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Al-Awlaki taken out via drone

160 posts in this topic

 

 

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

 

You seem upset that your "respected" (and you do use that word quite often) news sources left you flat footed.

 

Instead of simply regurgitating someone else's ideas, try synthesizing what you have read and try to figure out where the middle east will be in 2, 5, 10 and 25 years and what is at stake.

 

Surprisingly, you might find that you are surprised less often. ;)

 

This case is interesting, and frankly i don't anyone, including Conq is completely comfortable with the implications. Suppose the US deploys drones to the border area with Mexico and starts taking out drug runners (please think up a more evil label) who are Mexicans born in the US.

 

It has not been explicitly stated, but it would seem that Conq (and I) believe that there is an actual threat to the US. I have the impression that you and LP have no real visceral connection with that threat.

 

LP makes some great points on the legal issues.

 

A difficult situation.

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I don't think taking out Awlaki in itself is going to improve matters in the Middle East in 2, 5, 10, or 25 years. It may make them worse.

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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.

Yes. Killing has never galvanised others into killing, nor resulted in blood feuds nor been used as political collateral. Especially not in the Middle East. No.

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I don't think taking out Awlaki in itself is going to improve matters in the Middle East in 2, 5, 10, or 25 years. It may make them worse.

 

In the long run, this is insignificant.

 

In Five years, people will not even remember Abu Ghraib.

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In Five years, people The West will not even remember Abu Ghraib.

 

Fixed that for you.

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Sorry - but you fixed nothing.

 

Over the long run, it will Be forgotten by everyone.

 

Awlaki will be forgotten in less than a year.

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Perhaps Al-Awlaki will fade into obscurity. But I don't think you can say the same thing about the "Underwear-bomb maker." Cue Beavis and Butthead giggles.

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Awlaki will be forgotten in less than a year.

 

Which is amazing, if you buy Conquistador's argument that he was such an imminent and unique threat to our security that the US had to violate its own Constitution to rid the Earth of him.

 

If he was really as important as the CIA claims, Awlaki's martyrdom just adds more fuel to the fire of anti-American hatred in the ME and elsewhere around the globe. He may be forgotten, but the accumulated rage will burn on, if the past is any indication of the future.

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It's simply not possible to make irrational people full of hate not hate you. While al-Awlaki must have been important to Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, it's only a relatively small group of people who held him in so much esteem for it to make them dwell on his demise, and these people probably already disliked the US a lot to begin with and for them there is always an excuse to hate.

 

Funny how there is so much rage over a putative constitutional violation but apparently no talk of impeaching Obama. If, after all, he was not a real threat, why did the executive branch go to such lengths to have him killed? Doesn't make sense to go to so much trouble for an unimportant figure, does it?

 

Apparently the Yemenis made a strong effort, at our behest, to capture him, but couldn't do it (see http://www.nytimes.c...=1&pagewanted=2):

 

"The hunt for Mr. Awlaki has involved some close calls, including the failed American drone strike in May, and the previously unreported operation in the Yemeni village. Yemen’s elite counterterrorism commandos, backed by weapons from Yemen’s regular armed forces, formed a ring around the town as commanders began negotiating with local leaders to hand Mr. Awlaki over, said one member of the unit."

 

So they did try to have him arrested, and it wasn't so easy even for Yemenis to do it.

 

Would it have violated his habeas corpus rights to arrest him in Yemen and bring him to the US????

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Funny how there is so much rage over a putative constitutional violation but apparently no talk of impeaching Obama.

I have seen loose talk on liberal fora about impeaching Obama over this issue, but it certainly isn't the only issue over which he could have been impeached. Libya is another recent one. (This is above and beyond the conservatives who wanted him impeached over "Obamacare" and just about everything else he's ever done, of course.)

 

Obviously you'd never get 2/3 of this Senate to vote to convict Obama and remove him from office, so the effort would be futile or merely symbolic.

 

 

Would it have violated his habeas corpus rights to arrest him in Yemen and bring him to the US?

Not unless you locked him up indefinitely and denied him a trial and representation, of course. But that seems rather obvious, so maybe I don't understand the question.

