“My administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens”.
leave traces. Memories - personal journals, public manifestos linger. Historians
mark the date of uprisings and write accounts of courage, sacrifice, strategies.
Government documents record the numbers of its forces, the arrests, the convictions
and sentencing, the exiles, the deaths, and the “victory” over violence. A
victory for law and order! Of the revolutions in the modern era - for example,
the French, the Russian, the German, the Cuban - only the “American
Revolution,” we are told, exemplifies a “good” revolution. In The American Road to Capitalism,”
Charles Post argues that the American Revolution, along with the Civil War,
were bourgeois revolutions that helped to establish and consolidate “state-institutions
that helped secure the political and judicial conditions for the development of
capitalism in the U.S.”
the wake of a revolution, more than the trace of fear lingers. Social relations
are altered in either the new or reformed society. As we have come to evaluate
“outcome” of worker-led revolutions, even the oppressed in either the new or
the reformed adopts fear as a way of being and only a few come to understand
that struggle is the permanent way of being. The potential for change lingers
in their memories of empowerment, however brief or muffled.
is no wonder that governments, alert to the possibility of future uprisings,
co-opt change, mask it to appear
something beneficial to all when it comes rolling down from the top, wrapped in
slogans with a price tag as an appendage. The poor and the workers hunker down.
It is the “bourgeois revolution” of the Right or the Left, suits and more
bureaucracy, and even fewer civil liberties, more prison cells and high-tech
surveillance, and stiffer laws to maintain the peace - and change, of
all accounts, according to Daniel Klaidman, special correspondent for Newsweek, the al-Qaeda organization has
been weakened since the beginning of the “war on terror.” Osama bin Laden is
dead, so are major leaders, dead or captured. A young wannabe suicide bomber,
Hafiz Hanif, left Pakistan in late 2011 in search of a jihadis camp, only to
find that high-profile lists, the CIA, Admiral William H. Mc Raven’s Joint
Special Operations Command, (JSOC), drones and Hellfire missiles, capture and
indefinite detention, had reduced his cell from fifteen to four fighters, “hunkered
down in a mud-brick house, scrounging for food, with no resources and no
ability to carry out operations.” Hanif was ordered home. His services were no
longer needed “unless he wanted to be killed by an American drone strike” (Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the
Soul of the Obama Presidency, 2012).
Obama, Klaidman writes, enshrined into law “a system he had once derided as a ‘legal black hole.’But
still open for business. Habeas Corpus has not been restored and Americans
could be detained indefinitely and killed. On streets in the “free” world,
specifically the U.S.,
protesters are confronted with a high-tech military-style police force. In
addition to military-style tanks and police armed to resemble an army of Darth
Vadars, the Homeland Security Wire is
proud to announce that the New York Police department has received four AW 119
helicopters. The NYPD already has permission and funding from the
government-corporate partnership to extend its surveillance operation to
is, indeed, change! Gone is the
primitive use of water hoses and dogs! The U.S. is high-tech, Smart, and
Progressive! Tasers and rubber bullets now!
Range Acoustic Device, a “‘sonic cannon,’” writes Paul Street, The Independent, May 17, 2012,
“developed by ‘defense’ corporations in league with the military and local law
enforcement” are the newest symbol of change
in the U.S. And there are drones too. It
could be worse - a Republican could authorize their use - on the home front in
war on terror. But as Street reports, earlier this year, “President Barack
Obama signed into law an FAA funding bill that will significantly expand the
use of drones in the United
States.” Citing an article in Fosters’ Daily Democrat, Street
continues, drones will open the skies with “likely thousands - of unmanned
aircraft piloted by companies and public agencies.” “Militarized
dissent-cleansing” has been conducted on protesters in the Occupy Movement
throughout the nation, particularly in New
York, where Mayor Bloomberg called for a “9/11 level
lockdown” and martial law was put into effect.
Bloomberg, like so many politicians
and corporate CEOs, is the kind of idealist who looks ahead to the future!
(t)he lines are crossed by a giant and growing
private-‘security’ and surveillance sector and new state- and corporate-developed
technologies that connect the theory and practice of repressive population
control across national, global, and local lines.
The government tells us that
terrorists are everywhere!
will assume we have something called the Left here in the U.S. and ask - do
we even know what is it that we want? What kind of government we want? Do we
want laws that are already stacked in favor of corporations now known as
“persons” apparently with special privileges? Do we want a leadership that extends
warfare globally, and at home? Do we want to live in a world of fear in which
we back-peddle until there is no trace - no history, no record - that an
opposition ever existed?
al-Qaeda weakened, this could be the watershed moment when revolution, a
people’s revolution, is in danger of never becoming a reality.
