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Everything you always wanted to know about kill-lists, but were afraid to (duck, there’s a drone overhead) ask

Everything you always wanted to know about kill-lists, but were afraid to (duck, there’s a drone overhead) ask

“America’s bureaucrats kill with amazing efficiency”

Gregory McNeal, a law professor at Pepperdine Law School, is one of the foremost experts on kill-lists.

McNeal has published an extensive and exhaustive review of “kill-lists” which is available by download online, Kill-Lists and Accountability.  Here is and excerpt from the abstract:

This article is a comprehensive examination of the U.S. practice of targeted killings. It is based in part on field research, interviews, and previously unexamined government documents. The article fills a gap in the literature, which to date lacks sustained scholarly analysis of the accountability mechanisms associated with the targeted killing process….

The article begins by reporting the results of a case study that began with a review of hundreds of pages of military policy memoranda, disclosures of government policies through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by NGOs, filings in court documents, public statements by military and intelligence officials, and descriptive accounts reported by the press and depicted in non-fiction books. These findings were supplemented by observing and reviewing aspects of the official training for individuals involved in targeted killings and by conducting confidential interviews with members of the military, special operations, and intelligence community who are involved in the targeted killing process. These research techniques resulted in a richly detailed depiction of the targeted killing process, the first of its kind to appear in any single publication.

McNeal has found the one area in which the bureaucracy is quite efficient (from the article at 6-7, footnotes omitted):

America’s bureaucrats kill with amazing efficiency.  They wield the nation’s strengths in technology, surveillance and reconnaissance and leverage those strengths through multiple levels of specialized analysis. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of people make incremental contributions to a well-oiled killing machine, ensuring that by the time a target shows up in the cross-hairs of an operator he can rest assured that the target is worth killing. In fact, the operator sits at the tip of a long analytical spear, with analysis that is so robust that he and the bureaucrats assisting him can focus most of their attention on preventing incidental harm to nearby civilians and civilian property (so called “collateral damage”). Napoleon once remarked “c’est la soupe qui fait le soldat,” which translated means, “an army marches on its stomach.” Today’s armies can only fight after a hefty helping of bureaucratic analysis.

There are more links and background at his blog.

Here’s a talk he gave recently at Dickinson Law School:

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Comments

“Gregory McNeal, a law professor at Pepperdine Law School, is one of the foremost experts on kill lists.”

Hard to know where to begin in the analysis of what is wrong with that one sentence.

Also, the long “analytical spear” ain’t that shiney if it kills 16 year old kids. Seems to me…

“Dozens, perhaps hundreds of people make incremental contributions to a well-oiled killing machine, ensuring that by the time a target shows up in the cross-hairs of an operator he can rest assured that the target is worth killing. In fact, the operator sits at the tip of a long analytical spear, with analysis that is so robust that he and the bureaucrats assisting him can focus most of their attention on preventing incidental harm to nearby civilians and civilian property (so called “collateral damage”). ”

Is that killing with “efficiency” or “unprecedented expenditure of effort and treasure to assure caution, selectivity, and restraint”?

“America’s bureaucrats kill with amazing efficiency” ( I wish they’d kill most bills, then!

And when they don’t want to kill with “amazing efficiency” they enact legislation such as Obamacare, a bill they didn’t want to read and its analysis they ignored.

BTW: Using drones on Americans is part of Obama’s egalitarian agenda – use the new toys on everyone equally.

I commend Prof McNeal for at least getting substantive drone information in the public discourse. The pride he seems to display in this novel Murder Inc. branch of our military is shocking. I could understand command and control targets in warfare with troops on a nearby battlefield, but this thing has morphed into a peacetime operation barely distinguishable from killing who the government wants, when the government wants, wherever the government wants. And since terror will never end, the state of war justification for operating these drones will never end.

McNeal’s tone harkens back to the callous killing policies exposed in the Nuremberg trials. Those defendants killed because the sequence of their orders led to rational and highly efficient exterminations. McNeal’s description of the kill process and his justification for civilian deaths is eerily similar.

With this US precedent, what is to stop China and Russia from openly operating their own kill squads? And how does America shake off the moniker that it is the greatest killer in today’s world? I don’t know how can any us can be proud of this dirty business conducted on our behalf.

Henry Hawkins | March 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm

“America’s bureaucrats kill with amazing efficiency”

However they kill, without transparency we have to take somebody’s word for it.

American kill lists are not new. Does anyone remember Blowtorch Bob Komer (LBH’s White House)and Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support … aka “CORDS” which included the Phoenix Program?

Yes? No? Well, the Senate just confirmed Komer’s clone John Brennan as DCIA.

This is an exercise of power, not law and vitually guarantees a never ending conflict. Perhaps that is the unstated goal.

And the left treats anyone who questions the government’s intent with domestic drones, or Obama and Holder’s refusal to acknowledge the 14th amendment, or who expresses fear of having our guns confiscated, as a ‘looney tune.’

Are these people simply ignorant of history? Do they lack a basic understanding of human nature?

BannedbytheGuardian | March 13, 2013 at 10:20 pm

It is interesting when our legitimate forces are bound by ROEs designed by sensitive bureaucrats that this stuff is out there flying wild.

It is only a matter of time till someone else gets these & goes on a killing spree eg a miffed Bloomberg attacking bonza soda slurpers.

As for technology I bet they still are not as clean & efficient as Lee Harvey Oswald. how did he just get Kennedy & only one other guy ? Even the convertible only needed a good wipe down. Wild times indeed.

The interesting thing about drones is how cheap and effective they are relative to operating conventional forces in a foreign country. Just how will the US respond in the future if, say for random example China or N.Korea, decide to send armed drones into California seeking ‘Terrorists’ that have been sentenced in absentia in their own courts, and that the US will not hand over for almost certain execution.

I guess what amuses me most is the fact that the progressive descendents of the anti-war crowd from the 60’s who didn’t like anything LBJ or Nixon did, vis a vis war powers, are now doing the same things themselves, or supporting those who are doing so.

A kill list is a kill list. Methodology varies, but dead is still dead.

OMG! Who knew…?

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