Saturday, December 15, 2012

Union Thugs Vs. Free Americans: AK Fielding.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / December 16, 2012

labor unions SC Union Thugs vs. Free Americans

“If there exists not a power to check them, what security has a man of life, liberty, or property?” George Washington.

Power struggle between pro-Union members and workers who want the “right to work” escalated to a new level this week in Michigan. Breitbart reported that Union supporters “shouted down members of Tea Party” in an effort to control the direction of the demonstrations near the Michigan State Capitol earlier in the week. Tragedy struck again when Union loyalists pulled down a tent on Tuesday and then brawled with a reporter who had dared to ask too many questions. The rioting in itself is disheartening; but the true underlying problem is the Union’s lethal control over people’s lives.
Ironically, the basis of any union is to support the plight of workers. Unfortunately, in the case of Michigan, the Union seems more interested in supporting their own pockets than the rights of the workers. How else do they explain their behavior in the wake of the recently passed laws?  Whatever happened to discussing problems rationally?  Instead, the Union has resorted to fistfights with civilians and bullying those who challenge their unfair practices.
Responses from the Democratic Party leaders is also quite telling of where these unions find their strength to suppress dissenters.  Unions are unquestionably a major supporter of the Democratic Party. Obama’s presence in Michigan on Monday supporting the Union is proof enough.  His silence after Tuesday’s brawl is yet another indicator of a leader who is more interested in keeping the nation divided instead of solving problems for all Americans.  Another thug, Democratic Representative Douglas Geiss, warned his colleagues earlier in the week “there will be blood; there will be repercussions” if the new anti-union laws were passed.  Were the Democrats using “code” language and sending subliminal messages to their supporters prior to the passing of the legislation?  Perhaps, if we become as neurotic as the Liberals, we could consider the thought seriously.
Incidentally, many supporters of the union come from the “pro-choice” group. Pro-choice supporters argue that women should have a choice to get an abortion, but they are unwilling to respect the workers’ right to choose whether they want a union membership.  Tragically, to these “choice” supporters, the value of a human life is of less significance than the freedom to choose a union membership.
Evidently, angry union supporters want someone to pay for daring to dismantle the history of the labor movement in America. As a result, senators, reporters, and common folks have all become recipients of union violence and threats. Loyalists have lamented over the disrespect towards the union’s history, but they seem to have forgotten our nation’s history that bears repeating: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  Union thugs would do well to remember that we still live in a free society where every American has a right to choose “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as they deem fit, be it in the form of a collective union or as an individual.

'We've systematically removed God'

  Verne Strickland Blogmaster, December 15, 2012

Mike Huckabee: Newtown Shooting No Surprise, We've 'Systematically Removed God' From Schools

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted:   |  Updated: 12/15/2012 9:29 am EST
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) weighed in on the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Friday, saying the crime was no surprise because we have "systematically removed God" from public schools.

"We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools," Huckabee said on Fox News. "Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?"
This line of reasoning isn't new for Huckabee.

Speaking about a mass shooting in Aurora, Colo. over the summer, the former GOP presidential candidate claimed that such violent episodes were a function of a nation suffering from the removal of religion from the public sphere.

"We don't have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem," Huckabee said on Fox News. "And since we've ordered God out of our schools, and communities, the military and public conversations, you know we really shouldn't act so surprised ... when all hell breaks loose."

Adam Lanza, 20, is the suspect in a school shooting that left 27 dead Friday, including 20 children. Lanza is reportedly the son of a teacher at the school where the shootings occurred.

HuffPost reported earlier:
Authorities in Connecticut responded to a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday morning, the local NBC station reports. Police reported 27 deaths, including 20 children, six adults and the shooter, according to the Associated Press.
Following hours of uncertainty during which many media outlets reported the shooter's identity as Ryan Lanza, an official identified the suspected gunman as Adam Lanza, Ryan's 20 year old brother, according to the Associated Press. Ryan Lanza, 24, is being questioned by police in New

Friday, December 14, 2012

NH Co. School Board Member Tammy Covil: 'How Do We Protect Our Own Children From This?'

