Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Killing an Arab-American


What I'm about to say won't exactly firm up my street cred with the liberal side of the blogosphere, but it's not like I've let myself dwell on that kind of thing in the past.

There's a whole lot of righteous indignation being voiced at the moment -- just about all of it coming from the left -- over a standing capture or kill order the military has issued against American-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi. For those who haven't been following along, al-Aulaqi has risen quickly through the ranks of al-Qaeda to become one of its strongest voices in the Arabian peninsula and around the world, the latter due to his willingness to embrace the internet as a promotional and recruiting tool. He's been linked to several terrorist plots inside the United States, including the Fort Hood shootings (he had been in direct contact with gunman Nidal Hasan) and the failed "underwear bombing" of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 into Detroit last Christmas (al-Aulaqi admits to training the bomber). All in all, an impressive set of anti-Western credentials for a guy who was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

For months now, U.S. troops have been told that they're to capture or kill al-Aulaqi on sight -- but only over the past few days has the angry reaction to this standing order really ramped up. That's because al-Aulaqi's father recently enlisted the help of the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights and filed a lawsuit demanding to see the evidence the government has against his son -- the reason it would ostensibly want to see him dead. The Department of Justice's response to this was admittedly sure to raise a few eyebrows: over the weekend, it invoked the "state secrets" privilege, arguing that the courts should disregard the lawsuit because the U.S. government has every right during a time of war to engage in operations against terrorists without publicly disclosing the details of those operations.

There are a two diametrically opposed ways of looking at what the government is essentially doing. One is that the U.S. is exercising its authority to hunt down individuals who attempt to kill American citizens and will simply refuse to release information that might damage those missions before they're completed; the other is that the White House has taken out a hit on an American citizen and is invoking presidential privilege to keep anyone from knowing exactly why.

Should I even bother telling you which one of these Salon's Glenn Greenwald has latched onto with both hands?

A couple of days ago, Greenwald wrote a piece on this subject that was painfully histrionic in its Obama-bashing, even by the writer's impressive standards. It began as follows: "At this point, I didn't believe it was possible, but the Obama administration has just reached an all-new low in its abysmal civil liberties record."

That one line pretty much summed up not only what the rest of the piece was going to read like but, obviously, the antagonistic perspective Greenwald approaches the White House from in general these days -- and come to think of it, has for months now, ever since he realized that Obama wasn't going to deliver the Great Progressive Utopia he'd dreamed about, all in a big pretty bow, directly to his doorstep. For the record, I like and respect Greenwald overall and believe that he regularly makes some excellent points, but the petulant tantrums he throws over Obama's unwillingness to fall lockstep in line with the liberal fantasy presidency he and so many on the left fooled themselves into believing was coming are just exhausting by now. One more time for the cheap seats: Obama was a Democratic centrist from day one. He never promised to be anything else. He's been incredibly progressive on some issues; he's been relatively conservative, even very conservative, on others. What he's not is Kim Jong Il or Fidel Castro, which means that any statement about his supposed "abysmal civil liberties record" makes the person saying it look like nothing more than a drama queen.

I'm the first to acknowledge that there's a slippery slope when you're talking about the invocation of executive powers, particularly ones that don't allow themselves to be exposed to the light of day or the inside of a courtroom. But I do believe -- and for the record I did believe, even when George W. Bush was in office -- that the military has to have the ability to undertake secret missions for the good of the country, even controversial ones, without constantly having to reveal the details of those operations. There's no doubt that we've grown distrustful of our government lately, and with good reason. However, I find it hard, after all the independent reporting I've seen over the past several months, to peg Anwar al-Aulaqi as anything other than a very serious threat to our national security -- regardless of whether he's an American, an American living abroad, an American who's renounced his country and its people, whatever. Maybe when strict logic is applied -- and I try to do that as best I can -- there's no excuse for hunting down a U.S. citizen without due process, but no matter how hard I try I simply can't work up that much sympathy and outrage for al-Aulaqi.

