We are all familiar with the Pentagon’s and CIA’s torture center and prison camp at Guantanamo Bay Cuba, where the U.S. national-security establishment has knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately destroyed protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Those include the right to a speedy trial, right to effective assistance of counsel, right to remain silent, right to trial by jury, and right to confront adverse witnesses.
“No person shall be … deprived of life … without due process of law.”
There are two important points to note about that restriction on the power of the federal government:
One, the restriction is not limited to American citizens. By the use of the word “person,” rather than “citizen,” the protection extends to everyone in the world. The federal government is prohibited from killing anyone, citizen or foreigner, without due process of law.
Two, notice that our ancestors included no exceptions to this restriction. That is, the restriction does not say: “No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law, unless the federal government deems it necessary to protect national security.” There are no exceptions whatsoever.
What is due process of law? The term stretches all the way back to Magna Carta, when the barons of England forced their king to acknowledge that his powers over the people were limited, as compared to omnipotent.
Over the centuries, due process of law has come to mean notice and hearing. When it comes to the government’s power to kill people, that means (1) a formal indictment notifying the person what he is being accused of; and (2) a trial, usually a jury of regular citizens in the community, in which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and in which the accused is free to defend himself.
So, there it is, in clear and succinct language: Our ancestors expressly prohibited U.S. officials from killing people without first providing them formal notice of charges and a trial.
That was America’s established system for more than 150 years. No program of state-sponsored assassinations. No federal program for killing people without due process of law.
That all changed after World War II, when the federal government was converted from a limited-government republic type of governmental system to a national-security state form of governmental system.
A national-security state is a totalitarian type of governmental system. North Korea is a national-security state. So is Egypt. And China, Russia, Cuba. And post-World War II United States.
A national security state is composed of a vast and powerful military establishment, an intelligence agency with omnipotent powers, including the power to assassinate people, and a surveillance agency that has the power to maintain a vast system of secret surveillance over the citizenry and others.
In the early days of the national-security state, the CIA just assumed the power of assassination. There was no congressional law delegating that power to the CIA. The CIA began wielding and exercising the power of assassination on its own, as part of the new national-security state form of governmental structure that had been adopted after World War II.
Almost from its beginning, the CIA established an assassination program, which included the preparation of an assassination manual. The manual trained CIA personnel in the art of assassination and, equally important, in ways to prevent people from recognizing the assassination as being state-sponsored. Making killings look like accidents was one of the methods in which CIA assassins would be trained.
Central to this assassination program was secrecy. The national-security state essentially made an implicit deal with the American people: we will exercise dark-side, totalitarian-like powers, including the power to kill people without due process of law, in order to keep you safe, but we will also keep it secret so that you don’t have to be bothered about what we are having to do to protect national security.
As early as 1953, the CIA assassinated federal military scientist Frank Olson because, they felt, he posed a threat to national security. One year later, it had a list of people targeted for assassination as part of its coup in Guatemala, which ousted the democratically elected president of the country, Jacobo Arbenz, and replaced him with an unelected military dictator. That kill list is still classified by the CIA as top secret. In 1961, there was the CIA conspiracy to assassinate Congo leader Patrice Lumumba. In the early 1960s, there were the repeated CIA attempts to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro. In 1963, there was the CIA assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In 1973, there was the CIA orchestration of a military coup in Chile, during which the Chilean national-security establishment tried to assassinate the democratically elected president of the country, Salvador Allende, with missiles fired from the military’s jet planes.
It was all kept top secret, until the 9/11 attacks. From that day forward, the national-security establishment’s program of state-sponsored assassinations came out into the open and became recognized as an official program of the U.S. government, one fully confirmed by the federal judiciary. That’s how the Pentagon and the CIA have turned America into an assassination nation, one in which the U.S. government wields and exercises the power to deprive anyone it wants, including both American citizens and foreign citizens, of life without due process of law, in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.