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Al-Awlaki taken out via drone

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That's another good one. I have heard arguments made that Awlaki couldn't have been captured in a country with no functioning government as an excuse for not attempting to capture him:

 

And yet, somehow at the same time, our government is working "in cooperation" with the Yemeni "government" in this operation. Which is it? Do the Yemenis have a government for the US to cooperate with, or not? If not, with whom is the CIA cooperating?

 

MrNosey, I guess it's natural that an American would have more respect for the principles of the American legal system than someone who spells "practice" with an "s," but yes, we do expect legal channels to be followed, especially in the absence of imminent danger.

 

The US government is not claiming imminent danger in Awlaki's killing.

 

You won't find many Americans complaining that other terror suspects, such as the "underwear bomber" whom Awlaki is said to have "inspired," are still awaiting trial. (Jury selection begins today in his case, by the way. He's Nigerian, and has received better treatment through our justice system than Awlaki, even though he was in the act of attempting an attack on American soil when captured.)

 

Al-Awlaki was under the protection of his tribe in an area in which the Yemeni govermment doesn't have any control, i.e., he couldn't be apprehended like the underwear bomber was, plus we don't have an extradition treaty with Yemen.

 

The Justice Department did say that the al-Awlaki's killing was justified because he posed an imminent danger.

 

I guess that is going to be the boilerplate response to anyone who doesn't agree with the purported absence of imminent danger- you must not care about the Constitution at all! Give it a rest.

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I can't understand why people think that this matters at all or is a step forward. If anything, you've just turned a whole lot of fanatics even more against you giving them more reason to step up their attacks. Any of his followers who were on the brink before certainly aren't now.

 

There are another hundred people willing to step up and take his position.

 

You can't beat this people by knocking them off one at a time. While America is the world's bully, engages in wars of aggression in foreign countries and actively supports other aggressive nations, there are always going to be people like this that want to take the US down and harm US citizens. The more aggression, the more of these people there will be.

 

America should work on giving these people less of a reason to do what they do, and then in the end you'll just have a few nut cases talking nonsense with no real support behind them.

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Recognizing Palestine and not vehemently opposing a state for them might be a step in the right direction. yeah I know, not likely.

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The Justice Department did say that the al-Awlaki's killing was justified because he posed an imminent danger.

I'm not finding any statement from the Justice Department claiming Awlaki posed an imminent threat.

 

 

I guess that is going to be the boilerplate response to anyone who doesn't agree with the purported absence of imminent danger- you must not care about the Constitution at all!

 

Whereas the boilerplate response to the US government targeting and killing anyone labeled a "terrorist" is going to be "we're at WAR!" Which is also getting tiresome.

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If you can actually bring someone like that to trial, go ahead and do so, however, al-Awlaki couldn't be from where he was. Would you simply do nothing and allow him to continue his activities, cinzia?

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The US didn't bother to follow any kind of minimal legal procedures regarding Awlaki. Such as indicting him prior to killing him. Surely if there was so much evidence proving that Awlaki was directing operations putting the US in imminent danger, any judge would have issued an indictment without hesitation.

 

That there was no attempt to do this suggests that President Obama and the Justice Department harbor a certain disdain towards the rule of law. Some of their statements since have shown that they also harbor a similar disdain against any citizens who question their power to make these kinds of decisions without any kind of legal authorization, unless you consider that the secret opinions of some JD attorneys amount to "legal" authorization.

 

My guess is the government purposely chose to hold this debate after Awlaki's demise, rather than before it. They didn't want petitions, debate, controversy, and uproar over an indictment of Awlaki. They didn't want calls for proof while Awlaki still lived. I also suspect that the administration is somewhat surprised that Awlaki's death has created such a public uproar.

 

Meanwhile, as Hutcho has stated, it's not even necessary any longer for Awlaki personally to "continue his activities." Awlaki's assassination has assured that his activities will continue, perhaps with even more determination than before. That's not just my opinion:

 

 

The killing of Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki is unlikely to weaken the terror group’s determination to attack the United States, a new study released Monday said.

 

While the death of Awlaki was a “tactical victory for the U.S. counterterrorism efforts,” the report by the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center says it is “unlikely to impact AQAP’s [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s] operations in Yemen or its desire to attack the interests of the United States.”

Instead, the real key to eliminating Al Qaeda’s viability in Yemen and crushing its ability to attack the U.S. lies in removing its Yemeni leaders, including Nasir al-Wahayshi, who are responsible for the group’s operational coherence.

