Archive for Saturday, October 1, 2011

Killing Americans: U.S. reaches uncharted ground with attack

October 1, 2011


— President Barack Obama steered the nation’s war machine into uncharted territory Friday when a U.S. drone attacked a convoy in Yemen and killed two American citizens who had become central figures in al-Qaida.

It was believed to be the first instance in which a U.S. citizen was tracked and executed based on secret intelligence and the president’s say-so. And it raised major questions about the limitations of presidential power.

Anwar al-Awlaki, the target of the U.S. drone attack, was one of the best-known al-Qaida figures after Osama bin Laden. American intelligence officials had linked him to two nearly catastrophic attacks on U.S.-bound planes, an airliner on Christmas 2009 and cargo planes last year. The second American killed in the drone attack, Samir Kahn, was the editor of Inspire, a slick online magazine aimed at al-Qaida sympathizers in the West.

In announcing al-Awlaki’s death, Obama said, “Al-Qaida and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world.”

“Working with Yemen and our other allies and partners, we will be determined, we will be deliberate, we will be relentless, we will be resolute in our commitment to destroy terrorist networks that aim to kill Americansm” he said.

‘Something we had to do’

Republicans and Democrats alike applauded the decision to launch the fatal assault on the convoy in Yemen.

“It’s something we had to do,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “The president is showing leadership. The president is showing guts.”

“It’s legal,” said Maryland Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “It’s legitimate and we’re taking out someone who has attempted to attack us on numerous occasions. And he was on that list.”

That list is the roster of people the White House has authorized the CIA and Pentagon to kill or capture as terrorists. The evidence against them almost always is classified. Targets never know for sure they are on the list, though some surely wouldn’t be surprised.

The list has included dozens of names, from little-known mid-level figures in the wilds of Pakistan to bin Laden, who was killed in his compound in a comfortable Pakistani suburb.

Before al-Awlaki, no American had been on the list.

Legal process

But the legal process that led to his death was set in motion a decade ago. On Sept. 17, 2001, President George W. Bush signed a presidential order authorizing the CIA to hunt down terrorists worldwide. The authority was rooted in his power as commander in chief, leading a nation at war with al-Qaida.

The order made no distinction between foreigners and U.S. citizens. If they posed a “continuing and imminent threat” to the United States, they were eligible to be killed, former intelligence officials said.

The order was reviewed by top lawyers at the White House, CIA and Justice Department. With the ruins of the World Trade Center still smoking, there was little discussion about whether U.S. citizens should have more protection, the officials recalled, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. The feeling was that the government needed — and had — broad authority to find and kill terrorists who were trying to strike the U.S.

The CIA first faced the issue in November 2002, when it launched a Predator drone attack in Yemen. An American terror suspect who had fled there, Kamal Derwish, was killed by Hellfire missiles launched on his caravan.

The Bush administration said Derwish wasn’t the target. The attack was intended for Yemeni al-Qaida leader Abu Ali al-Harithi. But officials said even then that, if it ever came to it, they had the authority to kill an American.

“I can assure you that no constitutional questions are raised here. There are authorities that the president can give to officials,” Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s national security adviser, said. “He’s well within the balance of accepted practice and the letter of his constitutional authority.”

Al-Awlaki had not then emerged as a leading al-Qaida figure. Before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the New Mexico-born cleric had been a preacher at the northern Virginia mosque attended briefly by two hijackers. He was interviewed but never charged by the FBI.

But at the CIA, the officers in charge of finding targets knew it was only a matter of time before they would set the Predator drone’s high-definition sights on an American.

“We knew at some point there would have to be a straight call made on this,” one former senior intelligence official said.

It was Obama who ultimately made that call.


FalseHopeNoChange 6 years, 5 months ago

We have been told by the liberals that water boarding foreign terrorists is torture. I guess liberals think assassinating Americans is not torture.

As Obama has so eloquently stated, Americans are too soft. They need to take their bedroom slippers off.

