07 Oct 2011

The Old Republic Is Dead

Big Brother, Conspiracy, War on Terror 24 Comments

If I were more computer-savvy I’d have my blog play the Empire theme music right now. Regardless of your views on the wisdom of invading Afghanistan and Iraq, of torturing POWs, etc., surely you can agree with me that we have definitively crossed “the line.” I probably put the line in a different ZIP code from where you do, but even so, our government has crossed both of our lines. From Reuters (HT2 Alex Tabarrok):

American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials.

There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.

Now people like Glenn Greenwald are emphasizing that this report quotes White House officials admitting the evidence against Awlaki was “patchy.” I don’t even care about that. Just go read the two paragraphs above. Seriously, please re-read those two paragraphs.

The Old Republic is dead. My American friends, we are the citizens of an empire. If the people running the US government decide you are an enemy, they can put you on a list and have a drone blow you up. Case closed. If you don’t want to get blown up, just make sure they don’t have a reason to want you dead.

24 Responses to “The Old Republic Is Dead”

  1. Dan says:

    But dr. Murphy they only target terrorists. As long as you aren’t a terrorist it would be impossible for them to say you actually are a terrorist. This is normal military operations. How do you expect them to fight a war without death panels? USA! USA! USA!

  2. P.S.H. says:

    This development, though indeed appalling, has nothing to do with whether the nation is an empire.

    • skylien says:

      I am not sure. How would you define an empire?

      • P.S.H. says:

        Sorry; I forgot about this thread until now. I certainly acknowledge that the term means different things in different contexts. But I can’t think of a definition (with any basis in usage) that would make this relevant.

        In general I would define an “empire” as a state or quasi-state that holds dependencies which do not constitute an integral part of it.

  3. Kryx says:

    Hey, what is wrong with that? It has been tried before… I believe they were called proscriptions.

  4. Daniel Kuehn says:

    You know, when American revolutionaries shot at American loyalists during the Revolution I’m not sure they got a trial either…

    …I guess the Old Republic was dead even before the Republic got started!!!!

    :)

    • Daniel Kuehn says:

      Which is simply to point out what I’ve been pointing out all along: what you’re really upset about is that war doesn’t work out like the criminal justice system.

      That’s a fantastic reason to be a pacifist if that discrepancy bothers you. It’s a bad justification for raising the alarm about tyranny. I am (more or less) happy in my constitutionally limited, democratically guided, federal republic that is empowered to wage war. That I am happy with the power to wage war should not lead anyone to question my dedication to constitutionally limited republics.

      • Richard Moss says:

        Even in our ‘constitutionally’ waged wars (which there hasn’t been since WWII) I didn’t know secret panels had to be set up to tell us who our enemies were.

        Unless, that was supposed to also be the Congress?

      • skylien says:

        If this would be an act of war. You would be right. But you really cannot compare a fight on a battle field in which one combatant fights the other with a targeted killing.

        I mean if you can define a targeted killing of someone without due process anywhere on planet earth without justification then they can do everything? How does that make them not despots? How does that not give them the perfect excuse to be above the rule of law? Where are the limits for them if you define an act of war the way you do?

        • skylien says:

          OMG… I am really too fast with my posting sometimes or better often especially at issues like this that gets my goat. ;) Sorry..

          “… I mean if you can define a targeted killing of someone without due process anywhere on planet earth without justification then they can do everything? How does that make them not despots?…”

          should read as

          “…I mean if you can define a targeted killing of someone without due process anywhere on planet earth without justification as an act war then they can do everything! How does that not make them despots?…”

        • Daniel Kuehn says:

          re: “I mean if you can define a targeted killing of someone without due process anywhere on planet earth without justification then they can do everything?”

          Right – if there is no due process we have a major problem. But we shouldn’t confuse criminal due process with civil due process with administrative due process with martial due process, etc. etc.

          re: “Where are the limits for them if you define an act of war the way you do?”

          The decentralization of power, the democratic accountability of the Congress, the checks and balances of the Constitution. You act as if a lack of perfect determinism in these things means there’s nothing standing between us and despotism. I don’t understand why people argue this way.

          • skylien says:

            And who does decide which due process applies? The secret panel?

          • skylien says:

            I think what you misunderstand is that it doesn’t need a country in which the ruling people can go on bloody killing sprees, and send millions of people in gas chambers to be in a despotic country.

            Despotism just means the ruling people are not necessarily bound by the rule of law. They don’t have to be monsters. If they want they can ignore/circumvent the rule of law. I think it was repeatedly proven already that they do. The torture stuff and Guantanamo are perfect examples of despotism. And I think those targeted killings are as well.Especially the way they are carried out.

            The dismantling of the rule of law and all its checks and balances doesn’t happen openly in one sweep but piece by piece in the dark.

