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More Frightening Truths About Obama’s 'Disposition Matrix'

According to Merriam Webster: “disposition -- “final settlement or arrangement of a matter.”

According to wikipedia: “In mathematics, a matrix (plural matrices) is a rectangular array of numbers, symbols, or expressions, arranged in rows and columns.”

I can’t help connecting the connotations of the above definitions in context of Obama's ever-escalating assassination program to the chilling “final solution” euphemism used by the Nazis.

Especially after reading these words by Arthur Silber:

“... the bureaucratization of terror, the phenomenon that Hannah Arendt wrote about extensively. Always remember that what these "U.S. officials" and "senior Obama administration officials" are discussing is the murder of human beings, including the murder of entirely innocent human beings. But they speak of a "disposition matrix," and the "accounting of the resources being marshaled," in the manner that might be used to discuss office supplies. "Oh, dear, we need more paperclips. Staplers, too." "Hmm. This group of men -- there seem to be about ten or twelve of them -- seems to be engaged in a 'suspicious pattern of activity.' We'd better dispose of them."

The story refers to "a former U.S. counterterrorism official" who mentions "a disposition problem." He means the problem of what to do with all those the State places in the category of "everyone who wants to harm us," a category which the government steadily increases in number. As the stories about the Kill List make clear, the easiest method of "disposition" is murder. When they're dead, the State doesn't need to be concerned about "disposing" of them further.

Just as we have seen before -- if anyone cares to remember -- the State which is determined to unleash horror on an ever-increasing scale seeks to transform the horror into an everyday, ordinary matter of following procedure, of following the rules, of routine.

Obama announced through The Washington Post recently (one and a half weeks prior to the 2012 election, significantly) that the system that has evolved from his Terror Tuesday West Wing-based dictatorial assassination program has expanded -- morphed -- into something Obama has labelled the dispassionate and thus chilling-sounding “Disposition Matrix”. A “disposal” program so to speak, heavily and shamelessly relying on extermination -- drone extermination but not necessarily entirely -- in which Obama presumes the right to kill at HIS dictatorial, anti-constitutional will.

This is Chris Floyd’s stark message of Obama’s troubling intentions as our commander-in-chief and president:

Perhaps this fact should be borne in mind by all those anguished progressives out there who keep telling themselves that Obama will "be different, that he will "turn to the left," if we can only get him a second term. No; the legacy of arbitrary, lawless, systematic murder is the legacy he wants. It is the legacy he has been building, with remarkable energy and meticulous attention to detail, day after day, week after week, for the past four years. This is what he cares about. And it is this -- not jobs, not peace, not the environment, not equal rights for women and ethnic and sexual minorities, not the poor, not the middle class, not education, not infrastructure, not science, not diplomacy -- that he will apply himself to in a second term. (Along with his only other political passion: forging a "grand bargain" with Big Money to gut the remaining shreds of the New Deal.)

An impassioned Arthur Silber uderscores the nature of Obama’s program in "Accomplices to Murder":

As I have written before: "the claim of a 'right' to dispense death arbitrarily -- the claim that the State may murder anyone it chooses, whenever it desires -- constitutes a separate category altogether, a category of which this particular claim is the sole unit. When death is unleashed, all possibility of action is ended forever." For this reason -- and it is the only reason required -- it is not "perfectly rational and reasonable" to decide that "the evils of their candidate [Obama] are outweighed by the evils of the GOP candidate."

There is no evil beyond the claimed "right" to murder by arbitrary edict, to murder anyone, anywhere, anytime. If you support this particular evil -- and if you vote for Obama, you support it -- then you will support anything.

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The State is become death. Our target can be anyone we choose. Yes, this means you. No, there is nowhere to run.

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Americans cannot legitimately claim ignorance of the immense evil being perpetrated by their government. They will not be able to claim, as others have tried to do in the past: "We never knew about the horrors that were being committed. How can you believe that we knew about that?"

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Americans know all about it, in horrifying, endless detail. The State wants them to know. But the State knows that almost all Americans will refuse to admit what it means. Americans have chosen to sleepwalk blindly into the mouth of Hell. If these horrors should be practiced on a much broader scale, with the victims numbering in the many thousands, or even millions -- and depending on events, they well might be -- many Americans will no doubt plead ignorance despite the fact that the knowledge was freely and eagerly provided to them. They will ask for forgiveness. They should not be granted it, not by anyone who remains at all civilized, who is still human in the true meaning of that word.

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The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.

Although the matrix is a work in progress, the effort to create it reflects a reality setting in among the nation’s counterterrorism ranks: The United States’ conventional wars are winding down, but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years.

snip

“We can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us,” a senior administration official said. “It’s a necessary part of what we do. .?.?. We’re not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, ‘We love America.'"

“WE CAN’T POSSIBLY KILL EVERYONE WHO WANTS TO HARM US ...????” but they -- senior administration officials, our military and Obama -- are sure as hell going to try! Of course, everyone who supposedly wants to kill us (most wanting more realistically to simply “SURVIVE us” and OUR terrorism) wants to because we are trying to and successfully killing THEM!!!!

I share Silber's and Floyd’s degree of outrage and alarm.