By Verne Strickland / December 15, 2012

Connecticut school shooting claims nearly 30 lives,

The stunning and tragic events in Connecticut are rippling through school systems across the United States. What went wrong? How could it happen? How can similar catastrophies be averted?

We went to new New Hanover School Board member Tammy Covil with these questions, to view the puzzling events of Friday through a local perspective.

These are excerpts of my exclusive interview with Ms. Covil on Friday for USA DOT COM:


VS: What was your first reaction upon learning of this horrific mass murder of school children and others at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut?

COVIL:  My initial reaction was shock.  And when I first saw the report of the number of people killed, I wasn’t sure it was accurate. I was very surprised. As a parent I reacted as any parent would – it was just a heartbreaking situation and my heart goes out to those parents who lost their children, which I could not imagine in any shape or form. Could not imagine how they’re coping at this point. Of course my prayers go out to them. That was my initial reaction. The situation is still fluid, and I’ve been getting reports today on a regular basis, so I don’t think we will have all the information about this tragedy for days yet. 

VS: Do you see national implications in this? This is not the first mass shooting that has occurred in the United States. Is this a threat that all school districts everywhere need to learn about, and at least devise plans to cope with a similar situation in their own area?

COVIL: I think we need to be careful and not have a major reaction, because usually when something like this happens, the first cry you hear is from gun control advocates. Of course I’m not hinting that guns be allowed in the school system. But the person who is accused of doing this is obviously unstable and was determined to inflict as much damage as he could. It’s my understanding from media reports that his mother works at the school and so had access to the school. And it’s a certainty the security didn’t know of his plans, and so buzzed him in. 

VS: I know your mind must leap forward to consider how a school board can look to forestall a repeat of this horrific occurrence.

COVIL: Of course your first thought is how do we protect our children from situations like this, and take steps and measures to assure their safety, but we can’t fully ward off all threats, because there are truly evil people in this world who will commit crimes like this, so my concern would be more from a mental health standpoint. This individual obviously had serious health problems, so I am interested in discovering problems like this before they precipitate an issue like this.

VS: I appreciate your cautious attitude, and refusing to jump to conclusions before all the information and evidence is in. You know, there seem to be gun control advocates who feel that the danger is in the weapon, not in the person who wields it. Is that perhaps a somewhat simplistic solution for a complex problem?

COVIL: You’re exactly right. We can’t ever fully control the actions of others. Those who say we should strip the rights of citizens to own a firearm is going to extremes. Criminals do not follow the law. That’s pretty obvious. They’re going to employ whatever means they deem necessary to accomplish their aims. That does not necessarily mean the use of a gun. No guns would not equal no injury or violent death. For example, the terrorist on 9/11. They chose planes as weapons. Of course they were able to commandeer the planes and fly them into buildings. Once they were in the air they had complete control. There are people in this world who are going to attempt things like this, so I would rather see the innocent have the opportunity to defend themselves rather than strip them of their rights. That’s just not the way to go. It’s certainly not constitutional. 

VS: Some of the national news reporters who weighed in on this, and I agree with them, said the attacker arrived on the scene prepared to kill and inflict damage. He did not wonder if he could or should do this, but got right to his horrendous task. A person in that frame of mind is going to be very difficult to stop, wouldn’t you think?
COVIL: Oh, absolutely. But my concern is there had to be warning signs that something was amiss. Something was happening in this man’s life that had totally destabilized him. We saw it in the mass shooting at the movie theatre. The shooter there, as well as in this massacre in Connecticut, had already launched his attack when he arrived. He was determined to do damage and destruction. It was too late then to reason with him in any way. There had to be some signs obvious to someone that he was dangerous and out of control. I don’t know who would have been in position to discover this and take action – maybe someone at the school, or a friend of member of the family. I don’t know. But we need to be more vigilant. We need to know what we’re looking for. That would be an important deterrent.
VS: But, you know, we can turn every school campus into an armed encampment, with guards patrolling and carrying loaded guns. It’s just not reasonable or even possible, is it?

