Islamist cleric Anwar Awlaki killed in Yemen

US-born radical Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a key al-Qaeda leader, has been killed in Yemen, the country’s defence ministry said.

US President Barack Obama said his death was a major blow to al-Qaeda.

Awlaki, of Yemeni descent, has been on the run in Yemen since December 2007.

The US named him a “global terrorist” and said he had played a “significant role” in plots to blow up US airliners and use poison to kill US citizens.

Mr Obama is said to have personally ordered his killing last year.

Yemen’s defence ministry statement said only that Awlaki had died in Khashef in Jawf province, about 140km (87 miles) east of the capital, Sanaa, “along with some of his companions”.

US and Yemeni officials later named one of those as Samir Khan, also a US citizen but of Pakistani origin, who produced an online magazine promoting al-Qaeda’s ideology.

Amazing how many major blows occur…

** Lots of Senior Officials Spilling State Secrets Today
** Ron Paul condemns killing of U.S.-born al-Qaida cleric
** Same US military unit that got Osama bin laden killed Anwar al-Awlaki
** Anwar al-Awlaki and America’s fear of the enemy within

38 comments to Islamist cleric Anwar Awlaki killed in Yemen

  • Tina

    his Nobel prize should be rescinded

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says the killing of American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen “is a major blow to al-Qaida’s most active operational affiliate.”

    Obama also says it “marks another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al’Qaida.”

    Al-Awlaki, a prominent figure in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula said to have direct involvement in plots against the U.S., was killed early Friday in a strike on his convoy carried out by a joint operation of the CIA and the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, according to counterterrorism officials.

    Officials also said that a second American, Samir Khan, who edited an online magazine that spread the word on ways to carry out attacks inside the United States, also was killed in the strike.

    Obama spoke Friday at a retirement ceremony at Fort Myer, Va. for Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon :D

  • Tina

    yawn, I keep waiting for the oops we were wrong article lol

    By Gavin Cordon
    Friday, 30 September 2011

    The reported killing of the radical Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has potentially dealt a “significant blow” to al-Qa’ida, Foreign Secretary William Hague said today.

    US officials said that American-born al-Awlaki was killed in a strike on his convoy in Yemen early today.

    more at The Independent

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon :D

  • Awake

    Suppose you have a man holding a gun to the head of an innocent bystander, and a SWAT member takes the shot and prevents the possible killing of the bystander. Would you complain of extra-judicial killing in that case?

    If possible, these scumbags should be captured and put on trial… but if they present a “clear and present” danger then killing them before they can act is a perfectly legitimate use of force.

    I’m about as liberal as they get, but when it comes to scumbags like Al-Qaeda, if you are one of them, or support them, or even hang out with them, you’ve got it coming if a missile drops on your head.

  • Tina

    Awlaki was a US citizen, had not been indicted for any crime and the strike took place in a country where US forces are not officially waging war.

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon :D

  • Anonymous

    Guardian – The cleric who was killed was involved with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) but he was not the group’s leader …

  • JustPlainDave

    …indictment would somehow make this more legal. I’d far rather have such operations be extra-legal in the sense of clearly not part of the criminal legal process, rather than dressed up in the pseudo-legal. The Israelis apparently have capital trials in absentia prior to launching a targetted strike, which strikes me as rather problematic.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Tina

    which I’m sure would not have taken much time to set up would have given at least an illusion to following American laws. I’m not saying he is an innocent, but every time we ignore our own laws our govt loses legitimacy at home and abroad.

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon :D

  • JustPlainDave

    …a criminal indictment makes this any less extra-judicial killing. The state executing someone as a form of criminal punishment and the state killing someone as a military target are very, very different things in my mind and there are some really excellent reasons for not blurring the two.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Tina

    actually think laws are there for a reason. And I don’t think our president now or in the future have the right to make these unilateral decisions. To me it stinks as bad as our so called Guantanamo trials. And what stinks more is there is no recourse to question the govt about it.

