Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Death Wish: The Presidential Prerogative of Murder

First published in The Moscow Times on Nov. 2, 2001. Yes, that's how long Bush has claimed the absolute power of life and death over every single person on earth.

"Augurs and understood relations have...brought forth the secret'st man of blood."
– Shakespeare, Macbeth.

The president of the United States has now assumed the power to order the murder of anyone on earth.

It's no joke. The Washington Post reports this week that George W. Bush has signed an executive order giving himself the right to issue death warrants for any individual he deems a terrorist or terrorist supporter. These people will be killed in secret by the CIA, without any pretense of due process, without defense or appeal.

Such "targeted killings" – which have worked so well in making Israel the secure and peaceful place it is today – could also include the financial backers of terrorist activity. Good thing this executive order was not in effect during the 1930s, when Bush's grandfather, Prescott, was one of the biggest financial backers of a terrorist organization known as Nazi Germany. Indeed, Bush was in so deep with Hitler that he kept doing business with Nazis even after American soldiers were being ripped by German lead in North Africa.

Ordinarily, this kind of thing might be called treason – but as we all know, the niceties of law and morality don't apply to the Bushes of this world. Prescott's Nazi assets were finally seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act – but it was all hush-hush, on the QT. After all, he was a pillar of the Establishment, and had a good lawyer working the case for him: Allen Dulles, a founding father of the CIA.

Now the CIA – which operates out of a building named for Prescott's son, the "George H.W. Walker Center for Intelligence" – will be murdering the designated victims of Prescott's grandson. What lovely historical symmetry, eh?

Bush's license to kill leaves the meaning of "terrorist" and "terrorist supporter" deliberately vague. The definition is entirely up to the president: there is no legislative oversight, no judicial review, no public scrutiny. If he wants you dead, he can have you killed. It's as simple as that.

This official acceptance of the principle of extra-judicial murder degrades the American government to the level of moral savagery. It is the same "principle" underlying all terrorist activity: a threat to a group's interests is arbitrarily defined by its leaders, who then act arbitrarily, lawlessly, to eliminate the threat. It is the same principle invoked by bin Laden to defend Muslim lands from "infidels." It is the same principle invoked by the Taliban when they assassinated moderate Afghan leader Abdul Haq last week. It is the same principle invoked by Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian doppelgangers as they trade "targeted killings" and civilian murders. It is the same principle once invoked by Prescott's pal Hitler to defend Aryan "purity" by killing Jews.

It is the principle of evildoers, men of blood, murderers and beasts.

And it is now a guiding light of the "civilized" world.