Legalize murder via ’69 Cambodian mayhem!



by Selvam Canagaratna

"We never know we go when we are going ? / We jest and shut the Door ? / Fate ? following ? behind us bolts it ? / And we accost no more ?."

- Emily Dickinson, Poems (1862 - 86)

September 11, 2001 produced an entirely new kind of horror that gripped the human imagination. It was the millennial catastrophe, even if a trifle late in arriving.

George W. Bush, that illiterate American propelled into prominence not by the popular vote but by the machinations of a Republican-dominated US Supreme Court was quick to parrot the thinking of the hardline neocons crowding his Administration: America was being targeted simply because ‘it was the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world’.

As Noam Chomsky noted at the time in his 2002 book Understanding Power, what was glaringly missing from the US media’s coverage of the 9/11disaster "was a full and realistic account of US foreign policy and its effects around the world. It was hard to find anything but a passing mention of the immense slaughter of Iraqi civilians during the Gulf War, the devastation of Iraq’s populations by US-instigated sanctions throughout the past decade, the US’s crucial role in supporting Israel’s 35-year occupation of Palestinian territories, its support for brutal dictatorships throughout the Middle East that repress the local populations, and on and on. Similarly absent was any suggestion that US foreign policy should in fundamental ways be changed."

Fast-forward to early 2009 when a professor ? and a Harvard law professor, at that ? took over America’s political reins from that nincompoop who, in response to 9/11 had chosen for the next eight years to call himself ‘The Decider’ merely to blunt the taunts of liberals that his Vice Prez Dick Cheney and his warmongering neocon clique were actually calling all the murderous shots in the Iraq war.

Barack Obama, the peace-loving law professor all throughout the 2008 presidential campaign soon morphed, after his inauguration in early 2009, into a smooth-talking and efficient exterminator himself, rivalling ? nay, excelling ? The Decider’s own gruesome record of killing more innocent men, women and children than actual terrorists via the use of America’s newest and novel unmanned killing machine called ‘drone’, the invisible and ever-present eye-in-the-sky.

Now, just months into his second term in the White House, Obama’s minions in the Justice Department have plumbed the depths of President Nixon’s terrible tenure in the Oval Office to come up with what can only be called ex post facto legal ‘trumps’ to justify Obama’s even more murderous final four-year term as America’s First Citizen.

One of the unhealthy effects of the contorted relationship Pakistan has with the US, in the considered view of Binoy Kampmark, a former Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge, is to make Pakistani sovereignty "a creature that has been abused and discredited during the course of its campaign against ‘terror’. "One way US foreign policy expresses this violent, anti-sovereign streak is through the use of drones in calculated, devastating strikes on a country deemed an ally."

Former famous Pakistani cricketer-turned popular politician, Imran Khan made drones a key policy platform, claiming that the umbilical cord of aid had to be severed with Washington. In the course of campaigning this year and the last, he even suggested that, in the event he won the election, US drones would actually be shot down under his orders. He didn’t win the election. [Make what you will of that!]

Legalize ... from page 8

On May 9, this year, Pakistan’s Chief Justice seemed to agree with Imran Khan. Hearing a case filed by the Foundation for Human Rights on behalf of families of victims killed in a US drone strike on March 17, 2011 in which more than 50 died, the Chief Justice said the drone strikes were absolutely illegal "and a blatant violation of sovereignty of the state of Pakistan." They amounted to war crimes at international law. There had been no evidence that General Pervez Musharraf had given the green light for their deployment when in power, he noted, nor was it a legitimate entitlement for a government to allow the killing of its own citizens without due democratic process.

Wrote Kampmark: "The tides of Pakistani-US relations tend to be inscrutable. Either spineless capitulation or robust defiance are on the cards, and if we are lucky, a mixture of both."

"At last we know," wrote Jeffrey St. Clair, Editor of CounterPunch magazine. "The mysterious legal authority for Barack Obama’s killer drone program flows from another administration with an elastic interpretation of executive power: that of Richard Nixon. In a chilling 16-page dossier known simply as the White Paper, one of Obama’s statutory brains at the Justice Department cites the 1969 secret bombing of Cambodia as a legal rationale justifying drone strikes, deep inside nations, against which the United States is not officially at war."

Jeffrey St. Clair noted that the startling disclosure was drafted "in the antiseptic prose of an insurance adjuster announcing the denial of a claim based on a pre-existing condition." It needs to be placed on record that ‘Operation Menu’, as the secret Cambodian campaign was known in Pentagon circles, involved more than 3,000 air strikes and was universally acknowledged as a war crime. "Now the Obama administration has officially enshrined that atrocity as precedent for its own killing rampages."

Emotionally, GWB was as ‘open’ as the proverbial book; hence his political motivations never needed deep psychological deciphering. He claimed to be constantly on the ‘hot line’ to the Almighty and aggressively made Jesus Christ’s reported claim his very own: ‘If you are not with me, you are against me.’

In Jeffrey St. Clair’s view, GWB’s blood lust probably stemmed from a Freudian fixation on Saddam’s pathetic attempt to kill his father, Papa Bush, back in 1991 in Kuwait City during the First Gulf War. Another possibility was subconscious guilt over having allowed 9/11 to occur on his watch. "What, however, is the driving force behind Obama’s savagery?" asked the CounterPunch editor. "Unlike Bush, who tended to show revealing glimpses of emotional strain, Obama operates with the icy rectitude of a political sociopath.

"The President has offered us a master class in political mesmerism, transforming the anti-war Left into supine functionaries of the imperial management team. Night after night, we are presented with sideshows, what Hitchcock called the McGuffin in his films, the dramatic diversions designed to distract the audience’s attention from the real game being played. Meanwhile, the liberal commentariat is balefully complacent to the rapacity of Obama’s remote control death squadrons, even in the face of sombre evidence regarding the drone program’s criminal nature. Raid after raid, kill after kill, they remain silent. But their silence only serves to emphasize their complicity, their consciousness of guilt. Their fingers too are stained by distant blood.

"Even Nixon, the ultimate enforcer, was rocked by insubordinates defecting from his regime, aides and staffers who reached their limit and resigned in disgust.

Where are similar figures of conscience in the Obama White House, or even the Democratic Party? Where are the leaks and resignations? Perhaps this is the ultimate object lesson on display in the ongoing persecution of Bradley Manning. Internal dissent, regardless of its legal and moral standing, shall not be tolerated. Indeed, it will be considered sedition and will be smothered by the supreme sanction of the government. Acts that were once considered outrages against conscience are now routine.

His conclusion: Welcome to the age of Murder.Gov.

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