Letter: Citizen targets

January 19, 2013


To the editor:

When Barack Obama places his hand on Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bible during his second inauguration, an executive will be sworn in as president of the United States who openly claims the codified right to target a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil for assassination by the U.S. government.

Will U.S. citizens be subjected, as have Pakistanis and other nationals, to Joint Special Operations Command “snatch/grab/assassinate” programs collaborating with corporate contractors Blackwater/Xe/Academi or outsourced groups such as Israeli Mossad? Or will armed versions, such as CIA Predators or drones already roaming the skies above the surveilled homeland, preside over targets found guilty through a trial of Hellfire missiles or other such peers.

Well beyond hypotheticals, the president has already overseen orders that blew up a 16-year-old U.S. citizen named Abdulrahman al-Aulaqi while he ate dinner with a friend in an open-air restaurant in his family’s homeland of Yemen. Obama’s well-wrought, post-Newtown tear for the “safety of our children” notwithstanding, Abdulrahman’s grandfather has credibly accused the Nobel Peace laureate of acting as “nothing more than a child killer.” Left unmentioned are the unknown names, at least to the American people, of the multitude of individual children of other national origins whose breaths Mr. Obama is liable for snuffing.

King prophetically asserted: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Has it been long enough for us to find our will to bind, arrest and correct the increasingly codified, spiritual wickedness hurtling down from “we the people’s” house?


Gandalf 5 years, 5 months ago

The president is the Commander in Chief of the military. The military is sworn to protect the U.S. Constitution from all enemies both foreign and domestic..

If he ever orders a military attack on US soil against a citizen, get back to me and we will discuss if his rights were violated

The full oath: I (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

Brock Masters 5 years, 5 months ago

Help me understand the distinction between killing an American citizen here and abroad. So you speak out here you're safe but if you then take a trip overseas it is okay for the president to authorize your killing even if you haven't been charged with a crime?

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

It's my understanding that al-Aulaqi, US born son of an Al Qaeda propaganda official, was killed by a missle whose target was another senior official of Al Qaeda who oversees Al Qaeda operations in the arab peninsula. In other words, this was a tragic case of a nearby bystander being killed due to his proximity to the intended target. Without going into the arguments about the legitimacy of drone attacks or the policy of pursuing assassinations by our government overseas, it certainly sounds like your framing of this death is in no way accurate. It sounds like the intentional killing of a US citizen overseas by our government in no way applies to this tragic death, rather it is a manipulation of the facts. I'd welcome any evidence you might have to the contrary.

Brock Masters 5 years, 5 months ago

doug, you are right, he was not the intended target, but he was killed nonetheless. However, the point isn't the killing of the 16 year old boy, but the authorized targeting and killing of American citizens abroad who are only SUSPECTED of being terrorist. Not, charged, not convicted, but suspected. This is the issue.

Do you agree with the President that it is acceptable to kill Americans abroad with drones for just being suspected of terrorism ties or activity? I don't.

Here is a little blurb from an article.

WASHINGTON -- A 16-year-old American boy killed in an Obama administration drone strike "should have [had] a far more responsible father," Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs says in a new video released by the group We Are Change.

Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was the son of Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda propagandist killed by a U.S. drone a year ago. But the child was killed in a separate strike some two weeks after his father was killed. Gibbs wasn't entirely familiar with the situation, and didn't know that al-Awlaki's son was killed two weeks after his father was killed, a person familiar with his thinking at the time he was interviewed told HuffPost. We Are Change bills itself as a non-partisan media organization "working to expose corruption."

"I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children. I don't think becoming an al Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business," Gibbs, the former White House press secretary, told the interviewer from We Are Change, when asked to justify "an American citizen that is being targeted without due process, without trial -- and, he's underage, he's a minor."

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

So US drone attacks killed 2 US citizens without a trial: one was overseas heading up Al Qaeda propaganda in the lawless country of Yemen, and the other was killed because he was unfortunately in the close proximity to the head of Al Qaeda operations in the the arab peninsula. Since both of these scenarios took place in a country where active war against Al Qaeda is taking place both by the government of Yemen and through proxy drone attacks by the US because of Al Qaeda attacks on US diplomatic headquarters, ships and US citizens in that country, as well as explosive packages sent to Chicago. These drone attacks were approved by the Yemeni government, by the way.

