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Mar 03 2013

American-British collusion in drone killings

I wrote earlier about how the Obama administration will not deny that it has the right to summarily kill US citizens without trial even if they are in the US, and the deafening silence that has accompanied this outrageous claim. It is remarkable the extent to which so-called ‘liberal Democrats’ have sold their soul when it comes to the subversion by the current administration of the things that they used to say they held dear, such as the rule of law and upholding the constitution, not to mention notions of fundamental human rights, all of which they used to condemn the Bush administration’s reign of lawlessness.

One potentially embarrassing problem is if the US kills people abroad who are citizens of a friendly country. The ever-obliging British found a neat solution to that problem. According to the invaluable UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, what they do is first strip potential victims of their British passports.

An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and published in the Independent has established that since 2010 the Home Secretary Theresa May has revoked the passports of 16 individuals many of whom are alleged to have had links to militant or terrorist groups.

Critics of the programme warn that it also allows ministers to ‘wash their hands’ of British nationals suspected of terrorism who could be subject to torture and illegal detention abroad.

They add that it also allows those stripped of their citizenship to be killed or ‘rendered’ without any onus on the British government to intervene.

At least five of those deprived of their UK nationality by the Coalition government were born in Britain, and one man had lived in the country for almost 50 years.

Those affected have their passports cancelled, and lose their right to enter the UK – making it very difficult to appeal the Home Secretary’s decision.

The Bureau has also found evidence that government officials act when people are out of the country – on two occasions while on holiday – cancelling passports and revoking citizenships.

Once the citizenship of someone suspected of being a member of an enemy group is revoked, the name is passed on to the US and he can be killed by a drone strike. The report describes one such case of British-born Mohamed Sakr, who also held Egyptian nationality.

Sakr, too, was killed in a US airstrike in February 2012, although his British origins have not been revealed until now.

Sakr’s former UK solicitor said there appeared to be a link between the Home Secretary removing citizenships, and subsequent US actions.

‘It appears that the process of deprivation of citizenship made it easier for the US to then designate Sakr as an enemy combatant, to whom the UK owes no responsibility whatsoever,’ Saghir Hussain told the Bureau.

So, problem solved!

The US government must be looking at the British policy with keen interest to see if it could be used here. Of course, the US constitution does not easily allow US-born citizens to be stripped of their citizenship except in very specific instances. But we are long past the time when such legal niceties stopped the government from doing what it likes in the so-called ‘war on terror’. I would not be at all surprised if the Obama administration claimed it also had the right to strip anyone of US citizenship without giving any reasons because of ‘national security’ and the ‘war on terror’.

The US could learn a lot from the British who have had centuries of colonial rule to finely hone their skills of expropriation and exploitation while maintaining a façade of being civilized and law-abiding. We are still a little ham-fisted in committing lawless acts. Fortunately for the US, the political parties and the establishment media can be counted upon not to ask embarrassing questions.

2 comments

  1. 1
    curcuminoid

    I’m guessing they would go with either subsuming terrorist groups under foreign states (recognizing them or calling them subdivisions of “terrorist states” like Iran) and use 2,3, or 5; or they could use their secret kangaroo courts to convict them of treason which also has the added benefit of legitimizing the murder.

  2. 2
    Marcus Ranum

    One potentially embarrassing problem is if the US kills people abroad who are citizens of a friendly country.

    You mean like a Reuters news crew? With incredible cruelty and laughter? Surely such a thing would never be swept under the carpet.

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