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Al-Awlaki taken out via drone

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I just don't understand why so many Americans are surprised when people violently oppose the American government, even though we have declared war against them. We have engaged them in war. Which is really the same thing as inviting them to fight, right?

 

What is the basis of the violent opposition to the US government from Awlaki and Khan?

 

Did the US declare war on them?

 

How did the US invite them to fight?

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According to the US government, they were "terrorists," right? War on Terror, and all that?

 

Am I missing something?

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cinzia, please tell us once and for all, given what you know at this moment, what the appropriate action to take against al-Awlaki and other Al-Qaida terrorists would be, IYHO? Does Al-Qaida have the right, in your opinion to attack US military personnel anywhere in the world and kill them?

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According to the US government, they were "terrorists," right? War on Terror, and all that?

 

Am I missing something?

 

Yes.

 

Help me understand. Did they become terrorists and then incur the response of the US government or did they experience some gross injustice at the hands of the US government and then become terrorists?

 

What was the basis for their anti-US beliefs?

 

Khan's father tried to steer his son away from radicalism and did not agree with his beliefs.

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Conquistador, if we declare war on a country or faction, do they have a right to fight?

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As a non American I find the debate amusing. The man declared war on America, publicly encouraged his group's members to kill innocent civilians and funded operations to do so. He was not in a position to be secured by domestic american law enforcement and was hiding in a foreign region hostile to America. On what basis should his constitutional American rights have been protected? He gave up his rights by declaring war on America and marshaling the resources to do so. He was well past the line that a prudent person would consider in the zone of conscionable debate.

 

I am no fan of America's foreign policies over the past 70 years but in this case, I am glad that this mf is no longer a breathing member of our planetary community.

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Conquistador, if we declare war on a country or faction, do they have a right to fight?

 

Why are you evading simple questions?

 

Why in the world should you waste your time trying to determine if a terror group has a "right" to fight against a sovereign state that group attacked? Is there war between the US and Al-Qaida or not, IYHO? A simple yes or no would suffice. It's obvious that Al-Qaida is going to continue to try to kill Americans, and our government has a responsibility to prevent them from doing so. Unless someone supports what Al-Qaida is doing, why would they want to establish a right for them to carry out violence?

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Seemes to me there are 3 things getting mixed together in this thread:

1 Domestic US law around when and how the US president can authorise the use of force against non state actors

2 Who is and who is not a legal combatant

3 Intent and Proportionality - how can the negative side effects of an action be weighed against the purpose of the action

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Correct, Joe.

 

I am not saying here, and have not said anywhere, that I enjoy the thought of terrorist attacks on the US, or that I want more Americans (or non-Americans, for that matter) to die from terrorist attacks. That's just absurd and offensive to me.

 

The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF, below) authorizes the President to use force against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. There is no reason to believe the authorization goes further than that.

 

 

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

Awlaki was not a perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks. Famously, he was invited to the Pentagon after 9/11.

 

In addition, Awlaki, as a US citizen, held Constitutional rights not enjoyed by non-Americans. The manner of revocation of those rights (via secret committee of DOJ lawyers) is extremely dubious legally, to put it mildly.

 

What it comes down to is that we have disagreement over whether Awlaki's assassination was legal or not, which hinges on the question of whether Awlaki posed an imminent danger to the US or not.

 

My own opinion is that the assassination was not legal, either under the Constitution or the AUMF, even though I realize that as a practical matter, nobody is going to be prosecuted for it. Selective non-prosecution of people in high office (or formerly so) has been a noted hallmark of our legal system since Obama took office.

 

I think it's important that American citizens realize what these issues are, whatever side they come down on the matter. It's not enough for the American government to assassinate an American citizen overseas and try to sweep the whole legality thing under the rug (after accepting congratulations and accolades.) I personally think they should have anticipated questions about legality and done a better job of explaining their decision (even though we don't need to hear every detail.) It's arrogant and imperialistic to refuse to discuss it further until pressured, and then bring out the anonymous partial leaks of classified memos in their own defense.

 

Edit: I had not read it before I posted this, but the NY Times Editorial page comes down on the side of the law today regarding Awlaki's killing.

 

Due process means more than a military risk analysis. It requires unambiguous and public guidelines for how the United States will follow federal and international law in approving targeted killings, particularly of Americans. And it means taking the decision beyond the executive echo chamber. We have argued that judicial review is required, perhaps a closed-door court similar to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, before anyone, especially a citizen, is placed on an assassination list.