Plus there's something else to consider: A lot of polemical hay has been made over the notion of a government sanctioned "hit squad" tracking down al-Aulaqi -- or anyone else really -- and engaging in a form of extremely prejudicial military action that seems utterly nefarious and underhanded at face value. It's true that assassination has a disturbing ring to it no matter which way you couch it, but maybe this is one of those times that our new transparent media panopticon has rendered the unpleasant realities of war almost intolerable. People die during war. In all sorts of horrible ways. They're blown to pieces along with those around them, some of whom just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time; they're shot through the head in the dead of night; they go down fighting or drop before they even know what's hit them. This is why sending young men and women into battle is never under any circumstances a decision that should be taken lightly or be the product of caprice. The reality has always been brutal and hideous; the only difference is that now it's much easier to see this fact for ourselves.

But if you believe that war is occasionally necessary -- and I'm not saying that our fight in Afghanistan is, only making a generalization -- then what's a more humane way to kill an enemy? Is it to drop a bomb on him and likely slaughter innocents in the process -- or is it to take out him and him alone? Once again, the latter, strangely, sounds more corrupt -- but the truth is that, simply as a matter of numbers, it's not. Far from it.

I don't know all the details regarding the Anwar al-Aulaqi case. But I also don't automatically believe that I'm entitled to know. And I'm sorry, but I also won't lose a whole lot of sleep if I wake up one morning to learn he's not with us anymore.

32 comments:

Deacon Blue said...

Have to agree with you on this one.

It's the kind of thing that keeps me off the lists of cool parties being held by left wingers...and shoots holes in the theories of rightists that I'm a raving liberal (not that it stops them from continuing to call me one in certain venues).

As with so many things in life, common sense and discretion must be allowed some room, and not blind adherence to a set of ironclad rules. We need rules, sure, but there are times they can only be guidelines, and not something we follow "just because."

Literalism in terms of civil law and federal policy can be as disastrous...and often more so...than literal, out-of-context usages of religious literature.

In other words, sometimes you just need to kill a motherfucker for the greater good.

Harvey Jerkwater said...

While I can't speak to the case against the man in much depth, it has come out that Anwar al-Awlaki's connection to the Fort Hood shooting is zero. Major Hasan had been in communication with him months before the attack, but federal investigators concluded that the communications were consistent with a research project Hasan was working on for the Army about PTSD. Al-Awlaki may have contributed to Hasan's mental deterioration by calling for holy war and other such bullshit, but that wouldn't justify a kill order. If it were, we'd have smoked Glenn Beck a year ago.

I'm not saying there aren't necessarily reasons to go after the guy, but assisting the Fort Hood shooter isn't one of them.

mark said...

I definitely agree. Really,it's inconceivable that a president of this country could ever made a mistake, or order a military action for political purposes rather than for national security. I mean some of those idiots on the left said Bush started a war and invaded a country for no good reason, but that's ridiculous. He told us so himself. I mean, if you can't believe the president, who can you believe?

Web Dunce said...

I spent a good part of yesterday morning reading the actual brief filed by the Obama administration. In my opinion, the plaintiff has no case. Does Greenwald and the rest of the screaming left really think that a US court will grant a win to a Yemeni citizen based on a conspiracy theory over the legal obligations of the Commander in Chief? Please. There is no doubt that this Anwar character is a terrorist threat. His own father admits this fact. The way Greenwald portrays this guy, you'd think he was the all American kid who lives next door. Read the little tid bit below to get a clearer picture.It is taken directly from the actual brief filed by the Obama Admin.

Plaintiff Nasser al-Aulaqi is a citizen of Yemen and Anwar al-Aulaqi’s father. Plaintiff
does not seek to challenge the Government’s determination that his son is an operational leader
of AQAP and does not seek to categorically stop the United States from using lethal force
against his son under all circumstances. Rather, plaintiff seeks to enjoin the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency,
from “intentionally killing U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Aulaqi” outside an armed conflict “unless he is
found to present a concrete, specific, and imminent threat to life or physical safety, and there are no means other than lethal force that could reasonably be employed to neutralize the threat[.]”

