Relax!! Piers Morgan, Rachel Maddow and Bill O’Reilly are just fine! All your favorite corporate-sponsored talking heads are present and accounted for…eager to dutifully disseminate the day’s talking points. And while this horrific event never actually happened, it’s hardly my idea of a sick joke. This mock headline captures both the unquestioning nature of modern, corporate/state sponsored “journalism” and the gruesome reality of a seldom questioned policy of robotized, aerial assassination. Were it to happen, it would quite plainly present the media establishment with what one hopes ISN’T a difficult decision: continue the clinical subversion of fact, law, and morality for the sake of access, prestige and power OR explain that “militants” are often innocent people who’ve been summarily executed by a wanton Nobel laureate with a “kill list.” Sadly, to do the latter would be a break from the norm.
Mere weeks ago, a joint study conducted by two renowned human rights organizations concluded that US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of innocent men, women and children, are tantamount to war crimes. American media outlets, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and FOX News, reluctantly acknowledged the findings of the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report which cited numbers of confirmed civilian casualties, and how US drone policy violated international law. Though media coverage was predictably sparse, it provided tv “journalists” (from MSNBC to FOX News) with another opportunity to push a (non-partisan) White House talking point on a largely trusting, distracted national audience:
— That a “militant” is a thing. A thing that can be differentiated from a “civilian.” A thing that can rightly be slaughtered by a precision guided missile, and not lumped onto the regrettable “wrong place, wrong time,” “collateral damage” casualty list. A sanctioned, moral killing that needn’t be questioned. —
“Why is this worthy of mention” you ask? Well, it’s supported/believed by a sizable majority of Americans — AND — it’s predicated on an absolute, undeniable fabrication.
While it’s likely you’re familiar with journalist Glenn Greenwald for his revelatory work on the massive, still-developing NSA leak scandal, it’s safe to assume the majority of American “journalists” were familiar with him as a consistent, persistent challenger of state-claimed authority while working as a featured columnists for Salon.com. On May 29th, 2012, Greenwald published an article in which he extracted and expounded upon a key disclosure in a protracted New York Times article pertaining to policies of the Obama administration — that the President had consciously changed the definition of the word “militant” in an effort to mislead critics of a targeted killing program that was increasingly slaying innocent people. The term”militant,” which Americans might believe is a term spoken or referenced by figures of authority that speaks with certainty to the “crimes” or “guilt” of the implicated, actually NOW references “all military-age males in a strike zone.” So, since May 29th, 2012 — following the publication of widely read articles in the New York Times and Salon, Americans — “JOURNALISTS” — have been made aware of the fact that EVERY SINGLE TIME the word “militant” is used in the context of a targeted aerial assassination — it references unknown males of unknown innocence/guilt — of a vaguely specified age range — who are in the vicinity of a US bomb or missile strike. Perfect, right? Well, it is if you’re not sure who you’re actually bombing.
How has this conveniently redefined word found expression in our cause and effect world — where words have meaning and actions have consequences? Well, innocent people are being killed in taxpayer-funded, voter-endorsed drone strikes, while our faithful media spokesfolks relentlessly cling to what Glenn Greenwald astutely deemed “state propaganda.” In just this first week of November, 2013, we’ve learned that a man, the head of the Taliban in Pakistan, who the United States government believed it had killed in 5 (FIVE) separate drone strikes was “actually” killed in what’s now a SIXTH drone strike. We’ve learned that three Yemeni brothers, two of them teenagers, killed in a drone strike while returning by car from a holiday shopping trip were actually completely innocent of ANY affiliation with al Qaeda, despite US media’s reflexive claims that they were “militants.”
Why is this important? Besides our innate concern for the welfare of all human beings who are (wrongfully) targeted and terrorized by acts of violence, the principle of indiscriminate, unverified, targeted killing has long-lasting, far-reaching consequences. A completely innocent American teenager from Denver, Abdulrahman al Awlaki, has already been killed in a US drone strike and labeled a “militant” (before evidence proved the contrary). With a momentary toggle of a joystick, the United States government established the precedent that “constitutionally-protected” American citizens are fair game for extrajudicial assassination, with little hope of redress of grievances or – – “justice.” Of course, a precedent has been set on a larger, global scale. What’s to stop (in principle) a nation like China from advancing a targeted assassination program against people it deems “militants.” Suppose the same “rules” applied. Imagine how many “militants” could be justifiably killed if a “militant” was targeted in a Buffalo Wild Wings on a Sunday afternoon during football season.
On October 11, 2013, we learned that our Nobel Peace Prize winning President met with Malala Yousafzai, a 16 year old Pakistani girl and Nobel Peace Prize nominee who was shot by the Taliban for her advocacy for women’s rights. During their discussion, the 16 year old peace activist felt compelled to inform Nobel laureate Obama of her “concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism.” She went on to explain that “innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people.” Just two weeks have passed and we’ve learned that Obama told aides that he’s “really good at killing people.” The commander-in-chief seems set in his ways — and so we turn to the “fourth estate” — the free press — to challenge those in the hallowed halls and guarded recesses of power.
When I read Glenn Greenwald’s article on May 29th, 2012, I was certain the revelation that the word “militant” was being used to cover for the slaughter of unknown and innocent people (including American citizens) spelled the end of its use. I mean…redefining a word..so that it’s so vague it loses significance..? That might work if it’s a secret.. but.. once exposed? No way. Since that day, I’ve heard/read the word “militant,” in the context of drone strikes, more times than I can count. It’s been COMPLETELY accepted by the journalist class; utterly unchallenged. One is left to wonder, how — under what circumstance — might the press do its job and address what’s known to be a criminally misleading, woefully inaccurate definition?
If Anwar al Awlaki, an American “militant” extrajudicially assassinated in a drone strike in Yemen, was targeted and killed while he dined at the Pentagon in 2002, would the press report all additional deaths as “militants.” If a US media outlet was to suffer a drone attack, and the US govt. relayed info that indicated that most of those killed “in the strike zone” were “military age males” (a.k.a. “MILITANTS”), would surviving journalists dutifully report that their slaughtered compatriots were actually “militants”..? “Ridiculous proposition,” you say? Innocent people — INNOCENT AMERICANS — have already died under this deliberately neglected, deceitful banner.
During a recent television interview, Glenn Greenwald asserted that the job of journalists is to “prevent people in power from lying to the people over whom they are ruling.” By this simple, commonsense standard, journalists are failing — miserably. They’ve been handed a gift-wrapped establishment lie, and — instead of exposing it to the disinfecting light of truth — choose to keep it tightly wrapped in what’s become a perverse, never-ending game of “Secret Santa.” The gift exchange MUST END.
If you cover for deceit and criminality — you perpetuate it.
Go home, journalism.. You’re drunk.