Blog #20: Targeted Killings

The U.S. Senate and various arms of the media are questioning the Obama administration’s use of drones for targeted killings of U.S. citizens who are members of Jihadist Islamic groups. Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is quoted as stating his intent to: “pull out all the stops to get to the actual legal analysis, because without it, in effect, the administration is practicing secret law.” (NY Times, 2/7/13)

On August 25, 1967, J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, initiated a counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO). On page 3, the memo reads: “You are also cautioned that the nature of this new endeavor is such that under no circumstances should the existence of this program be made known outside the Bureau, and appropriate in-office security should be afforded to sensitive operations and techniques considered under the program.”

The COINTELPRO operation has been legalized under the auspices of the Patriot Act, so that the purposed of COINTELPRO as originally initiated is no longer unconstitutional. As a result of COINTELPRO, many Black Panthers during that time were targeted for killing, the most noted probably being Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in Chicago. The point is that the U.S. government has been involved in secret targeted killings of U.S. citizens for decades; many remember the bombing of the MOVE family in Philadelphia, from which collateral damage resulted in an entire community being destroyed.

So, as the Senate Intelligence Committee proclaims astonishment that Obama would engage in a secret program to use drones to target and kill U.S. citizens deemed “terrorists,” historically the U.S. government has been engaged in this practice for decades. “The purpose of this new counterintelligence endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of Black nationalist, hate-type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership and supporters, and to counter their propensity for violence and civil disobedience.” Given the reality that drones are now being operated inside the U.S., coupled with the legalization of “neutralizing” U.S. citizens deemed “terrorists” by virtue of the Patriot Act and the broader 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the progressive anti-imperialist and anti-racist activists should become wary. This is especially true when considering the FBI’s March 9, 1968 COINTELPRO memorandum that specifically stated: “Negro youths and moderates must be made to understand that, if they succumb to revolutionary teachings, they will be dead revolutionaries.”

The propensity of the U.S. government to kill (neutralize) its citizens to maintain the status quo corporate profit motive, i.e. capitalist-imperialist government, should not be mistaken in any activist’s mind. The U.S. government, in its desperation to seek profits over the needs of people, will become ever more repressive. The overt development of the police state, with media acquiescence, presenting a moral imperative that members of law enforcement, by virtue of having passed a civil service exam, are heroes, creates a profound social contradiction. Whereas law enforcement personnel are to serve and protect citizens, the greater potential exists that they will operate as corporate automatons to preserve the capitalist ideal of profits over people.

Hence, there is a need for initiating a broad-based national dialogue of the relationship between poor and oppressed peoples and law enforcement. This is essential to obviate the U.S. government’s long history of targeted killing of citizens, dissenters or otherwise! (See Blog #2: Government Sanctioned Killings)

In fierce struggle,
Jalil A. Muntaqim
Attica: 2-19-13