Archive for June 4th, 2012

by lizard

Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

—George Orwell

Obama as murderer? Jeremy Scahill says yes, causing quite an uproar with his appearance on Chris Hayes’ show.

According to what should be a shocking article in the New York Times, our Nobel Peace Prize winning president has fully embraced the ultimate power of deciding who dies and who doesn’t.

Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.

I say should be shocking because, well, it doesn’t seem to be shocking too many people. Obama supporters appear more concerned about Scahill’s word choices than they are about Obama’s death choices, which includes kids and US citizens.

And in accordance with Orwell’s description of political language as functioning to make murder respectable, Obama has gone deeply Orwellian by counting any corpse of a fighting-age man killed by drone strikes as “militants”—this from the NYT article:

Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.

Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good. “Al Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization — innocent neighbors don’t hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs,” said one official, who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.

The incrementalism that slowly cooks the oblivious frog is inching along toward a bad end for human rights and civil liberties in America and around the world.

Are Americans too brainwashed by corporate media at this point to register the implications of Obama’s dangerous expansion of the unitary executive in its use of a remote control death squad of drones that has killed regardless of national sovereignty and US citizenship?

Glenn Greenwald makes the very important point about the propaganda value of how the Obama administration counts corpses. link:

For now, consider what this means for American media outlets. Any of them which use the term “militants” to describe those killed by U.S. strikes are knowingly disseminating a false and misleading term of propaganda. By “militant,” the Obama administration literally means nothing more than: any military-age male whom we kill, even when we know nothing else about them. They have no idea whether the person killed is really a militant: if they’re male and of a certain age they just call them one in order to whitewash their behavior and propagandize the citizenry (unless conclusive evidence somehow later emerges proving their innocence).

What kind of self-respecting media outlet would be party to this practice? Here’s the New York Times documenting that this is what the term “militant” means when used by government officials. Any media outlet that continues using it while knowing this is explicitly choosing to be an instrument for state propaganda — not that that’s anything new, but this makes this clearer than it’s ever been.

Sure, clearer if you’re looking for it. But that’s the brilliance of American propaganda; many Americans don’t think that’s what they’re consuming, just like many Obama supporters don’t see the nefarious implications of Obama’s actions as president.

I’ve been accused of not being a member of the reality-based community where apparently apologizing for politicians has become a proud tradition.

That said, here’s the reality as I see it: the baton Obama will pass off to the next unitary executive will feature a handy button allowing him/her to kill anyone, anywhere, at anytime, and with the flimsiest reasoning as justification.

Whether it’s one term or two, the legacy Obama seems poised to leave behind will be one of decimated civil liberties at home, and indiscriminate death wrapped in lies and propaganda littered around the globe.

The useless anger directed at Jeremy Scahill for calling Obama’s actions murder is a truly sad measure of how close we are, as a country, to being cooked.

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