Tag Archive: Anwar al-Awlaki

Oct 20 2011

Awlaki’s Teenage Son Killed in Yemen Attack

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. ~ Benjamin Franklin

The US has killed the 16 year old son of Anwar Al-Awlaki who was killed in last month in an unmanned drone attack ordered by President Obama. The teenager had run away from home to find his father. On Friday, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed in unmanned drone attack in southeastern Yemen. The Al-Awlaki family is speaking out about the killings.

“To kill a teenager is just unbelievable, really, and they claim that he is an al-Qaeda militant. It’s nonsense,” said Nasser al-Awlaki, a former Yemeni agriculture minister who was Anwar al-Awlaki’s father and the boy’s grandfather, speaking in a phone interview from Sanaa on Monday. “They want to justify his killing, that’s all.”

Former Justice Department attorney and whistleblower, Jesselyn Radack discusses how the US has gone further down a very slippery slope into “Wonderland”:

In a still secret–yet described in detail in the New York Times–memo, the Justice Department justified assassinating American citizen al-Awlaki despite the myriad laws and the Constitution such a killing would violate. As New York Times journalist Charlie Savage pointed out, there exists

   an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law [that prohibits Americans from murdering other Americans abroad], protections in the Bill of Rights [the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee that a “person” cannot be seized by the government unreasonably, and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee that the government may not deprive a person of life “without due process of law”], and various strictures of the international laws of war . . .

The Justice Department has refused to release the secret memo despite calls from major media outlets and a FOIA request from my organization (the Government Accountability Project), but has assured us that the justification for killing an American was for al-Awlaki only, and did not set a precedent.  But now we are sliding down the slippery slope.  The U.S. killed American Samir Khan–the publisher of the controversial magazine Inspire (clearly First Amendment activity) along with al-Awlaki and now, the young Awlaki was the third American killed in Yemen in as many weeks.


But now we have taken to killing American teenagers without due process, an action the U.S. Supreme Court could not take even if al-Awlaki’s son had a full criminal trial. The Supreme Court held in Roper v. Simmons that even after a suspect receives due process in court–something al-Awlaki and his son were secretly and summarily denied–using the death penalty on juveniles is cruel and unusual punishment that violates the Constitution.

Speaking of the Supreme Court, the Court weighed in on the rights of American citizens labeled “belligerents” and has held that they must receive some measure of due process. In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Justice Sandra Day O-Connor eloquently explained:

   . . . a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation’s citizens . . .

Many of us on the left and on the blogs were vociferously and adamantly opposed to the Bush regimes use of torture and we were truly dismayed when then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took impeachment of both Bush and Cheney off the table. We were again disheartened when President Obama decided not to even investigate the criminality of Bush cabal. Now, one would think that there would be an outcry from the so called progressives on targeting American citizens for assassination and the use of unmanned drones which may well be a war crime but apparently not on the web site where Ms. Radack published her article. Those who were the loudest opposition to the Bush crimes and torture were out in force in comments with some of the most right wing rational for supporting Obama’s criminality:

the son was collateral damage. Get the father into a court room, and the son gets to live. Then when daddy Awlaki is locked up in a federal prison, sonny Awlaki can become a terrorist leader on his own. Then various people here can cluck over him when he finds his way into US military crosshairs for his own evil deeds. Perhaps by that time he’ll have had some little Awlakis of his own, who we can cluck over even more.  See, this can keep going for a long darn time.

Generations in fact.

This was addressed directly to Ms. Radack:

Because if there’s any right that’s sacred.. in the minds of most Americans, it’s the right to travel the back roads of Yemen as part of an organization proudly devoted to the destruction of the United States and the mass killing of its people.  After all, I’m pretty sure that’s all just idle bluster.

This is where I try to set aside my own views and offer what I think is some strategically sound advice to you, and you can take it as you will.  Why not focus on torture, rendition, and other stuff where you enjoy some greater chance of success, and then leverage that success into this toughest of nuts?

This comment was made by an African American lawyer

I’ll save my tears for things worth crying about. Some 16 year old kid winning a Darwin Award doesn’t cut it.

These are just a few of the degenerate, despicable comments that praised these killings and defended Obama. There were many responses that were horrified by such rhetoric. It makes one wonder just how far Obama cult of followers will sink before they realize their hero is not just very flawed but as evil as the last president if not worse.

Oct 05 2011

“Are We Even Allowed To Do This?”

