awlaki

The extra-legal assassination of New Mexico cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was certainly controversial in its own right, but reports about the assassination targeting some sort of terrorist convoy seem to be crumbling under evidence and the number of children killed in the attack.

Among the slain was also Abdel-Rahman Awlaki, Anwar’s 16-year-old son, one of his cousins Ahmed Abdelrahman Awlaki, and several of their friends, who were all teenage boys.

And despite the stereotype, the teenage boys weren’t out “doing terrorism” in some vague non-specific manner in the Shabwa Province. According to a statement from relatives, they were out to dinner, eating “under the moon light” when US missiles landed.

Though the Obama Administration seems pretty comfortable with assassinating the elder Awlaki, even though he was a US citizen and not charged with any crimes, the killing of the assorted other people, including several teenagers, seems considerably more suspect. Killing children with missiles isn’t exactly new to the president, of course, but Abdel-Rahman’s status as a natural-born US citizen who was never even suspected of a crime is likely to make it difficult to sweep his assassination under the rug.

It wasn’t until I read Laura Miller’s Salon article on the PEN-Charlie Hebdo courage award, that I learned about Molly Norris (that’s her, above, with her dog).

Molly Norris was a Seattle cartoonist. Four years ago, on FBI advice, she went into hiding. She had drawn a cartoon that she refers to in the cartoon above, and for that cartoon she was placed on an al-Quaida list of targets for murder.

Molly’s story came back to light last month after twelve cartoonists and journalists were gunned down at the offices of the French satirical publication, Charlie Hebdo. They were slain by Islamic radicals who were offended by their depiction of the Prophet Mohammed.

Norris, a Seattle cartoonist who drew for local publications like the Seattle Weekly and City Arts, found herself on the same al-Qaeda hit list as some of the murdered Hebdo artists.

On the advice of the FBI, she abandoned her life and work when Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki called for her assassination in retaliation for posting a comic referencing Mohammed…

Learn her story here:

http://seattleglobalist.com/2015/02/09/molly-norris-draw-mohammed-cartoon-charlie-hebdo-seattle/32674

Edit to add: I’ve removed the image of the actual cartoon that caused Molly’s death sentence, because people were getting upset by it, and my intent was not to put something up that made people upset, angry or defensive or offended, but simply to draw attention to and give context on a cartoonist driven underground, who might otherwise be forgotten. The image, for the curious, is at this link.  

ACLU CONDEMNS AWLAKI DEATH !

It seems that Ron Paul is not the only American questioning the legalities surrounding the US ordered drone attack on Awlaki.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has openly stated its concern and condemnation of the Awlaki kill.

CBS NEWS:

The ACLU said the killing was a violation of both U.S. and international law.

“As we’ve seen today, this is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public but from the courts,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director for the ACLU. “The government’s authority to use lethal force against its own citizens should be limited to circumstances in which the threat to life is concrete, specific and imminent. It is a mistake to invest the president - any president - with the unreviewable power to kill any American whom he deems to present a threat to the country.”

Added ACLU National Security Project Litigation Director Ben Wizner: “If the Constitution means anything, it surely means that the president does not have unreviewable authority to summarily execute any American whom he concludes is an enemy of the state.”

My, this story sure has alot of buzz.

Consider Anwar al-Awlaki: Glenn Greenwald has an excellent post describing what the establishment thought of Awlaki ten years ago:

In November, 2001, the very same Washington Post hosted one of those benign, non-controversial online chats about religion that it likes to organize; this one was intended to discuss “the meaning of Ramadan”. It was hosted by none other than … “Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki.”

More extraordinary than the fact that the Post hosted The New Osama bin Laden in such a banal role a mere ten years ago was what Imam Awlaki said during the Q-and-A exchange with readers.  He repudiated the 9/11 attackers.  He denounced the Taliban for putting women in burqas, explaining that the practice has no precedent in Islam and that “education is mandatory on every Muslim male and female."  He chatted about the "inter-faith services held in our mosque and around the greater DC area and in all over the country” and proclaimed: “We definitely need more mutual understanding.” While explaining his opposition to the war in Afghanistan, he proudly invoked what he thought (mistakenly, as it turns out) was his right of free speech as an American:  “Even though this is a dissenting view nowadays[,] as an American I do have the right to have a contrary opinion."  And he announced that "the greatest sin in Islam after associating other gods besides Allah is killing an innocent soul.”

So what happened? When exactly did Awlaki become “The Next bin Laden”? Al-Jazeera has an interview with him where he explains exactly what happened:

I have been seeing my brothers being killed in Palestine for more than 60 years, and others being killed in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And in my tribe too, US missiles have killed 17 women and 23 children, so do not ask me if al-Qaeda has killed or blown up a US civil jet after all this. The 300 Americans are nothing comparing to the thousands of Muslims who have been killed.

