When contemplating the euphemisms that have slipped into the lexicon since 9/11, the adjective Orwellian is difficult to avoid. But while such terms as extraordinary rendition, targeted killing and enhanced interrogation are universally known, and their true meanings – kidnap, assassination, torture – widely understood, the disposition matrix has not yet gained such traction.
Since the Obama administration largely shut down the CIA’s rendition programme, choosing instead to dispose of its enemies in drone attacks, those individuals who are being nominated for killing have been discussed at a weekly counter-terrorism meeting at the White House situation room that has become known as Terror Tuesday. Barack Obama, in the chair and wishing to be seen as a restraining influence, agrees the final schedule of names. Once details of these meetings began to emerge it was not long before the media began talking of “kill lists”. More double-speak was required, it seemed, and before long the term disposition matrix was born.
In truth, the matrix is more than a mere euphemism for a kill list, or even a capture-or-kill list. It is a sophisticated grid, mounted upon a database that is said to have been more than two years in the development, containing biographies of individuals believed to pose a threat to US interests, and their known or suspected locations, as well as a range of options for their disposal.
It is a grid, however, that both blurs and expands the boundaries that human rights law and the law of war place upon acts of abduction or targeted killing. There have been claims that people’s names have been entered into it with little or no evidence. And it appears that it will be with us for many years to come…
The term entered the public domain following a briefing given to the Washington Post before last year’s presidential election. “We had a disposition problem,” one former counter-terrorism official involved in the development of the Matrix told the Post. Expanding on the nature of that problem, a second administration official added that while “we’re not going to end up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying ‘we love America'”, there needed to be a recognition that “we can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us“.
Drawing upon legal advice that has remained largely secret, senior officials at the US Counter-Terrorism Center designed a grid that incorporated the existing kill lists of the CIA and the US military’s special forces, but which also offered some new rules and restraints…
Orwell once wrote about political language being “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable”. As far as the White House is concerned, however, the term disposition matrix describes a continually evolving blueprint not for murder, but for a defence against a threat that continues to change shape and seek out new havens…
And while Obama says he wants to curtail the drone programme, his officials have been briefing journalists that they believe the operations are likely to continue for another decade, at least. Given al-Qaida’s resilience and ability to spread, they say, no clear end is in sight.
The article deals both with Obama’s Kill List, American governmental decisions about who lives and who dies under a Papier-mâché wrapper of legalness – and the British government’s partaking which devolves into identifying terrorists, proto-terrorists, when law gets in the way in the UK, moving them physically over to Obama’s kill list. They wash their hands of responsibility after that.
Either road, the Orwellian aspect of our government murdering people in the name of our security, killing them without a trial under either military or civilian circumstances is beyond treaties, international accord – or common decency as supposedly practiced by the American nation in time of war.
Obama’s decisions continue to stink on ice. As do the phony premises adopted by the battalions of digital storm troopers that do his bidding.
Roses with the faces of the murdered Sandy Hook students and adults
She came to speak from the heart — and from bitter experience.
Former Arizona congressman Gabrielle Giffords, who barely survived being shot in the face by a madman, arrived Friday in Newtown, Conn., hoping to console the heartbroken families of the first-graders and teachers who were slaughtered in the Sandy Hook school massacre.
Limping slightly and leaning on astronaut husband Mark Kelly for support, Giffords smiled as she entered town hall and embraced Schools Superintendent Janet Robinson.
“We’re so glad you came,” Robinson said. “Thank you…”
Then Giffords was ushered inside for a private meeting with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D—Conn.) and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.
“I am sorry, but there is no public aspect of this meeting,” town official Patricia Llodra said. After that sitdown, Giffords was expected to go meet the families, most likely at a private home.
Giffords brought with her a perspective that only a select few share — that of a person who came face-to-face with the kind of madness that left 20 innocent children and six school staffers dead on a cruel December morning.
Giffords’ congressional career was cut short and she was left an invalid almost two years ago when a deranged man armed with a legally-purchased Glock 9-mm. semiautomatic shot her just above the left eyebrow in a massacre that killed six people and wounded another 13…
Giffords’ visit came a day after some 400 surviving Sandy Hook students trooped back to class for the first time since the mass shooting — only in a new building, and in a different town…
“When will we address this problem as a nation?” Kelly tweeted in the aftermath. “The time is now.”
