BSTS Doctrine

February 5, 2013 at 9:34 pm (Politics)

From the pages of Blatant Parody News:

In a 16-page document leaked to NBC, the Obama Administration has laid out new guidelines for self-defense.

These new standards, referred to as the BSTS Doctrine, are based off of standards established during the Bush Administration, and state that self-defense is justifiable under the following conditions:

  1. You have reason to believe the person is constantly planning to cause harm to you or people you are protecting.
  2. You don’t have any proof that they’re not trying to harm you or people you are protecting anymore.
  3. Non-violent means of preventing such harm isn’t feasible.
  4. You’re not mean about it, and you don’t try to catch anybody else in the crossfire.  But, hey, if it just so happens to happen… their fault for being near somebody who wanted to cause harm to you, right?

The Department of Justice would also like to make clear that, no, you don’t have to share your reasons for believing the target intends to harm you with anybody else, and nobody else has to agree with you.  And ‘isn’t feasible’ is legal speak for ‘I don’t like the odds.’  These new guidelines are expected to work in conjunction with new rules on publicly-available armaments to prevent future tragedies.

The administration also repeated its request that Congress ban assault-style semiautomatic weapons, on the grounds that such weapons have no legitimate lawful use. However, in order to ease gun owner’s concerns that their ability to defend themselves is at stake, controls for unmanned drone bombers will be made available to law-abiding consumers, without the need for background checks or waiting periods. After all, in cases like these, there’s simply no time or place for that sort of oversight.  The control kits will be available at Wal-Mart in the sporting goods section, right where you used to be able to purchase a ridiculously overpowered firearm like the Bushmaster.

On the off-chance that you haven’t figured it out by now… please get help if you believed that.  They make some really good drugs these days, though I’m not honestly sure if they have a cure for stupid yet.  If they do… could we start pumping that into the water supply along with the fluoride?  Y’know, just a thought?

The government would never let that sort of ridiculous laxity about self defense fly, and the firepower is way beyond what would be appropriate to protect yourself from an unarmed individual, especially on the grounds of “because we can’t prove they’re not trying to hurt us.”

Unless, of course, you’re the US government, in which case it’s obvious that national and international law allows this.

I’ve read the memo, all 16 pages of it, and… God almighty, people.

Y’know what really pisses me off about this?  This, and all the other bullshit that has been going on in the name of the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, the War to Protect Americans from Scary Things They Can’t Point At On a Map, is basically being treated as business as usual.  The ACLU is bitching about it, but we’re too focused on the War on Gun Violence to really worry about this for more than one or two days, I’m sure.  Because, you know, guns are Scary Things that We Can’t Point To on a Map.  Besides, the government is doing this to protect us, it’s horrible, but how else are we going to stay safe?

How about a little history lesson, hmm?  Oh, and before you scream “CONSPIRACY NUT,” go look up the things I’m talking about here.  These are all matters of public record, undeniable fact that has been established for decades.

Here’s a secret that’s been kept from the U.S. public for a very, very long time.  The Cuban Missile Crisis was actually not caused by a rogue mutant mind-controlling individuals on both sides of the Iron Curtain, nor was it stopped by a group of other, spandex-clad mutants going in and doing so with reluctant government aid!  No, it was caused by folks at the CIA deciding that the appropriate way to fight the Scary Thing They Couldn’t Point To on a Map called Communism was to try ousting Castro by sending in Cuban expatriates with U.S. air and sea support.

The problem was, Kennedy didn’t particularly want to offer that sort of support, believing that doing so would be a blatant act of war.  Due to his shortsighted interpretations of national and international law, no doubt completely unsupported by DOJ memos, the coup (called the “Bay of Pigs,” in case you missed the day in history class they mentioned this) failed spectacularly.  Castro realized that the U.S. apparently wasn’t fond of him, and called the U.S.S.R. to ask if they could do anything.  The Soviets, with a resounding “da, comrade!” shipped over some nukes and parked them off the coast of Cuba, where the world proceeded to go nuts over whether or not we were going to find out how radiation-proof cockroaches really were.