The “collateral damage” that we ignore creates the very entities that we’re fighting. Every time we drop a bomb on a child, that child’s mother, father, brothers, sisters, friends and extended family come to hate us just a little more. There is only so far you can push a person before they (justly or not) snap and resort to violence.

There was a point where I naively thought that this was by mistake, that Government officials couldn’t possibly understand the consequences of their policy. With the information that Al-Qaeda is on the verge of collapse, however, and the knowledge that the military spending is at least 5% of our GDP, the military industrial complex is a powerful political entity, and that George Bush, our former president is quoted as saying "The best way to revitalize the economy is war, and the U.S. has grown stronger with war,“ I am led to the conclusion that what we call "collateral damage” is just a tool to create more imaginary villains for us to spend money fighting.

"Secret panel can put Americans on "kill list'"

And people still defend this government?

Amplify’d from www.reuters.com

(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.

The panel was behind the decision to add Awlaki, a U.S.-born militant preacher with alleged al Qaeda connections, to the target list. He was killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen late last month.

The role of the president in ordering or ratifying a decision to target a citizen is fuzzy. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to discuss anything about the process.

Current and former officials said that to the best of their knowledge, Awlaki, who the White House said was a key figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate, had been the only American put on a government list targeting people for capture or death due to their alleged involvement with militants.

The White House is portraying the killing of Awlaki as a demonstration of President Barack Obama’s toughness toward militants who threaten the United States. But the process that led to Awlaki’s killing has drawn fierce criticism from both the political left and right.

In an ironic turn, Obama, who ran for president denouncing predecessor George W. Bush’s expansive use of executive power in his “war on terrorism,” is being attacked in some quarters for using similar tactics. They include secret legal justifications and undisclosed intelligence assessments.

Liberals criticized the drone attack on an American citizen as extra-judicial murder.

Conservatives criticized Obama for refusing to release a Justice Department legal opinion that reportedly justified killing Awlaki. They accuse Obama of hypocrisy, noting his administration insisted on publishing Bush-era administration legal memos justifying the use of interrogation

Read more at www.reuters.com
 See this Amp at http://reut.rs/oUIspu
Watch on iambinarymind.tumblr.com

Obama Admin Refuses To Offer ANY Proof Anwar Al Awlaki Was Involved In Terrorist Activity
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney refuses to concede that assassinating American citizens is a somewhat questionable practice.

This disgusts me.

Awlaki’s son was an American citizen. He was killed by a drone strike in Yemen. It was originally reported that he was 21. The Washington Post obtained his birth certificate that shows he was only 16. Killing a child with absolutely no charges against him. How are we supposed to teach our children to have faith in their government when things like this happen. Justice isn’t real. We are the “bad guys” in this war.

This disgusts me.

Awlaki’s son was an American citizen. He was killed by a drone strike in Yemen. It was originally reported that he was 21. The Washington Post obtained his birth certificate that shows he was only 16. Killing a child with absolutely no charges against him. How are we supposed to teach our children to have faith in their government when things like this happen. Justice isn’t real. We are the “bad guys” in this war.

Many politicians and pundits are very nervous about killing people without due process.

IF YOU THINK YOU CAN DISREGARD THIS STATEMENT JUST BECAUSE RON PAUL SAID IT, OR IF YOU ACCEPT THIS BLINDLY AS “OKAY” BECAUSE OBAMA DID IT, YOU MIGHT WANT TO RE-READ THE CONSTITUTION!

Even a broken clock is right twice a day…same for Ron Paul - every once in a while his Libertarian views put him on the right side of an issue (IMO)…

Are you really “A-OK” with Obama just killing American Citizens. without due process, because he’s heard that they are evil??  Check yourself!

‘Two weeks after the U.S. killed American citizen Anwar Awlaki with a drone strike in Yemen — far from any battlefield and with no due process — it did the same to his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, ending the teenager’s life on Friday along with his 17-year-old cousin and seven other people. News reports, based on government sources, originally claimed that Awlaki’s son was 21 years old and an Al Qaeda fighter (needless to say, as Terrorist often means: “anyone killed by the U.S.”), but a birth certificate published by The Washington Post proved that he was born only 16 years ago in Denver. As The New Yorker‘s Amy Davidson wrote: “Looking at his birth certificate, one wonders what those assertions say either about the the quality of the government’s evidence — or the honesty of its claims — and about our own capacity for self-deception.” The boy’s grandfather said that he and his cousin were at a barbecue and preparing to eat when the U.S. attacked them by air and ended their lives.’