I guess getting hard without bedroom slippers will give us a better chance of surviving his assassination attempts.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Waterboarding is torture.

Torturing "suspected" terrorists without proof of their wrongdoing is particularly awful and wrong.

Killing people who have identified themselves as enemies of our country and are engaged in violent acts and conspiracies to commit them is essentially an act of war, defending ourselves from an enemy.

beatrice 6 years, 5 months ago

I suspect Obama was a tough customer all along.

50YearResident 6 years, 5 months ago

Joining the enemy is an act of treason and they are no longer considered "citizens". This is what happens when anyone commits treason. It is punishable by death, so be it. I fully agree it was legal to eliminate the threat.

Fossick 6 years, 5 months ago

"This is what happens when anyone commits treason."

Treason is defined under Article III of the Constitution as "levying War against [the United States] , or in adhering to their Enemies" so you are obviously correct that this is what Al-Awlaki stands accused of. It certainly explains the high emotions in favor of his killing. However, the Article also says that, "No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court." If there's no court, there's no conviction. If there's no conviction, he's not legally guilty of treason.

So are government accusations 'linking' someone to treason now sufficient to justify its inflicting punishment for treason? Or does the government have responsibilities to the Constitution too?

independent_rebel 6 years, 5 months ago

Close. But this person has pretty much come out in the flesh and proven his treason against the USA mulitiple times for all the world to see, wouldn't you agree?

irvan moore 6 years, 5 months ago

he was a traitor who brought/intended harm to the US, justice was done

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

The problem here is it's a very slippery slope that a president (of any party) can order the execution of any citizen based on secret evidence and without any sort of due process.

Who's next? And for what sort of offense? There's no publicly available information that this guy did anything but talk.

Fossick 6 years, 5 months ago

Bingo. Opposition to this assassination has less to do with the question "Did he deserve it?" and more to do with the question, "Should we allow the government to kill its citizens without trial?"

Those who support this kind of action tend to concentrate on the first. That's understandable. But they really, really need to think long and hard about the second.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

If our citizens join a group engaged in a war against this country, doesn't that change things a bit?

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 5 months ago

Yes. There were many American and dual citizens who fought for Germany during WWII that were killed or captured without trial. I do think that it presents interesting ethical issues because the GWOT is, by definition, global and thus there are not well defined battlefields to which one can restrict this sort of activity. However, I think when you declare war on a nation state or align yourself with an organization/nation state that has declared war on a nation state, you've put yourself in danger of being on the wrong end of a pointy object.

Fossick 6 years, 5 months ago

Perhaps it does, or rather, perhaps joining such a group is an act that demands the joiner be executed. However, that is an example of the first question. It still ignores the second.

The Constitution, the right to trial by jury, and the Bill of Rights all arise from the historically-demonstrated fact that governments cannot be trusted to make that determination in secret councils using carefully-selected data. It is simply too easy for definitions like 'war against his county' to be expanded to other actions the government doesn't like.

There are things we do not allow the government to do, even when in one specific case it might be right*, because governments have proven time and again that the are apt to abuse their power. Sometimes we trust our government too much, little realizing that our forefathers placed these limitations where they are as a result of some very hard lessons.

  • this is not limited to killing people. One could make an argument that the city council could be more effective if they could just meet together at the mayor's house and hash things out. But we do not allow them to break open meeting laws even if they are correct. Open meeting laws exist because of real past abuses of secrecy.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 5 months ago

I understand your point. I think the question is how one defines the current war (or not war) in which the US finds itself. Returning to my previous example, if a German American returned to Germany to fight for the German army during WWII there would have been no question about stopping a military action to protect his Constitutional rights. If he was captured, I would hope he would have been treated correctly according to international law.

In this situation an organization has declared war on the US in a global sense. I presume he knew he was actively fighting in that global war. I think that is quite a bit different from simply joining an organization. I agree, however, that the definitions are pretty slippery.