 

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Drones are death warrants is a very interesting commentary article that discusses the relevant issues surrounding al-Awlaki's demise.

 

The thing is, there are not a bunch of US citizens like him, fluent in English and Arabic as well as the respective cultures, ready to take his place- this knowledge/these abilities made him especially dangerous. It's really bizarre to imply that al-Awlaki should have been left alive to continue his activities because others will now try to carry them out.

 

You're also mistaken in claiming "the US didn't take minimum legal procedures" prior to taking out al-Alwaki- all of these issues were reviewed when al-Alwaki was placed on the targeted terrorists list, and you don't have to indict a person who poses an imminent danger. Note also that al-Alwaki's killing was approved by the National Security Council.

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I can't understand why people think that this matters at all or is a step forward. If anything, you've just turned a whole lot of fanatics even more against you giving them more reason to step up their attacks. Any of his followers who were on the brink before certainly aren't now.

 

There are another hundred people willing to step up and take his position.

 

You can't beat this people by knocking them off one at a time.

 

The legal situation seems unclear, but the notion that this guy had no special skills and can be replaced by 100 other guys taken at random off the street is nonsense.

 

Targeting the strategic thinkers and the leadership of Al Qaeda makes a lot of sense. Remove the brainpower and the rank and file won't be able to plan a picnic.

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The thing is, there are not a bunch of US citizens like him, fluent in English and Arabic as well as the respective cultures, ready to take his place- this knowledge/these abilities made him especially dangerous. It's really bizarre to imply that al-Awlaki should have been left alive to continue his activities because others will now try to carry them out.

That's not what I'm implying at all. I'm implying that killing Awlaki was futile anyway, because others will now try to carry them out.

 

 

You're also mistaken in claiming "the US didn't take minimum legal procedures" prior to taking out al-Alwaki- all of these issues were reviewed when al-Alwaki was placed on the targeted terrorists list, and you don't have to indict a person who poses an imminent danger.

 

It's odd to claim a person poses imminent danger and then not kill him for a year. A review by JD attorneys before placement on the targeted terrorists list does not satisfy the Constitutional requirements for due process.

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I posted a link to a Slate article that dicusses the due process issue. You assume that al-Awlaki did not pose an imminent threat, but that seems to me to be confirmation bias on your part. You also assume that the government could have taken him out any time it felt like it, which is definitely not the case. BTW, he survived at least one drone strike earlier this year, in March, IIRC. And your "due process" plaint shows that you continue to stubbornly and naively believe that al-Awlaki could have been arrested.

 

Taking him out wasn't futile- do you think another person with his skill set is going to take over for him? It doesn't look like it at this point. Of course, in can be inferred from your comments that you think that it would also be futile to attempt to indict him, arrest him and convict him.

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Was Awlaki a unique problem to the United States government, given that he was an American citizen and spoke American English? Yes.

 

Does that mean his extrajudicial killing was legal according to the Constitution? No.

 

You're apparently OK with that, considering the level of danger you believe Awlaki posed and the apparent unlikelihood of his arrest. I'm not. We're not going to agree.

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What you continue to ignore with your little strawman here is that if he posed an imminent threat, it was constitutional to kill him. It looks to me like that was the case, and, yes, I am OK with an imminent threat being taken out. If he could reasonably have been arrested, preferably by the Yemenis, and remanded for trial, that would have been OK too, as far as I am concerned, but that does not appear to have been the case. Hence, given 1) the imminent threat he posed and 2) the great unlikelihood of him being detained, yes, I'd say it was constitutional to take him out.

 

What I infer from your comments is that if he could not be detained, you think we'd just have to sit there and take whatever it is he was trying to do to us, and, furthermore, even if he had been detained, it would have been futile to arrest and try him because there are allegedly a myriad number of people who could take his place. It sounds to me like you think it made sense to do nothing whatsoever about al-Awlaki.

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Strange how much people can stretch the word 'imminent' to mean 'sometime in the indeterminate future' in order to justify the satisfaction they get from the warm loving embrace of authoritarianism.

 

Seeing as I haven't even heard a hypothetical situation where he would be an imminent danger, i'm going to remain skeptical - especially as he was declared an imminent danger and had his death warrant signed quite some time ago without said danger ever manifesting, so something tells me it wasn't all that imminent when they put him on the US citizens to be deprived of life without due process list.

