September 30th, 2011

Another al Qaeda terrorist…

killed.

And by the same unit that got Bin Laden.

This time it was the American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. He apparently was the power behind the Christmas bomber (otherwise known as the underwear bomber), and “inspired” the 2010 Times Square bombing and the murders committed by army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, as well “having a hand” in various and sundry mail bombs.

It is surprising that the left ordinarily seems less perturbed by the killing of terrorists without a trial than by the far less dreadful things that used to happen to a very small number of them while in US custody. But apparently some groups are more consistent in their criticisms, even though it’s no longer the nefarious Bushitler who’s in charge:

Al-Awlaki is a U.S. citizen, born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, who had not been charged with any crime. Civil liberties groups have questioned the government’s authority to kill an American without trial.

Oh, and they almost got al-Awlaki on the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

26 Responses to “Another al Qaeda terrorist…”

  1. holmes Says:

    He wasn’t even residing in an established battlefield area, where arguably the state would have the authority to kill someone. But, I guess after Libya, we really don’t need to bother about such niceties.

    Not that I mourn for this guy in the least, but the left’s hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me.

  2. John Dough Says:

    I applaud the actions taken.

    Had President Bush used these tactics the way Obama has, the NYT, WP, LAT would have gone into the “High Speed Wobbles” and left the earths orbit with criticism of his attacking sovereign countries. I can see the headlines now.. “COWBOY PRESIDENT ATTACKS”.

    Now we just need the liberals in Washignton to realize that detention at Gitmo is more humane than a Hellfire missile raining down on your head.

  3. Richard Aubrey Says:

    “same unit”?
    OBL was waxed by a specops raid. This was a drone strike, supposedly.
    Have there been updates?

  4. Occam's Beard Says:

    While this clown evidently richly deserved getting smoked, I’m troubled by the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen. He may have been an enemy of this country, but then lots of “progressives” are too. Is it open season on them?

  5. Libby Says:

    Glad he & Samir Khan (editor of AQ’s “Inspire” magazine) are dead, but I’m a little troubled that we’re assassinating targets in Yemen.
    That said, isn’t it great that it is Obama who’s doing this, since the howls of outrage and war-crimes charges would be deafening had this been sanctioned by Bush?

  6. texexec Says:

    This guy had publicly “declared war” on the USA and had essentially served in foreign armed forces in opposition to the USA. That automatically took away his USA citizenship. He had no standing in any legal process here in the USA.

    It’s lucky for us that his organization don’t seem to know jack about making bombs.

    Killing all these guys is the only good thing this administration has done. In my opinion, it’s just an extension of G.W. Bush’s policies.

    It seems we are learning a much needed new way to fight asymmetric wars.

  7. texexec Says:

    Oh yeah…we couldn’t be killing Al Qaeda guys in Pakistan if we hadn’t invaded Afghanistan and secured bases there for launching drones (as a side benefit) and we can thank G. W. Bush for that.

    I hope we are taking the necessary diplomatic steps in other countries to allow us to have drone bases there as well.

    Plus, we should be spending lots of money on developing our robotic warfare technology.

    Technology has given the “little guys” the ability to do great harm to large, rich nations like us. We might as well use better technology to wage war against them without having to invade whole countries with huge armed forces.

  8. texexec Says:

    “organization doesn’t” instead of “organization don’t”. I hate leaving grammatical mistakes in comments for all to see.

    Edit, edit, EDIT!

  9. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    texexec @ 1:07: “This guy had publicly “declared war” on the USA and had essentially served in foreign armed forces in opposition to the USA. That automatically took away his USA citizenship. He had no standing in any legal process here in the USA.”

    This is not an ordinary war. The enemy is dependinng on our over reliance on legality and political correctness. These terrorists are unlawful combatants as set forth in the Geneva Convention, if they don’t meet four criteria:
    (a) that of being commanded by a sovereign nation responsible for their actions; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; [and] (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
    None of the Islamist terrorists meet these criteria.

    Unlawful combatants can be tried by military commissions and executed on the spot. All that is necessary to be “legal” would be to try Awalaki and other threats like him in absentia and then carry out the sentence.