COVIL: No, and something like that would give you a false sense of security. For instance, the news media said this particular school had security measures in place. If you came to the school and were visiting the school, you were buzzed in. But he knew how to manipulate that system. He knew how go get inside the building. And so, you still have to have procedures in place in the event that the basic safeguards fail. Preparedness is key. 

VS: His mother, as you and I know, was employed at the school, and she was killed at her home. She surely knew how to use a key or a card to disarm the security system. It seems probable that’s how he may have gotten in. 

COVIL: Quite possibly. But this young man had so much going wrong in his life. I mourn for his mother. I can’t imagine raising children, then having them turn around and do such frightful things. We don’t know what was going on in her mind and her world leading up to this event. I just pray for her soul. 

VS: I know that you are an advocate of home schooling for many reasons. But I wondered if this development might cause some parents to take a closer look at this approach in order to offer a safer learning environment for their children?

COVIL: It’s possible. I can tell you as a mother who has home-schooling experience that it’s not an easy task. But this approach does not allow you to insulate yourself from the outside world. At some time you have to let yourself step outside of those four walls, and meet the world at large. We’ve had shootings in so many different situations – shopping malls, movie theaters, and so forth. We can’t just hole up in our home and completely protect ourselves. But it’s definitely something that needs to be addressed, but I don’t necessarily feel this calamity, no matter how deplorable, is going to spur a mass exodus from the school system. 

VS: Do you feel that this latest tragedy might cause the New Hanover County School System to get this on the agenda for discussion to determine how we locally are in jeopardy, and how we can prevent such a thing from happening here?

COVIL: I’m sure. Anytime something like this happens and attracts wide coverage in the national media, it causes you to review your own policies and your own vulnerability or preparedness, so you can evaluate how the children in your own schools are protected and safe. I think they are reviewing the policies as we speak. Everyone must know what the procedures are, knows what to do when confronted with something like this, even though you can’t always anticipate what may happen. You prepare for the worst case scenario and hopefully it won’t happen. 

VS: This all must hit pretty close to home for you and your husband. as you have youngsters moving through the New Hanover County school system. Tell me about them.
COVIL: The twins are in the sixth grade at Trask, then we a freshman who is fifteen, and a senior at Laney. Yes, that is incentive enough to take all of these threats very seriously. And we do.


I believe that every student deserves a quality education close to home.  In order for parents to remain involved in their child's education, a school must be family-friendly and easily accessible.  Education, however, is not a "one-size-fits-all" proposition.  Therefore, if a school fails to meet a child's academic needs, parents should have access to a more suitable option.  Allowing parents these kinds of choices leads to more competition among schools.  And, when schools are forced to compete for student enrollment, the overall result is greater performance, thus breeding academic excellence. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Michigan now considering anti-Sharia bill -- CAIR files suit in Oklahoma.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / December 12, 2012


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Lawmakers in Michigan are considering a bill that would ban Sharia law in that states courts, but the measure is being opposed fervently by The Council on American-Islamic Relations(CAIR), a Muslim activist group, and in some states that have already approved anti-Sharia legislation, such as Oklahoma, CAIR has actually filed suit in an attempt to reverse the anti-Sharia law. 

In November, Oklahoma voters approved a referendum that prevents that state’s courts from considering “international or Shariah law” in their decisions.

In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder is being pressured by CAIR to veto the legislation completely but on Tuesday there were no signs that the governor would appease the minority group, as the Michigan House of Representatives began talks considering the anti-Sharia measure.

While the proposed Michigan policy doesn’t mention “Islam” at all, it would prohibit the inclusion of any “foreign laws” that could undermine “constitutional rights.”

