November 23, 2011 in POLICE STATE
Obama Orders Hits on Americans, Decides Who Sleeps With the Fishes
Published in LareDOS, November Issue, p. 13
In January of 2010, it was revealed that the Obama administration was engaged in a “presidential assassination program” in which the President along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff compiled a list of names, which they alone decided, will be marked for death.
This information, hidden in plain view, was reported by Dana Priest of The Washington Post in an article regarding the role of U.S. military intelligence in Yemen – as they help hit squads snuff out “scores” of people. The program, originated by the Bush administration after September 11th, though never carried out, is aimed at taking out potential terrorist threats, even if said threats are U.S. citizens. Although, what constitutes a terrorist or a threat is not exactly known. It remains unknown because, like the Bush administration, Obama through his policies has decided to remain as transparent as the waters of the Rio Grande.
On September 30th 2011, the Obama administration succeeded in striking off its first name on the secret hit list via an aerial drone attack in Yemen, killing American-born citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki. Although apparently not a target in the attack, Samir Khan, also an American citizen, was killed in the strike along with him. In the days following the drone strike, some raised questions regarding the legality of the order to kill Alwaki, rather than taking him alive, as well as calls for the evidence used to justify his assassination.
Predictably, neither was given.
The only legal justification for the targeted killing has come in the form of a “secret memo” leaked from the White House, drafted by The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. The secret military program of using unmanned predator drones to drop missiles in places like Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan remains just that – secret. Officially, the White House can neither confirm nor deny these clandestine operations, and as such, cannot speak publicly about their results.
This was illustrated quite clearly during a White House press conference the day of the bombing that killed Alwaki. Senior White House correspondent for ABC News, Jake Tapper, asked White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, if any evidence would be presented to the American people, or even a judge, regarding Alwaki’s alleged ties to terrorist plots. Carney refused to address his concerns, reciting a long standing White House policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” as it relates to accused terrorists. In other words, “Don’t ask us, because we’re not telling.”
Still, absent any hard proof of his guilt, it’s not difficult for many to accept that Anwar al-Awlaki was exactly who our government says he was – a bad guy, who needed to be reined in. Even Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who regularly lambasted Bush’s foreign policy, could not outright condemn the assassination.
When pressed by Wolf Blitzer of CNN, he said “…when you have an American citizen killed by the United States government, it raises some real questions. On the other hand, when you have somebody who’s a terrorist, at war with the United States, that’s the other side of that equation.”
But even if, like the Senator from Vermont, you are able to rationalize the state-sponsored killing of an American because he was an alleged terrorist, what then of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki – Anwar’s 16-year-old son?
Two weeks after his father was killed, the teenager’s life was cut short by the same hand, in the same fashion. According to the boy’s grandfather, Nasser al-Awlaki, Abdulrahman and his 17-year-old Yemeni cousin were outside preparing for a barbeque – when the pair, along with 9 others, were struck down by a predator drone missile. Initial reports described the Denver-born teen as a “militant in his twenties” – an “Al Qaeda fighter”.
While reports of his age have been proven false with the emergence of the child’s birth certificate, the allegations of his involvement in terrorism –allegations which his family has called “nonsense” – have not been substantiated.
As in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, the secrecy that shrouds these military operations prevents officials within the administration from discussing the attacks in detail. It remains unclear whether Abdulrahman was specifically targeted for assassination like his father or if he was merely a victim of “collateral damage”. What is clear, however, is that this 16-year-old child has become the third American citizen in the last 2 months to fall victim to a foreign policy of murder – as directed by the President of the United States.
Some have argued that the real reason for these targeted assassinations was simply a matter of convenience. After all, as an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki could not be tried at a military tribunal, but rather would face a civilian court – just like you or I. Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times quotes an unnamed former military intelligence officer who states “I think it’s pretty easy to understand why they didn’t take him alive. Would you want to deal with the hassle of trying to put him on trial, an American citizen that has gotten so much press for being the target of a CIA kill order? That would be a nightmare. The ACLU would be crawling all over the Justice Department for due process in an American court.”
Scarborough goes on to list other “inconveniences” of a criminal trial in civilian court, such as having to read the accused his Miranda rights, giving him access to an attorney, and avoiding the use of “tough interrogation tactics” (i.e. torture).
Of course, the same logic used to justify the circumvention of a trial in this case could be applied to hordes of high profile murder suspects or any run-of-the-mill criminal who may have been caught red-handed. It would certainly be much easier, efficient, and perhaps even prudent to avoid the difficulties of a trial and just hand them over for sentencing – even execution. There is no doubt that a constitutional republic with strict adherence to the rule of law is difficult to maintain. This has been the allure of dictatorships throughout history. As George W. Bush said during a speech in 2000, “If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”
While few in this country mourn the loss of Awlaki as an individual – an alleged high ranking member of Al Qaeda, reportedly linked to several terrorist attacks – many do, however, lament the death of a principle. The ACLU, who unsuccessfully petitioned the government to represent Awlaki when it was learned his name was among those the President planned to kill, has condemned the action and filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the legal basis for these attacks.
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a Republican presidential candidate, called the strikes “an outrage and a criminal act carried out by the President and his administration.” He went on to say, “if the American people accept this blindly and casually that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys. I think it’s sad.” It appears that the principle that all Americans, no matter what the charges are against them, are afforded the rights of due process – the right to face their accusers and challenge the allegations against them in a court of law, can be counted as another casualty in the explosions that killed these three citizens.
The implications of the actions that have occurred under the “presidential assassination program” are truly astounding. When citizens of a country can be tried, judged, and sentenced to execution by a small panel of men, answerable only to the President, it would be called a tyranny in any other place in the world. When it happens in America, however, it’s called part of the Global War on Terror – or even more euphemistically, the “Overseas Contingency Operation”.
Equally astounding has been the general public’s reaction to this newly exercised policy of murder by presidential decree. While students at college campuses may overturn police cars at the news of a football coach receiving the axe, the revelation that our government maintains a secret list of American citizens to be assassinated and has begun to work its way down the list is met with a collective yawn.
There was a time, not so long ago, when one could not watch the nightly news or open the pages of the New York Times without being exposed to words like “torture” or “water boarding” on a regular basis, due in large part to a very vocal dissenting minority. During the Bush years, much fuss was made over the violations at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and the treatment of prisoners and suspected terrorists.
Public outrage over the blatant disregard for due process seemed to reach a fevered pitch during Bush’s second term in office and the escalation of the “war on terror” – outrage that was then appeased with his departure as President. Since then, the anti-war left appears to have been pacified – effectively silenced with the election of a Democrat, who championed an anti-war, anti-torture platform during his successful campaign for President.
What have not been pacified, however, are Washington’s appetite for war in the Middle East and the desire for a domestic police state. While the esoteric “war on terror” slogan has been dropped by the current administration, the secretive and destructive nature of our nation’s foreign policy has not. Where Bush stretched the fabric of The Constitution through rendition and “enhanced interrogation”, President Obama has ripped it apart by ordering the deaths of American citizens. The President then flaunts his exalted authority, by citing he need not even explain why. Our dear leader has decided they were bad men, who needed to die, and that should be good enough for us all.