The time is long overdue. I’ve been a gun owner for decades. I still own target handguns plus a bit more I acquired after threats from nutball fundamentalists who consider it their God’s duty to assassinate environmental activists and other agents of the anti-Christ. Or so they say.
So what? I still don’t mind going through testing, certification, registration for any firearms I own – no more than I would decry testing and licensing for any level of driving motor vehicles.
The silliness that leads people to blather about regulation and oversight being anti-Constitutional is as insane as any of the ideological crap that seems to fester in some people’s brains like a paranoid cancer. Government is assigned responsibilities along with rights. If you disagree, there are legal and political processes that aid dissent. Otherwise, start caring more for your fellow human beings than your fear of what hides beneath the bed at night.
This thug still thinks he should be president of the United States
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
In his last days in office, outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour pardoned four men convicted of murder…David Gatlin, Joseph Ozment, Charles Hooker and Anthony McCray received full pardons and were released at 1 p.m. Sunday, said Suzanne Singletary, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. All four were serving life sentences and worked as trusties at the governor’s mansion, she said.
I guess they were extra polite serving the governor his bourbon and branch.
Gatlin was convicted of murder, aggravated assault and burglary of a residence…Ozment was convicted of murder, conspiracy and armed robbery in a separate case…
Hooker was convicted in a 1991 murder, while McCray was convicted in a 2001 murder, Singletary said…
Families of the men’s victims told CNN affiliates WAPT and WLBT they are outraged by Barbour’s decision…In 1993, WLBT reported, Gatlin walked into the trailer where his estranged wife, Tammy Ellis Gatlin, lived and shot her in the head. The woman’s friend, Randy Walker, survived a gunshot to the head.
“Is Gov. Barbour going to pardon us from our aches and pains and heartache that we have to suffer?” the victim’s mother, Betty Ellis, asked WLBT. “Is he going to pardon a child that had to grow up without a mother? Is he going to pardon me from never being able to feel her arms around my neck again? What is Barbour going to do about that?”
Turks cared more for Furkan Dogan than does the Obama government
Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and suspended military accords Friday, a day after publication of a U.N. report saying that Israel had used unreasonable force in a raid on a Gaza-bound ship that killed nine Turks.
Stung by Israel’s refusal to meet demands for a formal apology, pay compensation to families of the dead, and end the blockade of two million Palestinians living in the Gaza enclave, Turkey announced it was downgrading ties with the Jewish state further.
“Turkey-Israel diplomatic relations have been reduced to a second secretary level. All personnel above the second secretary level will be sent home by Wednesday at the latest,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference in Ankara…
Israel Friday said it accepted the findings of the U.N. report, and that it hoped to mend ties with Turkey, but reiterated that it would not apologize for the deaths. Of course not. Arrogance is thematic in Israeli politics.
Immediately after the attack on the aid convoy last year, Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel, suspended joint military exercises, and barred Israeli military aircraft from Turkish airspace.
Friday, Turkey went a step further by putting military pacts with its erstwhile ally on ice…
Erdogan’s stand on the Palestinian issue has held Turkey in good stead among Arabs agitating for greater democracy, notably in Egypt and more recently Syria…
Davutoglu also said support would be given to Turkish and foreign victims of the Israeli raid to seek justice from courts. One of the nine Turks killed was a U.S. citizen.
I presume you can guess how much support the United States has offered the family of the American murdered by the Israelis?
Yeah – I couldn’t find any support either from the Obama administration for Furkan Dogan the unarmed 19-year-old who was shot five times by Israeli gunmen. Obama did the usual “regrettable” everyone gets when the Israelis murder civilians. Furkan Dogan’s father has received no reply from requests to Hillary Clinton. And nothing additional that could be taken as criticism of Israel for the nine killings of members of the peace flotilla.
Three murderers who were expected to die in jail have launched a campaign for freedom based on their human rights and the European Court of Human Rights has agreed to hear the cases.