Peter L. Winkler said...

The central issue is this: should the president - any president - be able to issue an order authorizing the military or CIA to assassinate an individual based solely on their own estimation of that person's dangerousness, said estimation not subject to any due process and not subject to any judicial review, completely closed from public scrutiny?

Obviously, the answer is no. Hypothetically, let's say a bank robber shoots a teller and guard in full view of numerous witnesses and is recorded doing so by a security camera. Under the standard you favor, the governor of the state in which the robbery occured should be able to order the police to shoot the suspect on sight.

Instead, the suspect, when arrested, is entitled to a fair trial with counsel. If convicted, he has the right to appeal.

Contrast that to the ability of a president to order someone assassinated based on their subjective judgement, which requires no legally testable justification. That's the essence of a police state.

Anonymous said...

I don't get any of this. I am shocked that the people on the left are surprise the Obama is just a more palpable version of Bush II, and I am also surprise that the right act like he is some socialist monster. We basically have the same policies and such as the last 8 years. I get so annoyed by people who act like I am some monster because I refuse to participate in national elections. Its pointless.

Riles said...

Although I agree that the government should be allowed to conduct missions without the public's knowledge, I disagree with everything else. I'm with Winkler...If there is enough evidence to kill, there should be enough evidence to arrest, put on trial and convict. If we're at the point where we can't & don't put people on trial because "state secrets" would be revealed, then we truly are close to being a police state.

ntx said...

Catch him and put him on trial. If that doesn't work, kill him. Make sure no one finds out about it.

That's pretty much how it goes.

Alex said...

Well one thing I will say is I do love how almost all of the screamers on the left are completely ignoring the fact that it's capture or kill. There is nothing there about a straight up assassination. Nothing. If whatever team sent out to get him has the ability to scoop him up then they probably will. But just like with any other violent, dangerous criminal if he wants to go down in a fight then there is no other option but to bring him down.

Peter, your hypothetical doesn't work right off the bat. It's not the same situation. First you're simply assuming that the "bank robber" plans on just letting himself get arrested. Second a lone bank robber and a well connected terrorist aren't anywhere close to the same thing.

Anonymous said...

The government is run by people, no? Which means that this will include all types of people, right? Morally corrupt people, morally courageous people, ideological people, people hell bent on getting theirs and damn the rest of us. So how do you make sure that we all are treated with equity and fairness? Well you follow some rules that govern said people so that oversight can bring into the light of day all those nasty and evil things that some of us do but that aren't, well you know legal. That's the purpose no? A nation of laws. But you seem to be arguing that we the people should just be ok with that oh so slippery slope as long as it's someone that isn't our neighbor or son or daughter. Sad that what I considered american exceptionalism dies so easily when it's just another foreigner that is targeted. By the way lumping all of us together into some group that's only recently lost faith in our government is really dumb. History is replete with coverups, scandals and shit that should make anyone lose faith, if they only paid attention. I'm saying they're all guilty of malfeasance and wrong doind, many people are really trying their hardest to do what's right. I'm just not buying the "trust me" line, that's the whole point of a democracy and the use of checks and balances, no?

J. Dack said...

This is an interesting one. I don't personally think the fact that he was born in America is relevant. Evil is evil and when pursuing "justice" against someone their nationality doesn't matter to me. (I also think diplomatic immunity is horse shit but that's a separate issue.)

So I don't really disagree with you in theory. However I do think Mr. Winkler makes a good point in his comment.

But 'capture or kill' does make me thing, as others pointed out, it's not so much a hit as a statement that if they find him and can't capture him and he gets ventilated in the process: good enough.

But even Saddam got a trial.

Joash said...

How about the irony of this jihadist being born in Las Cruces of all places. From what I've read of this case, the assassination order required a National Security Council review because of al-Awlaki's citizenship. I'm sorry, but I'm just not down with an unelected quorum of individuals who are not part of any Constitutional checks and balances making the final call on this decision.

Deacon Blue said...

