Sunday, July 26, 2009

Reciprocity Anyone?

Certain things often get discussed on NPR that make my skin crawl. On Saturday's ATC Guy Raz talks with Richard Clarke about "probing" Bush-era crimes by ignoring US laws and international obligations and instead holding a "kind of truth and reconciliation commission." Why NPR thinks it's adequate to have a legal no-nothing like Guy Raz interview Clarke on such matters is beyond me, but one part of the interview really jumped out - the endorsement of extrajudicial executions.

Raz says, "...a few weeks ago, of course, the CIA director Leon Panetta shut down a program to assassinate members of al-Qaeda - a program that was actually never implemented..." [Raz just accepts that the program was never implemented because CIA officials said so to the New York Times - even though Seymour Hersh reported a strikingly similar implemented program back in March].

Clarke eventually gets around to talking about the assassination program. The conversation proceeds as follows:
[Clarke] "The other issue is should we have a hit squad to go out after the leadership of a terrorist organization that's trying to kill us. I think most Americans would say yes we should under very tight controls, and frankly CIA is not the right place to do that..."
[Raz] "...who should do it?"
[Clarke] "the best way to do it is to give it to a well-trained, well disciplined unit in the US military."
[Raz] "Forgive me, this may sound terribly naive, but why should the United States government be in the business of doing this at all?"
[Clarke] "Only because we have enemies out there who do wish to do us harm and we do need to act in our own self defense against terrorists."
That's it: a pathetic "Forgive me, this may sound terribly naive..." whimper is the only challenge offered to a US Government program of assassinations. Missing is any discussion of international laws and human rights issues, including the recent UN concern. Also missing is any history on any similar US assassination programs - even by "well-trained, well disciplined units." If in some ideal world the US actually had reliable, actionable intelligence (which it often does not) then why not arrest and prosecute? In Pakistan the US military use of drone assassinations highlights the rampant slaughter that almost always follows a policy of supposed "targeted killings."

Finally, Raz's deafening silence after Clarke's justification for carrying out extrajudicial killings ["because we have enemies out there who do wish to do us harm and we do need to act..."] begs the question of reciprocity. Why doesn't he ask, "So by your standard, countries - let's say Cuba, Nicaragua, or Iran - that have experienced state terror from the United States would have the right to launch assassination programs against US officials and agents, wouldn't they?"

Unfortunately, on NPR it never enters the newsreaders' or reporters' heads to apply a standard good enough for the rest of the world to the United States - because we are so exceptional.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's pretty much a joke that our officials have these "discussions' with the media about "whether" we should do this that and the other, when the US government is already doing this stuff and has been for decades.

If there was anything anomalous about the Bush administration it is its willingness to admit all the stuff they did where previous administrations had simply denied it.

Cheney was obviously interested in "getting back at" the people who "destroyed" Nixon's Presidency, by "restoring" the "unbridled Presidency" and shoving it in their faces. He effectively succeeded.