In case you missed the news in the last decade or five, we didn’t.  The Mythbusters would have to come along later to test that theory.  Now, I’m no fan of Castro, but when you’ve just had the guns of one of the world’s top superpowers pointed at you, I can’t really blame you for asking the other top superpower to come in and point their guns at the one that’s aiming your way.

Of course, this wasn’t the CIA’s first time at the rodeo.  It’s understandable that they thought they could do this, really.  I mean… their predecessors had done it back before WWI, when the US Army pacified nations for the benefit of the United Fruit Company or Brown Brothers Banking firm, and the CIA had gotten into the act in Guatemala and Honduras.

They were so good at this that, in the 50’s, UK intelligence forces came over and asked our intelligence services for help with some problems they were having in this little country called Iran.  Y’see, they’d had one of those pesky ‘democratic elections’ that were all the rage back then, and elected somebody who didn’t much like British oil companies using Iranian oil reserves for their own purposes.  Instead, he nationalized the oil industry, and kicked the British petroleum companies (wonder what it was called?) to the curb.  The CIA helped the UK arrange Operation: Boot, which ousted the populist rulers of Iran and installed this fella called the Shah.  He made sure that Iranian oil companies were favorable to his backers in exchange for our ignoring the odd human rights violation.  Later on, for some reason, Iran had a revolution, took some hostages, and CIA operatives were forced to help embassy workers masquerade as a Canadian film crew in order to escape.  This served to create a Scary Thing That… Well, That We Actually Can Point to on a Map.  Relations between the US and Iran have basically been a few steps short of open warfare ever since, with minor points of dispute like the US selling weapons to some guy named Saddam Hussein helping to rattle the cage once in a while.

But frankly, it was only fair that we sold weapons to Saddam Hussein, right?  After all, we’d sold weapons to Iran during that whole ‘hostage crisis’ thing (where we negotiated for the safety of the embassy workers and students who weren’t lucky enough to escape the Revolution on their own).  This would eventually come to be known as the Iran-Contra scandal.  And, while the Iran part of it is pretty clear, the Contra part is a little trickier.

You see, it basically refers to when the the CIA created the modern drug war by going into business dealing cocaine on epic levels in order to fund a war against their favorite Scary Thing We Can’t Point To on a Map, Communism.  Though, again, they could point to it on a map in this case – it was in Nicaragua, where   The CIA didn’t sell the cocaine, of course, but they did train the Contras and help them to sell cocaine, which the CIA then turned into weapons for the Contras, and a few extra to be smuggled to Iran.

As for the Contras, they were just the latest in a long string of gross abusers of human rights who the US supported because they weren’t pinko Commie scum.  But, despite their best efforts, the Sandinista government’s horrific crimes of promoting mass literacy, social spending, and encouraging gender equality weren’t stopped  until the 90’s or so, when democratic elections led to a (brief) loss of the Presidency, though the FLSN remains one of the leading powers in the Nicaraguan legislature.

Of course, the number of lives ruined and lost because of the War on Drugs is astronomical, the bill runs up into the trillions, but at least we’ve managed to create a massive black market of vice crime that we’ll be fighting for eternity, guaranteeing a continuous stream of tax dollars to law enforcement, along with an almost limitless number of designer cars, yachts, high-power firearms, mansions, and other properties confiscated from drug dealers to be sold at auction.  Hasn’t done a damned thing to stop drug abuse, but hey, at least we’re doing something about it!

As for the War on Gun Violence, the jury’s still out on whether or not we’re going to have the FBI taking the tanks out again.  For the younguns in the audience, the end of this month marks the 20th anniversary of the raid in Waco, Texas, where the ATF decided to stage a raid on a facility where they believed automatic weapons were being illegally manufactured, rather than arresting the ringleader during his trip into town earlier in the week.  April 19th will be the 20th anniversary of the day the tanks rolled in, and 76 people (including women and children) were killed in a fire that was, officially, started by the people inside the compound, and totally not by the tanks firing toxic levels of flammable CS gas into a building where they knew open flames were being used for lighting.

