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Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:09 AM

Paranoia Strikes Deep: A Cowering America still Haunted by Bin Laden’s Ghost (Engelhardt)


Paranoia Strikes Deep: A Cowering America still Haunted by Bin Laden’s Ghost (Engelhardt)
Posted on 02/06/2013 by Juan


This week, during the Senate confirmation hearings for Brennan’s nomination as CIA director, we are undoubtedly going to hear much about “legality” and drone assassination campaigns. Senator Ron Wyden, for instance, has demanded that the White House release a 50-page “legal” memo its lawyers created to justify the drone assassination of an American citizen, which the White House decided was far too hush-hush for either the Congress or ordinary Americans to read. But here’s the thing: if Wyden got that bogus document, undoubtedly filled with legalisms (as a just-leaked 16-page Justice Department “white paper” justifying drone killings is), and released it to the rest of us, what difference would it make? Yes, we might learn something about the vestiges of a guilty conscience when it comes to American legality in a White House run by a former “constitutional law professor.” But we would know little else.

Once upon a time, an argument over whether such drone strikes were legal or not might have had some heft to it. After all, the United States was once hailed, above all, as a “nation of laws.” But make no mistake: today, such a “debate” will, in the Seinfeldian sense, be an argument about nothing, or rather about an issue that has long been settled.

The drone strikes, after all, are perfectly “legal.” How do we know? Because the administration which produced that 50-page document (and similar memos) assures us that it’s so, even if they don’t care to fully reveal their reasoning, and because, truth be told, on such matters they can do whatever they want to do. It’s legal because they’ve increasingly become the ones who define legality.

It would, of course, be illegal for Canadians, Pakistanis, or Iranians to fly missile-armed drones over Minneapolis or New York, no less take out their versions of bad guys in the process. That would, among other things, be a breach of American sovereignty. The U.S. can, however, do more or less what it wants when and where it wants. The reason: it has established, to the satisfaction of our national security managers — and they have the secret legal documents (written by themselves) to prove it — that U.S. drones can cross national boundaries just about anywhere if the bad guys are, in their opinion, bad enough. And that’s “the law”!

As with our distant wars, most Americans are remarkably unaffected in any direct way by the lockdown of this country. And yet in a post-legal drone world of perpetual “wartime,” in which fantasies of disaster outrace far more realistic dangers and fears, sooner or later the bin Laden tax will take its toll, the chickens will come home to roost, and they will be able to do anything in our name (without even worrying about producing secret legal memos to justify their acts). By then, we’ll be completely locked down and the key thrown away.

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Reply Paranoia Strikes Deep: A Cowering America still Haunted by Bin Laden’s Ghost (Engelhardt) (Original post)
unhappycamper Feb 2013 OP
Democracyinkind Feb 2013 #1
malthaussen Feb 2013 #2

Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:16 AM

1. Make no mistake: OBL won. He defeated us fair and square.

He baited us to become that which he always claimed we are. And we did. Rapidly.

If I ever hear someone say "Terrorism doesn't work" again, I'll go nuts. It's worked perfectly.

He gave our Oligarchs the excuse to shred what little was left of the constitution. What little humanity our Empire had left; the prospect at least, of one day again finding the right exit to the high road again.

Some days, I wonder if that was not his goal in the first place. If so, kudos to him - must have been one of the most succesful and devilish plots ever played out.

Now that he's gone, who's really ready to say "We won". If we have "won", only by losing the most essential parts.

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Response to Democracyinkind (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:53 AM

2. Classically, the purpose of terror is to create terror.

Creating terror leads to repression, repression is supposed to lead to discontent and eventually government instability, optimally government overthrow by the repressed. Now, the rap I see most often about OBL's plans is that he hoped to push the US into expensive wars of imperialism and bankrupt us. Not sure what that is based on, it sounds like ex-post facto reasoning to me. Nevertheless, whether OBL's intentions were classical or the latter attribution, or even if he was just pissed off, his victory is clear to anyone who looks around at what has happened to our country in this century.

Nay-sayers might smirk at the idea that he won because eventually "we" killed him, but they confuse survival with victory.

-- Mal

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