Obama’s disclosure of such an -- again -- DICTATORIAL program at this 2012 election time profoundly compromises ethically EVERY voter endorsing Obama and his administration.

Obama is cravenly institutionalizing an impeachable program. If he receives a national mandate to continue such a DICTATORIAL program it plunges the United States into ever more war- and domestic-criminality.

There also seems a profound pathological pragmatism in Obama’s unwillingness to “capture” so-called enemies of the United States -- a total rejection of the Geneva Conventions, beyond the disdain for it held by the contemptible John Yoo of the Bush administration. As Jo Becker and Scott Shane write in the NYT:

“Yet the administration’s very success at killing terrorism suspects has been shadowed by a suspicion: that Mr. Obama has avoided the complications of detention by deciding, in effect, to take no prisoners alive. While scores of suspects have been killed under Mr. Obama, only one has been taken into American custody, and the president has balked at adding new prisoners to Guantánamo.”

I see Obama again and again as president exercising a profoundly pathological gambler’s character disposition.

Right now he is gambling on the amoral enthrallment of his “lesser evil” supporters. Tragically, it seems like a safe (well, not safe, more like dooming-for-all-of-us (including the entire global village and all of our descendants)) bet! What stabbing irony the Nobel Peace Prize winner has turned Murderer-in-Chief.

This reckless and vicious inner gambler has emerged again and again and it has paid off for Obama in his apparent mission to illegally extend the executive branch beyond the Bush regime’s illegitimate reach and dismantle further our basic civil rights and international law.

One stunning example of Obama as dictator and gambler was when he ordered the targeted killing of an AMERICAN CITIZEN. INCREDIBLY OBAMA GOT AWAY WITH IT!!!

Two weeks later, Obama arranged to have droned Awlaki’s sixteen year old son and the son’s seventeen year old cousin.

EVEN MORE INCREDIBLY, HE GOT AWAY WITH THAT!

In my last blog about the “disposition matrix” I speculated angrily what alleged crimes the young son and cousin, let alone the father, had actually committed to warrant THEIR murders.

This from Andre Damon of wsws:

When confronted with questions about the legality its of extrajudicial killings, the administration has responded with language appropriate to mafia dons. Asked about the drone killing of the 16-year-old US citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki in Yemen last year, Obama campaign advisor Robert Gibbs said he “should have [had] a far more responsible father,” referring to Anwar al-Awlaki, likewise a US citizen, who was killed by a US drone strike two weeks before his son.

Is the implication from Robert Gibbs SIMPLY AND STUNNINGLY that the son was droned just for being the son? The son of an Obama-declared untried AMERICAN terrorist? That was the justification for murder?

And the young cousin who was annihilated along with the son. Was he compromised as a terrorist target for being with the son who was compromised by being a blood relative of his father’s, or by being with an alleged terrorist or was he simply droned as one more “bug splat” “collateral damage” drone victim of Obama et al. whom the chosen assassins of our mighty and ubiquitous military are more than willing to exterminate when inconveniently in target range “for the greater faux-good”?

Sounds like that chilling military mantra, “Shoot ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out!”

As for the initial drone assassination of the father, New Mexican Anwar Awlaki’s, Silber in his blog MURDER IS EASY shares these revelations about Obama’s MOMENTOUS choice:

“That record, and Mr. Awlaki’s calls for more attacks, presented Mr. Obama with an urgent question: Could he order the targeted killing of an American citizen, in a country with which the United States was not at war, in secret and without the benefit of a trial?

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel prepared a lengthy memo justifying that extraordinary step, asserting that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.

[OBAMA CLEARLY HAS HIS OWN “JOHN YOO” SQUAD FOR CRIMINALLY AND CONVENIENTLY TWISTING THE LAW]

Mr. Obama gave his approval, and Mr. Awlaki was killed in September 2011, along with a fellow propagandist, Samir Khan, an American citizen who was not on the target list but was traveling with him.

[YET, ANOTHER DUE-PROCESS-LESS AMERICAN. AS WHAT, GUILT BY ASSOCIATION OR WHAT-THE-HEY “COLLATERAL DAMAGE”?]

Silber goes on:

If the president had qualms about this momentous step, aides said he did not share them. Mr. Obama focused instead on the weight of the evidence showing that the cleric had joined the enemy and was plotting more terrorist attacks.

“This is an easy one,” Mr. Daley recalled him saying...

“THIS IS AN EASY ONE!” said our reckless, cowboy, gambling (not to mention cold-blooded) president.

Set ‘em up, again, boys and gals. Obama won another round as we slide down the slippery slope to full-out fascism thanks to the colossal passivity and moral obtuseness of the vast majority of our citizenry and a colossally betraying fourth estate.

Arthur Silber writes of the two categories of assassination strikes:

“In Pakistan, Mr. Obama had approved not only “personality” strikes aimed at named, high-value terrorists, but “signature” strikes that targeted training camps and suspicious compounds in areas controlled by militants.

But some State Department officials have complained to the White House that the criteria used by the C.I.A. for identifying a terrorist “signature” were too lax. The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees “three guys doing jumping jacks,” the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers — but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued.