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon :D

  • Tina

    Al Qaeda infighting led to Awkali killing in Yemen. Ayman Zawhiri is in Yemen
    DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 30, 2011, 10:23 PM (GMT+02:00) T

    http://www.debka.com/article/21350/

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon :D

  • JustPlainDave

    …it’s all the better not to give these events a quasi-legal figleaf.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Tina

    fight in the courts against a ruling and action, here there is nothing. If they had enough info for the military to attack in a country we are not at war with then should have enough to send the info to a grand jury.

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon :D

  • pihwht

    If we are going to kill people, citizens or not, because someone in our government just decided they wanted to kill them, it is better that there be no legal cover for the crime. That will remove one avenue of defense if and when Americans are finally prosecuted for our war crimes.

    It would be silly to insist that an emperor needs to conform to some legal process besides his own desires. We will just concede that we all live at the will of the President.

  • Chickadee

    WAPO“The first word of the strike came from the Yemeni Defense Ministry, which sent a text message sent to journalists announcing that “the terrorist Anwar al-Aulaqi has been killed along with some of his companions.”

    How many people is it permissable to kill during extra-judicial attacks in other countries? Drivers? Wives? Kids? Friends? Is it just assumed that everybody else must share the same ideology of the target because otherwise they wouldn’t be in that person’s company? Is being a terrorist increasingly becoming a post-mortem designation?


    “The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.” ~Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)

  • pihwht

    And if we blow you up or away, you deserved to die.

  • Tina

    the reports say all the bodies were charred and buried – exactly who did we get? or is it well maybe we got the right guy so its ok?

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon :D

  • Chickadee

    if you are one of them, or support them, or even hang out with them, you’ve got it coming if a missile drops on your head.

    … but suppose, just suppose, you are wrong in your presumption of guilt? If the US gov had chosen to kill individuals in any way associated with the majority of Guantanamo prisoners who, it turned out, had nothing to do with terrorism and were/are entirely innocent of any wrong doing, would that be OK with you? The “kill ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out” philosophy of military engagement?

    Then, of course, while God is doing all this sorting, let’s not forget the consequences. Take last year’s drone attack in Yemen, for instance…

    Reuters

    An air strike in Yemen targeting al Qaeda missed its mark and killed a mediator, prompting members of his tribe to blow up an oil pipeline in clashes that followed, a provincial official said Tuesday…

    A Yemeni website aligned with the opposition said the strike was carried out by a drone, a weapon that Yemen is not believed to have. U.S. forces have used drones in the past in Yemen, but a U.S. diplomat declined to say if Washington was involved.

    The strike could heighten anti-U.S. sentiment and broaden al Qaeda’s appeal among powerful Yemeni tribes, threatening efforts to stabilize a country neighboring oil power Saudi Arabia and busy international shipping lanes, analysts said.

    As for justification based on your likening extra-judicial killings to saving the life of an innocent, I don’t think reductio ad absurdum is a useful logical approach in this or any matter.

  • Tina

    (CNN) — President Obama authorized the killing of an American citizen because he had declared war on the United States and encouraged others to bring harm to America. Whatever Anwar al-Awlaki’s wrongs — and there were many — when America kills its own without a trial, it not only demeans itself but it hands over a propaganda victory to its enemies.

    Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s leader since the death of Osama bin Laden, will chide this great country again for abandoning its values and principles. The White House’s authorization of this killing also tells American Muslims that a precedent has been set by their government to kill American citizens abroad without trial if they oppose their country.

    This cannot be right — and is counterproductive to defeating terrorism in the long term because it demolishes the very values that America stands for: the rule of law and trial by jury.

    Ed Husain

    It is abandoning these very same principles of human dignity, underpinned by free and fair trials that led to al-Awlaki’s decisive shift after being released from a Yemeni prison in 2007: From being anti-American rabble-rouser, he went to advocating direct violence against the United States. Prison experiences in the Arab world — being arrested and detained without legal representation and exposed to the worst forms of torture at the hands of fellow Muslims — change nonviolent extremists to violent extremists. Al-Awlaki’s transformation from extremism to violence comes in this context.

