| Brennan refuses Bible + takes oath on draft Constitution—without Bill of Rights!

Brennan takes oath on draft Constitution—without Bill of Rights ~   | The Ticket.

Vice President Joe Biden swears in CIA Director John Brennan at the White House, March 8, 2013. (David Lienemann/Official …

Oh, dear. This is probably not the symbolism the White House wanted.

Hours after CIA Director John Brennan took the oath of office—behind closed doors, far away from the press, perhaps befitting his status as America‘s top spy—the White House took pains to emphasize the symbolism of the ceremony.

“There’s one piece of this that I wanted to note for you,” spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at their daily briefing. “Director Brennan was sworn in with his hand on an original draft of the Constitution that had George Washington’s personal handwriting and annotations on it, dating from 1787.”

Earnest said Brennan had asked for a document from the National Archives that would demonstrate the U.S. is a nation of laws.

“Director Brennan told the president that he made the request to the archives because he wanted to reaffirm his commitment to the rule of law as he took the oath of office as director of the CIA,” Earnest said.

The Constitution itself went into effect in 1789. But troublemaking blogger Marcy Wheeler points outthat what was missing from the Constitution in 1787 is also quite symbolic: The Bill of Rights, which did not officially go into effect until December 1791 after ratification by states. (Caution: Marcy’s post has some strong language.)

That means: No freedom of speech and of the press, no right to bear arms, no Fourth Amendment ban on “unreasonable searches and seizures,” and no right to a jury trial.

How … symbolic?



“That means, when Brennan vowed to protect and defend the Constitution, he was swearing on one that did not include the First, Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Amendments — or any of the other Amendments now included in our Constitution. The Bill of Rights did not become part of our Constitution until 1791, 4 years after the Constitution that Brennan took his oath on.

I really don’t mean to be an asshole about this. But these vows always carry a great deal of symbolism. And whether he meant to invoke this symbolism or not, the moment at which Brennan took over the CIA happened to exclude (in symbolic form, though presumably not legally) the key limits on governmental power that protect American citizens.” ~ emptywheel.



| Code Pink activists shown the red card at John Brennan Senate hearing!

Code Pink activists shown the red card at John Brennan Senate hearing ~  in New York, guardian.co.uk.


Several activists were sent from the room for their vociferous protests – and it’s not the first time they’ve hit the headlines.


Anti-drone protesters hold signs before the start of the Senate intelligence committee hearing on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA directorl.

Anti-drone protesters hold signs before the start of the Senate hearing on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA directorl. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

It was not as if Code Pink were trying very hard to hide.

As John Brennan prepared to begin his testimony before the Senate intelligence committee, the audience behind him included a number of women wearing pink clothes, marking them out as members of the high-profile anti-war activist group.

The man who desires to be the next CIA director had not even opened his mouth before the first interruption occurred and a Code Pink supporter was removed from the room. At least three more interruptions were to follow, with some Code Pink members even waving props as they hurled insults linking Brennan’s high-profile advocacy of the use of drones to strike suspected militants abroad.

The move prompted committee chair Dianne Feinstein to take the unusual step of halting the hearing, clearing the room and prohibiting Code Pink members from returning to the chamber. But Code Pink’s point had already been made. The drones controversy that has dogged Brennan ever since his name was put forward to be America’s top spy had followed him to the hallowed halls of the Capitol.

No doubt that will please Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin, who has made drone protesting one of the group’s core causes. The former Green party Senate candidate has recently published a book about America’s use of drones called Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. She has also travelled to Pakistan to meet drones protesters there, including families of civilian victims of drone strikes.

Benjamin helped found Code Pink, which welcomes male supporters but is largely made up of women, in 2002. The group was formed to protest against the prospect of a US invasion of Iraq, and Code Pink began its days with a four-month vigil in front of the White House aimed at opposing the attack on Saddam Hussein’s regime.

More than a decade later, anti-war activities have remained at the heart of Code Pink plans. Its activists, most often dressed in their trademark colour, are a frequent and visible presence at marches, political conventions and speeches by high-profile figures. As Hillary Clinton prepared for her 2008 bid for the Democratic party’s nomination, Code Pink supporters dogged many of her public appearances, outraged at her support for the invasion of Iraq.

On its website, Code Pink proudly boasts of a long list of targets from right and left. “We have become famous for confronting the warmongers, whether in the halls and hearing rooms of Congress, the national conventions of both the Republicans and Democrats, George Bush’s fundraisers, the publicity tours of Karl Rove, Condi Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and others – and Nancy Pelosi’s house,” it said.

