Executive Intelligence Review
Subscribe to EIW This transcript appears in the October 23, 2015 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
OCT. 16 LAROUCHE PAC WEBCAST

Obama Must Immediately
Be Removed from Office and
Prosecuted for Murder

[PDF version of this article]

Oct. 17—The following is a transcript of the core of the presentation made by Jeffrey Steinberg on the Oct. 16 LaRouche PAC webcast. That webcast was hosted by Matthew Ogden.

Now the reality is that we can’t wait. The reality is that Obama must be removed from office in the immediate days ahead, and this is not a matter of trying to scramble around to find some pretext in which to do that, because Matt just mentioned at the outset, that the Glen Greenwald-Jeremy Scahill new publication, theintercept.com, has published an extraordinary 8-part series, based on newly-leaked government documents. These documents were prepared after Edward Snowden had already dumped his material, and had already left government, and probably already taken refuge in Russia.


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theintercept.com
This graphic is adapted from a slide in a May 2013 Pentagon presentation showing the chain of command for ordering drone strikes and other operations carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command in Yemen and Somalia. The original can be found here.

What these documents show, is that President Obama is guilty of mass murder. The entire drone program that has been the hallmark, the entirety, of the Obama Administration’s counter-terrorism program, has been conducted outside the framework of the U.S. Constitution, outside of international law, and represents perhaps the single greatest incidence of mass murder in the modern history of this planet.

Now, that may sound extreme, but I would urge all of you to not just read the 8-part series of articles, but to go to the links to the actual documents that reveal the true nature of this Obama administration, completely lawless mass murder campaign.

One of the points that’s made right at the outset, in the opening article of this series, is that since 1975—and you can go back to the history of the revelations about CIA crimes, the Church and Pike Committee investigations—during that period President Gerald Ford issued an Executive Order and laws were passed, making it explicitly illegal for the U.S. President to order assassinations. And of course, President Obama, since the very beginning of his term in office, has been regularly convening Tuesday meetings at the White House, where they’ve been specifically developing kill lists of targets to be gone after. And so, rather than use the appropriate and accurate term of assassinations, President Obama and his team choose the word “targetted killings,” but the concept is identical.

CSPAN
Obama tries to defend his unconstitutional drone policy of mass murder in a speech at the National Defense University on May 23, 2013.

We’ve talked on a number of occasions in recent weeks on these webcasts on Friday night, about General Michael Flynn, who was the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and was fired by President Obama in the summer of 2014 for being a major obstacle to the kinds of illegal programs the Administration has been running since the beginning. General Flynn was interviewed by theintercept.com to comment on the documents and to comment on his own first-hand knowledge of this assassination program. General Flynn had been the Director of Intelligence for the Joint Special Operations Command, for Central Command (JSOC), and then became the head of the entire Defense Intelligence Agency. Here’s what he had to say about the Obama Administration’s program:

“The drone campaign right now really is only about killing. When you hear the phrase ’capture or kill’, capture is actually a misnomer. In the drone strategy that we have, ? capture’ is a lower case c. We don’t capture people any more. Our entire Middle East policy seems to be based on firing drones. That’s what this Administration decided to do in its counter-terrorism campaign. They are enamored by the ability of Special Operations and the CIA to find a guy in the middle of the desert, in some shitty little village (pardon my French), and drop a bomb on his head and kill him.”

Doubletalk and Lies

Now to hear President Obama, you would think that the White House program has been surrounded by Constitutional lawyers who’ve been studying every step along the way, to make sure that everything involved in this program is legal. In a speech at the National Defense University several years ago (2013), President Obama discussed the program, and again, I quote:

The United States has taken lethal, targetted action against al-Qaeda and its associated forces, including with remotely piloted aircraft, commonly referred-to as drones. As was true in previous armed conflicts, this new technology raises profound questions about who is targetted, and why. About civilian casualties and the risk of creating new enemies. About the legality of such strikes under U.S. and international law. About accountability and morality.

