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Archive for Saturday, October 1, 2011

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

October 1, 2011

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— 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.

Comments

Fossick 2 years, 6 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. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/05/us-cia-killlist-idUSTRE79475C20111005

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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Paul R Getto 2 years, 6 months ago

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

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its_just_math 2 years, 6 months ago

It infuriates me that Obama and his ilk and the left in general utterly excoriated W and his crew for basically the same thing they'e doing now. This just adds more to the disgust factor with this joke of a president. Not that killing the enemy is bad, but go back and listen to his rhetoric circa 2007-2009 and tell me what you think now.

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Fossick 2 years, 6 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. http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/02/cheney-obama-owes-apology-for-security-criticism-of-bush-administration/

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: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/10/the-secret-memo-that-explains-why-obama-can-kill-americans/246004/

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 6 months ago

continued--

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.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/01/drone-killing-anwar-al-awlaki

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 6 months ago

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/01/drone-killing-anwar-al-awlaki

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.

continued--

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Mixolydian 2 years, 6 months ago

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

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 6 months ago

dude killing fleeing unarmed Americans is wrong. Bonnie and Clyde were armed. It's illegal to shoot a burgler if he just escaped out the front door of your house with your wifes jewelry in hand.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 6 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..."

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/09/anwar-awlaki-the-american-born-cleric-and-jihadist-killed-by-a-us-backed-drone-strike-in-yemen-spent-several-years-in-san.html

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tbaker 2 years, 6 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.

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ljwhirled 2 years, 6 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.

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beatrice 2 years, 6 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.

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Mike Ford 2 years, 6 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.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 6 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.

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Fossick 2 years, 6 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?

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 6 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.

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Mike Ford 2 years, 6 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.

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verity 2 years, 6 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.

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75x55 2 years, 6 months ago

Where's Smitty? Smitty must have an opinion on this one

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beatrice 2 years, 6 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.

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75x55 2 years, 6 months ago

LOL!

So NOW the mighty Barack is hiding behind GEORGE W. BUSH?

HA HA HA HA HA!!!

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tomatogrower 2 years, 6 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?

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Getaroom 2 years, 6 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!

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 6 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.

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Aiko 2 years, 6 months ago

Wait for it... Wait for it......

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irvan moore 2 years, 6 months ago

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

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50YearResident 2 years, 6 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.

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its_just_math 2 years, 6 months ago

Being granted the Nobel Prize sure did turn Obama into one tough customer. Maybe all future presidents should just be given one---for the heck of it.

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 6 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.

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