Apparently, “Yes. We Can”

If you told me at the beginning of the Obama presidency that his clearest legacy would involve not closing Gitmo or green jobs or manufacturing jobs – or any kind of jobs, really – but would in fact be his ability to rain targeted death from the sky … I mean, are we even allowed to do that?

Now that President Barack Obama supporters, and many of his non-supporters, are righteously praising the the due process free assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki as justified because the Obama said so, why hasn’t the evidence that al-Awlaki was a threat been released? So far the only evidence we have that al-Awlaki was a “Very Bad Terrorist” is his rhetoric which is protected under the 1st Amendment. When confronted by ABC News‘ reporter, Jake Tapper, White House spokesperson Jay Carney declared that the evidence was still classified and not to be seen. Very nice that Tapper pushed back on this, but where was he when this order was revealed over a year ago? Are we now “Alice in the Wonderland” standing before the “Red Queen” demanding sentence first, verdict later>

Why are so few of us questioning this rational that we so adamantly opposed in the voting booth just a mere 3 years ago? Are those who are cheering this even aware of the precedent and consequences of such a authoritarian action?

Glenn Greenwald, who has been a vocal critic of the Bush and Obama administrations’ abuse of power and disregard for the rule of law, has this observation:

That mentality – he’s a Terrorist because my Government said he’s one and I therefore don’t need evidence or trials to subject that evidence to scrutiny – also happens to be the purest definition of an authoritarian mentality, the exact opposite of the dynamic that was supposed to drive how the country functioned (Thomas Jefferson: “In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief with the chains of the Constitution”).  I trust My President and don’t need to see evidence or have due process is the slavish mentality against which Jefferson warned; it’s also one of the most pervasive ones in much of the American citizenry, which explains a lot.

Like the Bush administration’s justification for the use of torture and indefinite detention without due process, the Obama administration claims that they carefully consulted lawyers within the Justice Department who unanimously supported the president’s order.

“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 newspaper reported. “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.”

But we will never see that memo, it’s classified. So much for that transparency that was promised by Obama. I only hope that Eric Holder has as much success in finding a job after he leaves DOJ as Alberto Gonzales. I digress.

Greenwald makes some important points that debunk other ignorant claims:

(1) the most ignorant claim justifying the Awlaki killing is that he committed “treason” and thus gave up citizenship; there’s this document called the “Constitution” that lays out the steps the Government is required to take before punishing a citizen for “treason” (“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“); suffice to say, it’s not met by the President secretly declaring someone guilty backed up by leaked, anonymous accusations to the press;

(2) a new U.S. military study today finds that Awlaki’s killing won’t impede Al Qaeda’s operational capabilities, so for those of you worried that this killing might impede Endless War, don’t worry: like the bin Laden killing, Endless War will march on unimpeded; that’s why it’s called Endless War.

Some argue that al-Awlaki’s assassination will make us less safe and strengthen Al Qaeda’s resolve:

Evidence shows that killing terrorist leaders – or “decapitating” terrorist organizations, in military parlance – rarely ends violence on its own and can actually have adverse consequences. Indeed, killing prominent leaders can motivate their followers to retaliate and increase sympathy for the militants’ cause among civilians.

Simply focusing on the leadership of a terrorist organization rarely brings about the group’s demise. My study of approximately 300 cases of singling out the leadership of 96 terrorist organizations globally – including Al Qaeda and Hamas – between 1945 and 2004, shows that the likelihood of collapse actually declines for groups whose leaders have been arrested or killed.

George Washington University law professor, Jonathan Turley, wrote is a column:

While few people mourn the passing of figures such as al-Awlaki, who was accused of being a leader in al-Qaeda, they should mourn the passing of basic constitutional protections afforded to all citizens. So a president can now kill a citizen without publicly naming him as a target, stating the basis for his killing, or even acknowledging his own responsibility for the killing once it has been carried out. Even if one assumes citizens would be killed only outside the country, it would mean that a mere suspect’s life could become dispensable the minute he steps a foot over one of our borders.

At the same time, the government has expanded the definition of terrorism and material support for terrorism, which in turn further expands the scope of possible targets. When confronted on the lack of knowledge of who is on this list and the basis for the killing, the Obama administration simply says citizens must trust their president. It is the very definition of authoritarian power – and Americans appear to have developed a taste for it.


Notably, in the face of these extrajudicial killings, Democrats who claim to be civil libertarians, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, have cheered the president – creating a record for the next president to expand on these acquiesced powers.

No republic can long stand if a president retains the unilateral authority to kill citizens whom he deems a danger to the country. What is left is a magnificent edifice of laws and values that, to quote Shakespeare’s Macbeth, is “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

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