One animal that I’d like to see hunted to extinction is the assassination “buff,” or the person so caught up in the details of the various important crimes of our times that he has lost all sight of their true importance.

Understanding those crimes is useful in understanding the nature of people who now hold office, supposedly the ones in charge. But they are mere drones. Understanding that helps to understand the nature of our country.

I stumbled across a short article by Jeffrey St. Clair in Counterpunch (behind subscription wall) titled “Camus in the Time of Drones.” It’s a nice piece because St. Clair is beyond body counts and instead focuses on the nature of drone killing as practiced by the current American regime. It is senseless, even random, and there is no retribution to be had. What can be done to a drone that hits the ‘wrong’ target? Execute it?

People killed by drone strikes are as often innocent bystanders as intended targets, but that’s not the point. The ability to murder people with impunity is the essential element of drone warfare.

The conscience of the killer has been sterilized, the drone operator, fully alienated from the act he is committing, can walk out the door after his shift is over and calmly order and IPA at the local microbrew or play a round of golf under the desert sky. He is left with no blood on his hands, no savagery weighing on his conscience, no degrading images to stalk his dreams,

St. Clair writes as if drone warfare is new. Only the technology is. Drones are instruments of terror. But we’ve always had them. Piloted aircraft that blow up innocent people are flown by highly trained drones, many with astounding SAT scores. Since they cannot see their victims, there is no qualm of conscience. What’s different?

In Vietnam some of the killing had to be done one-on-one by trained assassins under the program codenamed “Phoenix.” A different kind of drone was used and perhaps 40,000 people (if anything resembling truth is ever allowed to escape Langley) were murdered in cold blood, and for one purpose: To inflict terror on that society. What became of those who did the killings? Were they dispatched by their employer too? Or did they re-enter our society and become our night stalkers and serial killers? It’s hard to imagine that men trained in the fine art of assassination by a thousand devices came back home to live mundane lives.

What has this to do with assassination buffs? For some reason as I read St. Clair’s piece, the name Roger Craig came to mind. He was a deputy sheriff in Dallas in 1963 when JFK was murdered. He refused to buckle before the Warren Commission. He found what was perhaps one of the real assassination rifles in the Texas Book Depository, a 7.65 German Mauser, and refused to say it was something else. He heard the news of the shooting of Officer Tippet at 1:06, and refused to change it to 1:15, the time that the Commission needed to pin the crime on Oswald.

An assassination ‘buff’ will recite those details about Craig and completely miss their importance: Craig suffered from integrity. It got him killed.

Integrity is why people die young in a land like ours. But there are other ways to dispatch them. Ralph Nader, Anthony Weiner, Elliot Spitzer, Dorothy Kilgallen, John F. Kennedy – all appear to have integrity. Such people cannot stand to be around liars, cowards and murderers. Craig was dismissed from the Sheriff’s office in 1967. He could never again work in “law” enforcement. His wife left him. Attempts were made on his life. But he refused to change his story. Finally he is said to have killed himself in 1975.

Not likely. He was probably murdered by a drone. But integrity cannot be killed. Only its vessel is dispatched.

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