U.S. Says Americans Are MILITARY Targets in the War on Terror … And Says that Only the White House – and Not the Courts – Gets to Decide Who Is a Legitimate Target

American Citizens on U.S. Soil May be Indefinitely Detained, Sent to Guantanamo or Assassinated

As everyone realizes by now, Congress’ push for indefinite detention includes American citizens on American soil. As Huffington post notes:

The debate also has left many Americans scratching their heads as to whether Congress is actually attempting to authorize the indefinite detention of Americans by the military without charges. But proponents — led by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee — say that is exactly what the war on terror requires. They argued that the bill simply codifies precedents set by the Supreme Court and removes uncertainty, which they said would better protect the country.

Here is John McCain justifying sending Americans to Guantanamo:

And see this.

(As Emptywheel and Glenn Greenwald note, the White House has believed for many years that it possessed the power to indefinitely detain Americans. See this, this, this, and this.)

But that’s not all.

The government can also kill American citizens. For more than a year and a half, the Obama administration has said it could target American citizens for assassination without any trial or due process.

But now, as shown by the debates surrounding indefinite detention, the government is saying that America itself is a battlefield.

AP notes today:

U.S. citizens are legitimate military targets when they take up arms with al-Qaida, top national security lawyers in the Obama administration said Thursday.


The government lawyers, CIA counsel Stephen Preston and Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson … said U.S. citizens do not have immunity when they are at war with the United States.

Johnson said only the executive branch, not the courts, is equipped to make military battlefield targeting decisions about who qualifies as an enemy.

The courts in habeas cases, such as those involving whether a detainee should be released from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, make the determination of who can be considered an enemy combatant.

You might assume – in a vacuum – that this might be okay (even though it trashes the Constitution, the separation of military and police actions, and the division between internal and external affairs).

But it is dangerous in a climate where you can be labeled as or suspected of being a terrorist simply for questioning war, protesting anything, asking questions about pollution or about Wall Street shenanigans, supporting Ron Paul, being a libertarian, holding gold, or stocking up on more than 7 days of food. And see this.

And it is problematic in a period in which FBI agents and CIA intelligence officials, constitutional law expert professor Jonathan Turley, Time Magazine, Keith Olbermann and the Washington Post have all said that U.S. government officials “were trying to create an atmosphere of fear in which the American people would give them more power”, and even former Secretary of Homeland Security – Tom Ridge – admitst hat he was pressured to raise terror alerts to help Bush win reelection.

And it is counter-productive in an age when the government – instead of doing the things which could actually make us safer – are doing things which increase the risk of terrorism.

And it is insane in a time of perpetual war. See this, this, this and this.

And when the “War on Terror” in the Middle East and North Africa which is being used to justify the attack on Americans was planned long before 9/11.

And when Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser told the Senate in 2007 that the war on terror is “a mythical historical narrative”. And 9/11 was entirely foreseeable, but wasn’t stopped.   Indeed, no one in Washington even wants to hear how 9/11 happened, even though that is necessary to stop future terrorist attacks.  And the military has bombed a bunch of oil-rich countries when it could have instead taken out Bin Laden years ago.

As I noted in March:

The government’s indefinite detention policy – stripped of it’s spin – is literally insane, and based on circular reasoning. Stripped of p.r., this is the actual policy:

  • If you are an enemy combatant or a threat to national security, we will detain you indefinitely until the war is over
  • But trust us, we know you are an enemy combatant and a threat to national security

See how that works?

And – given that U.S. soldiers admit that if they accidentally kill innocent Iraqis and Afghanis, they then “drop” automatic weapons near their body so they can pretend they were militants – it is unlikely that the government would ever admit that an American citizen it assassinated was an innocent civilian who has nothing at all to do with terrorism.

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  • Joseph

    And to think: this could have been prevented by a real investigation of 911. Without 911, there is no basis for the war on terror. The genocidal criminals who brought down the towers are in control. They are not Arabs. They are American fascist bastards.

    • Ken

      You tell them Joe!

  • I wrote up something on this in my best, most impassioned voice. I’d appreciate any input you can give me.


    • Cindy

      Very well written, and very true. Most people do not want to see the truth. Like the holocaust people do not want to believe it can happen. Even the victims at that time did nothing because they did not believe that the monstrosities against them could happen! We see the same thing here, the blindness of the people to there very freedoms and rights being stripped, yet they do nothing and say that it is good and that are government though not perfect would not do us harm! I on the other hand do not blindly trust the idea that lost freedom is some how good, but a path to tyranny which we will not be able to reverse!