    His alleged links to 9/11 terrorists were not as significant as some argue. If he was known to be involved in the 9/11 attacks, why was he a guest of the Pentagon, of all places, in 2002?

    Al-Awlaki is not alone. Before him, al-Zawahiri was tortured in Egyptian prisons, and during his trial in 1982, he addressed a gallery of Western journalists in English and declared, “So where is democracy? Where is freedom? Where is human rights? Where is justice? We will never forget!”

    Without a doubt, al-Awlaki and al-Zawahiri were already radicalized before prison, but the tipping point toward violence came with their prison experiences. And before al-Zawahiri, the intellectual framework for al-Qaeda’s destructive worldview was put in place by Syed Qutb in Mazra Tora in prison in Nasser’s Egypt. Again, it was torture and the absence of humane treatment that led to Qutb declaring war on the Egyptian government. Qutb’s prison writings have inspired every jihadist movement around the globe.

    This same movement sees al-Awlaki as a lightweight, not least because he never set foot on the battlefield and his scholarly credentials are open to question. In Egypt or Pakistan, al-Awlaki is not well-known. Little wonder, then, that Al Jazeera Arabic is not as excited by al-Awlaki’s killing as Western media outlets.

    Al-Awlaki was important among Muslims in the West — from Yemen, he used the Internet to reach this constituency. But even before the launch of his blog in 2008, al-Awlaki was popular among Muslims in England, Canada and America because of his audiotapes about the history of early Muslim personalities. These tapes were, and many still are, in circulation in mosques and bookshops.

    Al-Awlaki could have been discredited before his prison experiences or, now, his perceived martyrdom. By killing al-Awlaki, his message gains new life as words from an American Muslim martyr, the first to join the iconography of underground Muslim culture since Malcolm X.
    An easier, cheaper and more effective way of discrediting al-Awlaki and countering his message would have been to disclose his three arrests for the solicitation of prostitutes in San Diego and the Washington, D.C., area between 1996 and 1997. He had even pleaded guilty to the 1997 charge, and was subsequently sentenced to three years’ probation and a fine. Among his socially conservative Muslim following in Europe and America, immediately after 9/11, such information would have been dynamite.

    The United States cannot kill its way out of terrorism. Just as with the Cold War, the challenge from Islamist extremism and jihadist violence urgently needs a cultural, intellectual and informational response. Violence breeds more violence and, in this case, literally creates martyrs out of al Qaeda’s murderers.

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon :D

  • Tina

    boston.com

    The idea of killing an American citizen provided critics with fodder for all sorts of comparisons showing the peculiarities of national security law and policy. The government could not listen to al-Awlaki’s phone calls without a judge’s approval, for instance, but could kill him on the president’s say-so. The Obama administration opposed imprisoning terrorist suspects without due process but supported killing them without due process.

    Article raises the question doe sit mean the CIA can target Americans in the US? Does it mean we can take out Westboro church for advocating harm to the US? Oh wait, they have freedom of speech :D

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon :D

  • Chickadee

    Google his name. Hasn’t the US killed him a few times already? Wasn’t Al-Awlaki also “killed” previously? What about the other American killed – Samir Kahn? He apparently published ideas that worry the US so off with his head.

  • JustPlainDave

    It would be a national security proceeding and the indictment would be sealed – it would never be tested in any way. Near as I can tell, all it would do would be covering ass on the trigger pullers.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Chickadee

    Guardian “In 2010 – the latest year for which detailed statistics are available – there were 12,996 murders in the US. Of those, 8,775 were caused by firearms.” How many Americans did Al Qaeda dispatch in the US during the same period? Perhaps a better use for these drones would be the targeting of US gun owners and their “companions”? When we’re finished with them, maybe the sights could be set on American doctors. Medical malpractice kills thousands of innocents every year in the US.