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Let me ask you this, because I'd really like know so I understand where you are coming from, cinzia- what action in your opinion is the US government legally entitled to take against Al-Qaida and what is the basis for that action being legal, e.g., self-defense? Furthermore, what action do you think the US government is morally entitled to take against Al-Qaidà?

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The only action against Al-Qaida that I think is likely to be both above-board legally and morally, and effective against the actual terrorists while not victimizing populations of civilians, is covert action.

 

So I'm not opposed to CIA operations per se, but I am opposed to some of the tools that have been used in the past 10 years that were formerly illegal and are still pretty sketchy (like secretly wiretapping Muslim Americans and collecting large stores of data, holding people for questioning in secret black sites overseas, putting people on no-fly lists as a pretext for CIA questioning overseas, confiscating laptops at the US borders without a warrant, etc.)

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Which is amazing, if you buy Conquistador's argument that he was such an imminent and unique threat to our security that the US had to violate its own Constitution to rid the Earth of him.

 

If he was really as important as the CIA claims, Awlaki's martyrdom just adds more fuel to the fire of anti-American hatred in the ME and elsewhere around the globe. He may be forgotten, but the accumulated rage will burn on, if the past is any indication of the future.

 

What can the US do that won't cause the rage to burn on, in your opinion? Do you think that the people plotting against the US are justified? Why?

 

You suppport covert action by the CIA, i.e. the same methods but without disclosure? This is the solution i recommended earlier, but i fail to understand how that resolves the issues of constitutionality.

 

Could you clarify?

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The only action against Al-Qaida that I think is likely to be both above-board legally and morally, and effective against the actual terrorists while not victimizing populations of civilians, is covert action.

 

So I'm not opposed to CIA operations per se, but I am opposed to some of the tools that have been used in the past 10 years that were formerly illegal and are still pretty sketchy (like secretly wiretapping Muslim Americans and collecting large stores of data, holding people for questioning in secret black sites overseas, putting people on no-fly lists as a pretext for CIA questioning overseas, confiscating laptops at the US borders without a warrant, etc.)

 

Fair enough, but doesn't the action taken against al-Awlaki fit your definition like a glove (the intelligence used to track his location supposedly came from Yemeni sources)? AFAIK, sending in a team of SEALs would have been much more likely to cause civilian casualties.

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What can the US do that won't cause the rage to burn on, in your opinion? Do you think that the people plotting against the US are justified? Why?

Of course they are justified. We've been invading, occupying, and killing people in Muslim countries for 10 years since 9/11 (and before that, of course, but let's keep the argument focused on the aftermath.) A very, very tiny proportion of those people were directly involved in those attacks, and mostly not even in the countries we actually invaded. There is no way for them to fight back against the massive American military machine, other than through further terrorist and guerrilla action. To paraphrase Conquistador, do you think they should do NOTHING about it? Why would it be acceptable for the US to continue hostilities and not people in the occupied countries?

 

Conquistador argues that getting close enough to Awlaki to capture and arrest him would have been impossible, and yet it was necessary that his actions be stopped, because the Obama Administration was afraid of him and what he might do, so it's OK that a drone took him out instead. Isn't sending a suicide bomber against American troops and those allied with them the very same thing? If you've determined that the Americans must be stopped, but there's no way of doing it honorably with the tools at hand, you do it dishonorably. And you justify your actions by considering that such action was necessary for your own interests.

 

The US has been trying to persuade the people in the ME that what WE have done there and would do there actually is in their own better interests, but it seems a lot of them aren't convinced. Hence, continued attacks and hostility. I fail to understand how more attacks and hostility from our direction is going to magically tip the argument.

 

 

You support covert action by the CIA, i.e. the same methods but without disclosure? This is the solution i recommended earlier, but i fail to understand how that resolves the issues of constitutionality.

Al-Awlaki could not have been killed by the CIA in any manner that would have satisfied Constitutional requirements.

 

I see no problem with inventing a legally reviewable method to identify non-American "enemy combatants" and sending the military after them. The CIA is now functioning hand in glove with the military anyway, especially in places like Yemen and Pakistan. That's not much of a stretch.