 

Amusing that you accuse cinzia of confirmation bias for her belief that he did not pose an imminent danger when you yourself exhibit the exact same bias when you assert that he was an imminent threat.

 

The fact that we can only speculate on the matter (although as said I would be hard pressed to imagine a scenario where he was an 'imminent' danger without completely rewriting the meaning of the word imminent based on constitutional law - for example in Brandenberg) is pretty much the concern.

 

John Brennan's argument in the Slate article was appalling. Essentially he says that We are going to redefine the word imminent because it makes what we are doing constitutional. Great, not only is it now okay for the government to remove due process with no oversight or checks or even ability of the judiciary to challenge their power on it, but now its kosher for the executive to redefine words so his actions can be considered constitutional. Awesome, just awesome.

 

 

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What I infer from your comments is that if he could not be detained, you think we'd just have to sit there and take whatever it is he was trying to do to us, and, furthermore, even if he had been detained, it would have been futile to arrest and try him because there are allegedly a myriad number of people who could take his place.

No, if Awlaki had been detained, obviously he should have been arrested and tried. Such legal action would have played better in America and the Muslim countries than what we actually did to him.

 

 

It sounds to me like you think it made sense to do nothing whatsoever about al-Awlaki.

 

An American running around claiming the US is trying to kill him, but the US doesn't try to kill him, loses credibility.

An American running around claiming the US is trying to kill him, and the US kills him, gains martyrdom.

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cinzia, in light of this:

 

 

What I infer from your comments is that if he could not be detained, you think we'd just have to sit there and take whatever it is he was trying to do to us, and, furthermore, even if he had been detained, it would have been futile to arrest and try him because there are allegedly a myriad number of people who could take his place. It sounds to me like you think it made sense to do nothing whatsoever about al-Awlaki.

 

why do you respond with this?

 

 

No, if Awlaki had been detained, obviously he should have been arrested and tried. Such legal action would have played better in America and the Muslim countries than what we actually did to him.

 

Since he couldn't be detained, cinzia, what then? Nothing, as you seem to think.

 

The problem is some people, best exemplified on this thread by LP and cinzia, see every national security action within the prism of the federal government trying to oppress us by taking away our civil liberties. Yet they seem to think the very same federal government would have the best intentions possible with a single payer health care system.

 

LP- as you can see, I actually consider evidence before drawing a conclusion rather than just viewing it all through the same old prism.

 

Al-Awlaki not only encouraged others to kill Americans, he was into operational planning and even in issuing fatwas- read up on the case of Molly Norris, http://blogs.seattle...ed_day_1.phpBut,

 

Here's what the UN had to say about al-Awlaki: http://www.un.org/sc...SQI28310E.shtml

 

With the Norris case, the Fort Hood shooting, the underwear bomber and the Times Square bomber in mind, or more broadly and more relevant, al-Awlaki's ongoing attempts to get Americans killed, let's take this from the Brandenburg decision:

"The Court held that a state could not "forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force … except where such advocacy is directed to producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."

 

The FBI had Norris go into hiding and she changed her name.

 

But, hey, nothing to worry about, right? Just ignore al-Awlaki and he would have chilled out (sarcastic). Clearly his idea of credibility was quite a bit different than yours- the US not killing him would have been seen as the inability to do so, i.e., weakness on the part of the US, which would actually have increased his credibility and decreased ours as a result of being unable to stop him from targeting Americans.

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The problem is some people, best exemplified on this thread by LP and cinzia, see every national security action within the prism of the federal government trying to oppress us by taking away our civil liberties. Yet they seem to think the very same federal government would have the best intentions possible with a single payer health care system.

While I never claimed that every national security action is taking away our civil liberties, a good deal of the post 9/11 ones are. It has nothing to do with the 'intentions' of the government and everything to do with precedent and the road it can lead down and the costs we will pay for the continuance of selling our soul for the illusion of safety. It doesn't matter that Dear Leader may have our best interests in mind at the moment.

 

I also don't believe I ever actually advocated a single payer health care system, just universal health care. But it is apples to oranges because a health care system can be challenged in court and there are remedial procedures that allow any constitutional questions to be answered through the proper channels rather than hidden behind a clandestine fog of need to know.

 

 

LP- as you can see, I actually consider evidence before drawing a conclusion rather than just viewing it all through the same old prism.

You have asserted that he was an imminent threat while the pertinent data is deemed to sensitive for the issue to be touched in open courts, so either you have a kick ass clearance level or you are falling prey to the confirmation bias you accuse others of, as usual.