Drone strikes, he concluded, are effective and legal. Now, it happens that under pressure, particularly after news reports about his Tuesday kill-meetings at the White House, caused quite a stir, the White House issued a policy document. It’s in the public record; it didn’t have to be leaked out. It’s called “U.S. Policy Standards and Procedures for the Use of Force in Counter-Terrorism Operations Outside the United States and Areas of Active Hostilities.”

I won’t bore you with the precise language of this document, but among the highlights, they say:

In every instance we prefer to capture rather than kill. We have precise standards for the use of lethal force, and these criteria include, but are not restricted to, near-certainty that the terrorist target is present, near-certainty that non-combatants will not be injured or killed, an assessment that capture is not feasible at any time of the operation, an assessment that the relevant government authorities in the country where action is contemplated cannot or will not address the threat to U.S. persons, and an assessment that no other reasonable alternatives exist to effectively address the threat to U.S. persons.

And they say:

There must be a legal basis for using lethal force, and secondly, that lethal force will only be used against a target that poses a continuing imminent threat to U.S. persons.

Now, the fact of the matter is that these were strict rules for targetted killing that were promulgated by the Obama Administration, signed by the President himself, and as documented in The Intercept series, by commentaries by people like General Flynn, this policy has been violated in virtually every instance. So even by the criteria that his own Administration set forth, President Obama has been guilty of carrying out what can only be described as mass murder.

Cause for Dismissal

Now, there are procedures for dealing with crimes of mass murder. Number one, to the extent that the President is directly implicated in these actions, this is cause for immediate and obvious impeachment, and perhaps, because of the urgency and timeliness of this, it would be more appropriate to simply invoke the 25th Amendment. If you have somebody who has been living under the cloak of apparent civility and respectable position, but who turns out to be a mass murderer, then you’d have to conclude that that person was suffering from a form of socio-pathological insanity. That invokes the 25th Amendment immediately.


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theintercept.com
These statistics from Obama’s “Operation Haymaker” in the Hindu Kush (Northern Afghanistan and Pakistan) document how almost nine out of ten people killed in these drone operations were not the intended targets.

And so, that’s the situation that we’re dealing with. What Mr. LaRouche said, is in this case, you would want to remove that person, President Obama, from office immediately, and then immediately commence with criminal proceedings for the mass-murders that he’s committed.

No Capture, Just Kill

Now, among the documents that were leaked to the authors of this series of articles, is a document that was prepared by the House Select Committee on Intelligence in April of 2012. It was called the Performance Audit of the Department of Defense Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR).

What this audit by the House Intelligence Committee concluded, is that the entire targetted-kill program was rife with violations, with failures to live up to any of the standards that would be appropriate under the Constitution, or even under the Obama Administration’s own guidelines, and that basically there was a mad rush to try to line up as much money as possible for these drone-kill programs, and therefore there were shortcuts, there was misrepresentation of the program, and in fact since the September 11 attacks, the Defense Department has spent $67 billion on putting together the ISR infrastructure that the Obama Administration has exclusively used for the drone killing-program.

Now, other comments on this. Again, from General Flynn. He said that the White House for reasons of expediency abandoned its own guidelines. There were no attempts to capture. There were no attempts to work with local governments on setting up the circumstances to capture. There was no attempt to live up to the standard that to be a legitimate target for these assassinations, the individual had to oppose an immediate and imminent threat of terrorist attack against the United States. And General Flynn said:

We’ve tended to say, drop another bomb via a drone, and put out a headline that ’We killed Abu Bag of Donuts’ and it makes us all feel good for 24 hours. And you know what? It doesn’t matter. It just made them a martyr. It just created a new reason to fight us ever harder.