    Men like Awlaki, although citizens by birth, have openly declared war on the U.S. By doing so they have made themselves illegal combatants as they do not represent any sovereign nation – only an aggressive ideology that has decalred war on anyone who doesn’t accept their ideology. We have a right and duty to defend ourselves against this aggression, and we will have to respond in different ways than the old laws of war between sovereign nations. Much of the action necessarily takes place beyond battle fields and out of view of citizens. Intelligence gathering, interruptions of funding, back door diplomacy, and black/covert operations are all necessary if we intend to survive.

    Many of these radical imams ply their ideology of death in various countries around the world. Some do so even here in the U.S. and in the U.K.; relying on our religious tolerance and freedom to preach death for the infidel.

    I have long believed that radical imams who are goading mosque members and others (internet fans, etc.) into terror are the weak point in the whole operation. Remember they don’t engage in suicide missions and they rely on the idea of religious tolerance to set up shop anywhere they please. They think they are immune to being called out for their aggressive ways. Men like Awalaki, if captured, would turn our justice system into a circus because they understand our national proclivity toward political correctness. When we begin to lean on (targeted assassinations, deportations, sudden disappearances) these individuals making their lives much more difficult, maybe Islam will begin to reform. A reformed Islam is, in the end, the best way to end the threat.

  10. Occam's Beard Says:

    This guy had publicly “declared war” on the USA and had essentially served in foreign armed forces in opposition to the USA. That automatically took away his USA citizenship.

    IANAL, but I don’t think that that’s true, because if it were, there would be no point in including treason in the Constitution.

    From a logical perspective, how does Al-Awlaki’s situation differ from, say, that of Bill Ayers, or Jane Fonda? Now much as I would enjoy those two (un)worthies receiving a “visit” from Seal Team Six, and much as they deserve such, the Constitution protects the rights of American citizens (which all three of these a-holes indubitably are).

    So we’re now in a position where some argue that foreign nationals who have waged war against the U.S. (and are now cooling their heels in Club Gitmo) have protections in the American legal system that native-born American citizens do not necessarily have.

    I knew we shouldn’t have followed that White Rabbit.

  11. Sergey Says:

    Recently a gang of Russian killers had liquidated 2 Islamist militants from Dagestan in Berlin. German police came to their rented appartment just minutes after they fled. The gang was hired by a Russian oligarh and was provided intel about targets by Russian resident in Berlin. That is how Russian government does such things, outsourcing the killing to civilian profi.

  12. neo-neocon Says:

    Occam’s Beard: one difference is that he had not been living in the US for quite some time. Another difference between him and Fonda is that there was strong evidence that he was an active player and planner in committing acts of terrorism that resulted in (or attempted to result in) the death of US citizens. Fonda’s acts were “just words.”

    As far as Ayers goes, he was charged as part of the Weather Underground for some bombings (I’m not sure which bombing it was he was charged with—there were several he was involved with—and I haven’t been able to get the info in a quick search, but most of those bombings involved no deaths or injuries although there was one he allegedly was part of that caused deaths). But charges against him were dropped because of illegal FBI activity, and he was freed.

    There is also a difference between domestic terrorism (especially if the participant isn’t involved in killing, which may or may not have been true of Ayers) and foreign terrorism, whatever the nationality of the participant. Al Qaeda is a foreign-based international terrorist group that has declared war on the US and put its money where its mouth is. So for al-Awlaki, he’s got a combination of factors that distinguish him: member of foreign terrorist organization that declared war on US, foreign residence for years, and participant in killings.

  13. n.n Says:

    Another assassination. The same operational method is used in Pakistan, Libya, etc. This behavior is not generally well regarded by foreign powers and the world’s elite.

    This tactic seems to be preferred by the current administration. Has it always been considered acceptable?

    If not, it is setting a dangerous precedent. They could at least feign ignorance. A policy of assassination is unbecoming a first-world nation.

  14. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    OB @ 4:09: “how does Al-Awlaki’s situation differ from, say, that of Bill Ayers, or Jane Fonda?”