Fossick 6 years, 5 months ago

"...the definitions are pretty slippery. "

Yes, indeed. Nor would I have have any qualms upon killing such a person in the heat of battle. His death might be, if not accidental, at least 'innocent' in the sense that we were trying to kill/defeat a force that he happened to be a part of. There is no question of stopping a battle to read him Miranda rights upon discovery that he is a citizen. If this guy was killed in a bomb on an Al Queda compound I would tell him to pick better friends next time.

Where I have a problem is that we do not have that innocence in this case - we went after the guy specifically in order to kill him. It's rather like capturing a bunch of Germans and then field executing those with dual citizenship for treason. Maybe one could make the case for that on grounds of military necessity, but it's the slipperiness of the slope, not of the definitions, that bothers me.

I wonder if we could not hold a jury trial in abstentia? Maybe that's a stupid idea. I'm sure if it is, some lawyer here will straighten me out...

Fossick 6 years, 5 months ago

"I wonder if we could not hold a jury trial in abstentia(sic)? "

Apparently not: "In the 1993 case Crosby v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that federal law "prohibits the trial in absentia of a defendant who is not present at the beginning of trial." ... As for a fugitive who has never been in custody, such as Osama Bin Laden, odds are slim to none that any U.S. court would permit his trial in absentia, regardless of the strength of the evidence.

I suspect that would apply to Al-Awlaki as well. But I wonder, is it worse to try him in absentia in violation of court rules, or to execute him without even going through the motions of a trial first?

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 5 months ago

I understand but I think there is a key difference between taking prisoners and executing them - a war crime - and this situation. If one assumes we are in a global war with undefined fronts and more or less continuous battles, couldn't one assume he was killed in battle? I'm not entirely sure that fits but it gets close to an operative definition.

TopJayhawk 6 years, 5 months ago

dude has also made several tapes proudly announcing he is a US citizen joining the fight against the US

He's a crispy critter now. He deserved to die and he did.

He was guilty by his own admission.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago


The terrorist thing makes some usual war scenarios a bit different, but I agree with your perspective that this wasn't equivalent to taking prisoners and executing them.

It's more like being killed in battle.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

According to the article, he'd been linked to two attacks on American bound planes.

I agree, of course, that secrecy and censorship of information makes it hard for us to hold the government accountable.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

"secrecy and censorship of information makes it hard for us to hold the government accountable."

No, it makes it impossible. And that's what's really wrong with this incident.

Getaroom 6 years, 5 months ago

FalseHopeNoChange: you best put the tin foil back on your head, that will protect you just fine from the big sky assassinator you so fear. But if you too desire to come under fire it is highly suggested that you too join al Quida, move out of country, plot terrorist acts against America and incite hatred against your country. Oh, you don't want to do that - right? You just want a public forum where you can spout your hatred of the current sitting president of the USA, who happens to be a black man. Now that makes sense. But wait, other closer worries abound and your buddy Brownbackward is after you right now - boooo!

rtwngr 6 years, 5 months ago

I can dislike someone based on their actions, politics, and character. It has nothing to do with the color of their skin. I can see, however, that you are the type of person that when you find your position indefensible, you resort to calling those who question you, racist. If all you can do is call people names maybe you should refrain from exercising your first amendment rights until you can comfortably support your argument with logic and reason.

tomatogrower 6 years, 5 months ago

I hate killing of any kind, but at least they are killing someone who deserves it, and not bombing innocent citizens. Where was the outrage when we invaded Iraq? How many people there and in Afghanistan have been killed just for being in the wrong place at the right time. Yes, the regimes they were under were even worse, but I would much prefer killing members of al Qaeda. That's who attacked us, not any country. Better him than some kid just trying to survive to be an adult.