For those worrying about the slippery slope...sure, there is a risk, and sometimes these kinds of powers will be misused.

But the idea that the president should deal with every threat transparently ALL the time, and not use some discretion (right or wrong) is ludicrous.

People, there is a reason espionage exists...and why it is necessary. Is it creepy and sometimes dangerous? Sure. But fuck, we cannot advertise our actions to everyone we target, and sometimes, it's not that easy to just grab a person and drag them back for trial.

If you can, great. If a covert assassination gets the job done more effectively and with less loss of life on both sides, I can live with that.

The government does shady shit all the time. Really, is a potential assassination of one really dangerous guy really worse than handing the keys to our nation's economy to Wall Street and letting them run wild?

Sometimes, idealism is a fucking dangerous thing too...and being morally right isn't always a good thing if it means you let bad things happen.

Jeremy said...

"Sometimes, idealism is a fucking dangerous thing too." -- Deacon Blue

I nominate this for a quote of the day, Chez.

Anonymous said...

The "Company", black ops, etc., are probably doing all sorts of things we don't know about. That's why letting the general public know about water boarding and asking them to sanction it is horrible and unnecessary. As for voting, like they say in South Park, your choice is always between a giant douche and a turd sandwich. Lesser of two evils, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Chez, it isn't about whether you do or do not lose sleep. It's about whether another American citizen gets to wake up at all, wherever and whoever he is. You seem to buy the idea that the president gets to be judge, jury and executioner on his own sayso. Bring the bastard to trial and prove he did what you say he did, then punish him. Period.

Jester said...

You're off-base on this one, Chez, but only by a bit. Got a little phrase I'd like to remind you of: innocent until proven guilty.

At the moment, this guy's still a U.S. citizen, and therefore, enjoys the rights that pertain thereto. Granted, the case against this guy seems pretty slam-dunk (you will forgive the expression), but that doesn't mean he doesn't get due process.

He gets some form of due process. That's very basic 14th Amendment stuff, and is very explicitly and blatantly laid out there. You can't be deprived of life, liberty or property without it. Obama's a Constitutional scholar and knows this.

Reportedly, adding this guy to the KOS list was a decision made by the National Security Council. That's Obama, Biden, Cliton, and Gates, plus assorted advisers. If GWB had done it, with Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld, wouldn't we be yelling "Star Chamber!" and wouldn't we be justified in doing so?

I realize that GWB was rather lax with the rules, but Obama's supposed to be Change we can believe in, and all that. But of course, if he doesn't do the "Presidential" thing and declare "dead or alive!", he gets berated by the right.

Now, all that said, I don't understand why the Department of State doesn't just initiate renunciation of citizenship proceedings on this guy. If he shows up, arrest him for aiding and abetting and let the trial begin. If he doesn't show up, he's forevermore a Yemeni citizen and becomes a valid target.

Chez said...

The way I'm reading it, it comes down to what Alex and J. Dack alreayd said: the "order" -- such as it is -- didn't automatically dispatch some secret hit squad out to assassinate al-Aulaqi; it was designed to give the military authority to end the threat posed by this man, and if the situation demands that he be killed then they have the discretion to do so. I realize I'll immediately be called naive if I say that this puts the onus on al-Aulaqi as to how he's brought to justice, but we are talking about someone who has, for all intents and purposes, renounced his citizenship and may be holding onto it in an official sense only insofar as he figures it will keep him alive.

Anonymous said...

Well I guess if you believe everything the gubmint tells you than yes, he's guilty as (not) charged. By the way, there's this awesome bay I'd like to sell you, it's called the Bay of Tonkin, you'll love it!

Chez said...

Sorry, but what part of "independent reporting" are you having trouble with? It's not simply the "gubmint" that's labeled al-Aulaqi a threat.

But hey, far be it from me to stand in the way of your fourth grade idea of a good comeback, shithead.

Anonymous said...