Jeremy Bamber, Peter Moore and Douglas Vinter – who killed 11 men between them and were each given “whole life” tariffs – claim their sentences amount to “inhuman or degrading treatment” and breach their right to a fair trial.
The court’s decision to hear their views is likely to anger both Parliament and the victims’ families. The House of Commons is already in a battle with Europe over prisoners’ rights, after it voted to maintain the ban on their voting against the orders of Brussels.
If the court, which is in Strasbourg, rules in their favour, all 41 of the prisoners serving the whole life terms would be eligible to claim for release. The list could include Ian Brady, the Moors Murderer, Rose West and Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper.
Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, told the Daily Mail: “It goes without saying that the Government will be fighting the case vigorously and defending the principle of the whole life tariff. A small number of prisoners’ crimes are so appalling that judges rule that they should never become eligible for parole.”
Justice and jurisprudence appear to have become nothing more than a playground for lawmakers, lawbreakers and lawyers. It’s all some kind of game based on the exchange of large sums of money.
Prisoner number 1447523 does not understand the question. And it is not exactly a controversial one. Why does he believe killing for a living is “glamorous”? Surely most people would find that kind of strange?
“Kind of strange? In what way?”
Prisoner 1447523’s name is Rosalio Reta. He was born and raised in Texas. By the age of 13 he was an assassin for one of Mexico’s drug cartels.
Convicted of two murders (he says he killed many more), he will probably spend the rest of his life behind bars…
Rosalio Reta is perhaps the most extreme example of a worrying trend: American teenagers being recruited to work for the Mexican drug cartels that control a multi-billion dollar trade.
What concerns law enforcement officials, and those working to keep teenagers out of the cartels’ grip, is that this is not simply a case of the cartels preying upon American teens – many actively want to join…
Teenagers are useful to them. In Texas, under-17s cannot be prosecuted as adults, so if they are caught working for the cartels, they often get away with light punishment…
What does Rosalio Reta think about attempts to keep kids away from drug gangs?
“Where I’m from, man, there’s only a couple of things you can be, and being part of a cartel is one of them.
“A lot of people wanna get involved in the cartels and that. Honestly, there are a lot of people who will look up to me.”
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
An international debate is needed on the use of autonomous military robots, a leading academic has said.
Noel Sharkey of the University of Sheffield said that a push toward more robotic technology used in warfare would put civilian life at grave risk. Technology capable of distinguishing friend from foe reliably was at least 50 years away, he added.
However, he said that for the first time, US forces mentioned resolving such ethical concerns in their plans.
“Robots that can decide where to kill, who to kill and when to kill is high on all the military agendas,” Professor Sharkey said at a meeting in London. “The problem is that this is all based on artificial intelligence, and the military have a strange view of artificial intelligence based on science fiction…”
The problem, he said, was that robots could not fulfil two of the basic tenets of warfare: discriminating friend from foe, and “proportionality”, determining a reasonable amount of force to gain a given military advantage.
“Robots do not have the necessary discriminatory ability,” he explained.
“They’re not bright enough to be called stupid – they can’t discriminate between civilians and non-civilians; it’s hard enough for soldiers to do that.
“And forget about proportionality, there’s no software that can make a robot proportional,” he added.
“There’s no objective calculus of proportionality – it’s just a decision that people make.”
RTFA. Lots of questions asked. Not a hell of a lot of answers.
I suppose the most pressing question is – does the military care about our questions at all? Do the politicians undertand – or care – who are supposed to oversee the military?
Killers could be ordered to pay for the funeral expenses of their victims under legislation drafted by the Scottish government.
The measure, expected to be introduced in the Scottish Parliament next month as part of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill, would apply to those who cause fatal car crashes as well as those convicted of homicide, The Scotsman reported Saturday.
“We aim to give criminal courts more flexibility to award compensation against an offender, and update the remit of compensation orders so they can reflect changes in the means of the offender, and be used to pay funeral and bereavement expenses to the relatives of a deceased victim,” said Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary. “If supported by parliament, these important changes will help more victims and their families.”
Some victims advocates don’t support the measure. I do.
But, then, I don’t pretend to be a nice guy.