The legislation in many states is being drafted by a template used by the American Public Policy Alliance, a nonpartisan advocacy group. APPA describes itself as “dedicated to government transparency, government accountability and the constitutionality of U.S. and state laws and policies.”

There are currently 20 states considering similar measures and so far three states — Louisiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee — have passed anti-Sharia laws.


War of words roils over Reagan's 'peace through strength' -- but why?

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / December 12, 2012
 I will love, respect and honor President Ronald Reagan until the day I die. Durrene and I raised our three boys in Raleigh, where I worked for the company where Jesse Helms first came to public attention as a devoted Christian and passionate conservative. Later, at the National Congressional Club, I worked as a media consultant in Jesse's 1982-84 re-election campaign. At the same time, the NC-based conservative orhanization gave Ronald Reagan the needed push to gain re-election in 1984. It was wonderful being associated with these landmark political battles for the soul of America. 

When he popularized his famous “peace through strength” axiom, Ronald Reagan never envisioned it would lead to anything but peace three decades later.
But now, two groups that claim a role in helping Reagan craft his foreign policy are battling it out over the use of the slogan. The American Security Council Foundation has secured a trademark and is suing the other group, the Center for Security Policy, for trying to use it in its own literature and fundraising.
The foundation says Reagan himself credited the group with crafting the phrase, and that its own long association with the words, going back decades before Reagan’s two terms in office, has earned them the right to the trademark.
The center, backed by a group of former Reagan administration officials, fired back this week, saying the phrase belongs to the ages, not to a policy think-tank.
“For those of us who proudly served with President Reagan, it is unimaginable that anyone would seek to own a phrase immortalized by him,” the 17 former Reagan officials wrote in a pointed plea Monday that called on the foundation to relent.
It’s the latest skirmish in what has become a series of battles over the former president’s legacy and memory. The fights range from presidential candidates sparring over who best claims his mantle, to the historical, where Reagan’s boyhood home was caught in a budget tussle between the National Park Service and the home’s owners.
This latest battle is being fought in federal district court in Washington, where the foundation and the center have offices.
“Peace through strength has been at the heart of everything that we do and that we’ve done. It’s not peripheral, it’s not a topic. We never do anything without focusing on that policy of peace through strength,” said Donald B. Smith, a retired Army brigadier general who is chairman of the foundation’s board.
He said the foundation, which from 1958 to 2003 was known as the Institute for American Strategy, doesn’t want to hog the historic phrase. But he said it also doesn’t want another security think-tank confusing the public by using the phrase to identify its own organization.
“We would like them to work with us and not attack us. I don’t think anyone wins when organizations attack other organizations,” Mr. Smith said. “We’re not attacking them, we’re not saying anything bad about them, all we’re doing is embracing our trademark.”
The foundation applied for the trademark in 2010, citing its use in everything from essay contests to bumper stickers to awards given back in the 1970s, and the U.S. Patent and Trade Office certified it this year.
Soon afterward, the foundation sued the center and its president, Frank Gaffney, an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration who is a major figure in conservative defense circles. Mr. Gaffney contributes a weekly column to The Washington Times.
David Yerushalmi, a lawyer at the American Freedom Law Center who is representing Mr. Gaffney and the center, said the foundation cannot pick and choose to allow some uses, such as policy debate, but disallow others.
“They picked on the wrong group of people,” Mr. Yerushalmi said. “Frank Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy are not going to claim the mantle of Ronald Reagan, they’ll do what they do, but they’ll certainly protect the freedom to use that term in any way they want.”
Mr. Yerushalmi said the foundation waited until “when no one’s watching” to secure the trademark, but added it will have to surmount one key obstacle — that it was Reagan who popularized the phrase, not the foundation’s leaders.
“When you think about ‘peace through strength,’ do you ever think about the America whatever-it-is foundation? No,” he said. “It was strong back in the ‘70s, they promoted it for everyone, but they went dormant for decades.”
Mark McKenna, a professor at Notre Dame Law School, said trademarks can be granted on phrases, and the law doesn’t require that someone invented it or was the first to use it. The key is whether they were the first to attach it to their goods or services.
As for the infringement charge, he said it’s a tough call.
Mr. McKenna said the center could argue it is using the slogan to describe its policy agenda in the context of Reagan’s history, though at times the group strays close to the line by associating it so closely with its own name. He said it amounts to a jump ball for the court.
“In the political world where so many of the organizations have similar names, I’d bet that a court wouldn’t want to step in here and stop the use, but I can’t say I’m overly confident of that prediction,” he said.
© Copyright 2012 The Washington Times, LLC.