This is what Chris Floyd has to say about the signature strikes:

But that's not all, not by a long shot. These codified murders are also being inflicted on people who are not on any list whatsoever: their names, affiliations, beliefs, intentions -- indeed, their dispositions -- are completely unknown to those who kill them. They are the faceless targets of "signature strikes," which allow American death squads to kill people based on "patterns of activity" which may -- or may not -- signal some possible malign intent -- or none -- toward someone -- or no one -- somewhere -- or nowhere. This rigorous process rests entirely on in the magical mind-reading abilities of drone jockeys ogling a computer screen. If the armchair warrior doesn't like the cut of someone's jib, then he squeezes his joystick and turns the stranger into "bug splatter," to use the term favored by our bold defenders of civilization.

I learned a tremendous amount about Obama’s "Terror Tuesday" program of “disposition” -- extermination -- from Arthur Silber’s blog:

It is the strangest of bureaucratic rituals: Every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference, to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be the next to die.

This secret “nominations” process is an invention of the Obama administration, a grim debating society that vets the PowerPoint slides bearing the names, aliases and life stories of suspected members of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen or its allies in Somalia’s Shabab militia.

The video conferences are run by the Pentagon, which oversees strikes in those countries, and participants do not hesitate to call out a challenge, pressing for the evidence behind accusations of ties to Al Qaeda.

“What’s a Qaeda facilitator?” asked one participant, illustrating the spirit of the exchanges. “If I open a gate and you drive through it, am I a facilitator?” Given the contentious discussions, it can take five or six sessions for a name to be approved, and names go off the list if a suspect no longer appears to pose an imminent threat, the official said. A parallel, more cloistered selection process at the C.I.A. focuses largely on Pakistan, where that agency conducts strikes.

The nominations go to the White House, where by his own insistence and guided by Mr. Brennan, Mr. Obama must approve any name. He signs off on every strike in Yemen and Somalia and also on the more complex and risky strikes in Pakistan — about a third of the total.

Silber goes on to describe just who Obama arbitrarily classifies as a “combatant”:

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.

ANY MILITARY AGE MALE IS OUR ENEMY? GOD DAMN!!!

Also, consider again that posthumously, a mistakenly-labelled and DRONED civilian can be bureaucratically re-labelled “innocent”. Isn’t THAT cold comfort to the victim’s surviving loved ones!

Joseph Kishore of wsws also offers a serious analysis of Obama’s disposition matrix:

In other words, the administration has systematized a process by which the executive branch, with no judicial oversight, kills people—including US citizens—routinely all over the world. From a “state of exception,” the administration has transformed these powers, without any public discussion, into a state of permanence.

The language used by government officials to justify such measures is chilling. The list of potential targets has been dubbed a “disposition matrix.” One former administration official noted that they faced a “disposition problem”—i.e., the government faced the challenge of disposing of targets. Wary of a potentially messy legal process, whether in civilian courts or before military tribunals, the Obama administration has elected more and more to simply kill people.

Writing in the Council of Foreign Relations, Micah Zenko cites one military official involved in the targeted killing program: “To emphasize how easy targeted killings by special operations forces or drones has become, this official flicked his hand back over and over, stating, ‘It really is like swatting flies. We can do it forever easily and you feel nothing. But how often do you really think about killing a fly?’”

Employing a somewhat different analogy, former CIA analyst and Obama adviser Bruce Riedel, told the Post, “The problem with the drone is it’s like your lawn mower. You’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.”

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It is impossible to speak of the “erosion” of American democracy any longer. The situation is far more advanced. Such language reflects a political establishment for which the most basic democratic conceptions are entirely foreign. It is language befitting a police state.

Our senior officials are comparing the extrajudicial disposition matrix program to such banal activities as killing files or mowing grass? This degree of bureaucratization and desenstization of institutionalized state-generated murder should be inspiring mass outrage!

It will continue to ruthlessly endanger more and more human lives!

Our only hope is for citizens of awakened consciences to exercise them!

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Kathryn's picture
Submitted by Kathryn on

to quote:

"I can’t help connecting the connotations of the above definitions in context of Obama's ever-escalating assassination program to the chilling “final solution” euphemism used by the Nazis. "

Godwin's law in effect.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

but you know what I find even more appalling? That so many people don't give a fuck about the drones and kill list. I bring this up, and people either look at me as if I'm out of my mind to object (hey, he's just "keeping us safe"), or they think it's not true and I'm lying to make him look bad. It's amazing to me how captured they are. Amazing and insane.

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." -- Albert Einstein

Submitted by libbyliberal on

You know, reading even more about Awlaki's son makes his death all the more insane (as insane as Awlaki's was ILLEGAL AND ANTI-CONSTITUTIONAL AND IMMORAL) -- the son was searching for his father after having run away. He hadn't seen his dad in two years. The father was dead, annihilated by a drone. The son is droned two weeks later because ... because ... he cared about his dad? What had he actually done to deserve to be MURDERED? Or his cousin who happened to be with him?

Randy Shields' satire I posted excerpts of, twig, focuses on that crazymaking experience you share about! "Your Brain on Obama".

best, libby

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. (Japanese proverb)