The “buzzing of an expectant drone” seems to drown out the U.S.’s rhetoric of hope.
was reluctant to read Daniel Klaidman’s Kill
or Capture, but I did, and while reading, I could not refrain from shaking
my head. Why all the brain-power, sheer mental and physical energy, commitment,
and dedication from government officials, including the president and his
appointees to continue a “war on terror” on behalf of something these humans
call “American values?” Millions are without basic necessities and politicians
and the corporations make huge profits, and kill along the way, all in the name
of “American values.”
the president on down to aides, those Klaidman interviewed repeated the phrase
“American values.” Agonizing decisions and late night strategizing were done in
the name of “American values.” What are those “American values” for the
American people and for those “war on terror” strategizers? Are those “American
values” connected to the “bring it on” philosophy or are they to be found in
the philosophy of “change you can believe in”?
Klaidman’s account he recalls from key Washington sources the White House’s strategies
to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian courts, to relocate former detainees
from Guantanamo, including the Uighurs, (found not to be terrorists but
terrorists nonetheless to Americans,) to escalate the use of drones, and to
planning to kill, rather than to capture, bin Laden. Kill or Capture does not portray the players as “evil doers,” bent
on ruling the world with an iron heel. These are human beings, Democrats,
Republicans, military strategists, lawyers, political specialists, who share a
belief in “American values.” As I turned the pages, I read account after
account on the necessity to defend “American values” - in secrecy. Secrecy from
the American people! Secrecy among certain cabinet members! Secrecy from
Congress! I suppose it is difficult for the profoundly transparent to operate
on the “dark side.”
In the U.S., citizens, no evil doers themselves, want to see a president “smoke ’em out and hunt them down.
had been elected as a change maker,” writes Klaidman. Obama “would close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, end preventive
detention, and bring terrorist to justice in civilian courts, among other
sweeping changes.” Once Obama took office, writes Klaidman, he “struggled with
national security dilemmas, sometimes to the point of Hamlet-like indecision,
trying to balance security and liberty…He believed America’s strength was rooted in
idealist, the upholder of American values, is briefed on drone technology. Vice
Admiral Mike McConnell and the newly-elected president “met in a tiny room - a
sensitive compartmentalized information facility, or SCIF - in the Kluczynski Building” where the admiral divulged to
Obama “the intelligence community’s deepest secrets” - “the inner workings of
the CIA’s covert drone program.” Obama is fascinated with the idea of
“precision technology,” “mechanized deaths from miles away.” Drones are the
“crown jewels of American spying in the region, and they were now Obama’s.”
There are no “evil doers” but
deliberately or reluctantly - collectively - people can create something as
diabolical as that created by the “enemy” labeled “terrorist.”
a gift, then, for an extremist on the right or, in this case, a centrist
liberal to wield such power in order to defend “American values”! The liberal
centrist has outdone the rightist before him because, in the U.S., citizens,
no evil doers themselves, want to see a president “smoke ’em out and hunt them
down. “You need to target the metastasizing disease without destroying the surrounding
tissue,” John Brennan, Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security
and Counterterrorism, and Assistant to the President, informs
Obama. That analogy offered the idealist an image, I surmise, in keeping with
“American values.” (It should be noted that Brennan also served as CEO of the
Analysis Corporation after 2005, Wikipedia).
the past eight years, reports Leon Watson, (Daily
Mail, September 28, 2012), some 345 strikes have hit the Pakistani tribal
area “near the border with Afghanistan”
alone. An “entire region is being terrorized by the constant threat of death
from the skies,” he writes.
Obama agonizes over the intelligence.
a candidate for president of the U.S.,
the world’s Superpower, Obama wondered how the people in the regions under
attack from U.S. feel: “do
they feel hope” when they look up and see U.S. helicopters? (Kill or Capture). In a pre-election
speech, he is on the record for wondering aloud: “The America I know
is the last, best hope for that child looking up at a helicopter.” (Because helicopters are coming and drones
are scheduled to target “terrorists” and the American public will feel safe and
secure in the knowledge that their values are being upheld!). Three years
later, the children in Waziristan or Kunar do look up, but the “buzzing of an
expectant drone” seems to drown out the U.S.’s rhetoric of hope. Klaidman
argues that it is more likely these children and young people find themselves “drawn
to radicalism not only by a religious fervor but also by a persistent sense of
futility in their lives.”