On the other hand, there are probably traitors right here in our country, who would like to blow up something, like McVeigh. Should they be killed? No, they should be hunted down and brought to trial. They probably wouldn't run to a country that would protect them. I mean, can you imagine McVeigh running to Venezuela or Yemen? That would have been a hoot, and it would never have happened. There are some extreme conservatives who believe McVeigh shouldn't have died, and he is secretly their hero. No outrage over innocent citizens of other countries dying, but outrage over someone who has rejected our citizenship? Do you really think he went around claiming to be an American citizen?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

"I hate killing of any kind, but at least they are killing someone who deserves it,"

How do you know he deserved it?

independent_rebel 6 years, 5 months ago

You truly dislike our country. We are the enemy. You point the finger first to us. How sad.

beatrice 6 years, 5 months ago

Would someone on a SWAT team who shoots and kills a person without waiting for a trial be questioned in this manner?

While trials are always preferred, they aren't always possible, and this is particularly true in times of war. For one, if someone who is a sworn enemy can't be captured -- especially during a war -- then the obvious need to take them out in another way is necessary. We are still at war.

I have a problem with our government killing Americans that they could otherwise bring to trial. It doesn't appear that was an option in this case. As such, it doesn't bother me that we have killed a sworn enemy traitor during a time of war, even though he was born in America.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

"I have a problem with our government killing Americans that they could otherwise bring to trial."

Perhaps there is justification for this. But where are the checks and balances? Where is the law, the policy that determines when someone should or should not be taken into custody and given a trial, where they can confront their accusers, and have the evidence presented in a courtroom to be fairly examined? (You know, the now apparently defunct American Way?)

I didn't like it when BushCo arrogated themselves as the legislature, judge, jury and executioner. I don't like it any better when Obama does it.

Peacemaker452 6 years, 5 months ago

"beatrice says… Would someone on a SWAT team who shoots and kills a person without waiting for a trial be questioned in this manner?"

I don't know, why don't we ask Vicki Weaver?

verity 6 years, 5 months ago

I'll not comment on whether this action was right or wrong---that has already been adequately covered.

What I find interesting is that it seems that many of the people who defended former President George W Bush for this sort of action---and for torture, starting wars, etc.---are now criticizing President Obama.

jonas_opines 6 years, 5 months ago

I hope that you're not just now noticing that. Pretty much on the first day Obama took office, if not as soon as he was elected, the dittoheads on both sides simply took each other's talking points and adopted them as their own.

They'll undoubtedly do it again the next time the balance of power shifts like that, and again, and again, and again. If this board is still there a decade or two from now, the same people (fundamentally, even if names and even the people have changed) will still be saying the same things, just depending on who happens to be in charge.

Mike Ford 6 years, 5 months ago

The caveat in telling this story is that some Indians got citizenship early and the others as a whole didn't get US Citizenship until 1924 but I tell the story anyway. In the late 1860's a group of Pawnee warriors became scouts for the US military against tribes like the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho people. Having served their duty and been discharged at Fort Hays, Kansas, they were attacked wearing their US scout clothes and murdered by settlers. Indians fighting with their oppressor against other Indians and being murdered by settlers. Even more telling was the that practice of collecting remains and skulls to justify phrenology or racism justified by science began with these murders and the US surgeon general telling the military to desecrate the graves and take the Pawnee remains in the name of science....don't be the dumblicans you are and not know your countrie's history.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

Speaking of phrenology, I have a rather deep groove in my skull. That's proof that I'm a groovy guy!

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 5 months ago

Who are you to determine who should and shouldn't be allowed to post here? Do you work for the LJW?

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 5 months ago

I didn't say it was a right, did I? I simply suggested that I don't think it is up to you - with your 20 post long history - to determine who should and who should not post here. That is entirely up to the owners. If you are unhappy with a post then report it and quit trying to be forum cop. Btw should I report you for abusively telling me to grow up? It gave me a sad.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 5 months ago

The names "Clyde Barrow" and "Bonnie Parker" did not come up even once in these comments.

It seems to me that there isn't really any fundamental difference.