Flynn went on to say that there was “way too much reliance on technical aspects of intelligence, like signals intelligence, or even just looking at somebody with unmanned aerial vehicles. He gave an example: “I could get on the telephone from somewhere in Somalia, and I know I’m a high-value target. And I say in some coded language, ’The wedding is about to occur in the next 24 hours.’ ” Flynn said:

That could put all of Europe and the United States on a high-level alert, and it may just be total bullshit. SIGINT is an easy system to fool, and that is why it has to be validated by other INTs, namely like human intelligence. You have to ensure that the person is actually there, at that location, because what you really intercepted was the phone.

Dept. of Defense/Claudette Roulo
Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (July 2012-Aug. 2014) and the former intelligence director for JSOC (July 2004-2007), gave an exclusive interview to theintercept.com blasting Obama’s “capture or kill” program as “only about killing.”

And in fact, one of the things that was concluded in this in-depth House Intelligence Committee review of this drone-kill program was that in most instances, there was almost exclusively reliance on the tracking of cell phones, and so, very often, it was the cell phone that was the determinant of the location where the drone attack occurred. And in many instances, almost a majority of the instances, many innocent people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time were killed, and immediately afterwards, even though these people were not known, they didn’t even know what their identities were when the drone-firing took place, they would immediately be classified as unknown enemy combatants. In other words, if you were there, you were de facto a terrorist, and it was de facto justified that you were a legitimate target for Obama’s assassinations.

Obama Decides Who Lives and Who Dies

Now, the documents also included a number of structural flow-charts. The point that the Pentagon and the CIA wanted to make, was that these programs did not involve a few people sitting around in a room, going through piles of what they themselves called “baseball cards”—photographs and biographical information on the people who were on the potential-target list. It was based on the data in these “baseball cards” that the President of the United States would sign the kill-order. And once the kill-order was signed—and by the way, it usually took on average 58 days from when an individual was identified by name to when he went through the process of investigation, surveillance, and his name landed on the President’s desk for a finding that this person should be killed.

Then from that moment on, there was a 60-day time deadline for accomplishing the killing. I’m sure part of the reason for that is that every week there were more and more names being added, and the priorities were continuously shifting. But the fact of the matter is, that there was an elaborate chain of command through which this vetting process took place; chains of command within the military and the CIA. Then there was a chain of command which led up to what was called the Principals Committee, which are the leading members of the President’s Cabinet and heads of other agencies that have critical roles to play in this process.

And then in every single instance, the ultimate decision was made and was signed off on by the President of the United States. So, in other words, every single person killed in this drone warfare program was authorized for assassination by President Obama.

Now, we know that there were a number of leading advisors, particularly John Brennan, who for the first four years of the Obama Presidency was the President’s Counter-terrorism Advisor right there at the White House; then he was made Director of the CIA. We know that David Petraeus, who was formerly a high-ranking military commander, brought over to the CIA, and who was found not only to have been engaging in an extramarital affair, but was caught passing massive amounts of classified documents to his mistress and biographer; and yet he only received a slap-on-the-wrist misdemeanor, and to this day is still a key advisor to President Obama. Petraeus propagated a series of orders, establishing the chain of command and the operational profile of at least the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) part of this kill program.

But ultimately, everything landed on the desk of President Obama; and when he signed the kill order, the 60-day clock began to tick down, and that was when the operations in the field went into action.

Ripping Up the Constitution

We know, of course, that Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, clearly someone who had an association with al-Qaeda, was put on the assassination list; and yet, as an American citizen, he was denied any of the Constitutional due process that all American citizens are entitled to. So, al-Awlaki was killed in an American drone attack in Yemen; several weeks later, his 16-year old son and another American citizen were killed in another drone attack. The Administration had to scramble to cover that up.

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This House Intelligence Committee report concluded that “the entire targetted-kill program was rife with violations, with failures to live up to any of the standards that would be appropraiate under the Constitution, or even under the Obama Administration’s own guidelines.”

Now there are at least some indications that Anwar al-Awlaki may have been targeted for cold-blooded murder; because he was an FBI informant, and in that capacity, knew certain secrets about how this whole process and program of targeting was working, and perhaps knew of certain government ties to al-Qaeda. We don’t know that, but there are court actions underway right now that may provide an even brighter light on the specific case of al-Awlaki.