 

The Obama administration seems to know that antiterrorist operations do not escape the rule of law. Its case would be far stronger if it would say so, out loud.

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I am not saying here, and have not said anywhere, that I enjoy the thought of terrorist attacks on the US, or that I want more Americans (or non-Americans, for that matter) to die from terrorist attacks. That's just absurd and offensive to me.

 

The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF, below) authorizes the President to use force against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. There is no reason to believe the authorization goes further than that.

 

Awlaki was not a perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks. Famously, he was invited to the Pentagon after 9/11.

 

In addition, Awlaki, as a US citizen, held Constitutional rights not enjoyed by non-Americans. The manner of revocation of those rights (via secret committee of DOJ lawyers) is extremely dubious legally, to put it mildly.

 

What it comes down to is that we have disagreement over whether Awlaki's assassination was legal or not, which hinges on the question of whether Awlaki posed an imminent danger to the US or not.

 

My own opinion is that the assassination was not legal, either under the Constitution or the AUMF, even though I realize that as a practical matter, nobody is going to be prosecuted for it. Selective non-prosecution of people in high office (or formerly so) has been a noted hallmark of our legal system since Obama took office.

 

I think it's important that American citizens realize what these issues are, whatever side they come down on the matter. It's not enough for the American government to assassinate an American citizen overseas and try to sweep the whole legality thing under the rug (after accepting congratulations and accolades.) I personally think they should have anticipated questions about legality and done a better job of explaining their decision (even though we don't need to hear every detail.) It's arrogant and imperialistic to refuse to discuss it further until pressured, and then bring out the anonymous partial leaks of classified memos in their own defense.

 

Edit: I had not read it before I posted this, but the NY Times Editorial page comes down on the side of the law today regarding Awlaki's killing.

 

You were criticized, among other things, for suggesting a right for Al-Qaida to use violence. Yet again, rather than addressing what you were actually criticized for and addressing simple questions posed to you to help you see why what you were criticized for was ridiculous for you to post, you start pretending something was said to you that wasn't. Ask yourself what sorts of things Al-Qaida does and then ask yourself if you want them to do them. The answer will be no, and since the case, you wouldn't want to claim or suggest in any way that they have any right to carry out violence.

 

Junk like this is what I am talking about:

 

 

You seem to think that everything is fair game when the US does it, but not when our enemies do the exact same thing. Your attitude is not unusual, but I have a hard time understanding it.

 

As you repeatedly assert, we have declared war on Al Qaeda and to you and many others, that makes anyone the US government identifies as AQ an "enemy combatant" and fair game for capture or execution. Why would you think that AQ is not justified in fighting back when war has been declared against them?

 

I just don't understand why so many Americans are surprised when people violently oppose the American government, even though we have declared war against them. We have engaged them in war. Which is really the same thing as inviting them to fight, right?

 

 

 

Conquistador, if we declare war on a country or faction, do they have a right to fight?

 

 

 

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?

 

What's the excuse for al-Awlaki's attempts to kill Americans, then, cinzia?

 

Now, as for this bizarre claim:

 

"The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF, below) authorizes the President to use force against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. There is no reason to believe the authorization goes further than that."

 

No reason? Reading comprehension must be a big problem for you, or you are really dishonest:

 

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

The word "harbor" alone would clue anyone in that force was not only being authorized against only the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, but as the bolded words show, it's not just the individual perpetrators, but organizations, of which Al-Qaida is one, and even nations that "planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on 9/11". Nations doesn't apply to the "planned, authorized, committed or aided" part, but the certainly do the harboring part, and obviously "planned, authorized, committed or aided" applies to Al-Qaida, whose member al-Awlaki was certainly involved with what would later become future acts or attempted acts of international terrorism.

 

In a nutshell, the President is authorized to use force against Al-Qaida to prevent it from carrying out acts of terrorism, hence the legislation covers al-Awlaki's case.

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Yes.

 

Help me understand. Did they become terrorists and then incur the response of the US government or did they experience some gross injustice at the hands of the US government and then become terrorists?

 

What was the basis for their anti-US beliefs?

 

Khan's father tried to steer his son away from radicalism and did not agree with his beliefs.