The end result of that little incident involving our government was that, a couple of years later, a young man named Timothy McVeigh decided to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City as an act of vengeance.

What’s the point of all this, and what does it have to do with drone strikes?

No matter what you think of the people we’re opposing – whether you think they’re Commie scum, lunatic fringe menaces, or the Messiahs themselves, you can’t deny that the U.S. Government has a very bad track record of doing Bad Things for (hypothetically, if you agree with them) Good Reasons.  And when they do these things… mysteriously, they almost always blow up in our faces!  

Not that the U.S. is alone in this.  I’d kind of say that 9/11 is a really, really good example of somebody who isn’t the U.S. government doing this, and having it blow up in their faces spectacularly… and literally, in many cases.

But yet, the U.S. Government still does Bad Things for (hypothetically, if you agree with them) Good Reasons, expecting the best of results to come out of it.

Tell me… just what was that whole “definition of insanity” thing again?  Doing the same thing the same way multiple times and expecting… what now?

Whatever you think about the people who are being attacked, whatever you think about the DOJ explanation of the legal justification for unmanned drone strikes, here are the problems.

  1. There is no limitation on this power, except for the people who order the strikes themselves.  No trials, no warrants, no nothing.
  2. The conservative estimate is something like 25% collateral damage – that means that for every four people we kill with an unmanned drone strike, on average one of them will be a civilian who wasn’t a terrorist at all.  Which, when you think about it, might be one of the few recruiting tools that Al Qa’ida has left at this point in time!
  3. Even if those people don’t turn into motives to join Al Qa’ida… not even the “senior administration officials” who authorize these strikes believe that we have any justification to kill 25% of the people they’re killing beyond “whoops!”
  4. The last time I checked, “whoops” is considered a very poor justification to kill somebody.  Just sayin’.

And our government is justifying this by saying… what?  Read the memo again.

The “BSTS” doctrine that I mentioned in my introduction isn’t an actual acronym.  It stands for “Better Safe Than Sorry,” because that is the exact justification being used.  The qualifications to get droned require that:

  • A “senior official” have reason to believe that you are a member of Al Qa’ida or a related group known to be constantly plotting attacks against the US.
  • They have to not have proof that you aren’t doing so.
  • They have to feel that it is not feasible to capture you, which could mean that you’re holed up in a Dr. Evil-style supervillain lair bristling with anti-personnel weaponry and wearing armor made of orphans and kittens… or it could mean that the odds of somebody trying to capture you getting hurt or killed are too high for that senior official’s liking.
  • It has to be consistent with the rules of war, which the DOJ believes to mean, in this case, that we’re not capturing and then killing them, we’re just killing them.  Preferably quickly, and with some thought about whether or not civilians are caught in the crossfire.

All of this to kill people we haven’t even put to trial.  To kill U.S. citizens we haven’t even put to trial.  They justify this by saying, basically, that Congress did say “any and all necessary force” to take down Al Qa’ida and their associates, and since we’re at war with something you can’t point to on a map, we can effectively define the “combat zone” where civilians are acceptable collateral damage as “anywhere we believe we can find terrorists.”  Without any oversight, and actually specifically stating that judicial oversight is a patently ridiculous idea, because “due process” is an unnecessary burden on the process of blowing the ever-loving shit out of people we “have reason to believe” need to have the shit blown out of them before they blow the shit out of us.  The memo specifically states that it has no advice to offer whatsoever on what constitutes a minimum threshhold for “imminent threat,” except that it doesn’t require that we actually know where, when, how, or even necessarily if an attack is going to take place, just that we can’t prove one isn’t going to.  It actually goes into some detail to justify that argument!

And people seriously wonder why some folks in the US are scared shitless of our own government.

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