    In my mind they were U.S. citizens who were opposing what they considered an”unjust, illegal war” waged by their government. What Ayers did was, IMO, seditious, even treasonous. It was without a doubt criminal activity within the country.
    Fonda’s activities gave comfort to a sovereign nation with which we were at war. Hers was certainly a stupid act of treason, as were the activities of John (Did you know I served in Vietnam,?) Kerry. However those activities took place at a time when we were beginning the march toward political correctness. Not prosecuting Fonda or Kerry were acts of political convenience. After all, they said, they haven’t actually killed anyone or destroyed anmy buildings as Ayers did. Ayers was actively sought for prosecution but escaped because of so-called illegal tactics of the FBI which led to charges being dropped in 1973. They were all working inside the system to bring about change.

    On the other hand Awlaki has joined an international group driven by a murderous ideology that wants to destroy the U.S. and anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their ideology. He has, by his actions, joined as an unlawful combatant with this group. Although he has not officially renounced his citizenship, his actions show that he is not trying to work within the system as a citiizen. I know legal eagles would disagree with me, but his actions (Of which we have copious evidence) have placed him beyond the protections of citizenship.

    That is one of the great debates of this conflict. Those who are intent on limiting our ability to defend ourselves use hyper legality to tie our hands. If this war was between sovereign nations who were signatories of the Geneva Conventions then close attention to meeting the legal requirements would be appropriate.

  15. Occam's Beard Says:

    one difference is that he had not been living in the US for quite some time.

    I don’t see the relevance. Neither Lord Haw-Haw (admittedly dealt with by the British, not by us, although he was an American citizen) nor Axis Sally nor had been living in the US for some time either.

    Another difference between him and Fonda is that there was strong evidence that he was an active player and planner in committing acts of terrorism that resulted in (or attempted to result in) the death of US citizens. Fonda’s acts were “just words.”

    Again, I don’t see the relevance, and furthermore, the same is true of Lord Haw-Haw and Axis Sally.

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

    I don’t see any requirement for active deeds; to my mind, Fonda adhered to the enemies of the United States, and gave them Aid and Comfort – through her speech.

    (especially if the participant isn’t involved in killing, which may or may not have been true of Ayers)

    Doesn’t the felony murder doctrine address this? Otherwise, in the reductio ad absurdem, someone who set a bomb didn’t himself actually kill anyone – the bomb did – he just set in motion the train of events that led to someone getting killed. The distinction between someone conspiring to build and place a lethal bomb and someone actually physically placing it isn’t worth drawing. (I’m addressing the general principle; I’m aware that Ayers got off on a technicality. I would be ecstatic if Ayers were hanged tomorrow, as he so richly deserves to be. He was most certainly involved in a felonious homicide, albeit that of one of his fellow dirtbags.)

  16. Occam's Beard Says:

    Neo, distinguishing domestic from international terrorism is like distinguishing art from pornography: easy at the extremes, not so easy in the middle.

    Kaczynski, domestic terrorist. No two ways about it.

    Bin Laden, international terrorist. Ditto.

    Al-Awlaki, not so clear. A terrorist, to be sure, but an American citizen, although operating overseas, and doing so against the U.S. Domestic, or international?

    Mohammed Atta, a terrorist, to be sure, but not an American citizen, although operating within the U.S. against the U.S. Domestic, or international?

    Al Qaeda is a foreign-based international terrorist group that has declared war on the US and put its money where its mouth is.

    Now suppose, as I assume is true, that Fonda, Ayers and/or the Weather Underground was acting hand in glove with the KGB, a foreign-based international terrorist group that had declared war on the US and put its money where its mouth was. Except for the residency aspect, that kinda puts them in the same class as al-Awlaki, doesn’t it?

    And speaking of foreign residency, since I was myself a long-time overseas resident, how many years can an American citizen live overseas before he loses Constitutional protections?

    I shed no tears for al-Awlaki – quite the contrary – but I don’t like the government intentionally killing American citizens extrajudicially. (Killing misbehaving foreign nationals out of hand is A-OK as far as I’m concerned; they have no right to Constitutional protections.)

    As I’ve pointed out to liberals who want the government to enforce “fairness” in public speech, invoking government power (or defending its use) can sound attractive if one assumes that the government shares one’s views. but what if that’s not the case? Would liberals like President Pat Buchanan determining what is “fair” in public speech? Sure, I’m pleased that Al-Awlaki got smoked, and by the same token intrinsically would be thrilled to see Fonda twitching at the end of a rope; but what if the Obama Administration decides that one of its gadflies ought to go?