By Stephen Dinan

The Washington Times
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

About the Author

Stephen Dinan

Stephen Dinan can be reached at

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Michigan right-to-work bill approved by GOP-dominated House


Verne Strickland Blogmaster / December 11, 2012




LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Legislature gave final approval Tuesday to a bitterly contested right-to-work plan limiting the power of unions, a devastating and once unthinkable defeat for organized labor in a state considered a cradle of the movement.

Unswayed by Democrats' pleas and thousands of protesters inside and outside the state Capitol, the House approved two final bills, sending them on to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. One dealt with private sector workers, the other with government employees. Both measures cleared the Senate last week.

Snyder is expected to sign the measures into law as early as Wednesday that would make Michigan the 24th state with right-to-work laws, which ban requirements that nonunion employees pay unions for negotiating contracts and other services.

Supporters say they give workers more choice and boost economic growth, but critics say the real intent is to weaken organized labor by bleeding unions of money needed to bargain effectively with management.

"This is about freedom, fairness and equality," House Speaker Jase Bolger said. "These are basic American rights – rights that should unite us."

Democrats offered a series of amendments, one of which would have allowed a statewide referendum. All were swiftly rejected.

"This is the nuclear option," Rep. Doug Geiss, a Democrat from Taylor. "This is the most divisive issue that we have had to deal with. And this will have repercussions. And it will have personal hard feelings after this is all said and done."

Protesters in the gallery chanted "Shame on you!" as the measures were approved. Union backers clogged the hallways and grounds shouting, "No justice, no peace."

Sen. John Proos, a Republican from St. Joseph who voted for the right-to-work bills last week, said opponents had a right to voice their anger but predicted it would fade as the shift in policy brings more jobs to Michigan.

"As they say in sports, the atmosphere in the locker room gets a lot better when the team's winning," he said.
In other states such as Wisconsin and Indiana, similar battles were drawn-out affairs lasting weeks or months. Wisconsin went a step further than Michigan, enacting legislation that stripped most public-sector workers of their right to collective bargaining.

Snyder, a business executive-turned-governor, and the Legislature's GOP majority used their political muscle to rapidly introduce and ramrod legislation through the Michigan House and Senate in a single day last week.
Snyder insisted the matter wasn't handled with undue haste and that right-to-work state was a long-discussed issue in Michigan.

"There has been lots of time for citizens to contact legislators and share their feelings," he said in an interview with WWJ-AM.

In Michigan, the right-to-work movement gains its strongest foothold yet in the Rust Belt, where the 2010 election and tea party movement produced assertive Republican majorities that have dealt unions repeated setbacks.

Opponents said they would press Snyder to use his line-item veto authority and remove a $1 million appropriation from the bills, making them eligible for a statewide referendum.

Lawmakers who backed the bills "will be held accountable at the ballot box in 2014," said Rep. Tim Greimel, the incoming House Democratic leader.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

HuffPo publishes threat to conservative site. What gives?

