On Wednesday, the trial of former Soviet military officer and arms dealer Viktor Bout, 45, opened in the U.S. district court in Manhattan with a strong assertions from Assistant Attorney Brendan McGuire.
“One hundred surface to air missiles, 20,000 machine guns, 20,000 grenades, 740 mortars, 350 sniper rifles, 10 million rounds of ammunition and five tons of C-4 explosives,” McGuire told the jury in his opening statement. “Viktor Bout wanted to provide all of it to a foreign terrorist organization he believed wanted to kill Americans. He had the experience to do it, he had the expertise to do it, he had the will do it. He wanted to do it.” McGuire asked the court, “Why — for the money?”
According to Viktor Bout’s own words, as recounted by the undercover DEA agent responsible for Bout’s capture, Louis Milione, in a television interview on the CBS show 60 Minutes, prior to his arrest Bout told Milione that he would be able to supply "anti-personnel mines. Fragmentation grenades. Armor-piercing rockets. Money laundering services. And all within the context of speaking about a shared ideology of communism and fighting against the Americans.” (Emphasis added.)
Breaking news yesterday revealed that U.S. law enforcement officials thwarted a plot to kill Adel A. Al-Jubeir, the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Attorney General Eric Holder discussed the story as it went viral. According to the FBI and DEA, the plot, allegedly backed by the Iranian government, was to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States in a conspiracy involving a secret Iranian military unit and a citizen of the Islamic republic with a U.S. passport.
Holder reported that the plan “was directed and approved by elements of the Iranian government. High-up officials in those agencies, which is an integral part of the Iranian government, were responsible.” He added, “In addition to holding these individual conspirators accountable for their alleged role in this plot, the United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions.”
President Obama has created a secret death panel to decide which American citizens should be killed without trial by our own military, and he approved a secret legal memorandum from the Office of Legal Council (OLC) that tries to justify the killings, according to Reuters and the New York Times, respectively.
Of the death panel, Reuters reported October 5,
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.
The Obama administration has refused to comment officially or publicly on the existence of the death panel.
New York Times reporter Charlie Savage described the legal memorandum in detail after lengthy, perhaps administration-approved, conversations with anonymous Obama administration officials. Savage describes the document as "a roughly 50-page memorandum by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, completed around June 2010," which means that it was drawn up about six months after the assassination list already existed. Savage continued:
An awful lot of readers will be angry at some of the things I have to say today. So before the shouting begins, let me tell you where I’m coming from, as the kids like to say.
I was raised with a profound respect for the fact that we are a nation of laws, not men: That “no one is above the law,” that a jury of our peers will decide our guilt or innocence, that we are guaranteed the right to face our accusers, that “our home is our castle,” and that we will be protected in our persons and our property.
Does that sound like the America you were taught to love and revere when you were young?
It is promises like these that made our country the inspiration of the world. They are some of the reasons we became the wealthiest nation this planet has ever seen. Even the poorest among us lived better than the majority of citizens in other countries. No wonder people dreamed of becoming Americans — so many, in fact, that we had to establish a lottery to decide who could get in.
Yes, the United States of America that you and I were born into was a very special place. We knew it and were profoundly grateful for it. We gave thanks that we were lucky enough to be born here, because we knew that no other place on earth enjoyed our freedoms, our protections and our prosperity.
Talk of an Obama impeachment reentered the political arena this week, this time for the targeted killing of American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. Texas Congressman and GOP presidential contender Ron Paul declared that because of the President’s “flouting” of the law, impeachment is possible.
Early last Friday, al-Awlaki — who had not been charged with or convicted of any crime — was killed by a U.S. drone in a joint CIA-U.S. military operation in Yemen.
Ben Johnson of the White House Watch wrote of the assassination:
Although federal agents have sought al-Awlaki since the Clinton administration, and the Authorization for the Use of Force passed following 9/11 allows the president to kill anyone he “determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11,” al-Awlaki’s birth in the United States has many debating the proper interplay between national security and civil liberties.
According to Rep. Paul, the assassination of an American citizen, regardless of the reason, is a movement toward “tyranny.” The longtime Texas congressman added, “I put responsibility on the President because this is obviously a step in the wrong direction. We have just totally disrespected the Constitution.”
Representative Ron Paul suggested before the National Press Club October 5 that President Obama's assassination program of alleged terrorists could grow into an assassination program for journalists who disagree with the federal government.
"Can you imagine being put on a list because you're a threat?" the GOP presidential contender asked. "What's going to happen when they come to the media? What if the media becomes a threat? Or a professor becomes a threat? Someday that could well happen. This is the way it works. It's incrementalism.... It's slipping and sliding, let me tell you." Paul's remarks were a reaction to a September 30 drone strike in Yemen authorized by President Obama which targeted and killed two American citizens, one of whom — Anwar al-Awlaki — had been on a presidential assassination list for more than a year.
On the issue of the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, Herman Cain is demonstrating just how presidential he is by performing one of the most time-honored candidate contortions — the flip flop.
After the May 5 GOP presidential debate in South Carolina, Bob Powell of AboveTopSecret.com asked Cain if he would consider it legal for President Obama to issue a kill order for Awlaki. Cain responded, "In his case, no, because he's an American citizen."
Cain continued: "If he's an American citizen, which is the big difference, then he should be charged, and he should be arrested and brought to justice.”
Cain also stated in the same interview, “He [Awlaki] should be charged. And since he’s an American citizen, he should be tried in our courts.”
President Obama took office in January 2009 with grand promises of "creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government," but with the Anwar al-Awlaki killing and an administration assassination program for American citizens, the Obama administration has taken government secrecy to new depths.
U.S. citizen and alleged al Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a drone strike in Yemen September 30, but the Obama administration has decided to keep his assassination program secret. Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic magazine summarized the situation as follows:
[T]he actual legal reasoning the Department of Justice used to authorize the strike? It's secret. Classified. Information that the public isn't permitted to read, mull over, or challenge.... Obama hasn't just set a new precedent about killing Americans without due process. He has done so in a way that deliberately shields from public view the precise nature of the important precedent he has set.
President Obama touted the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen September 30, raising constitutional questions of whether the President has become judge, jury, and executioner for alleged criminals. Obama noted that Awlaki was a longtime video propagandist for al-Qaeda, and claimed that "the death of Awlaki is a major blow to al Qaeda's most active operational affiliate. Awlaki was the leader of external operations for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In that role, he took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans."
Awlaki wasn't the only American targeted in the drone strike. "The strike also killed a second U.S. citizen — Samir Khan, the co-editor of an al-Qaeda magazine — and two other unidentified al-Qaeda operatives," the Yemeni government told the Washington Post. The New American reported back in June that dozens of other American citizens are apparently on Obama's assassination list.
President Obama alleged that Awlaki "directed the failed attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009. He directed the failed attempt to blow up U.S. cargo planes in 2010." Awlaki denied directing these attacks in a February 2010 interview with Al Jazeera, though he admitted he liked the idea of attacks on U.S. military targets.