Wars suck. Terrorism sucks. War, meet terrorism, terrorism, war. I personally have no trouble distinguishing these attacks from what would be permissible in our own country or in other countries that do not have internal armed conflict with terrorists who we also are at conflict with.

Drones are a seriously dangerous step in killing technology, one at least on the surface is aimed at protecting soldiers' lives, but at the expense of being a very lethal double edged sword. It is yet another reason why we as a country should be looking at trying to create stronger institutions of justice and conflict resolution worldwide so that there are more nonlethal tools on the shelf for folks to grab when in need.

I don't see how your screaming about US citizen's rights in a war zone meaning that we're next helps either justify the use of drones or help create stronger foundations for justice and conflict resolution in times of need. It seems like a politicization or diversion from the real issues at hand.

Brock Masters 5 years, 5 months ago

It is one thing to kill an American during a battle against the US, it is another thing to specifically target that American for death simply because he was suspected of terrorism.
I can understand and accept the death of an American in a war zone if they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I cannot accept the intentional killing of an American for their political views, even if I disagree with them.

My positions are not politically motivated and I certainly held the same views when Bush was president.

I don't condone killing Americans not charged or convicted of a crime. If they commit a terrorist act and we have proof that is one thing, but suspicion does not justify murder.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

Look, I don't know where I stand on our policies on drone attacks on anyone, but the father, Anwar al Aulaqi had dual citizenship with US and Yemen, had been promoted as a regional head of Al Qaeda, had extensively promoted jihad against the US through his prolific presence on Youtube, and was being tried in absentia by the Yemeni government for killing foreigners. Please tell me exactly how we are going to try him in the court of law when the Yemenis can't even do that?

Brock Masters 5 years, 5 months ago

Just for the sake of discussion, lets agree he was a bad guy who deserved to be killed without a trial. Obama has authorized the killing of Americans suspected of terrorism. What is the criteria that will be used to determine who is targeted? There is none, it is up to the government.

I am not comfortable with giving that power to the government.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

I think I just outlined the criteria that the Obama administration used: 1) The citizen is actively fomenting war against the US and has a track record of killing, in this case a variety of individuals from other countries, which has created havoc within the country of his or her current residence; 2) The country where this citizen has taken up residence is at war against the faction that our citizen has joined and is also wanting to incarcerate that citizen; 3) That country has been unable to bring our citizen to justice due to its own weak institutions of justice and/or reach of law 4) Because that country cannot extradite our citizen to deliver him or her to our authorities who can then make him subject to our own system of justice, they have given us permission to treat our citizen as a wartime enemy and utilize wartime methods of neutralization.

Not a pretty scenario, but I believe it's an accurate reality where extreme circumstances have been addressed with extreme measures, measures that I don't see how you can generalize to killing any overseas citizen dissident whom you want. Most countries have much better developed systems of law and jurisprudence and would be able to either try that citizen under its own laws or extradite our citizen for us to try him or her under our own laws.

Once again, all the protesting about all of this seems to either be politically based or a diversion of the much more fundamental issues of whether drones are an acceptable form of intervention and how we can better build non-lethal alternatives in the form of institutions of law and conflict resolution in countries where they are so lacking.

Brock Masters 5 years, 5 months ago

Is the criteria your opinion or is it official? If so, can you provide the source so I can read and verify it for myself?

I get the sense that you believe we should not criticize or question our government and if we do it is political - am I reading you right? I think it is our responsibility to question our government's actions and at least in my case, it is not political. I was just as vocal against Bush's policies as Obama's.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

No, I was not quoting an official policy, rather I'm gleaning what I think are key points in what must have gone into that decision. I haven't read any such official policy anywhere, but encourage you (and me) to post anything we can find to confirm or shoot down my best guesses.