Independent reporting is always right then? They never make mistakes. I thought we were a nation of laws and that most of us at least believe in that silly document called the constitution. 
Isn't that the point, in this supposed experiment, we call democracy? At least some semblance of a trial, in order to determine if someone is guilty or not (just in case mistakes were made or someone just outright made shit up), that sure would be a grand gesture, especially to those supposed values we always say we hold dear. You know life, liberty, and all that bullshit. 
But I guess if your thin skinned ego can't take it then fuck you very much. 
Signed-- Joe Shithead (4th grader)

Michael J. West said...

I don't know, Chez. You raise a number of points worthy of consideration, and Glenn Greenwald is indeed a diva. But I'm very, very wary any time an administration invokes a document that can so easily be abused. And, in fact, has been so easily abused. May I suggest looking up U.S. v. Reynolds, the 1953 SCOTUS case that established the State Secrets doctrine? The documents at issue in that case were eventually declassified, and come to find out the only "state secret" they contained was that of the government's embarrassing incompetence.

Chez said...

I figured this one was gonna draw some fire.

Look, Anon, I get your point, but I have to draw the line somewhere when it comes to how much you can defile your citizenship before it becomes nothing more than a technicality. We're not talking about a guy who lives in Des Moines or even vacations there once in awhile; we're talking about someone who, once again, has essentially renounced his home country and declared war on its citizens. And sorry, but you get enough independent reports stating the exact same thing and you tend to trust the veracity of those statements; that's the entire idea of the press and simply ignoring that many identical reports because you feel like there's a slim chance they might all be wrong or compromised somehow is just fucking ludicrous.

I go back to the point that I and a few others made already -- that the military has been ordered to take down al-Aulaqi, which makes perfect sense given what we know about him, and the extremely prejudicial aspect of it is little more than some latitude granted by the government because of, once again, what we know about al-Aulaqi, the way he's likely to react, and the sway he holds over members of a very dangerous terrorist organization.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure torture started the same way-who can work up much sympathy for monsters like Khalid Mohammed? So we compromise our values because he's a really bad guy and we know it. But then it spreads, and we torture a few more folks-bad guys but not quite as bad. Then it spreads and we torture guys we are pretty sure are bad. Then it spreads a bit further and...oops. We tortured someone totally innocent (http://www.truth-out.org/10140910). Then it spreads further and becomes routine and...oops. We have Abu Ghraib. Rare exceptions tend to become routine with terrifying frequency (power corrupts, and all that).

Like it or not, he's a US citizen, and President Obama is not a king. After all, who cares if the President is better at human rights than Kim Jong Il or Fidel Castro? Whoopty-freaking do. I didn't vote for him to clear such a low bar, I voted for him (among other reasons) because I thought he understood that we are a nation of laws, that even the President is constrained by those laws, and that's it's most important to strictly follow those laws precisely when it's most tempting to ignore them. Not better than Kim Jong Il but better than Addington and Yoo and Bush and the entire horrifying movement in this country that seems to think the President is an unrestricted monarch as long as they speak the magic words, "security" or "terrorist".

The military doesn't need some special order to kill someone "if the situation demands that he be killed" as you put it. If he's shooting, I'm sure they'll shoot back and even Greenwald will be fine with it. But he's not fine, and neither am I, with the idea that the President can declare an American citizen guilty and pass sentence of death without a trial.

What this order allows CIA agents in the field, or military personnel, who happens to encounter him or *thinks* they've spotted him, to kill him. No effort at capture is required. And if it's too dangerous to try and capture, why, let's just call in a Predator strike since this order puts him on the valid target list for that as well. Gee, I hope we don't torture the wrong guy....I mean, shoot the wrong person. Or drop a Predator missile on the wrong house. Or put some innocent citizen on the hit list because we think he's bad but we don't have to actually prove it. How could that ever backfire on us?

Not to mention the precedent it sets. I think there's a trooper Wooten up in Alaska who might be pretty concerned about an executive's unchecked power to do something like this-if you don't want a President Palin being able to put American citizens on the CIA's hit list without judicial review or having been convicted of anything, then you can't support this either. Like all government programs, it's a whole lot easier to start down those roads (perhaps with the best of intentions on your merry way to hell) than it is to stop later on.