    • Bill Davis

      Your article is well written, non-inflammatory and accurate. You can better understand the problem if you remember that there is a bell, or related distribution, curve for all things, including human understanding of their own lives. It is a characteristic of humanity that those who understand what is going on politically and economically constitute a small percentage of people who occupy the upper end of the skewed curve. It is also important to understand that this population does not include many academics as they are among the most successfully indoctrinated and co-opted elements of society. That few understood much that was relevant was intuitively understand by our founding fathers, and it is why they restricted the voting franchise and limited the size and scope of government constitutionally. Since you can not, politically speaking, point out the public’s ignorance, it is important that people like you, and I, focus our efforts upon restoring constitutional government, which an acceptable activity.

  • Jay Rowland

    9/11 Was their mess up, it was an obvious inside job and nobody has the sense to fight the machine.
    It will take an army of citizens, celebrities, public servants and media, to right this wrong. If you go at them one at a time they will cut you down. We must unite America that is the only way we can’t fight this war. It is imperative to our nation that we unite our country to solve our problems.

    If their is a leader among us please come and lead this nation.

    We don’t need a leader to save us.
    We are saving ourselves and each other by Occupying.
    Don’t wait. This is not someone else’s job.
    Get involved in your Occupation Movement.
    Support Occupy in every way you can.
    Get Up. Stand Up. Stand up for your Rights!

    • emmmg333

      Vague, foundation funded pap. You either know this or are ‘useful’. Tarpley.net if you be the latter…

  • Ken

    Fuck Obama!! What a waste of the last 4 years.He is like Bush Dark. The funny thing the pro Bush people hate him. Woohooo Paul! for sticking up for the constitution…. OPEN YOUR EYES!!! There is no war on terror the war is war on America a humidity and the fight for total dominance and control…If You still believe 9/11 was not allowed to happen was not orchestrated as a blind fold of the masses so rights and freedoms would be given and not taken you need to get your head out your ass …let’s not talk about the billions of dollars the vice president and ex presidents (Bush’s and Cheney )made on the and are still making on the war for oil ohhh I mean terror.

  • Lefty

    You forfeit your citizenship automatically when you go to war against the US. Or when you serve in a foreign military at rank higher than officer. Its been like that forever.

    I don’t see what all this stink is about. Obama has said he will veto the national defense authorization act.

    • Adam

      Going to war against the US in the service of a foreign military in a time of declared war is different than being suspected of maybe having some tie to some terrorist organization somewhere. With modern communications and social networking Plato’s six degrees of separation have been reduced to about 4.5 degrees. It isn’t that difficult to find possible suspicious ties between somebody and anybody else.

  • k

    Time for everyone to look in the mirror. simple solution. Stop killing your own people for the sake of a few more $$. Let the rest of the world fight their own battles and take care of your own…When was the last time the middle east came over to help the US…um NEVER. Stop your whining, it all comes down to the all might dollar. Bring the boys home and actually approve the construction of all the millions of available options that do not rely on crude oil…that’s what people are dying for. OIL…is it worth it…not in my mind.

  • k

    Joseph has it right. Why do people still pretend 9-11 was something that came from outside of America. It was planned. Do “THEY” care about a few thousand lives, when the profit of the “catastrophe” will make them billions…simple answer NO. To those who have opened their eyes. Kudos. To those who believe what is pumped into their brains by media and other forces of control…I feel sorry for you…and I feel even more sorry for the people who die for you. EDUCATE yourselves…perhaps it is too late, but it can’t hurt to try.

  • usedtobesupermom

    After 9/11 there were 150 military officers (Brass) who would have testified that 9/11 was an inside job-if an independent investigation was done. It didn’t happen of course & who knows how many or if any of those officers are alive.

  • usedtobesupermom

    It was to get Americans so scared that they give up some of their freedom to feel safe.
    I guess that is another reason they don’t teach civics anymore & who knows what they teach in history now.
    “Those willing to give up essential liberty (freedom) for security (safety) deserve neither liberty (freedom) or security (safety)”

    Ben Franklin

  • Westcoastliberal

    These traitors make me want to puke, especially the Dems. If Americans knew even 1/2 the truth about 9/11, Osama Bin Laden, the neo-con agenda, etc. we wouldn’t just have OWS we’d have riots in the streets. How dare these elected representatives be so captured by the Military/Industrial complex that they push this farce on our once-great country. When I think of all the Americans who’ve given their lives for our liberty and freedom it makes we want to weep. Obama says he’ll veto this bill? Don’t bet on it. I think it’s a head fake. He’s let us down at every turn so far, why stop now.
    If you agree with me that collapse is becoming unavoidable, don’t despair, prepare! http://www.collapsenet.com/262.html

  • euterpe

    What’s with using a different url heading than the headline itself? If you want to blame Obama solely for this, you should justify why, instead of writing “US” in the headline, but putting “Obama” in it’s place on the url. It’s totally deceitful and takes away from the integrity of this blog.