No, I'm critical of Obama's stance on several fronts, including the muddled compromises he's made in health care, energy and fiscal policies. I think he probably provided cover for his attorney general, and he doesn't have much to show for the international good will that he started with. As I've repeatedly said, I think that the decision to expand drone expeditions was done without adequate discussion of the consequences and our policies are not doing enough to help areas develop their own judicial and conflict resolution institutions.

So that's why I see focusing all this attention on al-Aulaqi as so much political and diversionary posturing. It just doesn't address the deeper issues at all for me and comes across as a bunch of dittoheads uncritically parroting the memo they received from their political superiors. That may not be the case at all, but I still don't see how this is an important transgression for all of the reasons I have stated previously.

Brock Masters 5 years, 5 months ago

Doug - iwas reading this last post pretty much nodding my head thinking okay this guy is reasonable and then you had to ruin it with your Rachel Maddow style attack on people critical of Obama.

I am not a ditto head and think for myself doing my own research and critical of the info from both sides.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

I see so much of folks uncritically parroting on these posts that I found myself thinking that this is a reasonable conclusion to come to as to why so many folks are seemingly blindly running down this logical dead-end, and while I qualified my speculation about this, I apologize if you are not in that crowd. And to continue to set the record straight, I think demonstrated that I'm not an uncritical Obamaphile and I don't watch Rachel Maddow, so I'll consider your statements on their own merits as I hope you will do for mine.

So with that clarification, I'll stand by my analysis as legitimate reasons not to see the attack as a threat to the average dissenting citizen either at home or abroad, and see the whole tempest as only accomplishing a kind of deflection from the more important issues to consider.

Brock Masters 5 years, 5 months ago

Doug, I so think you think for yourself. We are on different sides of the issue but not so far part that I can't see the merits of what you say. I post on here as a hobby but because it helps me understand issues. When my points are challenged it makes me reexamine them and I do have an open mind to other points of view.

My final thought is, yes today the average citizen doesn't have to worry about being droned for their views, but if you don't challenge the government, if you don't stick to principles of right and wrong then perhaps not today but tomorrow you might find your rights and liberties severely limited by the government.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for listening and thinking independently. I agree that folks need to both challenge and listen--that's the way a dialogue can happen, and if we expect to both support and direct our government as well as move from a place of common ground in our communities, we must dialogue more and prescribe less. Thanks again for the dialogue.

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel 5 years, 5 months ago

Thanks y'all for the dialogue also. I do think the point of taking strong, critical positions with facts and questions on the table is to stimulate deep dialogue. Now, if we could these kind of dialogues going regularly in a townhall-type forum on subjects from the local to a global, we might just really make something seriously beautiful of this experiment in Republican Democracy.

Brock Masters 5 years, 5 months ago

Well that is the way it is suppose to work.

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel 5 years, 5 months ago

You will not be notified if the Executive branch makes an executive decision to liquidate a non-disclosed citizen target. For all we know it may already be happening.

What we know for sure, is that murderous treason against citizens and constitutional process is nothing new to the 'National Security State.' King himself, as was found by a unanimous jury in a civil trial in 1999, was murdered in a conspiracy involving elements of the Federal government. http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig12/douglass-jim1.1.1.html

At this point, the most serious enemies of the Constitution and the American people whose rights it is supposed to protect are domestic, and they're not Islamists or militia-types. After decades of egregious criminal acts perpetrated domestically by the US Security State, including trauma-based mind control experiments on non-consenting citizens (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_MKUltra), bio-weapon experiments done by US military and others on US civilian targets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unethical_human_experimentation_in_the_United_States), political assassinations (JFK/MLK/RFK and more), CIA manipulation and undoing of fourth estate as a free press (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mockingbird), to advocate for or suggest that the Executive branch is acting patriotically, responsibly, ethically and lawfully around bureaucratically administered, secret "kill lists" is an act of low treason itself under Article III Section 3 by giving aid and comfort to those pre-emptively declaring their right to wage war on citizens in the 'Homeland' and thus also on the Constitution itself.


jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

Slow down. Take your meds. And take that damn tin foil hat off. Your collecting way too many signals.

