When Barack Obama was actively courting American votes in the 2008 presidential campaign, conspiracy theorists warned that if elected, the nation’s first black president would face a greater than normal risk of assassination. It now looks like the loons had the villain and victim in their assassination fantasy reversed.
In an interview last Thursday with The Washington Times, John Brennan, the president’s most senior advisor on counterterrorism and homeland security, revealed that the Obama administration maintains a list of American citizens who have been targeted for assassination.
“There are, in my mind,” Brennan is quoted as saying, “dozens of U.S. persons who are in different
parts of the world, and they are very concerning to us.”
Brennan expanded this point later in the interview by explaining that “[i]f an American person or citizen is in a Yemen or in a Pakistan or in Somalia or another place, and they are trying to carry out attacks against U.S. interests, they … will face the full brunt of a U.S. response.” [Emphasis added]
The entire statement is troubling but especially so the highlighted phrase in the previous paragraph, which suggests American intelligence agents are free to conduct their hunting expeditions off the battlefield. The difficulties inherent in the position are compounded by the fact that the speaker has decried words like terror and terrorism, insisting that the first is a “state of mind,” the second a “tactic,” and has inveighed against references to jihadists or Islamists. Read his own words:
Nor do we describe our enemy as “jihadists” or “Islamists” because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.
It is hard to fully know who a man like John Brennan considers the enemy.
The defense coming from the left is that this policy is no different from the one carried out by the Bush administration, a view that is both inaccurate and ironic. It is inaccurate insofar as Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence under Bush, testified before Congress that special permission must first be obtained by military or intelligence forces before what he termed “direct action” strikes could be taken against American citizens. The point of view is ironic in that enforcement of the Patriot Act, which this directive falls under, was something that the left was vehemently opposed to under George W. Bush. Why they no longer find it problematic under a Democratic president is a question that needs an answer.
The most troubling aspect of this policy is the power it gives one man, the president, and especially the current president. Barack Obama has sought to expand the powers of his office like no president before him, not even F.D.R. In the first half of his first term, he has already claimed control of one fifth of the economy, through health care, and seized control of the student loan industry. He has reserved for himself the right to decide which companies the government can and should take over. And now he has claimed the right over the life and death of individual citizens, without so much as a nod from Congress.
A poll conducted last week suggests that only 40 percent of Americans trust Obama. If you are among the 58 percent of respondents who say they have “just some” or “no” confidence in the president, do you trust him to maintain a hit list?
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