Tag: Anwar al-Awlaki

We Sometimes Forget That We’re The President

The man really is like an innocent but clueless bystander within his own Administration. He should probably organize a protest against the man in charge or something. Maybe he’s good at that?

President Barack Obama said Monday he wants to ensure the U.S. isn’t building a “militarized culture” within police departments, while maintaining federal programs that provide the type of military-style equipment that were used to dispel racially charged protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

Don’t forget that Obama is the exact same guy whose DHS labeled returning American veterans as potential terrorists even as their returning weapons were sent to small town police departments to fight, um, terrorists, whose CIA blew up an American citizen on foreign soil without due process, and whose Bureau of Land Management showed up in full battle array ready to gun down a rancher and dozens of his supporters over a few stray cows.

Something tells me that Obama doesn’t have a problem, in theory, with militarizing law enforcement as long as his own special groups and interests aren’t the ones being made war upon.

A License to Kill

Goodness me, that President Bush is evil. How could he possibly assert that he has the exclusive power to … oh … it’s President Obama? No way!

Yes way.

A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” — even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.

The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.

They also killed Awlaki’s 16-year-old son for reasons that remain nebulous. Greenwald:

What has made these actions all the more radical is the absolute secrecy with which Obama has draped all of this. Not only is the entire process carried out solely within the Executive branch – with no checks or oversight of any kind – but there is zero transparency and zero accountability. The president’s underlings compile their proposed lists of who should be executed, and the president – at a charming weekly event dubbed by White House aides as “Terror Tuesday” – then chooses from “baseball cards” and decrees in total secrecy who should die. The power of accuser, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner are all consolidated in this one man, and those powers are exercised in the dark.

There are many problems with this outline (which is a reduced version of a much longer and still classified policy). The determination that someone is a “senior” Al-Quaeda leader and poses a threat is made entirely by the White House in total secrecy. We’re currently having an argument in the S&P thread about Obama using the power of the justice department to get his enemies. Do we trust them with this power?

Second, the statement that this applies only to senior terrorist leaders who pose an imminent threat is garbage. Once you look past the Orwellian language, the memo eviscerates those headline requirements, noting that there is no minimum requirement. They don’t have to be a senior member. They don’t have to pose an imminent threat. Awlaki’s son was neither. The White House just has to decide that … well … this person needs killing.

In other words, this is not a memo that narrowly defines the President’s power to unilaterally kill those that he considers threats. It massively expands it. It declares it to be essentially without bounds. He can order the killing of anyone anywhere in the world for reasons that can remain secret indefinitely.

Now maybe this sound fine to a lot of people. But Sullum reminds us of something critical:

The problem is that to accept this position, you have to put complete trust in the competence, wisdom, and ethics of the president, his underlings, and their successors. You have to believe they are properly defining and inerrantly identifying people who pose an imminent (or quasi-imminent) threat to national security and eliminating that threat through the only feasible means, which involves blowing people up from a distance. If mere mortals deserved that kind of faith, we would not need a Fifth Amendment, or the rest of the Constitution.

Exactly. If we trust the government with the unaccountable power of life and death, why shouldn’t we trust it with the power to decide what speech is acceptable? Why not dispense with the commerce clause and trust it to only regulate commerce when necessary? Why not save money on all those jury trials and just trust that anyone they arrest is guilty of something? Actually, given the explosion of laws, we probably all are guilty of something.

We spend a lot of time on this blog attacking Obama’s policies and competence. We accuse him of using the Justice Department to attack his enemies and advance his agenda. But we trust him to only kill the bad people?

(Ironically, as all this is going on, we’re delivering F-16’s and M-1 tanks to Egypt. So while the President is assuming unlimited authority to kill Americans over possible dangers, we’re giving weapons to a national leadership that poses a much more serious and real danger. The Egyptians have promised to be nice. I think.)

No President should have this power. Not Ronald Reagan. Not George Washington. Not Abraham Lincoln. Not Franklin Roosevelt. And certainly not Barack Obama. I can concede, perhaps, that in the global terrorism theater, it’s necessary to use drones for targeted killing. I can even accept, perhaps, that an American might be the recipient of this. What I can not accept is that this designation happens in complete secrecy with no accountability whatsoever. That we have to trust that our government won’t mix up a name (as they do with the no fly list), get bad intelligence (as the did with Iraq) or just got it completely fucking wrong (as they did with Maher Arar). Or that they won’t abuse that power to kill someone who really isn’t a threat but is, in some way, inconvenient to them.

I don’t trust government. That’s one of the roots of my fundamental conservatism. If I’m not going to trust government to run my healthcare, why on Earth would I trust them with the power to secretly and unaccountably kill my fellow citizens?