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Of course they are justified. We've been invading, occupying, and killing people in Muslim countries for 10 years since 9/11. A very, very tiny proportion of those people were directly involved in those attacks, and mostly not even in the countries we actually invaded. There is no way for them to fight back against the massive American military machine, other than through further terrorist and guerrilla action. To paraphrase Conquistador, do you think they should do NOTHING about it? Why would it be acceptable for the US to continue hostilities and not people in the occupied countries?

 

Conquistador argues that getting close enough to Awlaki to capture and arrest him would have been impossible, and yet it was necessary that his actions be stopped, because the Obama Administration was afraid of him and what he might do, so it's OK that a drone took him out instead. Isn't sending a suicide bomber against American troops and those allied with them the very same thing? If you've determined that the Americans must be stopped, but there's no way of doing it honorably with the tools at hand, you do it dishonorably.

 

There is no constitutional question when the target(s) is not American. Al-Awlaki could not have been killed by the CIA in any manner that satisfied Constitutional requirements.

 

I don't think that kropotkin was referring to a war zone like Aghanistan, but you make a huge error in seeing it as the US vs. Afghanistan and the US v.s. Iraq in a war of conquest- perhaps you have heard that we have allies there? You also ignore the fact that the terrorists have killed many ordinary Iraqis and Afghans, some of whom wanted to work with us to rebuild their country, but most of whom probably wanted to just get on with their lives. You also ignore the fact that the Taliban refused to hand over Bin Laden after 9/11- think that might have prevented an invasion in self-defense? I think so.

 

The bizarre moral equivalence you have drawn between terrorists and US military is disgraceful, cinzia. Yes, a person who encourages people to kill Americans and helps plot terror attacks in the US does have to be stopped. Whatever one thinks of nation building (and I am not a fan of it myself), or self-defense after the 9/11 attacks, that in no way is akin to the terrorist actions of groups like Al-Qaida.

 

I also don't see why someone angry about the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan would be angry about the death of al-Awlaki, who was trying to kill fellow US citizens from Yemen, unless they just hated the US completely, no matter what.

 

Here's an article discussing the Justice Department's conclusion that taking al-Awlaki out would be legal (in certain circumstances): http://www.msnbc.msn...new_york_times/

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President Bush got Justice Department lawyers to come up with justifications for torture and Guantanamo detentions, too. What it comes down to is, the ends justify the means.

 

From John Yoo's infamous memo (part 2, page 41 of the pdf, link at left of this page):

 

 

If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network. In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch’s constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions.

That sounds an awful lot like the conclusions these lawyers reportedly came to, according to anonymous sources "who have read" the memos.

 

 

The legal analysis, in essence, concluded that Mr. Awlaki could be legally killed, if it was not feasible to capture him, because intelligence agencies said he was taking part in the war between the United States and Al Qaeda and posed a significant threat to Americans, as well as because Yemeni authorities were unable or unwilling to stop him.

Is there anything we would have formerly found repellent and out of bounds that is not now supposedly justifiable if Justice Department lawyers say it is in a secret memo?

 

As I have noted before, we are looking at the same documents and coming to different conclusions, Conquistador. You can provide all the links you want. I really don't think there's any way we're going to agree on this.

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Al-Awlaki could not have been killed by the CIA in any manner that would have satisfied Constitutional requirements.

 

I see no problem with inventing a legally reviewable method to identify non-American "enemy combatants" and sending the military after them.

 

So if you needed to make a decision within a week knowing that there was an imminent threat, what would you do? Setting up a review processy would probably take weeks or months.

 

You have told us what is unconstitutional and illegal, but not what you would do.

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I don't believe Awlaki posed an imminent threat. In any case, there are exceptions granted for action on true imminent threats.

 

But if I were placed in such a position, I hope that if action became necessary, I wouldn't show the kind of contempt for American citizens seeking understanding afterwards that the Obama Administration has displayed in this case.

 

There was a "review process" undertaken in Awlaki's case. The government leaked it, I guess hoping that concerned Americans would be consoled by the existence of a secret committee that acted a year in advance of Awlaki's eventual assassination to confirm that he was an "imminent threat" and condemn him to death.

 

As lilplatinum has also stated, such action makes a mockery of the definition of "imminent threat."

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