Fossick 6 years, 5 months ago

There was living in Westport a guy by the name of Phillip Bucher. Westport being what it was and still is, Bucher owned a bar. He was also involved in a number of pro-slavery shenanigans in Bleeding Kansas, one of them being the murder of a Free State settler named David Starr Hoyt in 1856, at a camp a few miles from Lawrence. John Brown later used Hoyt's murder to raise money (and guns) for Lawrence settlers, and Hoyt was buried with honors atop the hill where KU stands today.

But Bucher was never arrested for the crime; no one was. Nor was it likely that any jury trial would have resulted in a conviction, as just about none ever had. Mr. Bucher later ran errands for General Sterling Price's confederate forces when they invaded Missouri in September of 1861. He had declared war on his country. Two months later, soldiers with the Kansas Seventh Cavalry based out of Leavenworth, having 'information' that Bucher was a prime mover in Hoyt's death, sought Bucher out and shot him in the street.

Was Phil Bucher's death at the hands of an agent of the United States government justified? Or even in cases where a citizen is both treasonous and quite possibly a murderer, does that person deserve a trial before execution?

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

"He had declared war on his country"

Seems to answer your question - we don't give enemy soldiers a trial in times of war before feeling justified in killing them.

Fossick 6 years, 5 months ago

Actually we do - we afford prisoners of war all manner of rights and did so long before the Geneva Conventions. We fed them, housed them, and during the Civil War we even traded them back to "their" side at the rate of 1 general for 46 privates or paroled them outright.

We expect that POWs have rights. If that's not the case, why do we get so outraged when our enemies abuse or kill our soldiers that they take captive in their lands?

Fossick 6 years, 5 months ago

Instead of "Actually we do," I should have said that we are not always and everywhere justified in killing enemy soldiers, even in times of war.

POW is here obviously one example. While we feel justified in killing enemy soldiers in a battle, when they are in our power the fact that they are enemy soldiers does not give us carte blanch to kill them. Killing enemy soldiers under certain conditions is a war crime and (I hope) always will be.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Your funny assumption here is that we captured him, which we didn't do.

In wars, soldiers kill and get killed - it's horrible, but that's the way it is.

Are you saying that instead of killing them, we should capture them all, feed, etc. them and treat them nicely?

If we capture them, we don't put them on trial next for being at war with us, do we?

Trials happen when citizens break laws (or are alleged to have done so) - wars are a different scenario.

Sometimes they may cross over a bit, but I think you're making a funny argument here.

Fossick 6 years, 5 months ago

"Sometimes they may cross over a bit, but I think you're making a funny argument here."

That's because you are distracted looking for 'similarities' in the individuals, when the only important issue is when our government is to be allowed to kill citizens.

It seems to me that you are fine with Bucher's killing because he 'declared war on his country,' yet he was not at the time of his killing a soldier, nor had he been enlisted - he was merely an errand runner who was living at home some months after a battle.

And since we're not going to have trials, there's no need to make really sure - that's what a trial is for. 'Information' is sufficient. Is that a fair summary of your opinion?

If there's no problem killing Bucher, there ought to be no problem killing a woman who sews uniforms for confederate troops - war on her country and we're all about equal rights, correct?

And if there's no problem killing one, there there can be no problem killing ten such men and women, in their own homes. They declared war on their country. And if there's no problem with 10, there is no problem with a hundred, no problem with a thousand, no problem with a million. It does not take long to see how we can justify the killing of millions of our own citizens because they in some way 'declared war' on the country.

I don't argue that our recently-deceased former citizens did not deserve to die. I argue that this spirit that cheers our government for killing them is far more dangerous than one or two terrorists.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Again, you're mixing up a few things there.

In war, people are killed without trials if they are at war.

That may include soldiers, but I think it also includes people who are aiding the soldiers as well, no?

If one doesn't wish to be treated as an enemy, then it's pretty simple - don't "declare war" on anybody.

The Civil War is not perhaps the best example, since part of the country was at war with the other part.

But, anybody who allies themselves with Al-Quaeda, and helps them in their goals has clearly joined an enemy force, don't you think?