    All of this is why we have a judicial system. Constitutional protections for foreign nationals outside the US? Nope. For American citizens, anywhere in the world? Yep.

  17. Occam's Beard Says:

    In my mind they were U.S. citizens who were opposing what they considered an”unjust, illegal war” waged by their government.

    What they did or did not consider the government’s policies to be doesn’t bear on their guilt. Virtually every criminal or traitor has a rationale for his actions. The Rosenbergs and many other American communist spies thought they were working for world peace. As Thoreau pointed out in “Civil Disobedience,” the only intellectually defensible way to break the law to make a point is to accept the punishment that comes with having done so.

    After all, they said, they haven’t actually killed anyone or destroyed anmy buildings as Ayers did.

    Not really relevant. Keitel, Jodl, etc. probably never actually killed anyone either, nor destroyed any buildings, but they hanged just the same.

    … an international group driven by a murderous ideology that wants to destroy the U.S. and anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their ideology.

    Kinda like the Comintern, then?

    Although he has not officially renounced his citizenship, his actions show that he is not trying to work within the system as a citiizen.

    Sounds like George Soros to me.

    but his actions (Of which we have copious evidence)

    And the place to present that copious evidence is … a court of law. Then we string him up.

    I’m not into the hyperlegal rubbish either, but I’m not happy about any Administration insouciantly deciding intentionally to kill an American citizen, no matter how much he deserves it. If we went on merit alone, well, let’s just say that the freeways – particularly in the blue states – would be a lot less crowded.

  18. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    OB: “And the place to present that copious evidence is … a court of law. Then we string him up.”

    I mentioned in my previous comment that he was an unlawful combatant. Unlawful combatants can be tried in the field by military tribunals and executed on the spot. My suggestion is that to satisfy the legal sensibilities of of the left we should try such cases in absentia in a military tribunal. The verdict should then be published and when the sentence is carried out, whether by missile, SEAL team, or ????, the legal sensibilities will hopefully be assuaged.

    I ask a question: If an American citizen joins a foreign enemy army is he not guilty of treason? If he is killed in the fighting is our government then guilty of murdering its citizens? That is what the left would have us believe.

    They would also have us believe that combatants captured on foreign soil are entitled to the protections of our legal system. Thus the move to try KSM and others in the U.S. An absolutely stupid move!

    The captured combatants were taken to Gitmo to avoid the idea that they were entitled to the normal protections of foreign nationals who commit crimes in the CONUS. However, those who wish to deter us from a rigorous defense immediately seized on this as a “gulag” where prisoners were subject to inhumane treatment and inordinate suffering. We are, however, still affording the terrorists who are captured in the CONUS the normal protections of the legal system even though they are actually foreign saboteurs and should be tried by military commissions ala FDR and the German spies during WWII.

    I think you are questioning the lack of consistency in our policies. I would agree we have been inconsistent. Mostly because there is a dispute in legal/military circles about what can/should be done. As long as we are a democracy I imagine such inconsistency will continue and disputes to continue.

    n.n @ 5:07: “This tactic seems to be preferred by the current administration.”

    This tactic is cheaper, has less civilian casualties, and can reach out and touch individuals in differing areas of the world. Yes, it seems an unbecoming policy, but when the enemy hide among civilians and are widely dispersed geographically it is far more humane than carpet bombing, tank divisons laying cities level, or infantry hordes killing anyone who looks like a Muslim. It is a bit of tit for tat. Their tactic is to keep us guessing where they will strike again. They wish to keep us in a constant state of fear. Well, it is them who must now live in a state of fear. Never knowing when a missile, a SEAL team, or a local turncoat will snuff you out can create a smidgen of fear, even among the jihadis.