    According to the Institute of Medicine, 98,000 people die every year from preventable medical errors – and this doesn’t count those seriously injured. This is the sixth leading cause of death in America, the equivalent of two 737′s crashing every day.

    It’s all quite bewildering. The US spends trillions on warfare against an inept enemy while battling tooth and nail against publicly funded health care.

    Yet Here are some 2007 stats:

    Number of deaths for leading causes of death in the US.

    Heart disease: 616,067
    Cancer: 562,875
    Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 135,952
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 127,924
    Accidents (unintentional injuries): 123,706
    Alzheimer’s disease: 74,632
    Diabetes: 71,382
    Influenza and Pneumonia: 52,717
    Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 46,448
    Septicemia: 34,828

    How long is the population willing to dine on this “War On Terror” red herring, given that your chances of being propelled from this mortal coil by an act of terrorism are considerably less likely than the odds of your being hit by lightening.

    Odds in focus
    (This is an excerpt from a 2005 article by Sean Acqui opining that the US invasion of Iraq was a dreadfully expensive distraction.)

    One way to measure the danger posed by terrorism is to compare the risk of dying in a terror attack to other causes of death in the United States.

    Since 1990, there have been four major terrorist attacks in the United States: Oklahoma City, the first Trade Center attack, the Olympic bombing in Atlanta and 9/11.

    That’s four attacks in 14 years; hardly a crisis. Further, half of those attacks were the work of disgruntled individuals, unrelated to any broader terror movement. And they come against the background of a steady 20-year decline in the number of terror attacks worldwide. Attacks have increased in lethality and spectacle, but there are fewer of them.

    Now let’s look at casualties. Those four attacks caused roughly 3,175 deaths over 14 years, in a population of about 300 million. That’s an average of 230 deaths a year — far closer to mucopolysaccarhidosis than cancer. Put another way, the average American has a 0.0000008% chance of dying in a terror attack in any given year.

    If you look at causes of death in the United States you’ll find that terrorism is right up there with such national crises as falling from a ladder (406 deaths in 2002), drowning in your bathtub (352 deaths), riding a “special agricultural vehicle” (149 deaths) and “overexertion, travel and privation” (128 deaths). Heck, on average more people accidentally shoot themselves to death (243) than die at the hands of terrorists.

    Put into perspective, terrorism isn’t even close to a national threat. It does not threaten our national survival, and it does not threaten the life of average Americans in any meaningful way. One could plausibly argue that our response to terrorism has done more damage to Americans than terrorism itself. 9/11 killed 3,000 people and caused several billion dollars in economic damage. Our response has killed even more people and cost $400 billion, all of it borrowed. The terrorists could only dream of inflicting as much harm on us as we have inflicted upon ourselves.

    Of course we still have to combat terrorism, and of course our response should be outsized; we don’t just passively accept the murder of American citizens. And there are psychological and economic aftershocks from spectacular stunts like 9/11. But by any measure our response has been way out of proportion to the risk.


    “The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.” ~Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)

  • Tina

    Anwar al-Awlaki’s death greeted by scepticism in streets of Yemen
    Activists question the timing of al-Qaida cleric’s killing saying it could help president Ali Abdullah Saleh cling on to power

    Tom Finn in Sana’a
    guardian.co.uk, Friday 30 September 2011 16.56 EDT

    The death of the Yemen-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was greeted with ambivalence and scepticism on the streets of Sana’a, where for more than eight months anti-government activists have been calling for the downfall of president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

    Hopes for a negotiated end to the crisis were dashed last week when Saleh suddenly returned from Saudi Arabia, where he spent had three months recovering from an assassination attempt.

    On Friday around 100,000 protesters joined a mass rally, filling a two-mile stretch of a ring road north of the capital and calling for the resignation of Saleh and the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.