Two Awlaki teenage relatives killed in Yemen attack: family


“Abdel-Rahman Anwar al-Awlaki was born in the U.S. city of Denver, Colorado on 26, August 1995, and thus he is not 21 or 27-years-old, but just 16,” the statement said.It added the second member of the Awlaki family killed was Ahmed Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki, 17.It said Abdel-Rahman, who had been living in the Yemeni capital Sanaa since he returned from the United States in 2002, had gone to look for his father nearly a week before the cleric was killed on September 30.“He left his mother a letter saying he was traveling to Shabwa to look for his father in Shabwa, his ancestral home,” the statement said.Abdel-Rahman stayed in Shabwa for two weeks after his father’s death, when the family asked him to return home.“But God wanted otherwise. On the night of October 14, he left with some friends for dinner under the moon light when an American missile landed, killing Abdel-Rahman and his friends, including our relative Ahmed Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki, 17,” it added.Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric linked to al Qaeda, was killed by a CIA drone along with several of his comrades. Eloquent in English and Arabic, he encouraged attacks on the United States and was seen as a man who could draw in more al Qaeda recruits from Western countries.Awlaki was implicated in a botched attempt by al Qaeda’s Arabian Peninsula wing (AQAP) to bomb a U.S.-bound plane in 2009 and had contacts with an American army psychiatrist who killed 13 people at a U.S. military base the same year.


 

A remaining realm of American excellence

National celebrations regularly erupt over the latest corpse produced by the government, but little else

By Glenn Greenwald

When President Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden on the evening of May 1, he said something which I found so striking at the time and still do: “tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history.” That sentiment of national pride had in the past been triggered by putting a man on the moon, or discovering cures for diseases, or creating technology that improved the lives of millions, or transforming the Great Depression into a thriving middle class, or correcting America’s own entrenched injustices. Yet here was President Obama proclaiming that what should now cause us to be “reminded” of our national greatness was our ability to hunt someone down, pump bullets into his skull, and then dump his corpse into the ocean. And indeed, outside the White House and elsewhere, hordes of Americans were soon raucously celebrating the killing with “USA! USA!” chants as though their sports team had just won a major championship.

As I wrote on the morning after bin Laden’s death, this gleeful reaction was understandable given the slaughter Americans witnessed on 9/11. But there was still something notable, and troubling, about this episode. Such a rare display of unified, chest-beating national celebration is now possible only when the government produces a corpse for us to dance over. Some suggested at the time that Osama bin Laden was sui generis and that no lessons could or should be drawn from his killing; for that reason, even many people who are generally uncomfortable with such acts proudly celebrated his death as the elimination of a singular evil. But it seems clear that the bin Laden episode was no aberration, no exception: the American citizenry rarely finds cause to exude nationalistic pride except when the government succeeds in ending someone’s life.

Since the bin Laden killing, we have witnessed a similar joyous reaction when the U.S. assassinated its own citizen, Anwar Awlaki (along with another American dubiously claimed to be “collateral damage”) — even though Awlaki was never indicted as a Terrorist, charged with treason, or accorded any due process, and even though the government never showed the public any evidence supporting its accusations. Instead, Obama officials, with no evidence offered, simply declared him to be a Bad Terrorist, and that was all that was needed: hordes of his fellow Americans did not merely approve — but cheered — the news that a drone had found and killed him.

Identically, both before and after the Awlaki killing, Americans have routinely celebrated the drone-deaths of hundreds of individuals about whom they knew nothing other than the fact that the Terrorist label had been applied to them by the U.S. Government. It’s as though there is a belief that American missiles do not detonate unless they hit an actual Terrorist.

And now the graphic photo of the corpse of Moammar Gaddafi is once again sparking outbursts of American pride — despite the fact that he was captured alive and very well may have been summarily executed.  As I wrote previously, “no decent human being would possibly harbor any sympathy for Gadaffi, just as none harbored any for Saddam.” And it’s understandable that Libyans who suffered for four decades under his rule (like Americans after 9/11 or Muslims after years of violence and aggression in their countries) would be eager for vengeance. Nonetheless, and regardless of what one thinks about Gadaffi or the intervention, summarily shooting a helpless detainee in the head is one of the most barbaric acts imaginable — under all circumstances — but Gadaffi’s gruesome death nonetheless sparked waves of American jubilation and decrees of self-vindication this week.

It is difficult to articulate exactly why, but there is something very significant about a nation that so continuously finds purpose and joy in the corpses its government produces, while finding it in so little else. During the Bush years, I frequently wrote about how repetitive, endless fear-mongering over Terrorism and the authoritarian radicalism justified in its name was changing — infecting and degrading — not just America’s policies but its national character.  Among other things, this constant fixation on alleged threats produces the mindset that once the government decrees someone to be a Bad Guy, then anything and everything done to them (or ostensibly done to stop them) is not merely justified but is cause for celebration. That was the mentality that justified renditions, Guantanamo, vast illegal domestic surveillance, aggressive war against Iraq, and the worldwide torture regime: unless you support the Terrorists and Saddam, how could you oppose any of that?

