Frogs for Snakes

“It’s taken me a long time to find out my mistakes,
But I’ll bet you my bottom dollar I won’t be fattenin’ no more frogs for snakes.”
Rice Miller

The Gov’t Normalizes Assassination

The Washington Post’s Greg Miller tells a scary story of the Obama administration’s codification — think of it as “normalization”, or maybe “routinization” — of the U.S.’s extra-judicial, secretive, unaccountable, growing, and institutionalized program for identifying, targeting, and “disposing of” suspected terrorist enemies. “Disposition” rather than “assassination” because the program has introduced into the world the concept of “disposition matrix”, where the disposition of a target — what happens to the fella, so we don’t lose tack of what we’re talking about — depends on possibilities and assessments revealed by deep data mining. Again, to be clear, people in the administration are writing the procedures for killing people they have identified as enemies, killings that carry not thge slightest whiff of due process.

This is especially scary because the agency responsible for maintaining the disposition matrix (the National CounterTerrorism Center), besides being utterly secret, also now can collect massive data on anybody, suspected of involvement with terrorism or not, and keep it for years. That may not sound so bad right now — if you’re not a terrorist you have nothing to worry about, right? — but a decade from now, or tomorrow in the case of cataclysm, that agency’s notion of what constitutes a terrorist might change a lot. You should worry.

Follow-ups and explications have come from Glenn Greenwald, Spencer Ackerman, and Micak Zenko. As Greenwald says, we should all take a minute and let this sink in. The government — our government — has so thoroughly accepted assassination as an operational tactic that they are writing procedures so they can pass their efforts along to the next administration. We should worry.  I’m afraid, though, we won’t.

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