    “Most Yemenis don’t even know who Anwar Awlaki is. I think that speaks for itself,” said opposition party leader Hasan Zaid.

    Some protesters voiced concern that Awlaki’s killing could help the president cling on to the office he has held for 33 years. The US has cultivated Saleh as an ally in its fight against al-Qaida, more than doubling its military aid to $150m last year, and Saleh has repeatedly warned the US that his departure would mean gains for the terrorist group.

    “We always question the timing of these announcements from our government. Saleh is on the back foot and on the verge of stepping down and suddenly Anwar Awlaki is killed,” said Fayza Sulieman, a female protest leader. “We all know that Saleh’s fight against al-Qaida is the only thread of support keeping him in office. We pray that this news does not distract the world from our struggle against this tyrannical regime.”

    Walid al-Matari, an opposition protester at Sana’a’s Change Square, said: “We are not interested in Anwar Awlaki, this is just one man. Our fight is against the corrupt regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh.”

    Demonstrators claim that for years Saleh has allowed al-Qaida affiliates to thrive and launch attacks in order to reap the political and financial benefits. Now, as Saleh appears once again to have backed away from a deal that would see him exchange power for immunity, he may be looking to capitalise on Awlaki’s death.

    “Terrorism in Yemen relies on a lack of clarity, and on grievances caused by a corrupt and incompetent regime,” said Zaid. If Saleh’s government were replaced, he said, “the dark holes in society in which these groups seek refuge will be lit up, and their resources and appeal would be diminished”.

    In an interview on Thursday, his first since his return from Saudi Arabia, Saleh said he would not stand down as promised if his opponents were allowed to stand in elections to succeed him.

    “If we transfer power and [rival forces] are there, this will mean that we have given in to a coup,” he said. “If we transfer power, and they are in their positions, and they are still decision-makers, this will be very dangerous. This will lead to civil war.”

  • Raja

    Washington Post, By Peter Finn, September 30

    The Justice Department wrote a secret memorandum authorizing the lethal targeting of Anwar al-Aulaqi, the American-born radical cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone strike Friday, according to administration officials.

    The document was produced following a review of the legal issues raised by striking a U.S. citizen and involved senior lawyers from across the administration. There was no dissent about the legality of killing Aulaqi, the officials said.

    “What constitutes due process in this case is a due process in war,” said one of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closely held deliberations within the administration.

    The administration has faced a legal challenge and public criticism for targeting Aulaqi, who was born in New Mexico, because of constitutional protections afforded U.S. citizens. The memorandum may represent an attempt to resolve, at least internally, a legal debate over whether a president can order the killing of U.S. citizens overseas as a counterterrorism measure.

    The operation to kill Aulaqi involved CIA and military assets under CIA control. A former senior intelligence official said that the CIA would not have killed an American without such a written opinion. [Ha!]

    Not quite an indictment…


    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • Tina

    I guess I am just frustrated that there is no recourse here. To me it just goes against what we preach to the rest of the world.

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon :D

  • Tina

    The law on the use of lethal force by executive order is specific. This assassination broke it – that creates a terrifying precedent

    • Wesley Clark: this shows the US is winning against al-Qaida

    Michael Ratner
    guardian.co.uk, Friday 30 September 2011 13.50 EDT

    Is this the world we want? Where the president of the United States can place an American citizen, or anyone else for that matter, living outside a war zone on a targeted assassination list, and then have him murdered by drone strike.

    This was the very result we at the Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU feared when we brought a case in US federal court on behalf of Anwar al-Awlaki’s father, hoping to prevent this targeted killing. We lost the case on procedural grounds, but the judge considered the implications of the practice as raising “serious questions”, asking:

    “Can the executive order the assassination of a US citizen without first affording him any form of judicial process whatsoever, based on the mere assertion that he is a dangerous member of a terrorist organisation?”

