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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tutu Speaks Truth to Power

In a letter to the editor of the New York Times:
I am deeply, deeply disturbed at the suggestion in “A Court to Vet Kill Lists” (news analysis, front page, Feb. 9) that possible judicial review of President Obama’s decisions to approve the targeted killing of suspected terrorists might be limited to the killings of American citizens.

Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.

I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity.

Aboard MV Explorer, near Hong Kong
Feb. 11, 2013

The writer, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town.

See also this article in the New Yorker, "Torture and Obama's Drone Program":
Nick Gillespie suggested that liberals’ lesser outrage at Obama’s drones than Bush’s “enhanced interrogations” amounted to a kind of intellectual corruption. “This isn’t ultimately about ideological hypocrisy—of liberals changing their tune once their guy is in office—but something much more basic and much more disturbing. It reveals that for all their crowing about being watchdogs of all that is good and decent in society, when push comes to shove, too many journalists are ready and willing handmaidens to power—including the power to kill.”

And this article in the Miami Herald, "On Use of Drones, Obama Overreaches":
But in its memo, which surfaces as the Senate ponders confirming John Brennan as director of the CIA, the Justice Department says its definition of “imminent threat” doesn’t require “clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”

In other words, “imminent” doesn’t mean “imminent.” And if U.S. intelligence — which we all know is infallible, right? — determines you to be a member of al Qaida, that determination, absent any evidence of a planned attack, gives the government the legal pretext to vaporize you. Worse, the government contends this may be done without oversight, judicial or otherwise. The president becomes, quite literally, your judge, jury and executioner.

Cf. Targeted killing - and for a further thrill, National security letter.

And this chart. And this quote.

There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
--Ecclesiastes 7:20

Honk to Mimi, who first posted Tutu's letter on her blog.


Upton King said...

I fear that it is just a matter of decades before killing people determined to be 'other' will be done without much thought or personal involvement. It is our society's way of saying... if there is no blood on my hands... then I need not suffer the consequences of my actions - be they justified or not. No one teaches responsibility anymore. No one takes responsibility anymore. The fears of so many visionary sci-fi writers has become reality - technology has removed the human element from even the most crucial of decisions (life/death). - Uptonking from Wonderland Burlesque

Russ Manley said...

Yes, well, the happy, carefree little hipsters of today have no idea what horrors are going to befall them tomorrow, I'm afraid. Terrible things are coming, as you say, but what can anyone do?

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