In Afghanistan, in Yemen, in Somalia, in Pakistan—those were the four major areas where this mass assassination campaign was taking place—there were extensive drone bases, massive amounts of military equipment. But yet, in all of the instances, it would appear that more often than not, the criteria that the Administration itself put forward were never in a single instance adhered to; and the collateral damage, the number of innocent people later, after the fact, posthumously declared enemy combatants was massive. We don’t even begin to have a total death toll, but for every individual on the Presidential-approved kill list, there were multiple numbers of people who were killed simply because they were in the immediate vicinity.

One aspect of the program evolved to the point that targeted assassination operations were conducted on the basis of activity profile, not even identification of specific individuals. In the case of Afghanistan, there were instances where drone-targetted operations were directed against weddings, simply because the drones detected a large number of young males holding up guns in the air and firing them into the air. Now that happens to be part of a fairly typical tribal wedding ceremony in Afghanistan; so we don’t know how many of these targeted assassinations were conducted on the basis of those kinds of activities.

Now, there was a report that was issued in 2014, that was done by General John Abizaid, who was the former head of the Central Command, and a lawyer from Georgetown named Rosa Brooks, who was a former attorney at the Department of Defense. And that report noted that there are “enormous uncertainties” in drone warfare, and that these uncertainties

are multiplied further when the United States relies on intelligence and other targeting information provided by a host nation government. How can we be sure we are not being drawn into a civil war; or being used to target the domestic political enemies of the host state leadership?

 

Gen. John Abizaid, former head of the Central Command, issued a report in 2014 noting “enormous uncertainties” in the drone program.

Dept. of Defense/R.D. Ward

So, in other words, this program was completely out of control, off the charts; but was thoroughly embraced by President Obama from his first days in office—probably initially courtesy of people like John Brennan. But the fact of the matter is that a massive number of crimes have been committed. The official documents, including those classified documents leaked out to The Intercept, make it clear that there was an absolute, unambiguous chain of command. In other words, the way that law enforcement would map out the structures of a mafia organization that they were going to break up; and unambiguously, the godfather of this entire mass kill program was President Obama. And if that doesn’t constitute sufficient criteria for immediately launching impeachment proceedings or invoking of the 25th Amendment, then we’ve pretty much lost any sense of what our Constitutional republic is all about.

Mayhem in Afghanistan

Ogden: OK, I would like to present the institutional question which we got in this week, which is very brief. It reads as follows: “Mr. LaRouche, the United States is to extend its military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2016. What is your opinion about the extension of our military presence in Afghanistan?”

Steinberg: Well, I think, first of all, you’ve got to consider the timing of this announcement. Regardless of whatever process there was, however long the deliberations were about making this decision, I find it extremely distasteful that the President chose to make this announcement just days after the United States had bombed the hospital of Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz.

Doctors Without Borders
A destroyed area of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, the morning after the U.S. bombing campaign.

There are new developments just in the last 24 hours, indicating that some American or NATO either tanks or APCs—armed personnel carriers—had arrived on the site soon after the bombing had ended, and had basically plowed through the rubble. And at least in the eyes of Doctors Without Borders, this was an attempt to bury and conceal evidence of a major crime that was committed. We spoke last week about the fact that Doctors without Borders had issued a call under the Geneva Convention for a top-down investigation, and they basically say that the actions that were undertaken under the auspices of President Obama, constituted war crimes.

So I think if you step back, and think about the thrust of what we’ve presented here in the last half hour or so, about the nature of the drone program, and then situate the bombing of this Doctors Without Borders hospital within that overall framework, I think you’ll see that this situation is completely out of control, and lawless. In fact, one of the commentators who has been noting the horrors of this incident has pointed out that it may come down to the fact that President Obama’s only legacy is that he will have been the only Nobel Peace Prize award recipient to bomb another Nobel Peace Prize recipient—because Doctors Without Borders has also been far more legitimately granted that award.


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