Update: Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of the few liberal Obama supporters who gets it:

I don’t want to be thick-witted here. I understand that on some level a democracy generally elects human leaders who will not abuse the spirit of the law. I think Barack Obama is such a leader. That is for the historians to determine. But practically, much of our foreign policy now depends on the hope of benevolent dictators and philosopher kings. The law can’t help. The law is what the kings say it is.

Lee described the Bush Administration as using “star chamber justice”. Bush had nothing on these guys.

Liberal flip-flop on terrorists and constitutional rights.

In a clean reversal of what the left told us all during the hate filled 8 years of Boosh-Hitler’s reign of terror about how the US constitution should apply to everyone, including terrorists at Club Gitmo that needed to be tried in civilian court, where Holder also guaranteed guilty verdicts I remind you reader, we now find out that Holder thinks terrorists are no longer eligible for constitutional protection now that his boss wants the right to just shoot them dead. Let me first point out how happy I am that Holder and Obama have seen the light and finally discovered that extending constitutional protection to enemy combatants at war with you that specifically hide behind the guise of being a civilian until they can strike at you is suicidal and stupid. I knew that once they had to deal with the mess and the consequences they would see the light. Reality still wins out sometimes.

Now for the fun part, and that is bashing the hypocrisy and pointing out how dangerous the left really is. By now it should be obvious that the only reason they wanted to extend constitutional protection to terrorist when Bush was president was because they felt it would undermine his administration and yield them potential political gains either way. By “they” I mean the cynical leftist power mongers like Obama and Holder that pretended to be morally superior and advocating that constitutional protection be given to terrorists when it brought them political advantage only to reverse themselves now that they stand to reap the fruits of their earlier stance. These people are beyond scumbags. They pretended to be for this insane concept that produced all kinds of problems for the people fighting the Islamist radicals and put American lives in danger, telling everyone that it was out of some higher moral reasoning and lofty idealism, but now that their asses are in the cross hairs and this stance is inconvenient, we find out that it all was for show and pure personal gain. However they didn’t stop at that:

Holder said in a speech at the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago that the government is within its rights to kill citizens who are senior leaders in al-Qaeda or affiliate groups who pose an “imminent threat” of attack against the USA and whose capture is “not feasible.”

“Given the nature of how terrorists act and where they tend to hide, it may not always be feasible to capture a U.S. citizen terrorist who presents an imminent threat of violent attack,” Holder said, according to a text of his speech. “In that case, our government has the clear authority to defend the United States with lethal force.”

Get that? Not only do terrorists not get that constitutional protection these leftist twits once, when it hurt the other side – and I should point out so harshly criticized the previous administration for doing – were for, yet now are against, because it hurts them, but they take it one step further and make the case that citizens that they deem to be terrorists are out of luck too. Look, I believe no terrorist should be granted any kind of constitutional or Geneva Convention protection, especially when they are financed and harbored by foreign entities that are hostile to our way of life, and indubitably they all seem to fall in that category. I also believe we need to start killing traitors, and someone that joins the terrorists and declares war on the US is a traitor, like the constitution told us we should. But I also understand the legitimate concern some have with this practice/power that it can and will be abused, but my bet is that the abuse, as we see now, will come from the power centers on left, which as I pointed out already complained really hard about it then, but now are mostly silent when it gets expanded to include citizens too. And that is fucking hypocritical.

Anyway, their reversal seems to come from this:

The attorney general’s remarks come as civil rights advocates have condemned such killings, including the fatal military drone strike in September against Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born leader of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen. U.S. government officials have asserted that al-Awlaki helped direct the failed Christmas Day bombing of a commercial airliner over Detroit in 2009 and the failed effort to blow up U.S. cargo planes with explosives planted in printer cartridges in 2010.

Awalaki needed killing. I applaud Obama for ordering that hit. There is no doubt this guy was an enemy of this country, worked hard for the other side, and had blood on his hands. Awalaki even told us so himself. Maybe the people that are angry he was shot by a drone have a point that he every attempt to capture him instead was not exhausted, but considering the ridiculous stance the left took on terrorist and their treatment as prisoners of war, I can see why Obama and Holder, staring at having to deal with that problem themselves, decided that killing this guy was probably less of a headache for them. We need to remain vigilant though. I would not put it past leftists like Obama and Holder to take this a step further and declare Rush Limbaugh a terrorist, then have on of those drones they have now flying on US soil hit him with a hellfire missile. After all, they mean well unlike that cowboy Bush, whom I do have to point out never did anything like this, despite the lefts beliefs that he would be capable of far worse, while Obama did. And no, that wasn’t because the left was vigilant and prevented Bush from doing bad things, despite how hard they pretend that was the case. Most of them are however now unconcerned when one of their own did what they would have found intolerable from the other side and portends to go much further. Liberalism is a mental disorder.