 

Isn't that they key question?

 

What do you think?

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Ask yourself what sorts of things Al-Qaida does and then ask yourself if you want them to do them. The answer will be no, and since the case, you wouldn't want to claim or suggest in any way that they have any right to carry out violence.

That is like saying that the Chicago Bears have no right to put up a good defense against the Green Bay Packers, because I want the Packers to win. If, as you say, the AUMF is a declaration of war against Al-Qaeda and all its associates in perpetuity, we have invited them to the field of battle and engaged them there. It's pretty disingenuous to assume they won't fight back, even though we'd rather they not score, since we like our team better.

 

We've gone around and around about this, Conquistador and I. If someone other than Conquistador can explain to me how my logic is flawed without telling me my morals and sympathies are misplaced, have a go. I'd really like to know.

 

 

What's the excuse for al-Awlaki's attempts to kill Americans, then, cinzia?

We don't know if he's attempted to kill Americans or not. Your entire argument rests on "the government says so, so it must be true."

 

 

In a nutshell, the President is authorized to use force against Al-Qaida to prevent it from carrying out acts of terrorism, hence the legislation covers al-Awlaki's case.

 

This issue is being hotly debated at the moment, singularly bizarre as you think I am for mentioning it.

 

 

One of the big problems with Lederman and Barron’s interpretation of the AUMF [in the anonymously leaked OLC memo about the legality of assassinating Awlaki] . . . is the extension of the AUMF to apply to AQAP, an entity that simply didn’t exist when the AUMF authorized war against groups that had launched 9/11.

 

Other assertions about Mr. Awlaki included that he was a leader of [AQAP], which had become a “cobelligerent” with Al Qaeda, and he was pushing it to focus on trying to attack the United States again. The lawyers were also told that capturing him alive among hostile armed allies might not be feasible if and when he were located.

 

Based on those premises, the Justice Department concluded that Mr. Awlaki was covered by the authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda that Congress enacted shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — meaning that he was a lawful target in the armed conflict unless some other legal prohibition trumped that authority.

 

One area where Lederman’s reported memo is particularly dangerous, IMO, is in the extension of the AUMF to groups clearly not included in the congressional authorization.

 

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That is like saying that the Chicago Bears have no right to put up a good defense against the Green Bay Packers, because I want the Packers to win. If, as you say, the AUMF is a declaration of war against Al-Qaeda and all its associates in perpetuity, we have invited them to the field of battle and engaged them there. It's pretty disingenuous to assume they won't fight back, even though we'd rather they not score, since we like our team better.

 

We've gone around and around about this, Conquistador and I. If someone other than Conquistador can explain to me how my logic is flawed without telling me my morals and sympathies are misplaced, have a go. I'd really like to know.

 

We don't know if he's attempted to kill Americans or not. Your entire argument rests on "the government says so, so it must be true."

 

This issue is being hotly debated at the moment, singularly bizarre as you think I am for mentioning it.

 

It's pretty bizarre, to say the least, for even the most rabid Packers fan to analogize the Bears to Al-Qaida within a serious context.

It makes no moral or strategic sense to assign a terror group the "right" to commit violence against Americans, especially one responsible for attacks like 9/11. Why you fail to understand that is beyond me- it's not difficult, and since you claim we are not at war with Al-Qaida, it's even stranger that you insist that they have that right. No one is saying that Al-Qaida is going to refrain from violence (that's their raison d'etre after all), and I don't know why you disingenously claim that, however, why hand them a propaganda victory by saying they have a right to commit violence? Think that might be used a defense in court by an arrested and indicted Al-Qaida member?

 

You keep suggesting that the government is not truthful about Al-Awlaki's activities- do you really believe the government is making it up?

 

You claimed, inaccurately, as I showed, that "there is no reason to think that the legislation authorizing use of force" applies to anyone other than the perpetrators of 9/11. That's blatantly untrue. Now you claim, incredibly, that al-Awlaki was not a member of Al-Qaida. I can't imagine why someone would claim that unless the legislation would cover people other than the perpetrators of 9/11, and it's very strange claim for someone to make who claims there was no constitutional way to take al-Awlaki out while at the same time supporting covert action, which is itself a strange argument. It also seems strange to interpret the AUMF as having a loophole for Al-Qaida, i.e., implying that a reorganization of the terror group would allow it to essentially nullify the AUMF.

