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Pentagon Won't Hand Over Dead Prisoner's "Missing Throat," And Other Disturbing Revelations

TGIF and everything, but first: two disturbing, ongoing stories made for a pretty dark week in Washington, and they both flew mostly under the radar. 1) On Wednesday, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair acknowledged what Washington Post reporter Dana Priest revealed last week: that the Obama administration has made it its official policy to target U.S. citizens with possible terrorist ties -- or as one senior administration official put it, Americans who become "part of the enemy" -- for assassination. Not without permission, mind you: "We take direct actions against terrorists in the intelligence community," Blair said at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday. "If we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that." Permission from whom? Well, President Obama, of course. Anyone else? Congress? The judiciary? Nope, the authority stems solely from the Executive Branch. Glenn Greenwald, who has been blogging on this topic since the story initially broke, reminds us why this is so dangerous:
Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim that they are associated with Terrorism and pose "a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests."
In general, no matter how shocking the story, I try to avoid saying things like "That's police state stuff!"  because, like the "Nazi" labels that are so flippantly tossed around, such observations are overused and often undermine otherwise sound political analysis. That said ... that's police state stuff. So why aren't people up in arms? As Greenwald observes:
Amazingly, the Bush administration's policy of merely imprisoning foreign nationals (along with a couple of American citizens) without charges -- based solely on the President's claim that they were Terrorists -- produced intense controversy for years. That, one will recall, was a grave assault on the Constitution. Shouldn't Obama's policy of ordering American citizens assassinated without any due process or checks of any kind -- not imprisoned, but killed -- produce at least as much controversy?
The answer is yes, of course, and yet most Americans seem to be unaware that this is even happening. Or else, we are suffering from what Dahlia Lithwick calls "terrorism derangement syndrome," a willingness to submit to the most frightening and wildly unconstitutional measures if it just means that we Will Be Safe once and for all. Many excellent people have covered this ground this week and there's no sense in rehashing their arguments. Read Greenwald here and Lithwick here. 2) The tale of the so-called Guantanamo "suicides" gets worse and worse. On Thursday, Raw Story reported that "the family of a former Gitmo detainee are still waiting years later for answers regarding the events leading up to their son's death." As Harpers contributor Scott Horton revealed in a shocking feature a few weeks back, this man, Ahmed Ali Al-Salami, one of three Guantanamo prisoners who supposedly committed suicide in 2006 -- "an act of asymmetrical warfare" according to Rear Adm. Harry Harris -- was very possibly murdered while in U.S. custody, his death then made to look like a suicide. Horton's report caused a stir and the Pentagon has vehemently denied its veracity, calling it, among other things, ""a complete fabrication.” Now, attempts to re-investigate the deaths are being blocked. "Rather than supplying the deceased's missing throat and other necessary items, the Pentagon is attempting to cast aspersions on Horton's report," reports Raw Story. Yes, missing throat. Apparently, that was one of the requests from the family of Ahmed Ali Al-Salami, who hopes that it will provide new evidence on how he died. But "hope that a second autopsy would provide those answers has been at a standstill as the doctor who performed the autopsy waits for U.S. officials to respond to a request for the return of the deceased's missing throat, a request the Pentagon now appears to be denying was ever made." The Pentagon's many denials can be found in this January 28th article from Human Events, which provides the basis for the Raw Story article. Read the Raw Story report here.