Stephen Lendman: America’s Permanent War Agenda


Richard Moore

America’s Permanent War Agenda: Secret Kill Lists, Global Drone Wars, Special Forces

“The Disposition Matrix”


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Call it elevating Murder, Inc. to a higher level. A Washington Post Special Report discussed America’s permanent war agenda.

It includes targeted killings, Obama’s secret kill list, global drone wars, and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan’s new rules for war playbook.

Established in 2003, Washington’s National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) provides terrorist related information for America’s intelligence community. Brennan initially ran the agency. It devised Washington’s so-called “disposition matrix.”

If America had a motto it would be war is good, the more wars the better. How else can generals add stars and profiteers cash in big?

Human lives don’t matter. Inviolable rule of law principles are trashed. Wealth, power and dominance alone matter. Imagine national policy wanting to destroy humanity to control it.

Democrat Obama has that in mind and more. Imagine what Romney’s planning. Think about it November 6. Voting either major party ticket assures permanent wars, destroying social America, and cracking down hard on resisters.

On October 23, the Washington Post headlined “Plan for hunting terrorists signals US intends to keep adding names to kill lists,” saying:

Information came from “dozens of current and former national security officials, intelligence analysts and others….” Evolving US counterintelligence policies are examined. Two follow-up articles are planned.

US special forces death squads operate in 120 or more countries. CIA agents kill globally. US citizens may be targeted at home or abroad. No one anywhere is safe.

Summary judgment means rule of law principles don’t apply. Last spring, Obama appointed himself judge, jury and executioner. Extrajudicial authority is official administration policy. Diktats decide who lives or dies.

Anyone can be targeted anywhere in the world for any reason or none at all. Obama usurped the power of life and death. He’s got final kill list authority.

Policy prioritizes killing by drones, death squads, or other means. Only eliminating America’s enemies matter. Whether real or imagined makes no difference.

Targeted victims are people who want to live free from America’s imperium. Washington calls them terrorists. Names go on kill lists.

Those around him say killing comes easy to Obama. Waging war on Islam is policy. So is take no prisoners. Counterterrorism is cover for wholesale or retail slaughter. Collateral deaths don’t matter.

Post writer Greg Smith said for “the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the ‘disposition matrix.’ ”

It contains names of terrorist suspects, covert plans to eliminate them, and in some cases sealed indictments. Officials interviewed said a “database (being compiled) is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the ‘disposition’ of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.”

Regardless of whether US wars continue or end, killing America’s enemies remains policy. Suspects are guilty by accusation. Due process and judicial fairness are off the table. One unnamed official said:

“We can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us. It’s a necessary part of what we do….We’re not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, ‘We love America.’ ”

Smith didn’t say plans are to make sure they don’t. Peace and stability defeat America’s imperium. Violence and instability are essential to advance it.

He also didn’t expose Washington’s bogus war on terror. At issue is inventing global enemies, waging wars against them, and destroying democratic freedoms in the process. At stake is unchallenged dominance no matter how many corpses it takes to achieve it.

Other omissions including failing to explain coverup is policy. So is aggressive killing in multiple theaters. Mostly civilians are killed. Populations are terrorized.

At most, only 2% of victims are high-level combatants. Drone attacks are the recruiting tool of choice for militants, and targeted killings violate fundamental international law.

Like his predecessor, Obama claims success. It’s always in the eye of the beholder. Bin Laden’s alleged killing is cited. No matter that he died naturally in December 2001. Even modern technology can’t kill a dead man. Claiming it was staged hokum.

Big plans are being made. “White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is seeking to codify the administration’s approach to generating capture/kill lists, part of a broader effort to guide future administrations through the counterterrorism processes that Obama has embraced.”

Strategies to eliminate America’s enemies include “extradition requests, capture operations and drone patrols.” Summary executions are the method of choice. Why bother with protocol or other procedures when spy in the sky drones kill easily and quickly.

Operators in distant command centers work multiple monitors. They’re far from targeted victims. They kill with precision at low cost. For them, remote control killing is like sport. No muss. No fuss. No bloodshed or shredded bodies to view. When work days end, they go home to dinner and relax. Imagine going to work each day for more killing.

The CIA wants many more drones in its fleet. The more available, the more theaters of operations for more targeted killings. Business is better than ever. No shortage of targets exist.

At the same time, counterterrorism experts say relying on them is “self-perpetuating.” Short-term gains obscure longer-term costs. According to former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel:

“The problem with the drone is it’s like your lawn mower. You’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.”

In fact, the more enemies eliminated, the greater the number created. Nonetheless, Washington operates multiple drone programs. They include Pentagon and CIA ones. They’re used for surveillance and killings. Expanded operations lie ahead.

Database information includes biographies of targeted subjects, their locations, known associates and affiliated organizations, as well as other relevant information.

Targeted victims, of course, are a closely kept secret. They can be anyone anywhere in the world. They can be ordinary people, distinguished ones, or officials. Their crime is opposing US imperialism.

Smith said “the creation of the matrix and the institutionalization of kill/capture lists reflect a shift that is as psychological as it is strategic.” He omitted explaining its lawlessness. He didn’t say that no one can self-appoint themselves judge, jury, and executioner.

What’s most important, media scoundrels suppress. Nonetheless, he covered a lot of important ground. It’s up to readers to connect the dots. Few take the trouble to do it.

His article was five online pages long. Few seeing it go beyond page one. They’d have missed page four saying:

Kill list “names are submitted to a panel of National Security Council officials that is chaired by Brennan and includes the deputy directors of the CIA and the FBI, as well as top officials from the State Department, the Pentagon and the NCTC.”

Page five added:

“Obama approves the criteria for lists and signs off on drone strikes outside Pakistan, where decisions on when to fire are made by the director of the CIA.”

By presidential diktat, he can order anyone killed anywhere, including US citizens.

“For an administration that is the first to embrace targeted killing on a wide scale, officials seem confident that they have devised an approach that is so bureaucratically, legally and morally sound that future administrations will follow suit.”

It’s shocking that officials anywhere feel this way. It’s worse in one calling itself a democracy.

A Final Comment

On October 24, ACLU‘s National Security Project director Hina Shamsi said:

“Anyone who thought US targeted killing outside of armed conflict was a narrow, emergency-based exception to the requirement of due process before a death sentence is being proven conclusively wrong.”

“The danger of dispensing with due process is obvious because without it, we cannot be assured that the people in the government’s death database truly present a concrete, imminent threat to the country.”

“What we do know is that tragic mistakes have been made, hundreds of civilian bystanders have died, and our government has even killed a 16-year-old U.S. citizen without acknowledging let alone explaining his death.”

“A bureaucratized paramilitary killing program that targets people far from any battlefield is not just unlawful, it will create more enemies than it kills.”

ACLU has two outstanding lawsuits to enforce FOIA requests for targeted killing information. Another filed jointly with the Center for Constitutional Rights challenges its constitutionality.

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said:

“It has become the norm for government officials to disclose cherry-picked information about ostensibly classified programs while insisting to the courts that the programs are too secret to be discussed or defended in court.”

“This practice deprives the public of complete and accurate information about important government policies, compromises the integrity of the classification system and suggests a disturbing contempt for the judicial process. The courts should reject the government’s effort to transform FOIA into a dead letter.”

Washington proves itself morally and politically bankrupt multiple ways. Perhaps enough Americans one day will decide they’ll no longer let policies this monstrous persist. They’ll have to for anything to change. They better or their futures are grim.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at •••@••.•••.

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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Articles by:Stephen Lendman

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