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Now you claim, incredibly, that al-Awlaki was not a member of Al-Qaida.

Can you point to the place where this claim is made? Because I don't see it.

 

 

I can't imagine why someone would claim that unless the legislation would cover people other than the perpetrators of 9/11, and it's very strange claim for someone to make who claims there was no constitutional way to take al-Awlaki out while at the same time supporting covert action, which is itself a strange argument.

Does AUMF trump constitutional rights to due process, and if so, how? Please illustrate your answer by referencing the relevant legislation and/or precedent.

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According to the US government, they were "terrorists," right? War on Terror, and all that?

 

 

 

That is like saying that the Chicago Bears have no right to put up a good defense against the Green Bay Packers, because I want the Packers to win. If, as you say, the AUMF is a declaration of war against Al-Qaeda and all its associates in perpetuity, we have invited them to the field of battle and engaged them there. It's pretty disingenuous to assume they won't fight back, even though we'd rather they not score, since we like our team better.

 

The AUMF is not a formal declaration of war and you are mixing political rhetoric with legal speak.

 

Your idea that it is reasonable for these guys to "fight back" is based on the notion that they had actually been attacked.

 

Perhaps a good comparison would be the incidents at Ruby Ridge or the Waco siege.

 

As you know, anyone who takes the government's story about the Oklahoma City bombings, i.e. the worst case of domestic terrorism in the US history, knows that Timothy McVeigh was furious about Waco. The point is that McVeigh was not a victim at Waco nor was he personally subject to any type of crackdown on militia groups, but somehow he identified with people repressed by the government and that translated into blowing hundreds of people, many of them innocent children, to smithereens.

 

Did he have the right to "fight back"? The government was not waging battle against Timothy McVeigh so he could fight, but not really "fight back". Some political rhetoric suggests that secular humanists are waging a war against family values and some extremists believe they need to "fight back" by bombing abortion clinics.

 

Personally, i believe the Timothy McVeigh and people like Eric Rudolph are absolutely misguided at best and convinced that by killing innocents, they are doing the right thing. It is exactly the mentality of many of the people in AQ.

 

The civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan who have been killed as well the innocent children who were burned alive at Waco are truly victims of the US government. Those injustices do not justify blowing up innocent children at the OKC Fed building or other random acts of terror encouraged by Alwaki. You have attempted to establish some absurd quasi-justification for Alwaki, Khan and their ilk to engage in random acts of terror.

 

-----

 

By the way, i have written in post #88, for example, that the legal situation is unclear, yet you seem to be putting a lot of effort into establishing the idea that the legal situation is unclear while avoiding any discussion of the decision under uncertainty which you would hypothetically take.

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We've gone around and around about this, Conquistador and I. If someone other than Conquistador can explain to me how my logic is flawed without telling me my morals and sympathies are misplaced, have a go. I'd really like to know.

 

OK ... Forgetting US domestic law for a minute. The argument is a quasi legal argument it is not a moral argument, I say quasi because international law is not actually law as such but rather accepted manners among nations (and that is the key point). Al Quada is a non state actor it is not a sovereign state and so cannot legally wage war. Following from this all the actions of its members are by definition illegal and non of its members can be regarded as having the protections afforded under the laws & customs of war. Strictly speaking I suppose you would class Awlaki (or whatever his name is) of being guilty of treason since he had taken up arms against his government and various other criminal acts such as being a member of an illegal organisation, and also arguably of being an illegal combatant.

 

As said its a 'legal' argument not a moral one.

 

EDIT: I am only explaining the argument as to why your logic is flawed, I am not endorsing anyone elses opinions.

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Strictly speaking I suppose you would class Awlaki (or whatever his name is) of being guilty of treason since he had taken up arms against his government and various other criminal acts such as being a member of an illegal organisation, and also arguably of being an illegal combatant.

 

 

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Awlaki may have been suspected of treason, but he was not accused or convicted of treason.

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It is almost fun to watch all that outraged huffing and puffing in Washington about that implausible plot to kill the Saudi ambassador. Few enough people seem to believe the story in the first place, that's the problem when you have been caught lying too often. Yet even if it were true, what's the problem? Ahmadinejad probably has a memo that tells him that it is legal.

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In case anyone even cares anymore if the US assassinates its own citizens via drone overseas:

 

 

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.
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