But the U.S. agonizes over its decisions - no
matter how difficult but ultimately necessary.
writes that in December of last year, a reporter asked the Democrat in the White House to respond to Republican criticism of his handling of foreign policy. Obama’s
foreign policy, according to the Republicans,
is “weak.” Obama’s foreign policy “amounts
to ‘appeasement.’” Obama one-ups the previous commander-in-chief with a display
of “bravado”: “Ask Osama bin Laden and the twenty-two out of thirty top
al-Qaeda leaders who’ve been taken off the field whether I engage in
Similarly to the Republicans, the
current - and changed - regime in use of U.S.
corporate-produced weaponry, did not discuss with children also killed or
severely injured or terrorized by U.S.’s warfare how non-appeasement
differs from an anti-Bush or, for that matter, an anti-totalitarian foreign
there are agonizing moments in the White House, where men and women, upholding
American values, struggle into the late night and manage to politick the next
day with Lindsey Graham or some key financier, and dine in the evenings among
the chic, golf on the weekends when not vacationing at Martha’s
Vineyard. And talk a little basketball, always time for a little
the drones still fly toward their target and Gitmo is still open.
Awlaki business took weeks of secret discussions and an agonizing expenditure
of intelligence. Awlaki was no angel. According to Klaidman, one of Obama’s
national security advisers described Awlaki as a man that “had things on the
stove ready to boil over” while Zawahari Ayman, “was still looking for
ingredients in the cupboard.” Awlaki was the man to kill rather than capture. (Republican
Senator Lindsey Graham, a frequent visitor to the Obama Oval Office, once asked
Admiral Mc Raven, testifying before “the Senate Armed Services Committee as
Obama’s nominee to lead the US Special Operations Command,” “If you caught
someone tomorrow in Yemen, Somalia, you name the theatre, outside of
Afghanistan, where would you detain that person?”). “I want Awlaki,” Obama told
Brennan and General James “Hoss” Cartwright. The latter briefed Bush II and acknowledged
he now heard “rhetoric” that sounded a bit like Bush. “Do you have whatever you
need to get this guy?”
Millions are without basic necessities and politicians and the corporations make huge profitsU.S. intelligence did just that - tracking Awlaki in
the Al-Jawf province in Yemen,
according to Klaidman. Usually Awlaki “surrounded himself with children, and
the standing orders from Obama had always been to avoid collateral damage at
almost all cost.” (Almost all cost?).
Obama wanted Awlaki! (Awlaki on the
idealist’s resume would look good, exemplary of American values!). Children
were lucky, this time. The U.S.
target was on the move - and Obama was “never forced to confront that awful
dilemma,” one aide reported. “In this one instance,” the aide stressed, “the
president considered relaxing some of his collateral requirements.” (No children. women, and innocent civilians,
I mention that Anwar Awlaki was an American-born
was killed - not captured.
U.S. has the highest
incarceration rate in the world and the current regime in Washington D.C.
has, once again, outdone the previous Republican regime, by detaining and
deporting more immigrants. Dissenters, too, are arrested daily in various
cities where the Occupy Movement continues.
Klaidman reports, was “persuaded that he could neither release nor prosecute
48’ without doing grievous harm to national security.” Obama was forced to
balance “security and American values.” So
the prison at Guantanamo
Bay is open, possibly for
further business? Obama, Klaidman writes, enshrined into law “a system he
had once derided as a ‘legal black hole.’”
What does the Left want if it is
confronted by such idealism in the White House?
properly credentialed-Obama-nominees, now official cabinet members, lawyers,
and military personnel, when presenting Obama with another gift, the liberty to
expand the use of “signature strikes,” spoke of killing more in each strike.
One target at a time was not enough! Carpet
sweeping could eliminate more terrorists at once! Wouldn’t that be a good idea
in keeping with American values? According to Klaidman, the idealist Obama
rejected this idea in the first weeks of his presidency.
“mechanized” killing is so less bloody. And idealists change, given certain circumstances.
Change is good for the government and
corporate partnership. Signature strikes are still in, and Americans, too, can become targets of investigation,
arrest, indefinite detention - but this, was another agonizing decision from within the U.S.
Hawaii on New
Year’s Eve, writes, Klaidman, Obama had one last piece of legislative business
before he could relax with his family: he had to sign the defense bill.” He was
“outraged” because he considered the bill to be an example of “extreme and
dangerous provisions.” Obama’s lawyers came up with a “signing statement”:
have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain
provisions. My administration will not authorize the indefinite military
detention without trial of American citizens. I believe that doing so would
break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.”
late February, lawyers for Obama found a “way to gut the congressional
restrictions - for a time.”
it is again, writes Klaidman: “the president as law professor and would-be
protector of America’s
second American Revolution in the making! A consolidation of a government and
corporate partnership, and a primary component of all those totalitarian
there any trace of the Left in the U.S.?
Board member and Columnist, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate in Modern
American Literature/Cultural Theory. Click here to contact Dr. Daniels.