 

 

Al-Awlaki not only encouraged others to kill Americans, he was into operational planning and even in issuing fatwas- read up on the case of Molly Norris, http://blogs.seattle...ed_day_1.phpBut,

Which certainly raises questions about the proper charges for encouraging people to kill and if it is a capital crime and if it is if the punishment for said crime be carried out without even making an indictment.

 

 

Here's what the UN had to say about al-Awlaki: http://www.un.org/sc...SQI28310E.shtml

And their claims are irrelevant to United States constitutional issues, but it is amusing to see a staunch conservative such as yourself run to the UN to defend his point of view. None of the data about his acts in the UN presents a clear picture of a particular imminent threat.

 

 

With the Norris case, the Fort Hood shooting, the underwear bomber and the Times Square bomber in mind, or more broadly and more relevant, al-Awlaki's ongoing attempts to get Americans killed, let's take this from the Brandenburg decision:

"The Court held that a state could not "forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force … except where such advocacy is directed to producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."

 

The FBI had Norris go into hiding and she changed her name.

These are past cases, if he was guilty in them (and likely was to some extent in inciting them), then he should have been indicted with them, but he wasn't, why not? Even if it would be impossible to apprehend him an indictment would have put some semblance of legitimacy on this.

 

The Brandenburg case uses the word imminent, which you again and again ignore. You ignore it because without redefining the word to rationalize the actions (as our government claims they can do) it would not be very helpful in national security issues. The application of imminence is fairly narrow as subsequent uses of Brandenburg tests have shown, and it is not applied in some nebulous indeterminate threat in the future - nor does it count as punishment for crimes in the past.

 

Furthermore, I referenced Brandenburg because it was the highest profile case with the word imminent, and simply for the purpose of getting a legal definition of the word. The fact that the Brandenburg covers incitement of imminent lawless action does not automatically confer the indictment criteria over in the case of 'imminent threat', that would be something a court would have to decide when weighing the particulars of this legal question - which of course is not going to happen.

 

 

But, hey, nothing to worry about, right? Just ignore al-Awlaki and he would have chilled out (sarcastic). Clearly his idea of credibility was quite a bit different than yours- the US not killing him would have been seen as the inability to do so, i.e., weakness on the part of the US, which would actually have increased his credibility and decreased ours as a result of being unable to stop him from targeting Americans.

I assume thats towards cinzias since I wasn't really arguing anything about the practical effects of killing him, simply that it was unconstitutional and does not fit in the test of imminent threat. Practically I think it will have a short term effect, although in the scheme of things I have a gut feeling that the prevelance of drone attacks will just breed another generation of terrorists ready to fill those shoes - but then again nothing can really stop that at this point... But even if it did serve the practicality of substantively making our nations safer I would still be complaining about it as a possible constitutional violation that should be addressed on a large level.

 

I absolutely think that the current constitutional framework is likely inadequate to meet the security needs of an empire involved with supressing asymetrical warfare tactics and terrorism - however, I don't believe the solution to this is to give the executive branch unchecked power to do whatever is necessary for our own good. If the executive needs such power to keep us safe, it should not practice newspeak and redefine words to give it's actions legitimacy - there is a legislative process to invest such power that should rather be taken.

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. . . legislation which clearly in the year between Awlaki's placement on the secret kill list and his actual death could have been created and voted into law.

 

Does anyone here doubt that such legislation, had it been brought to a vote, would have gotten approval from a majority, even a super majority, in Congress? (Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul excepted, of course.)

 

And yet, nobody even bothered, just like nobody bothered with an indictment, because these are powers the Executive Branch now claims for itself, Congress and Constitution be damned.

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I feel so much better now about Awlaki's killing. Turns out the President doesn't choose by himself who goes on the Kill List at all. The US has a secret committee in charge of doing that.

 

 

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.

Before you say you're not surprised, kropotkin, let me reassure you that I'm not surprised you're not surprised.

 

Also in the Reuters article:

 

 

The Obama administration has not made public an accounting of the classified evidence that Awlaki was operationally involved in planning terrorist attacks.

 

But officials acknowledged that some of the intelligence purporting to show Awlaki's hands-on role in plotting attacks was patchy.

 

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You have asserted that he was an imminent threat while the pertinent data is deemed to sensitive for the issue to be touched in open courts, so either you have a kick ass clearance level or you are falling prey to the confirmation bias you accuse others of, as usual.