            “The prize of freedom is eternal vigilance.” I am sure you know who said that.

            • Daniel Kuehn says:

              re: “I think what you misunderstand is that it doesn’t need a country in which the ruling people can go on bloody killing sprees, and send millions of people in gas chambers to be in a despotic country.”

              I understand that just fine. When did I give you reason to think I don’t understand this?

              re: “Despotism just means the ruling people are not necessarily bound by the rule of law. They don’t have to be monsters.”

              Right. Most despotisms probably aren’t of the monstrous variety. They are of the arbitrary power variety.

              re: “The torture stuff and Guantanamo are perfect examples of despotism.”

              I agree. I personally hope that we can say this is “despotic activity” and not write off the republic just yet as a despotism… but only time will tell on that optimism on my part. Republics are good because republics are robust. That doesn’t mean they never slip into despotism – it means they recover from these mistakes relatively efficiently.

              re: ““The prize of freedom is eternal vigilance.” I am sure you know who said that.”

              My favorite founder.

              • skylien says:

                “I understand that just fine. When did I give you reason to think I don’t understand this?”

                It was that: “You act as if a lack of perfect determinism in these things means there’s nothing standing between us and despotism.”

                But it seems we are on the same page here.

                “I agree. I personally hope that we can say this is “despotic activity” and not write off the republic just yet as a despotism… but only time will tell on that optimism on my part. Republics are good because republics are robust. That doesn’t mean they never slip into despotism – it means they recover from these mistakes relatively efficiently.”

                Yes I agree we can say that. I never intended to say that there are already all checks, balances dismantled. I merely build from the case that a secret panel decides about death and life of people and thinks it can decide how much “collateral damage” is justified. For my point of view this is a huge violation of the rule of law and gives them a lot of power. I still don’t see how you can justify that, but it also seems you don’t really want to engage the specific points here.

                Yes Republics may slip into sporadic despotic activity, and they may recover from that. But the force that drives the recovery is an aware public that fast and resolutely complains about violations of the rule of law. The recovery process is mainly driven by you and me. I have the feeling that you take it too lightly.

                Until yesterday I didn’t even know that this quote was from Jefferson. I new this quote from Wing Commander 4. A computer game I played approx. 15 years ago. This line burned itself into my head.

          • skylien says:

            By the way you are not alone:

            Germany and its Bundestrojaner (Federal trojan):
            http://www.ccc.de/en/updates/2011/staatstrojaner

            Maybe you think I am just oversensitive regarding this issue. I think not, in any case better that than the other way around.

      • Anonymous says:

        Which is simply to point out what I’ve been pointing out all along: what you’re really upset about is that war doesn’t work out like the criminal justice system.

        War is for non-citizens. The criminal justice system is for citizens. You’re claiming that war should be waged against citizens.

        I am (more or less) happy in my constitutionally limited, democratically guided, federal republic that is empowered to wage war. That I am happy with the power to wage war should not lead anyone to question my dedication to constitutionally limited republics.

        Constitutionally limited republics doesn’t entail anything about what is in the constitution. And the last time I checked, there is no power in the constitution given to the Feds to engage in the actions that Keynesians demand from them.

        It’s telling how you are so infatuated with the state, that you cannot even see that assassinating American citizens without due process is not an “alarm” about tyranny.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Which is simply to point out what I’ve been pointing out all along: what you’re really upset about is that war doesn’t work out like the criminal justice system.

        No, he’s pointing out that the methods of war are now being used against those who used to be subject to the criminal justice system (American citizens).

        He’s pointing out that the executive assassinating American citizens without due process and without even evidence being presented of their guilt, signifies the end of the rule of law in this country. When the government can kill any American it wants without due process and without even showing any evidence, is a country that is no longer a Republic. It is no longer a country of laws. The state unilaterally killing its own citizens is a finality that obliterates all notion of law and order. There can be no freedom of speech, the press, or anything else, if you’re dead.

        I am (more or less) happy in my constitutionally limited, democratically guided, federal republic that is empowered to wage war. That I am happy with the power to wage war…

        So far you’re not being targeted for assassination without due process. What if you are targeted for assassination because someone in the state labelled you a terrorist?

    • Silas Barta says:

      Wow. You truly are clueless. A secret committee drawing up hit lists for Americans with no oversight whatsoever is just how things are supposed to work?

      It’s almost like someone gives you your conclusions and _then_ you start to work on coming up with arguments for them.

      • Rick Hull says:

        Yes, this is a good test case for *The Rule of Law*, by which both governors and the governed must abide. The underlying philosophy that justifies governance is undermined. This is just a particularly egregious example.