The group has an email list of 150,000 people, and boasts 150 local chapters. There is no fee or registration to join, so the group has no official membership. It has international ties with numerous groups abroad, including the Stop the War coalition in Britain. It has also broadened its interests to pro-green policies, action in support of Palestinian civil rights and other largely left-wing issues around the world.

Some of its high-profile actions have hit the headlines. They include co-founder Jodie Evans attending a Democratic party fundraiser as a guest, and speaking personally to President Barack Obama about the plight of women in Afghanistan. They also protested at events held by the NRA in the wake of December’s Newtown school shooting. In 2009, the group protested against Halloween party held at the White House by Obama, dressing up as zombie soldiers to demonstrate against overseas conflicts.

Code Pink has also held vigils outside the Walter Reed hospital where wounded soldiers are treated.



| 10 Questions Congress should ask killer drone policy architect John Brennan!

10 Questions Congress Should Ask Killer Drone Policy Architect John Brennan ~ AlterNet, Medea Benjamin.

John Brennan’s confirmation hearing to become head of the CIA is set for February 7.

Official portrait of John O. Brennan, the likely new head of the CIA.
Photo Credit: White House/Wikimedia Commons

February 5, 2013  |

John Brennan’s confirmation hearing to become head of the CIA will take place at the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, February 7. There is suddenly a flurry of attention around a white paper that lays out the administration’s legal justification for killing Americans with drones overseas, and some of the Senators are vowing to ask Brennan “tough questions,” since Brennan has been the mastermind of the lethal drone attacks. But why have the Senators, especially those on the Intelligence Committee who are supposed to exercise oversight of the CIA, waited until now to make public statements about their unease with the killing of Americans that took place back in September and October of 2011? For over a year human rights groups and activists have been trying, unsuccessfully, to get an answer as to why our government killed the 17-year-old American boy Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, and have had no help from the Senators’ offices.

We look forward to hearing the Senators question Brennan about the legal justifications used by the Obama administration to kill three Americans in Yemen, as we are deeply concerned about their deaths and the precedent it sets for the rights of US citizens.

But we are also concerned about the thousands of Pakistanis, Yeminis and Somalis who have been killed by remote control in nations with whom we are not at war. If CODEPINK had a chance to question John Brennan as his hearing on Thursday, here are some questions we would ask:

1. You have claimed that due to the precision of drone strikes, there have been only a handful of civilian casualties. How many civilians deaths have you recorded, and in what countries? What proportion of total casualties do those figures represent? How do you regard the sources such as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that estimates drone casualties in Pakistan alone range from 2,629-3,461,with as many as 891 reported to be civilians and 176 reported to be children?  Have you reviewed the photographic evidence of death and injury presented by residents of the drone strike areas? If so, what is your response?

2. According to a report in the New York Times, Washington counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent. Please tell us if this is indeed true, and if so, elaborate on the legal precedent for this categorization. In areas where the US is using drones, fighters do not wear uniforms and regularly intermingle with civilians. How does the CIA distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate targets?

3. In a June 2011 report to Congress, the Obama administration explained that drone attacks did not require congressional approval under the War Powers Resolution because drone attacks did not involve “sustained fighting,” “active exchanges of fire,” an involvement of US casualties, or a “serious threat” of such casualties. Is it your understanding that the initiation of lethal force overseas does not require congressional approval?

4. If the legal basis for the use of lethal drones is the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), can this authorization be extended to any country through Presidential authority? Are there any geographic limitations on the use of drone strikes? Does the intelligence community have the authority to carry out lethal drone strikes inside the United States? How do you respond to the charge that the US thinks it can send drones anywhere it wants and kill anyone it wants, all on the basis of secret information?

5. Assassination targets are selected using a “disposition matrix.”  Please identify the criteria by which a person’s name is entered into the matrix. News reports have mentioned that teenagers have been included in this list. Is there an age criteria?

6.  In Pakistan and perhaps elsewhere, the CIA has been authorized to conduct “signature strikes,” killing people on the basis of suspicious activity. What are the criteria for authorizing a signature strike? Do you think the CIA should continue to have the right to conduct such strikes? Do you think the CIA should be involved in drone strikes at all, or should this program be turned over the military? If you think the CIA should return to its original focus on intelligence gathering, why hasn’t this happened? As Director of the CIA, will you discontinue the CIA’s use of lethal drones?

7. Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which the US has implicitly invoked to justify strikes, requires that “measures taken by Members in the exercise of [their] right to self-defense . . . be immediately reported to the Security Council.” Please elaborate on why the United States uses Article 51 to justify drone strikes but ignores the clause demanding transparency.

8.  The majority of prisoners incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay were found to be innocent and were released. These individuals landed in Guantanamo as victims of mistaken identity or as a result of bounties for their capture. How likely is it that the intelligence that gets a person killed by a drone strike may be as faulty as that which put innocent individuals in Guantanamo?

9.  You have stated that there is little evidence drone strikes are causing widespread anti-American sentiment or recruits for extremist groups.  Do you stand by this statement now, as we have seen an expansion of Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, possibly triple the number that existed when the drone strikes began?  Do you have concerns about the “blowback” caused by what General McChrystal has called a “visceral hatred” of U.S. drones?

10. If a civilian is harmed by a drone strike in Afghanistan, the family is entitled to compensation from US authorities. But this is not the case in other countries where the US government is using lethal drones. Why is this the case? Do you think the US government should help people who are innocent victims of our drone strikes and if so, why haven’t you put a program in place to do this?

Stay tuned to www.c-span.org at 2:30pm on Thursday to hear the Senators’ questions, Brennan’s answers and the response from those of us in the audience who don’t have many such occasions to express outrage at our government’s policy of remote-controlled killing


| America’s Djibouti-based Camp Lemonnier: Permanent Drone Wars!

Drone WarsStephen Lendman.

Perhaps one day they’ll arrive over a neighborhood near you. Drones are becoming America‘s weapon of choice. Domestically so far, they’re used only for eyes in the sky spying. 

Big Brother wants to watch everyone all the time. Don’t bet against eyes not being weaponized one day to punish as well as spy. That’s how rogue states operate. 

America is by far the worst and most dangerous. Waging war on humanity is policy. Imagine living in a country run by officials who think war is good. 

The more the better. Permanent ones. Wage them while pretending it’s done for peace. Few question why America is always at war somewhere. Scant attention is paid to the trillions of dollars spent at the expense of vital domestic needs gone begging.

Militarism is prioritized. Budgets are virtually open-ended. America’s duopoly assures it. Imagine policy makers deciding on which country they’ll ravage next.

It makes no difference whether Obama or Romney takes charge. Both major parties are in lockstep on all issues mattering most.

Corporate empowerment, serving America’s 1%, cracking down on resisters, and imperial dominance top their list. Hell hath no fury like an out-of-control hegemon. If analyzed on a couch, it would be called sociopathic or worse.

A Washington Post Special Report discussed America’s permanent war agenda. A previous article discussed Obama’s Disposition Matrix. It called it elevating Murder, Inc. to a higher level.

Anyone can be targeted anywhere in the world for any reason or none at all. Obama has final kill list authority. John Brennan is his counterterrorism maestro of murder. His “playbook” makes up rules as he writes them.

He designates kill targets. He calls it a strategy to persist ’till the end of time. Last August he said:

“What we’re trying to do right now is to have a set of standards, a set of criteria, and have a decision-making process that will govern our counterterrorism actions – we’re talking about direct action, lethal action – so that irrespective of the venue where they’re taking place, we have a high confidence that they’re being done for the right reasons in the right way.”

In other words, kill because we say so. No further explanation. No mention of rule of law principles. Right, of course, is might, whether or not legal, moral and ethical.

In his journey into the “Heart of Darkness,” Joseph Conrad wrote:

“one comes to hate those savages….hate them to the death….Exterminate all the brutes!” Kill orders target anyone challenging US hegemony. Targeted killing more than ever is US policy.

Washington Post writer Craig Whitlock explained more. On October 25, he headlined “Remote US base at core of secret operations,” saying:

“Around the clock, about 16 times a day, drones take off or land at” America’s Djibouti-based Camp Lemonnier. It’s “the combat hub for the Obama administration’s counterterrorism wars in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.”

France’s Foreign Legion established Lemonnier. Post-9/11 it became a US Naval Expeditionary Base. It’s located at Djibouti’s International Airport.

It’s home to the Pentagon’s Africa Command (USAFRICOM) Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF/HOA).