 

Which certainly raises questions about the proper charges for encouraging people to kill and if it is a capital crime and if it is if the punishment for said crime be carried out without even making an indictment.

 

And their claims are irrelevant to United States constitutional issues, but it is amusing to see a staunch conservative such as yourself run to the UN to defend his point of view. None of the data about his acts in the UN presents a clear picture of a particular imminent threat.

 

These are past cases, if he was guilty in them (and likely was to some extent in inciting them), then he should have been indicted with them, but he wasn't, why not? Even if it would be impossible to apprehend him an indictment would have put some semblance of legitimacy on this.

 

The Brandenburg case uses the word imminent, which you again and again ignore. You ignore it because without redefining the word to rationalize the actions (as our government claims they can do) it would not be very helpful in national security issues. The application of imminence is fairly narrow as subsequent uses of Brandenburg tests have shown, and it is not applied in some nebulous indeterminate threat in the future - nor does it count as punishment for crimes in the past.

 

Furthermore, I referenced Brandenburg because it was the highest profile case with the word imminent, and simply for the purpose of getting a legal definition of the word. The fact that the Brandenburg covers incitement of imminent lawless action does not automatically confer the indictment criteria over in the case of 'imminent threat', that would be something a court would have to decide when weighing the particulars of this legal question - which of course is not going to happen.

 

I assume thats towards cinzias since I wasn't really arguing anything about the practical effects of killing him, simply that it was unconstitutional and does not fit in the test of imminent threat. Practically I think it will have a short term effect, although in the scheme of things I have a gut feeling that the prevelance of drone attacks will just breed another generation of terrorists ready to fill those shoes - but then again nothing can really stop that at this point... But even if it did serve the practicality of substantively making our nations safer I would still be complaining about it as a possible constitutional violation that should be addressed on a large level.

 

I absolutely think that the current constitutional framework is likely inadequate to meet the security needs of an empire involved with supressing asymetrical warfare tactics and terrorism - however, I don't believe the solution to this is to give the executive branch unchecked power to do whatever is necessary for our own good. If the executive needs such power to keep us safe, it should not practice newspeak and redefine words to give it's actions legitimacy - there is a legislative process to invest such power that should rather be taken.

 

Indictment would have certainly not been a bad thing, but in and of itself, it's not enough to make taking him out legitimate if it was not under the doctrine of self-defense and/or imminent threat. One other point about self-defense is that you have suggested sending troops in Yemen to get him was what should have been done- I don't see your basis for suggesting that other than self-defense, which, AFAIK, would also have legitimized the drone attack, especially given the authorization by Congress in 2001 to use force against Al-Qaida.

 

I actually have used the word imminent plenty of times- it's actually a judgement call in many cases, and the Norris case shows he was an imminent threat since she was urged by the FBI to go into hiding and change her name, plus his ongoing activities. Obviously I don't know all that AA was up to, but what had been attributed to him was enough, IMHO, to constitute imminent danger. My reference to intelligence information that needed to be protected, or as you refer to it, "pertinent data", was to sources and methods, BTW.

 

I don't have a problem with someone saying that they don't think the evidence reported so far indicates an imminent threat, although I think it does. I do have a problem with anyone insisting that nothing could be done to stop al-Awlaki other than apprehending him, given the extreme difficulty in doing that. A SEAL team can't be dispatched every time there is an intelligence report indicating a terrorist may be somewhere- it's a lot easier and safer to deploy a drone.

 

The drone attacks could also discourage many of the "new generation" by making it clear that they can't count on hiding in places like rural Yemen while they ply their trade.

 

While I certainly agree we need a better framework for dealing with asymmetrical threats,no one is saying that the executive branch should have carte blanche, although given the fact that the military and the intelligence agencies fall under it, it is going to have to make a lot of judgement calls. You've called for judicial review after the fact, so you have acknowledged every action based on intelligence can't be reviewed in advance. Again, there are going to have to be some judgement calls, even with a better framework. The Bates ruling is instructive here as well.

 

cinzia- obviously no President was going to be decided all by themselves who to put on the list of targeted terrorists- that's something that is going to have to be done by a group of people, not an individual. Note also that Obama can remove a person from the list if he wants to, something that would obviously be done under advisement, for example, from Justice Department advisors.

 

Some evidence being patchy obviously wasn't enough to change the conclusion.

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