More U.S. Murders in the Middle East

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The U.S. national-security establishment and its acolytes in the mainstream press are celebrating the U.S. military’s murder in Syria of Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim Hashimi Qurayshi. Mind you, they don’t call it murder. They call it a “targeted killing” of a “bad guy” or a “terrorist.” But murder it is because the U.S. military has no legitimate authority to kill anyone in the Middle East (or anywhere else), whether it be people it labels “bad guys,” “terrorists,” “communists,” “opponents,” “rivals,” “adversaries,” or “enemies.”

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark A. Milley observe the U.S. raid in Syria against ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. Creative Commons.

Let’s take a look at the Bill of Rights, specifically the Fifth Amendment. Yes, I know that the national-security establishment and its supporters in the federal judiciary hold that the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply to the military, the CIA, and the NSA. But a close reading of the amendment reveals that there is no exception carved out for the national-security branch of the government. By its express terms, the restrictions in the Fifth Amendment apply to everyone in the federal government, not just to some people within the federal government.

The Fifth Amendment states in part: “No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law.”

Notice something important about that language: It doesn’t say “No American shall be deprived of life without due process of law.” It says “No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law.” That means it encompasses citizens of other countries.

Notice something else important: It doesn’t say “No person within the United States shall be deprived of life without due process of law.” It says “No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law.” 

That’s what the Pentagon just did to Qurayshi. In a raid on a safe house in Syria, the Pentagon just deprived him of life without due process of law.

The Pentagon is pointing out that Qurayshi actually killed himself and his family with a bomb once the raid commenced. That doesn’t mean, of course, that the Pentagon isn’t responsible for killing him. The raid is the proximate cause of Qurayshi’s death as well as the deaths of other people who were with him, including women and children. That is, if the raid had not taken place, Qurayshi and those other people would still be alive.

In fact, the Pentagon is also responsible for the deaths of the women and children that were killed by Qurayshi’s suicide bomb. The Pentagon was well aware of the possibility that he could decide to blow himself up rather than be taken captive and carted away to Gitmo for torture and perpetual incarceration. That awareness did not stop them from conducting the raid anyway. The deaths of those women and children was a risk that the Pentagon felt was worth taking.

What is due process of law? It means notice and a trial. The Bill of Rights expressly prohibits the federal government from killing anyone without first giving him notice of criminal charges and a trial in federal district court. The notice comes in the form of a criminal indictment issued by a federal grand jury. At the trial, federal prosecutors are required to prove to a jury (or a judge) beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the offense for which they wish to kill him.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, the Pentagon did not provide notice and a trial to Qurayshi before they raided that safe house and brought about his death and the deaths of more than a dozen other people. Perhaps the reason for that is that U.S. officials felt that they couldn’t prove that Qurayshi had committed a criminal offense against the United States.

National-security officials and their supporters implicitly claim that their “war on terrorism” trumps the Fifth Amendment. Really? Where does it say that in the Fifth Amendment? I certainly don’t see a “war on terrorism” exception in that amendment.

Indeed, what business do the Pentagon and the CIA have sitting in Syria and killing people? The last time I checked, Congress had not declared war on Syria. Moreover, the Syrian government has never invited the U.S. government to situate its troops and agents within the country. That makes the Pentagon and the CIA illegal interlopers in a foreign land, where they are killing whoever they want with impunity.

We also mustn’t forget that it is the Pentagon and the CIA that are responsible for the rise of ISIS in the first place, owing to their illegal and unconstitutional war of aggression against Iraq. 

What is a “war of aggression”? It is a type of war that was declared a war crime at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. That was the tribunal that put accused Nazi war criminals on trial. The tribunal, which included U.S. officials, convicted German officials of attacking other nations. That’s what they called waging a “war of aggression.”

That’s what U.S. officials did with Iraq. It is undisputed that Iraq never attacked the United States. When the U.S. government attacked this impoverished third-world country, it was waging a “war on aggression.” Moreover, the fact that the Pentagon and the CIA did not secure the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war before committing this Nuremberg-type crime only makes the situation more egregious.

After U.S. officials installed a puppet regime with their war on aggression on Iraq, ISIS formed with the aim of ousting that U.S.-installed puppet regime. In fact, many of the ISIS members had been officials in the Saddam Hussein regime that was violently ousted from power by the U.S. invasion and occupation of the country. (It’s worth noting that Saddam was a partner and ally of the Pentagon and the CIA during the 1980s, when he was killing Iranians in his own war of aggression against Iran.)

Thus, if the U.S. government had never waged an illegal and unconstitutional war of aggression  against Iraq, there never would have been an ISIS, which means that the man they just murdered — Abu Ibrahim Hashimi Qurayshi — would not have been the leader of ISIS, which means that he and his family would not be dead today.

Of course, Qurayshi will quickly be replaced, just like drug lords are quickly replaced after they are killed or captured by drug-war agents. ISIS will retaliate for Qurayshi’s killing, and the “war on terrorism” will continue, just as the drug war continues, which means ever-increasing budgets, power, and influence for the national-security establishment. The “war on terrorism” is a better racket than the “war on drugs” and perhaps even better than the old Cold War racket of  the “war on communism.”

The post More U.S. Murders in the Middle East appeared first on The Future of Freedom Foundation.

* This article was originally published here

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