “to believe in”? And from an emboldened commander-in-chief defending the U.S. of A. “by any means necessary,” as brother Malcolm said. Now we know, this president won’t be tied down by ideology, right or left, judicial precedence or likely international hubbub – and just when Europeans thought cowboy shoot-’em-ups ended with W. Surprise! Trust me, there’ll be no Congressional inquiry on this ploy, with already diminishing media attention except from MSNBC deviants. No, sir, political terminations not for prime time are a done deal, and final reviews, if any, will be slow to ooze out.
Think: Torture Evolved
Oddly enough, this assassination program finally settles whether Obama the anti-terrorist was simply more of the same Bush-Cheney secrecy-rendition-torture-incarceration-secret prison stuff. In fact, official dry-gulching goes demonstrably beyond torture, which only accidentally-on-purpose incites death. If the Geneva Conventions are just rough guides, not legal mandates per the Bush White House; and if torture restrictions evaporate when victims die, then why not save everyone a lot of trouble by blowing away insurgent enemies? Or better yet, have our clowns send in the drones.
Think of the incredible efficiency, delighting every Christian militia, for you can rub out terrorists so noxious you don’t need to wait for their active combat. You not only throttle costly investigations, but write off high-priced outsourced teams when capture and interrogation are the goals – plus forget expenses from local permits, duties, fees or taxes, and shooters may well deserve bounties.
Further, secret agents come in small, focused teams so our casualties should be virtually nil. Better still, if you drone your target into smithereens, forget visas or passports, let alone a nod from local warlords. All in all, the U.S. Olympic Hit Squad is efficient and saves time and money, government at its best, the kind even a rightwinger applauds.
The Only Good Terrorist . . .
And once some unspeakable enemy of civilization has been executed, the savings mount up. You don’t have to bury him (or her), nor dead children nor fellow travelers (no innocent lives with a terrorist). Further, since public responsibility is vague at best, deduct any “friendly fire” insurance payable to routine civilian victims.
Afterwards, the cost-benefit ratio really soars, for if done well, you’re home free. And I mean free – nada for jail time, multiple transport, due process, arraignment, indictment, objections by smart-ass defense lawyers, trials, witnesses, depositions, or complicated testimony. And there’s more, zero fuss about the kind of court or jury, thus no dread about the judge, conviction, or decade-long appeals. No Supreme Court review. Never has such simplicity of purpose met judicial shock and awe: the mission here gets accomplished, no questions asked. Don’t indict, terminate.
Gripping Hollywood Plots
Sure, top dogs from high in the White House to the bottom rung of the Pentagon can take private credit, even bragging rights, and years later there’ll be movie versions galore. Who doesn’t love a clean kill of a really bad guy, without enduring political static, as from commonplace civilian massacres. It makes you wonder why Cheney didn’t make this national policy, with fanfare, parades, and medals of honor for hit men eager to volunteer.
Except for the victim, who’s of course been fully vetted with a guaranteed, error-free investigation (nothing like Gitmo attendees), downsides for secret, private executions are hard to find. Cheap, targeted, efficient, no fuss, no muss, no bother – political assassination rocks. What’s not to like?