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / December 7, 2012

by Aaron Klein Email | Archive
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Writing in the Huffington Post, a senior fellow at a George Soros-funded radical think tank with close ties to the Democratic Party seemingly threatened the Discover The Networks website.
Discover The Networks, launched by former radical turned conservative David Horowitz, is a central database that maps out left-wing agendas, activists and causes.
“I’ve got friends, too – and they’ve got friends, and they’ve got friends, and they’ve got friends … enough to cause a computer meltdown at Discover The Networks,” wrote Richard Eskow, senior fellow at Campaign for America’s Future, or CAF.
The veiled threat was issued in a Huffington Post blog piece responding to a WND article reporting how the CAF had launched a new website urging politicians and activists to wage class warfare.
The new website,, also hailed what CAF called a new era in politics – the use of class warfare to win elections.
The WND article quoted from Discover The Networks about the ties of the Eskow’s CAF to so-called progressive Democrat politicians.
In his Huffington Post piece, Eskow also attacked WND as a “leading source for those tinfoil-hat ‘birther’ theories about President Obama.”
Democrat operatives launch class-warfare website was launched two weeks ago by the CAF.
CAF’s co-director, Robert Borosage, explained the need for such a website.
“America’s growing diversity and its increasingly socially liberal attitudes played a big role in this election. But looking back, we are likely to see this as the first of the class warfare elections of our new Gilded Age of extreme inequality,” he wrote in a statement.
“More and more of our elections going forward will feature class warfare – only this time with the middle class fighting back. And candidates are going to have to be clear about which side they are on,” he wrote.
Continued Borosage: “In 2012, candidates who supported the economic interests of the many over the few won their elections. Populism was the voice, but economic opportunity was the message. The pundits may wring their hands, but in the future it won’t be values voters, angry white men or soccer moms that win elections. It will be class war.”
The website does not feature a mission statement and is unclear about exactly how the group will go about attempting to wage class warfare.
The site explains how Obama’s 2012 campaign utilized class warfare and set the stage for the deployment of such tactics in future elections.
“Obama’s campaign built its message on class war battles that broke out in the Republican primary, as challengers sought to bring down ‘the main from Bain,’ Mitt Romney,” notes the site.
“In the end, the keys to Obama’s reelection were his calls for raising the taxes of the wealthy and his support for reinvesting those revenues in education and jobs to rebuild the middle class and to protect programs like Medicare from cuts.”
The site hails how Obama repeatedly portrayed Romney as a “walking example of the out-of-touch elite, an opponent of the auto industry bailout that saved an entire manufacturing sector, and a 1 percenter who would jeopardize social programs, education, and Medicare in order to cut taxes on his rich friends.”
CAF writes that Obama’s reelection now sets the stage “for class warfare as a potent and necessary tool to promote rebuilding the economy from the bottom up, rather than perpetuate the right wing’s failed trickle-down policies.”
Occupy, Soros, Democratic Party
WND previously reported how CAF has partnered with Occupy.
CAF is funded by Soros’ Open Society Institute as well as by the Soros-funded Tides Center, which channels funding to hundreds of progressive and far-left groups.
Tides has been connected to the Occupy movement since its beginning.
Another grantee of Tides is Adbusters magazine, which is reported to have come up with the Occupy Wall Street idea after “Arab Spring” protests toppled governments in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. The Adbusters website serves as a central hub for Occupy’s planning., which has joined Occupy, is funded by Tides. CAF’s board of directors includes President Eli Pariser.
CAF’s co-founder and director Roger Hickey, who also co-founded the Soros-funded Economic Policy Institute, was reportedly heavily involved in crafting the foundations for President Obama’s health-care law.
CAF campaigns for universal health care, immigration reform and progressive education initiatives.
CAF is deeply tied to progressive politicians from the Democratic Party, many of whom routinely are featured at CAF events.
Just last year, Nancy Pelosi was the featured speaker at CAF’s “America’s Future Now” conference in Washington, D.C.
In 2008, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., was honored at CAF’s annual dinner for her “advocacy in Congress,” noted Discover the Networks.
With research by Brenda J. Elliott

George Will: Executive Order 12333 -- Targeted Kills. Just do it.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / December 9, 2012

Drones kill the enemy with economy, precision and minimal collateral damage. Their employment saves the lives of American fighting forces. We have the technology. It instills fear in our barbaric assailants. Use with extreme prejudice.