It's a funny war because it doesn't involve the traditional "armies" facing one another on a field.

Fossick 6 years, 5 months ago

"them in their goals has clearly joined an enemy force, don't you think?"

Yes, yes, a hundred times yes. But what about the next guy, the one who no one has really heard of but of whom we are assured by 'sources' that he has declared war on his country?

At what point are you going to disapprove of the new 'due process'?

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago


I get your point - there should be at least some convincing evidence that the person in question has in fact done that.

But, I don't think we need a trial for treason to do that.

Fossick 6 years, 5 months ago

The second reason I chose the Bucher killing as an example was hinted at in my original story - he was not killed for treason, he was killed by a cousin of the man he was accused of killing. This cousin hunted him down, used US troops to shoot him in the street, then used the fact (or at least the allegation) that he was a 'notorious rebel' to turn what was judicial murder into a great story for the papers (with himself as the hero, of course). The cousin within a year was the leader of the most vicious Pro-union terrorist gang in the Trans-Mississippi, the Kansas Red Legs. He used the 'war against his country' excuse to kill a lot of people, to the cheering of plenty of loyal people and newspapers. Some of his victims needed killing. A few just had really nice horses. Either way, no one bothered to look too closely at what the government was doing because of exactly what you said. Hell, they even elected him Attorney general of Kansas for a term.

It's not a slippery slope that concerns me so much, the fear that the government might kill undeserving people if we don't keep it on a leash. It's that it already has.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

And, then, your argument fails even more when it turns out he was killed, not by the "government", but by somebody's cousin using US forces.

Also, you keep talking of "treason" - we don't kill soldiers in enemy armies for treason. So, when we kill an American who has joined a foreign army, we don't have to justify it by using treason.

It's enough that they've joined forces with those who are at war with us, I think.

Fossick 6 years, 5 months ago

"not by the "government", but by somebody's cousin using US forces."

The cousin was 2nd Lt, Company K, Kansas Seventh Volunteer Cavalry, wearing the Union Blue in an area under martial law. In other words, he was the government.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Sort of.

Not at all like the current government - elected, etc.

War creates many difficult situations and is a terrible thing - the Civil War is particularly difficult.

By the way, I don't "cheer" this killing, nor do I think that killing terrorists will eliminate terrorism.

And, I think we should look at our own actions and foreign policies more honestly, and choose them more wisely.

I just think that in war, those who ally themselves with hostile forces are legitimately treated as enemies.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

You're right, of course, that power tends towards abuse, in a variety of ways.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 5 months ago

If al-Awlaki wanted a trial, the opportunity to confront his accusers and enjoy all the rights and privileges given to all citizens, all he needed to do was board a plane and go to New York. He would have been met at the terminal and been taken into custody. He could have gone to the U.S. embassy in Yemen and we would have paid for the flight. He had no interest in getting his day in court. Citizens enjoy many rights but also have certain responsibilities. You get what you give.

ljwhirled 6 years, 5 months ago

Bingo - He was executed as an enemy belligerent.

His rights as a citizen were not compromised. Had he turned himself in, he would be entitled to a trial, but as an enemy belligerent, he was targeted according to the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC).

This was completely, 100% legal. Any ruling to the contrary would put our troops overseas in the impossible position of determining the target's citizenship before firing.

If he wanted a trial, he should have turned himself in. Had he done so, he would have been given a fair trial.

independent_rebel 6 years, 5 months ago

Correct. All of these ACLU, blame Amercia first wimps are feeling down about this incident. I'm proud our President, who I think is doing a poor job on many domestic issues, has really put it to these terrorists.

Mike Ford 6 years, 5 months ago

ksrush, I present many educational points of reference on here but like a true rushlican you are averse to learning....just listen to 98.1 KMBZ on Monday to hot air between 11 am and 2 pm and you will be told exactly what to say and think...until then keep you mind and ears closed and find sand good enough to bury your head in.

beatrice 6 years, 5 months ago

Bozo: "Where is the law, the policy that determines when someone should or should not be taken into custody and given a trial, where they can confront their accusers, and have the evidence presented in a courtroom to be fairly examined?"