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel 5 years, 5 months ago

I don't think they've made foil out of tin since before I was born, but you're probably right, pharmaceuticals are likely the proper prescription from those who would rather not discuss historical facts.

Enjoy your genetically-manipulated 'food' products washed down with some pharmaceutically-laced, 'flouride' tap liquid while watching your TV news "programming." Don't forget to take your flu shot!

Abdu Omar 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree Fred, there is this little thing in the Constitution about due process. So there are questions to be asked: Did he receive his Maranda Rights, Did he have the opportunity to seek a lawyer, did he get his one phone call? All of these are not taken into consideration and is a breach of our sacred code.

Drone killing is an abomination toward all mankind because those who happen to be in the vicinity of the victim can end up just as dead. This "collateral" damage is a risk we should never take!

jhawkinsf 5 years, 5 months ago

Of course collateral damage is a horrible thing. But it isn't limited to drone attacks. Collateral damage has been a consequence of war since the beginning of time.

B-17 bombers sometimes hit schools and POW camps when the intended target was a nearby munitions plant. Munition plants were specifically built near schools and POW camps making them less likely to be targeted. Today, soldiers dress as civilians, making themselves indistinguishable from actual non-combatants. As a consequence, non-combatants will sometimes be killed when an actual fighter is the intended target.

It happens. It's horrible when it does. But the only way to avoid it is to end all wars everywhere and forever. A nice thought. But given human history, unlikely.

skinny 5 years, 5 months ago

Welcome to the real world folks!! In time of war, everything is fair!

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel 5 years, 5 months ago

That's why the Terror Wars are the perfect cover for an ongoing geo-political strategy of tension, that includes a domestic agenda of increasing surveillance, increasing militarization of police and their fusion into Federal Security State, ability to strip people of citizenship and due process etc.

There is no way that an alleged War on Terror could ever be won, even if it weren't a treasonous fraud in the first place. It is a jumbled mess of codified smearing of the civil and military spheres of law combined with a potentially endless military endeavor with no limits in time or space.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 5 months ago

Fred wrote: Do you agree with the President that it is acceptable to kill Americans abroad with drones for just being suspected of terrorism ties or activity? I don't.

---Fred, I also don't agree.

furthermore, the drone campaign has other serious bad consequences beyond radicalizing whole populations who don't particularly appreciate having big brother planes hovering overhead, would you?
in just bumping them off, Obama is trashing any intel value they might have had in interrogation but that would have involved an interrogation process. oddly, it is okay to bump them off but it is not okay to use enhanced interrogation techniques on them? that's backwards.

but you cannot have the president sitting there with a "kill deck" that includes american citizens. american citizens do have rights and those rights need to be properly protected.

Brock Masters 5 years, 5 months ago

Good point Ganalf, but I'd expand it to don't hang out with communist or tea party members or the new Black Panthers or any other group that might one day be labeled a terrorist organization.

roadwarrior 5 years, 5 months ago

why are anti Obama people so hysterical ?

Brock Masters 5 years, 5 months ago

As compared to anti-bush people? I don't see any hysteria, just criticism.

overthemoon 5 years, 5 months ago

Had a federal agent killed Timothy McVeigh in the process of his setting up his truck bomb, would you all be outraged that he didn't get a trial?

Jeremy Rothe-Kushel 5 years, 5 months ago

If you think Timothy McVeigh and a truck bomb alone were responsible for all the carnage and damage at the Murrah Building, you must be living near an informational blackhole. see: http://www.anoblelie.com/# http://truthandshadows.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/documentary-a-noble-lie-exposes-oklahoma-city-bombing-as-government-black-op/

But more to your conceptual point, if you catch somebody in the act of attempting murder, terrorism or waging war on civilians, and violent force is necessary to stop them, that is lawful. But of course, a federal agent trying to stop McVeigh and his helpers and handlers would quickly become the target himself of such "kill list" style of 'law enforcement.'

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