By George Will, Washington Post Writers Group
Saturday, December 8, 2012
‘Gosh!’ Says Roosevelt
On Death of Yamamoto

— The New York Times, May 22, 1943

President Franklin Roosevelt was truly astonished when told by a reporter that Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, had been shot down by U.S. planes over a Pacific island after Americans decrypted Yamamoto’s flight plans. FDR had encouraged this “targeted killing” — destroying a particular person of military importance — a phrase that has become familiar since Israel began doing this in 2000 in combating the second Palestinian intifada.
But was the downing of Yamamoto’s plane an “assassination”? If British commandos had succeeded in the plan to kill German Gen. Erwin Rommel in Libya in 1941, would that have been an assassination? If President Reagan’s 1986 attack on military and intelligence targets in Libya, including one that Moammar Gaddafi sometimes used as a residence, had killed him, would that have been an assassination? What about the November 2001 CIA drone attack on a Kabul meeting of high-level al-Qaida leaders that missed Osama bin Laden but killed his military chief? An old executive order and a new technology give these questions urgent pertinence.
Executive Order 12333, issued by Reagan in 1981, extended one promulgated by Gerald Ford in 1976 — in response to revelations about CIA attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro — and affirmed by Jimmy Carter. Order 12333 says: “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.” What, then, of the Navy SEALs who killed bin Laden? The new technology is the armed drone, which can loiter over the suspected location of an important enemy person and, in conjunction with satellite imagery, deliver precision-guided munitions in a matter of minutes.
Fortunately, John Yoo of the Berkeley School of Law has written a lucid guide to the legal and moral calculus of combating terrorism by targeting significant enemy individuals. In “Assassination or Targeted Killings After 9/11” (New York Law School Law Review, 2011/12) Yoo correctly notes that “precise attacks against individuals” have many precedents and “further the goals of the laws of war by eliminating the enemy and reducing harm to innocent civilians.” And he clarifies the compelling logic of using drones for targeted killings — attacking a specific person rather than a military unit or asset — in today’s “undefined war with a limitless battlefield.”
To be proper, any use of military force should be necessary, as discriminating as is practical, and proportional to the threat.
Waging war, says Yoo, is unlike administering criminal justice in one decisive particular. The criminal justice system is retrospective: It acts after a crime. A nation attacked, as America was on 9/11, goes to war to prevent future injuries, which inevitably involves probabilities and guesses.
Today’s war is additionally complicated by the fact that, as Yoo says, America’s enemy “resembles a network, not a nation.” Its commanders and fighters do not wear uniforms; they hide among civilian populations and are not parts of a transparent command and control apparatus. Drones enable the U.S. military — which, regarding drones, includes the CIA; an important distinction has been blurred — to wield a technology especially potent against al-Qaida’s organization and tactics. All its leaders are, effectively, military, not civilian. Killing them serves the military purposes of demoralizing the enemy, preventing planning, sowing confusion and draining the reservoir of experience.
Most U.S. wars have been fought with military mass sustained by economic might. But as Yoo says, today’s war is against a diffuse enemy that has no territory to invade and no massed forces to crush. So the war cannot be won by producing more tanks, army divisions or naval forces. The United States can win only by destroying al-Qaida’s “ability to function — by selectively killing or capturing its key members.”
After the terrorist bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998, the Bill Clinton administration launched cruise missiles against suspected terrorist camps in Afghanistan, hoping bin Laden was there. If the missiles had killed him, would this have been improper? In March 2003, in the hours before the invasion of Iraq, the George W. Bush administration, thinking it knew where Saddam Hussein was, launched a cruise missile strike against one of his compounds. Was it wrong to try to economize violence by decapitating his regime? Would it have been morally preferable to attempt this by targeting, with heavy bombing, not a person but his neighborhood? Surely not.
George Will’s column appears Thursdays and some Sundays. Reach him at