  • Kittie Katz

    This is probably the straw that will break the camel’s back. The American people have already stood for about as much of this oppression as they are willing to take. This will be the Beginning of the End, mark my words, brothers and sisters.

  • getreal

    Virtually everyone in the federal government of the USSA is an enemy of the people. Without any doubt whatsoever, they are guilty of egregious treason and crimes against humanity. They have decided to start an all out war against the people who pay their salaries. They have chosen to do the exact opposite of their only legitimate function, which is protect the liberty and rights of individuals.

  • Tom Kean chaired the 911 Commission. It turns out he’s a member of The Pilgrims Society, the “World Money Power,” working to drag us back under British Crown rule. Other organizations are mere footnotes to THIS one.

  • scarey sad what were becoming how do you disrespect lives so much

  • Jim

    I don’t suppose any of you folks ranting above get or understand that this is nothing new, it was set in place under President George W. Bush, if you would do a bit of research like I have on the subject rather than being a bunch on know nothing reactionary’s you would have a clue as to the number of events they broke up in advance, pick up the book Triple Agent, the true story of CIA FUBARS during these wars. If you still feel you can’t deal with the situation, quit calling your girl friend in Syria and stay of the Jihad Blogs………..If you were carpet bombed with clues you couldn’t find any. http://dancingczars.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/the-aclu-warned-us-about-unlawful-detention-of-us-citizens-in-sb-1867-the-bill-so-what-will-the-aclu-do-about-it/ Enjoy! J.C.

  • Black Sheep

    An excellent article indeed covering every wicked aspect of our evil politics today… I agree 100% with many the commets I’ve read thus far, which specify. 911 to be an inside job planned and executed by a criminal organization of lawbreaking monsters who even today enjoy a form of diplomatic immunity from all prosecution, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney…Just to name two…

    Although the incriminating material from the Twin Towers has been secretly disposed of by now. There is one inescapable fact that proves 911 to be an inside job. Yes, indisputable proof that the so-called terrorist attacks obviously responsible for the mass murder of nearly 3000 innocent people were manufactured by the Bush, Cheney administration so it could declare a highly lucrative war against an invisible phantom called international terrorism AKA, the war on so-called terror … Thus, just an excuse to murder over a million Iraqis and Afghanistan’s alike so the military industrial complex could rake in countless billions more supplying weapons to both sides…

    For 10 long years I’ve been asking one key questioned, and no one has answered it.

    If 911 was an Islamic terrorist attack then someone in that intelligence gathering theater of operations obviously screwed up big-time here. Was there one person fired for not connecting the dots which led to this so-called terrorist attack? Answer, “No.”

    What! Not even one? Think about this people no one lost their job because they were doing exactly what they were supposed to do, “nothing!”

    Nobody in the military was harshly dealt with (investigation wise) especially since our mighty Air Force was hopelessly crippled on that day of days. Strange!

    We had an unfair point system where I once worked which was quite self-explanatory. If you’re late for any reason other than a fatal car accident (in which you are obviously killed) you receive one point. If you screw up on the assembly line damaging parts or slowing down the line, you’re given one point. If you’re (heaven forbid) critically I’ll without a good doctor’s excuse (given at your deathbed) your instantly terminated, fired, adios you worthless piece of employee trash.

    That’s how the work sector works for us slaves in most if not all of those production first factories across the USA. However, when it comes to a nice comfortable government position, you’re rewarded for screwing up… Thus, causing the death of nearly 3000 people is far worse than screwing up on some assembly line… Or is it?

    911 if not an inside job as many of us believe, was one of the biggest mistakes in the history of US military intelligence. Curious why there wasn’t one military personnel of high rank who didn’t receive a good scolding for not being on the ball that day. Were there any high-ranking generals harshly reprimanded by President Bush for insubordination?

    Not a one

    It’s simple, nobody got fired criticized a reprimanded because, there were no mistakes made on 911…

  • Cheryl

    The truth is OUT there…Listen to this CIA asset for the real “inside story”

    CIA Asset Susan Lindauer.. Can Now Speak 10 years after 2001-9-11 – YouTube

  • CB

    Nobody..expects..the Spanish Inquisition…

  • If our government succeeds in disarming it’s citizens. How can they rise up against its tyranny?