    Yes, Anwar al-Awlaki was a radical Muslim cleric. Yes, his language and speeches were incendiary. He may even have engaged in plots against the United States – but we do not know that because he was never indicted for a crime.

    This profile should not have made him a target for a killing without due process and without any effort to capture, arrest and try him. The US government knew his location for purposes of a drone strike, so why was no effort made to arrest him in Yemen, a country that apparently was allied in the US efforts to track him down?

    There are – or were – laws about the circumstances in which deadly force can be used, including against those who are bent on causing harm to the United States. Outside of a war zone, as Awlaki was, lethal force can only be employed in the narrowest and most extraordinary circumstances: when there is a concrete, specific and imminent threat of an attack; and even then, deadly force must be a last resort.

    The claim, after the fact, by President Obama that Awlaki “operationally directed efforts” to attack the United States was never presented to a court before he was placed on the “kill” list and is untested. Even if President Obama’s claim has some validity, unless Awlaki’s alleged terrorists actions were imminent and unless deadly force employed as a last resort, this killing constitutes murder.

    We know the government makes mistakes, lots of them, in giving people a “terrorist” label. Hundreds of men were wrongfully detained at Guantánamo. Should this same government, or any government, be allowed to order people’s killing without due process?

    The dire implications of this killing should not be lost on any of us. There appears to be no limit to the president’s power to kill anywhere in the world, even if it involves killing a citizen of his own country. Today, it’s in Yemen; tomorrow, it could be in the UK or even in the United States.

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon :D

  • Jelco Cathlon

    all those right-wingnuts that talk about killing other americans, that don’t follow the right-wing agenda, like that fat cigar smoking pill-popping guy on the radio, think he said very awfull things about what should be done about some americans. but then he’s republican.

  • Chickadee

    “What constitutes due process in this case is a due process in war,” What war? Does he mean the “war” in Afghanistan or Iraq? But neither of these were ever formally declared initiatives. Moreover, even if you accept the “yeah but we did it so therefore it’s legal” justification there there is no suggestion that the Americans killed in Yemen were acting as agents of either Afghanistan or Iraq. So are we perhaps referring to the global “War On Terror”? But that’s a mnemonic, a fear engendering catch phrase, a vote getter, it’s not a real war. Has the administration ingested its own poisonous PR?

    God help us all when the US starts taking definitive aggressive military action in the international “War On Poverty” or the “War On Childhood Diseases”.


    “The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.” ~Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)

  • Chickadee

    seem to cast some doubt on whether they “got” this Awlaki guy either – which, I suppose is one way to back out of the debate about his death – “We didn’t get him after all. We just hit just a bunch of dusky skinned foreigners on the other side of the world by accident. Like soreeee. War is hell, son. Besides, they shouldn’t have all been traveling together in their desert anyhow.” It’s the time honoured excuse that’s worked, with minor variations, for years now.

    Incidentally, according to the NYTmore CIA drone attacks have been carried out during Obama’s presidency than during Bush Jr’s entire term in office.

  • Chickadee

    Here’s an excerpt from John Brennan’s remarks to the Harvard Law School Brookings Conference just 1 week ago!

    Fourth—and the principle that guides all our actions, foreign and domestic—we will uphold the core values that define us as Americans, and that includes adhering to the rule of law. And when I say “all our actions,” that includes covert actions, which we undertake under the authorities provided to us by Congress. President Obama has directed that all our actions—even when conducted out of public view—remain consistent with our laws and values.

    For when we uphold the rule of law, governments around the globe are more likely to provide us with intelligence we need to disrupt ongoing plots, they’re more likely to join us in taking swift and decisive action against terrorists, and they’re more likely to turn over suspected terrorists who are plotting to attack us, along with the evidence needed to prosecute them.

    When we uphold the rule of law, our counterterrorism tools are more likely to withstand the scrutiny of our courts, our allies, and the American people. And when we uphold the rule of law it provides a powerful alternative to the twisted worldview offered by al-Qa’ida. Where terrorists offer injustice, disorder and destruction, the United States and its allies stand for freedom, fairness, equality, hope, and opportunity.