  19. jon baker Says:

    You just watch -Eventually some anchor baby with dual American -Mexican citizenship is likely to rise to the top of some major Mexican drug gang that basically finds itself at war with the US in targeted assasinations of American political leaders, reporters, etc who oopose them. They appear to be entering that phase of their war in the US border states…so the guy retreats-or lives south of the border, in a Mexico increasingly unable to control its own or who are under de facto control of the narcos-with no more extraditions. What do we do then? I have no more problem with air strikes against him than Lincoln and the north did in killing my ancestral Jonny Rebs…

  20. Brad Says:

    JJ:
    Would you please stop asserting “the left” as a single monolith?
    http://www.talkleft.com/story/2011/9/30/192724/014

    On this particular issue they happen to agree with Occam. More ever, the 2 bloggers and many of the commenters are lawyers, so I dare say the legal analysis is a bit better than at this site. Quite a few on the left are not enamored of “The One” in terms of foreign policy or the “war on terror”. Now as the good neocon you are, I’m sure they disagree with you on these issues at least 90 percent of the time if not 100 percent of the time. But they definitely don’t just lean over and kiss Obama’s butt.

  21. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Brad, It’s a bit hard to single out all the groups/individuals who are actively trying to use hyper legality to make it more difficult to defend ourselves. Left or progressive fits most of them – thus the use. Sorry if it offends you.

    I’m no lawyer. I did serve for 21 years in the Navy and am quite familiar with the UCMJ. Served as both defense and prosecution in quite a few courts martial. So let’s say I’m a “Sea Lawyer.” The problem so many of these legal eagles have is that they think in terms of protecting the underdog or some such doctrine. I would wager that none of them know much about the Quran, Sharia Law, or the radical Muslim movement and why it’s a real threat. It is time to have a vigorous debate about all these issues because it may mean the difference between whether this nation has the will to stand up for itself.

    As to the dangers of the government targeting any citizen who disagrees with them – I thought that was what the IRS was for. (That’s an attempt at humor.) Have none of the legal eagles at Talk Left known that the government declared that he was on a list of enemies to kill or capture? I’m sure Awlaki knew about it – and was sleeping in different places every night. Yes, It’s good to have people questioning the moves and motives of the government, but the concerns I have seen are mostly ill founded. Thus far.

  22. Occam's Beard Says:

    I ask a question: If an American citizen joins a foreign enemy army is he not guilty of treason? If he is killed in the fighting is our government then guilty of murdering its citizens?

    First question: yes, absolutely.

    Second question: no, absolutely not, the operative phrase being “in the fighting.”

    The crucial point to my point above is the presence or absence of American citizenship. If that obtains, so do Constitutional protections. If not, then not.

    Foreign nationals who are illegal combatants can be tried by military tribunal and executed on the spot, or thrown into Gitmo until the liberals produce a balanced budget, and I’ll be thrilled.

  23. texexec Says:

    Part of the problem with this issue is that legal procedures, definitions, Geneva conventions, etc. were established back when wars usually consisted of army divisions lining up at country borders and then attacking each other. Or naval forces began firing at each other.

    Back then, it was hard for a single individual to kill 3,000 people with several well placed bombs, exploding containers of poison gas, flying airplanes into buildings, etc.

    Our legal processes and definitions haven’t kept up with technology. One could even say that the way members of homo sapiens have evolved to act (“fight or flight”, etc.) hasn’t kept up with technology.

    Until all this is sorted out, my common sense tells me that it’s just fine to kill people like Anwar al-Awlaki without a trial.

  24. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    For those who have questions about the death of Awlaki and greater ramifications, there is an interesting soliloquy on it by Jerry Pournelle. You can read it here:
    http://tinyurl.com/3dkzxa7

    I have been thinking about and studying these issues since the beginning of the GWOT. In my mind they are straightforward, but I can understand that others might have doubts about such actions. Robust debate on the issues can help to clarify them.

  25. Eric Says:

    (That) John Yoo wrote an explanation why the al-Awlaki killing is legal: http://ricochet.com/main-feed/Was-the-U.S.-s-Lethal-Attack-on-Al-Awlaki-Legal

  26. neo-neocon » Blog Archive » Was it legal to kill al-Awlaki? | Hold Your Future Says:

    [...] There’s more in the essay, much more—and I highly recommend reading the entire thing—as well as this draft of an article by Robert Chesney, written before the killing. It all dovetails considerably with my own thought process on the subject (which I wrote before reading any of the legal discussions), here: [...]

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