That character-degradation is produced at least as much by conditioning the citizenry to stand and cheer, to beat its chest, to feel righteous and proud, each time the government produces a new dead Bad Guy. Even at its most necessary and justified, the act of ending a human life with state violence should be a somber and lamentable affair. There’s something bloodthirsty about reacting ecstatically. To react that way when guilt is unproven (Awlaki), or when the person is unknown (most drone victims), or is killed by acts of pure barbarism (Gadaffi) is the mind of a savage.  But it’s now been more than a decade since 9/11, and this has been the prevailing mentality in America continuously since then (to say nothing about the lengthy, brutal wars fought before that). What happens to a citizenry and a nation that so frequently erupts into celebratory dances over the latest dead body its government displays?

‘Two weeks after the U.S. killed American citizen Anwar Awlaki with a drone strike in Yemen — far from any battlefield and with no due process — it did the same to his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, ending the teenager’s life on Friday along with his 17-year-old cousin and seven other people.

News reports, based on government sources, originally claimed that Awlaki’s son was 21 years old and an Al Qaeda fighter (needless to say, as Terrorist often means: “anyone killed by the U.S.”), but a birth certificate published by The Washington Post proved that he was born only 16 years ago in Denver. As The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson wrote: “Looking at his birth certificate, one wonders what those assertions say either about the the quality of the government’s evidence — or the honesty of its claims — and about our own capacity for self-deception.”

The boy’s grandfather said that he and his cousin were at a barbecue and preparing to eat when the U.S. attacked them by air and ended their lives.’

Juan Cole describes exactly why the assassination of Awlaki was illegal and immoral, and provides an alternative that could have been utilized:

The two possibilities are that al-`Awlaqi was an enemy combatant on the battlefield in a war on the US, in which case obviously the US government has a right of self-defense and can kill him with impunity; or that he is a civilian terrorist, in which case the US constitution would give him certain prerogatives, such as trial by jury before execution.

It is, however, difficult to see in what way al-`Awlaqi could be configured as a soldier in an enemy army with which the US is actively at war. He was an American citizen of Yemeni extraction (and dual citizenship), living in Yemen. That he was an American is not very relevant to this issue. You can be an American and still be an enemy combatant, as with the German saboteur born in the US, who was sentenced to death as an enemy combatant after WWII for sabotage in the early 1940s. But the United States is not at war with Yemen, and al-`Awlaqi is not in the Yemeni military anyway. The idea that, legally speaking, the US could be at war with small terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda strikes me as a non-starter. A rhetorical flourish such as the “war on terror” is not a legal statute or article in the constitution. The killing of al-`Awlaqi differs from that of Usamah Bin Laden because in the latter case a US expeditionary force was confronted with someone who appeared to be going for a weapon, whereas al-`Awlaqi was simply targeted…

If al-`Awlaqi was a civilian, could he have legally been killed in this way? It has been pointed out (by Newt Gingrich and Salman Rushdie) that he was a traitor and a terrorist.

Such a position hearkens back to the idea of the “outlaw” in common law. A person declared an outlaw by the king was deprived of all rights and legal protections, and anyone could do anything to him that they wished, with no repercussions. (The slang use of “outlaw” to mean simply “habitual criminal” is an echo of this ancient practice, which was abolished in the UK and the US). There is a similar idea in Islamic law, of the mahdur al-dam, someone whose blood can be shed at will. Muslim legal authorities can give a fatwa or legal ruling that an individual falls into this category because he committed an offense such as blasphemy, in which case any Muslim may kill him with impunity. Ironically, this is the category into which Salman Rushdie himself was put by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1988. Likewise, the Baha’i religious minority in Iran is often considered by conservative Shiite clerics to be mahdur al-damor outlaws, resulting in their persecution. The same forces in US society so worried about sharia being enacted in the United States seem actually to want to adopt the medieval Islamic legal notion of the outlaw in this case, and apply it to an American citizen abroad.

The problem with declaring al-`Awlaqi an “outlaw” by virtue of being a traitor or a terrorist is that this whole idea was abolished by the US constitution. Its framers insisted that you couldn’t just hang someone out to dry by decree. Rather, a person who was alleged to have committed a crime such as treason or terrorism had to be captured, brought to court, tried, and sentenced in accordance with a specific statute, and then punished by the state. If someone is arrested, they have the right to demand to be produced in court before a judge, a right known as habeas corpus (“bringing the body,” i.e. bringing the physical person in front of a judge).

I really recommend reading this in it’s entirety. I’m not going to paste the whole thing because of it’s length, but Prof. Cole does a great job of ensuring that your time isn’t wasted and the entire piece is extraordinarily informative.