by Patrick Martin, from WSWS
Late Friday evening, the Obama administration released a previously secret policy document that gives general instructions to those engaged in preparing, approving and carrying out the drone-missile assassinations that have become the hallmark of Obama’s eight years in the White House.
The document, a President Policy Guidance, or PPG, was made public, albeit with extensive redactions, as the result of a protracted legal battle by the American Civil Liberties Union. Federal Judge Colleen McMahon ordered the Justice Department to release the document no later than Friday, August 5. The ACLU posted the PPG on its web site the next morning.
The 18-page document makes clear that what has taken place since Obama entered the White House is the routinization and bureaucratization of state killings. Literally any individual on the planet could be targeted for assassination by a Hellfire missile fired from a US Reaper drone.
Derek Chollet, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs from 2012 to 2015, described the atmosphere inside the Obama administration in an interview last month with the Washington Post. “[T]he use of military power—the United States killing people overseas—occurs so frequently now that it just kind of washes over the debate,” he said. “It has become almost too easy. No one even notices it any more. It’s just a constant.”
While US citizens and resident aliens (“US persons” in the language of the PPG) require specific approval by the president—unlike citizens of foreign countries, where only notice to the president is required, but not his approval in advance—there is no geographical restriction whatsoever. Nothing stops the CIA from proposing, and the president from approving, the drone missile assassination of someone within the borders of the United States.
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