“Over the past two years, the U.S. military has clandestinely transformed it into the busiest Predator drone base outside the Afghan war zone…”

Extraordinary efforts are made to conceal its lawless mission. Decisions on who lives or dies are made secretly. Lemonnier’s commander knows. His job is execute kill orders.

“Virtually the entire 500-acre camp is dedicated to counterterrorism” killing. It’s the Pentagon’s first “permanent drone war base.” It won’t be the last. Perhaps many more are planned globally.

Drones, of course, operate out of many other US facilities. Regional ones include Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Seychelles-based installations.

Lemonnier so far is the only Pentagon installation of its kind. Secrecy shrouds its operations. Post journalists were denied permission to visit. After one showed up unannounced, commanding General Ralph Baker agreed to an off-base interview.

He wouldn’t comment on drone missions or other issues mattering most. The Post, however, obtained numerous unclassified military documents. They cover construction blueprints, drone accident reports, and internal planning memos.

They show how Djibouti-based drone wars escalated exponentially since early 2011. They also reveal ambitious future plans.

The Pentagon‘s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) plays a central role. It’s used for top-secret counterterrorism missions. Navy SEALs, Army Delta Force commandos, and other Special Ops forces are involved.

Operations known about include counterterrorism missions, surveillance, intelligence gathering, and hostage rescues.

About 300 Special Ops personnel plan, coordinate, and execute these and other missions. Others on base aren’t told what they do.

In September 2011, a Lemonnier-based drone killed Muslim cleric/US citizen Anwar Al Awlaki. He lived in Yemen. He committed no crime. He was assassinated for opposing US belligerency.

His murder and others put all anti-imperial opponents at risk. US citizenship protects no one. If outspoken enough, anyone may be next. Perhaps writers, authors, and media hosts will be targeted. Warrior states don’t tolerate truth-tellers.

Lemonnier is home to around 3,200 military, civilian and private contractor personnel. Most know little about highly classified counterterrorism work. The select 300 handle it. Their mandate also includes intelligence gathering. Killing, however, is prioritized.

Obama, Brennan, and other high-level officials decide on “disposition matrix” targets. They function as judge, jury and executioner. They hold the power of life and death in their hands.

Plans call for large-scale Lemonnier expansion. Operational forces will more than triple to around 1,100. Pentagon officials only say “a wide variety of regional security missions” are involved. “(S)ecurity considerations prevent us from commenting on specific(s).”

Lemonnier is America’s “centerpiece of an expanding constellation of half a dozen” African-based US drone and surveillance facilities. They’re also home to conventional attack aircraft. F-15E Strike Eagles fly regional combat missions.

Djibouti’s location is key. It’s situated between East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Somalia and Yemen can be reached in minutes. Djibouti’s port offers easy access to the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Africa, Amanda Dory, said Lemonnier isn’t “an outpost in the middle of nowhere of marginal interest. This is a very important location in terms of US interest, in terms of navigation, when it comes to power projection.”

Three classified military operations include Copper Dune (CD), Jupiter Garret (JG) and Octave Shield (OS). CD conducts counterterrorism operations in Yemen. Africa command officials refused comment on JG and OS. Only their unclassified code names are known.

Air Force safety records provide information on aircraft accidents. In February, a Special Ops U-28 spy plane crashed. Four crew members died.

Since January 2011, information on five drone crashes is known. One involved a JSOC major identified only as “Frog.” He coordinated Predator missions. Nothing more is known.

Missions are so secret even ground crews aren’t told about destinations or targets. All they know is that drones depart. Most return hours later. Problems beset others. They likely crashed, split apart, or burned.

Lemonnier missions are controlled remotely from Creech and Cannon Air Force Bases in Nevada and New Mexico respectively. Operators use multiple keyboards and monitors.

Enemies are faceless and nameless. Killing can be controlled nearby or from half a world away. Each drone system includes multiple UAVs, a ground station, satellite link, and launch site maintenance crew.

Rotating ones are on standby 24-hours a day for missions on a moment’s notice. Predator drones sanitize killing on the cheap. Disturbing questions are unanswered. Secrecy, unaccountability, and lawlessness matter most.

So is the huge number of civilian casualties. Investigative work determined that only 2% of victims are high-level combatants. Ordinary people suffer most.

Official reports lie. Hard truths reveal what policy makers want suppressed. Murder, Inc. is ugly business anywhere for any reason. More than ever it’s official US policy.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”