The laws are there for all of us, and they haven't changed in this instance. If you or I were to commit a crime and were wanted by authorities for our actions, we would either be hunted down, possibly killed while on the run, or be allowed to surrender to stand trial. Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Kahn could just as easily have surrendered themselves to stand trial. Had they surrendered to authorities, they would have been given a trial. By not surrendering, they were the only ones to decide they didn't want to stand trial for their crimes against our nation. When they chose not to do that, it was within lawful rights to take action. Given their location and defenses, capture wasn't an option. The alternatives were to ignore our knowledge of their presence or to take the action we took. Our actions are all perfectly justified and within the law.

Al-Awiaki and Kahn would still be alive today had they decided to stand trial for their crimes. They chose not to and have paid with their lives for that decision. Their death is their own fault, not the fault of anyone else.

Mixolydian 6 years, 5 months ago

Should Lawrence PD clear their warrant list by drone strikes?

beatrice 6 years, 5 months ago

If their warrant list includes al-Quida members hiding out in Yemen, I think they should. Until then, they will have to handle it the way they have been. Sadly, that means sometimes shooting and killing people who choose not to give themselves up and stand trial.

ljwhirled 6 years, 5 months ago

His rights are parallel.

Under the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) he is an enemy belligerent.

Under US criminal code, his is a criminal.

If he was a member of the armed forces too (Like Maj. Hassad) he would also be culpable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

The outcome for the target is his choice. By staying in a foreign jurisdiction and providing support to the enemy, he chose to be treated as an enemy belligerent. He got what all targets of limited intelligence value get when their location is known - several pounds of RDX explosive delivered at terminal velocity.

If he wanted to be treated as a civilian under US criminal code, he should have stayed inside the boarders of the United States or turned himself in.

Soldiers don't have the luxury of determining a target's citizenship on the field of battle. If the bad guys shoot at you, you kill them.

These two were killed under the same justification. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Note to Copycats: Don't take up arms against the United States. It will end badly.

tbaker 6 years, 5 months ago

I would say the naiveté of the author is shocking, but it's sadly all too common to read such tripe these days. The fact Anwar al-Awlaki was American is wholly irrelevant. He was a enemy combatant, a sworn enemy of our country who had blood on his hands. He received exactly what he deserved, and if you believe his ravings, what he prayed for; a martyrs death. I'm grateful the President listened to his national security team and made the call he did. Its a shame he didn't pick his economic advisors with the same eye for talent.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 5 months ago

In other dead dude news: "Anwar Awlaki, the American-born cleric and jihadist killed by a U.S.-backed drone strike in Yemen, spent several years in San Diego but was gone before the Sept. 11 attacks. He once told a reporter that his years in San Diego were "uneventful": a stint as a graduate student at San Diego State, some preaching at a small mosque in La Mesa, and a friendship with two students from Saudi Arabia who were later among the 9/11 hijackers. What he didn't mention were two arrests and misdemeanor convictions for soliciting prostitutes along the infamous street-walker strip of El Cajon Boulevard. In August 1996, Awlaki paid a $400 fine and was ordered to attend an AIDS awareness seminar. In April 1997, he paid a $240 fine and was sentenced to community service..."

Mixolydian 6 years, 5 months ago

Should Lawrence PD invest in some drones to clear their active warrants?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

US Drone Killing of Anwar al-Awlaki Reinforces Terrorists

In the extra-judicial killing of a US citizen accused of inspiring terror attacks, America has abandoned its own values

by Maajid Nawaz As Anwar al-Awlaki became the first individual to be summarily executed by his own government in the "war on terror" on Friday, we are reminded of the dark side in this relentless pursuit for security.