  5. Bob Roddis says:

    Just like there is no problem of a lack of “aggregate demand” requiring a war on property and contract via “stimulus”, there is no serious terrorist threat. These are all just more excuses for the statists to destroy our contract, property and privacy rights.

    In sum, in the war on terror, the U.S. government hypes the threat to justify expanding anti-terrorism efforts and budgets, argues that war is the only means to effectively combat the inflated threat (instead of using low-key intelligence and law enforcement measures, which don’t generate more terrorists by poking the hornet’s nest), and creates a wider retaliatory threat by using such draconian military action. This wider danger is used to justify the need for even harsher military action, and the action-reaction cycle escalates. In sum, the government is creating the demand for its own services; private businesses should be in awe of such ability.

    And not only is the government hyping the terrorist threat, it is creating it. Like the hapless BVD bomber, who didn’t even have a bomb big enough to bring down the airliner, a graduate student the FBI recently arrested for plotting to blow up the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol with hobbyists’ remote-controlled aircraft would have been foiled by the fact that the planes just couldn’t carry enough explosives to do the job. The student, a U.S. citizen, got very different treatment than Awlaki. Instead of being assassinated, he was arrested, but before that, the U.S. government purposefully helped him. The government, in order to entrap him, gave him money and grenades, assault rifles, C-4 plastic explosives, and even the remote-controlled aircraft to carry out the attack. Without all this money and equipment, the student would have likely been no threat at all. In fact, according to The New York Times, Carmen M. Ortiz, the U.S. attorney in Boston, admitted, “The public was never in danger from the explosive devices.”

    This is not an isolated case. In similar cases, the FBI has provided the means to carry out terrorist attacks but then arrested the alleged plotter. Such entrapment provides opportunities for people to do what they otherwise would not or could not do.

    http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=3167

  6. Bob Roddis says:

    If America were really infected with a “terrorist threat,” a terrorist would merely get in the massive lines awaiting to clear airport “security” and set off his bomb. It would kill far more people than could be achieved by blowing up an airliner, and it would make it completely clear that “airport security” meant no one was safe.

    It would be child’s pay for terrorists to blow up electric substations as no one is there, nothing but a chain link fence. It would be easy for terrorists to blow up shopping centers. It would be easy for terrorists to dump boxes of roofing nails on congested streets and freeways during rush hours, tying up main transportation arteries for days.
    Before, dear reader, you accuse me of giving terrorists ideas, do you really think that these ideas would not already have occurred to terrorists capable of pulling off 9/11?

    But nothing happens. So the FBI arrests a guy for planning to blow up America with a model airplane. It is really depressing how many Americans will believe this.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts327.html

  7. Bob Roddis says:

    Justin Raimondo explains Obama’s newfangled death panels:

    The Obamaites know they’re in the wrong, but, being self-declared “pragmatists,” i.e. utterly shameless opportunists, they put alleged necessity over principle in this and every instance. But they make sure to cover their butts, and that of their Dear Leader, as Reuters points out:

    “Several officials said that when Awlaki became the first American put on the target list, Obama was not required personally to approve the targeting of a person. But one official said Obama would be notified of the principals’ decision. If he objected, the decision would be nullified, the official said. A former official said one of the reasons for making senior officials principally responsible for nominating Americans for the target list was to ‘protect’ the president.”

    Protect Obama – from what? Why, from legal prosecution, to begin with, on the off chance our Constitution is restored and the criminals presently in charge are held accountable for their actions. These people live in constant fear that someone will discover what they’re up to, and haul them before a judge – a judge who remembers that the Constitution, and not the “executive orders” of a presidential despot, or the vague resolutions of an intimidated Congress — is the supreme law of the land.

    As we “celebrate” the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, and contemplate the costs and the nonexistent benefits, let’s look at the tremendous damage this policy of perpetual war has done to our system of limited, constitutional government. Like a corrosive acid that has been spilled on the apparatus of State, the poison of war has eaten away at the institutional safeguards and checks-and-balances that have – up until now — ensured our survival as a free people. Ten more years of this and we’ll have destroyed whatever faint traces of our old republic remain.

    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2011/10/06/obamas-death-panel/

    There is no statute of limitations on murder, you know. We can only hope for the future.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      Hey, maybe the secret death panels will “stimulate” the economy by providing the economy with more employment opportunities! After all, the free market is bad, terrible, this that and the other, and it cannot function without more SWAT teams and secret death panels ensuring that the peons spend according to a magical formula.

      What, you aren’t against employment are you? Heathen!

      Oh, but the statists just wanted more roads and schools when they called for bigger government. They didn’t want secret death panels. It’s not their fault that bigger government has led to “unintended” consequences. I mean, it’s not like Mises ever spoke of it, and he was just an evil dogmatist.

      It is not permitted to question their Utopia.