    In short, we must not cut corners by setting aside our values and flouting our laws, treating them like luxuries we cannot afford. Indeed, President Obama has made it clear—we must reject the false choice between our values and our security. We are constantly working to optimize both. Over the past two and a half years, we have put in place an approach—both here at home and abroad—that will enable this Administration and its successors, in cooperation with key partners overseas, to deal with the threat from al-Qa’ida, its affiliates, and its adherents in a forceful, effective and lasting way.

    Yada, yada, yada. It’s that last sentence that concerns me most. I presume “forceful, effect and lasting way” means “sudden death in your bed or your boots together with your family, pals and yer evil-spawning mama, too.” So, I’m not happy about this key partner cooperation thing. I really think the US should try to restrain itself to killing Americans within its own borders.

  • Tina

    Extrajudicial Execution of Samir Khan Arguably More Significant Than Awlaki
    Posted on September 30, 2011 by bmaz

    By this time in the day, the early morning report of the killing of Anwar Awlaki is old news. From ABC News:

    Senior administration officials say that the U.S. has been targeting Awlaki for months, though in recent weeks officials were able to pin down his location.
    .
    “They were waiting for the right opportunity to get him away from any civilians,” a senior administration official tells ABC News.

    And today they got him. Awlaki was killed by a drone delivered Hellfire missile, via a joint CIA and JSOC operation, in the town of Kashef, in Yemen’s Jawf province, approximately 140 kilometres east of Sanaa, Yemen’s capital. But not only Awlaki was killed, at least three others, including yet another American citizen, Samir Khan, were killed in the strike.

    That’s right, not just one, but two, Americans were summarily and extrajudicially executed by their own government today, at the direct order of the President of the United States. No trial, no verdict, just off with their heads. Heck, there were not even charges filed against either Awlaki or Khan. And it is not that the government did not try either, there was a grand jury convened on Khan, but no charges. Awlaki too was investigated for charges at least twice by the DOJ, but non were found.

    But at least Awlaki was on Barrack Obama’s “Americans That Are Cool to Kill List”. Not so with Samir Khan. Not only is there no evidence whatsoever Khan is on the classified list for killing (actually two different lists) my survey of people knowledgeable in the field today revealed not one who believed khan was on any such list, either by DOD or CIA.

    more at emptywheel with links

  • Raja

    Hullabaloo, By digby, October 1

    This is an interesting segment on Bill Maher’s show last night on a number of topics. If you missed the show, you should watch it. But there’s one thing I think needs a little bit of explication. Maher, Seth McFarlane (who is a real DFH, it turns out) Salman Rushdie and Jennifer Granholm are discussing the legality of the Al Alwaki killing and Rushdie brings up the fact that “there is such a thing as treason.” Yes, they all agree, treason. Maher adds that the punishment for such a crime is death and they all nod sagely as if that settles the matter.

    There’s just one problem. Here’s the provision in the US Constitution about treason:

    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. 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.

    The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

    There wasn’t a trial. Not even in absentia (which we don’t do in the US.)

    I realize that the official rationale for the killing isn’t predicated on the legal definition of treason. It’s some arcane gobblydygook about a “global battlefield” and unlawful combatants and state secrets, none of which is even remotely settled law. But it’s vitally important that we not start thinking that being accused of “treason” means that the US government can unilaterally decide to kill an American citizen without any due process.

    If there is one single thing the founders of this country would rise from their graves to dispute, it’s that. I realize that the only thing the Americans supposedly ever cared about was having to pay taxes, but the truth is that this was at the very heart of the American revolution. The power of the crown to declare its domestic enemies treasonous and execute them had pretty much defined bloody European history for hundreds of years. Americans believed that was fundamentally wrong. And it’s the only crime they explicitly wrote into the constitution for that reason.