Awlaki was an evil man who preached against humanity. As a counter-extremism adviser, I dedicate all my energies to discrediting his ilk. I am under no illusion of the danger that he posed. I live with such danger every day, through my work. Awlaki's desire to arbitrarily kill, deny rights and bypass due process is what made him evil. In summarily executing him in this way, the US has just called the kettle black.

Just as achieving liberty takes years of bloody struggle, its violation is rarely brought about overnight. Arbitrary detention, extraordinary rendition, targeted killings and "enhanced interrogation" – otherwise known as torture – are but some of the measures that have slowly been re-introduced into human practice by the US. Now, add to that list the summary execution of a citizen.

Here one may legitimately ask: why is killing your own citizen any worse than the targeted killing of foreigners such as the killing of Bin Laden in Pakistan? Both examples are extrajudicial, and as demonstrated in Bin Laden's case shrouded in mystery.

However, the Awlaki case adds another wound to the body of human-rights protections that had hitherto been sacred. This action carves out the legal pathway for a state to silence not only external but internal dissent, by defining the citizen as an "enemy of the state". Legally it matters little that in this case Awlaki was indeed an enemy of the state. With the evidence being kept secret, the precedent has been set.

An enemy of the state is whoever the state tells you is an enemy of the state. Does nobody see a problem with that?

It is high time that states saw human rights not as obstacles to security, but as integral to it. No counter-insurgency is ever won with military force alone.

The residual support that some counter-insurgents may enjoy in their host populations rests on a blurring of values and latent sympathies for the overall goal. This is why countering the narrative of terrorism is so crucial to successfully reducing its appeal.

By abandoning our own values in pursuit of victory we not only reinforce the extremist narrative among vulnerable host populations, we weaken the conviction in ourselves about why we are fighting in the first instance.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago


If not to preserve the notion that life and liberty are sacred, what is our problem with terrorism? In this context, such actions are but own goals that will continue to haunt us for years.

Add to this one last fact. Yemenis are currently striving to join the Arab spring and shed themselves of their ruler. Ignoring all of this, the US has only intervened to strike at a terrorist.

In doing so America has shown again that the only prism through which it can view the Middle East is security. And let it not be forgotten, years of supporting despots in pursuit of such security is partly what got us here in the first place.

jaywalker 6 years, 5 months ago

Leave it to the clown to post this unbelievably self-contradictory garbage. The author admits: - Awlaki was an evil man who preached against humanity. - I am under no illusion of the danger that he posed. I live with such danger every day, through my work. Awlaki's desire to arbitrarily kill, deny rights and bypass due process is what made him evil. -Awlaki was indeed an enemy of the state.

The man was no longer a citizen, he was an ex-patriot who repeatedly called for jihad against the U.S. and the West. He left the U.S. when he was 7 and only came back on a foreign student visa while claiming to be born in Yemen. He was a proven leader for Al Qaeda and therefore an enemy at war. He was tried in absentia by the Yemeni government and found guilty with an order for him to be brought to justice dead or alive. He was linked to multiple terrorist attempts and attacks.

Sorry, only a moron believes due process needs be applied here.

jaywalker 6 years, 5 months ago

The latter. Knew that looked weird when I typed it.

Fossick 6 years, 5 months ago

I admit, this one made me laugh:

"Washington (CNN) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney praised the Obama administration Sunday for using a drone strike to kill American-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, but said President Barack Obama should now apologize for criticizing former President George W. Bush's actions against suspected terrorists.

I don't think Obama owes anyone an apology so much as he owes us an explanation of how he can kill any of us without due process:

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

The information should be released, without question.

beatrice 6 years, 5 months ago

Tom, what I think right now is that you couldn't stay away. You are upset because the President did something you would want him to do ... oh the horror!

Paul R Getto 6 years, 5 months ago

So? Good riddance, al-Awlaki. May you not RIP.

Fossick 6 years, 5 months ago

The new Due Process:

(Reuters) - American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials.

There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House's National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.

But of course, secret panels of political appointees with the power to put Americans on kill lists would only do so if that person really, really deserved it.

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