It seems to me only fair that President Obama and his national-security state cohorts publicly announce whether NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been added to the presidential kill list, like two other American citizens who were assassinated, Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son Abdulrahman. When the U.S. government targets an American citizen for assassination, it seems only right that they let him know that the hit is coming.
The sad reality, which the Snowden controversy is exposing, is that we Americans now live in a country in which the president, operating through his national-security state apparatus, now wields the omnipotent authority to kill any American he wants with impunity.
Suppose Snowden is making his way to a country that has offered him asylum. Suddenly, he is shot dead by an unknown assassin who escapes.
While there would undoubtedly be members of the mainstream press who would immediately cry, “Conspiracy theory!” I’d venture to say that most Americans would place the CIA or other elements of the national-security state at the top of the list of likely suspects in an assassination of Edward Snowden.
But the fact is that President Obama, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA could simply remain mute about the assassination. There is no one that could force them acknowledge that they had committed the assassination. We’ve seen that with the assassination of 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. We all know that they assassinated the kid, presumably to make sure he never grew into adulthood and sought revenge for the killing of his father, but the fact is that U.S. national-security state officials have never peeped a word about why they did it or even whether they did it, and, under the current state of affairs, they don’t have to.
If they were to say anything, it would simply be to recite the two words that have played the most important role in the lives of the American people in our lifetime: “national security,” a term that isn’t even found in the Constitution. Those two words — “national security” — would serve as the excuse for the president, the Pentagon, the CIA, and NSA to continue remaining mute about Snowden’s assassination. It would also serve to shut down any congressional or judicial inquiry into the assassination.
Or they could simply lie about it. After all, if they’re willing to lie under oath to Congress in an official hearing, as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper did, why wouldn’t they be willing to lie about an assassination of an American citizen especially when they’re not under oath? Everyone knows that unlike ordinary citizens like Martha Stewart and Roger Clemens and the rest of us, national-security state officials can get away with any crime — murder, assassination, kidnapping, torture, rendition, perjury, or whatever — by simply reciting the two magic words, “national security.”
The omnipotent power to exact deadly vengeance on a man who has revealed grave government wrongdoing shows, once again, how the Cold War national-security state apparatus that Americans embraced after World War II has fundamentally altered the relationship of the citizen and the federal government. The original idea was that the citizen would be the master and the government the servant. But when a government wields the omnipotent, non-reviewable authority to exterminate a citizen without trial and conviction, that’s conclusive proof that the government has become the master and the citizen the servant.
It’s also sad confirmation of what the national-security apparatus has done to our nation through its adoption of practices that ordinarily characterize totalitarian regimes. The ability to exact deadly vengeance on a citizen for revealing dark and nefarious practices of the national-security state is not what the Founding Fathers and the Framers had in mind for our country.