    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • Chickadee

    The AP is reporting “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.

    Late Friday, two U.S. officials said intelligence indicated that the top al-Qaida bomb-maker in Yemen also died in the strike. Ibrahim al-Asiri is the bomb-maker linked to the bomb hidden in the underwear of a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.”

    So lemme understand, American corpse # 1 is some guy who was on a hit list for a long time and might have had something to do with terrible events, so his sudden dispatch is ok. American corpse # 2 wasn’t on any list but he published hostile ideas the US didn’t like, so that’s ok, too. Foreign corpse # 3 might have been the brilliant mastermind of that ridiculous panty bomb that didn’t/couldn’t go off, so that’s also ok. It’s all ok because, after all, what if all this conspiring and thinking and writing things down had resulted in successful violent acts? But how can this “what if” factor be limited or qualified? Clearly drone attacks should also extend to drivers, body guards, caterers, children, suppliers of newsprint, boxer shorts and duct tape because what if evil doers had no supporters or supplies? Wouldn’t the War on Terror be thereby dealt a lethal blow? What if, in the name of expediency, we just re-establish the Biblical Caesar Solution and simply obliterate the first-born sons of all non-Christian persons? Better still, what if we adopted a new and improved Caesar Solution Plus which would eliminate all female non-Christian persons of child bearing age whoever and whereever they may be. This could be easily achievable through the applied use of drones, provide a tremendous boost to the arms business, and would surely spell the end of terror world-wide.

    Wouldn’t it?

    {Finally, what if puter keyboards added a “sadly sarcastic” button for posts like this?}

  • Tina

    are in burkas, much easier targeting….< nod>< nod>

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon :D

  • Chickadee

    CNN reports

    Washington (CNN) — The U.S. State Department issued a “worldwide” alert Saturday, urging overseas travelers to be mindful of “the potential for retaliation against U.S. citizens and interests” following the killing of American-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. …The alert follows a joint bulletin issued late Friday by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security that similarly warns that al-Awlaki’s killing may provoke attacks, if his supporters seek to portray him as a martyr in a supposed U.S. war against Islam.
    It said the deaths “could provide motivation for homeland attacks” by “homegrown violent extremists,” the type the two men allegedly tried to recruit or inspire.

    So… uhm.. how did the Yemen attack make the world safer for Americans? Does somebody need to bone up on the “action – reaction” paradigm?

  • Tina

    is the Yemenis don’t know about him or don’t care. To me he looks more like Bush’s color chart of threat. Fear fear fear 24/7

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon :D

  • Anonymous

    New York Times, By Charlie Savage, October 8

    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s secret legal memorandum that opened the door to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Muslim cleric hiding in Yemen, found that it would be lawful only if it were not feasible to take him alive, according to people who have read the document.

    The memo, written last year, followed months of extensive interagency deliberations and offers a glimpse into the legal debate that led to one of the most significant decisions made by President Obama — to move ahead with the killing of an American citizen without a trial.

    The secret document provided the justification for acting despite an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law against murder, protections in the Bill of Rights and various strictures of the international laws of war, according to people familiar with the analysis. The memo, however, was narrowly drawn to the specifics of Mr. Awlaki’s case and did not establish a broad new legal doctrine to permit the targeted killing of any Americans believed to pose a terrorist threat.

    The Obama administration has refused to acknowledge or discuss its role in the drone strike that killed Mr. Awlaki last month and that technically remains a covert operation. The government has also resisted growing calls that it provide a detailed public explanation of why officials deemed it lawful to kill an American citizen, setting a precedent that scholars, rights activists and others say has raised concerns about the rule of law and civil liberties.

    [...]

    The legal analysis, in essence, concluded that Mr. Awlaki could be legally killed, if it was not feasible to capture him, because intelligence agencies said he was taking part in the war between the United States and Al Qaeda and posed a significant threat to Americans, as well as because Yemeni authorities were unable or unwilling to stop him.


    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

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