Do you remember Niemoller's famous poem (obligatory Holocaust reference)? The one about “they came for others and I didn’t speak up” etc…A few months ago some nitwit re-wrote it to bitch about their tax rate possibly going from 35% all the way to 39%, and Jon Stewart eviscerated them, promising that if the government did in fact start to round them up and kill them he would be certain to speak up, but until then they should shut the f- up and get a sense of proportion. Of course, in this case, the government *is* coming to get and kill someone, someone they've labeled a terrorist and a threat, if also an American citizen. I'm not a terrorist or a threat, so why should I, or Greenwald, say anything? I hope the question answers itself. Sometimes we should pay attention to slippery slopes and the warnings of history and what they say about such unchecked power in un-accountable hands.

Sorry to ramble on and repeat myself so much. This touches some nerves.

Jester said...

Er, I can't believe who I'm saying this to, but it's not the "independent media"'s job to confirm the veracity of their claims, remember? All they care about is sensation, money and ratings?

http://www.deusexmalcontent.com/2007/08/quiet-man.html

Remember that?

I'm not equating the situations by any means, but damn. That's quite a waffle you did there. ;-)

Chez said...

Very, very fair, Jester. I suppose what it comes down to is which news outlets you trust. If you can form a consensus among several of them -- as much as it pains me to say this, particularly non-US sources -- then you have to make a decision as to what you believe. As staunch as I've been in my cynicism, even I give in and believe, at least partially, what I see and hear on occasion.

Chez said...

Incidentally, great comment Anon 9:55.

Deacon Blue said...

It seems to me that the ire that gets build up around things like "hit orders" or secret interrogations and torture and such (and that ire isn't unjustified, mind you) is that same thing that gets people all up in arms about Michael Vick and dog fighting, but allows them to pass by a mentally ill homeless person begging on the street, who's only on the street because the government cut mental health care for the poor and indigent.

It's the kind of mindset that gets people horrified when a kid goes missing, but lets them believe some ludicrous story by a white mom that some random made-up black guy did something to her kids, when she should have been the prime suspect from the get-go.

That is, we let ourselves worry about the "cute" victims or fret about the "scary" things government does without recognizing a critical thing:

Government has its hands in every aspect of our lives just about, and it's ALL a slippery slope.

Laws to protect certain groups end up mandating political correctness and make it impossible for us to communicate anymore without offending someone.

Economic policies hand the keys to corporate interests that then rape our nation for their own ends.

Certain groups are demonized (smokers, potheads, etc.) while others are to be cared for and sympathized with (like the obese, who are one of the greatest health drains/medical care threats in the nation).

Military spending is increased because we feel unsafe with all those terrorists out there (even though they aren't nearly the threat to us overall that people want to think...certainly not worthy of TWO wars) but we hardly blink at teachers' salaries being slashed and making them work ever harder, while destroying the educational system to teach kids to tests instead of imparting actual knowledge to them.

Certain people and groups are totally worthy of black ops, but we worry about the slippery slope toward those tactics being used on us here at home. Guess what, they already are! Our online communications get monitored and the Patriot Act took away many of our civil rights. And most of us just said, "OK."

I'm not saying we shouldn't be vigilant. But what I see is some people saying that black ops shit is just wrong and we shouldn't be on the path at all because we might slip, when we've slipped EVERYWHERE ELSE already and our country is tanking mostly because of those other slips and slides.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what you wrote Deacon, but what your argument amounts to is “we’ve already surrendered so many civil rights, what’s one more as long as we stay vigilant about its use?” That didn’t work so well with torture a few years ago. For the record, I have objected to pretty much everything specific you cited, sometimes trivially (like posting on a blog), and sometimes contributing money, time, and effort to what I believe in. Not that it ever seems to do any good.

And if you (or Chez) want to understand why so many feel so let down by Obama this whole discussion is a perfect illustration. I didn’t expect utopia or anything remotely close to it. Sure I would have liked to have seen lots of things handled differently. But that’s politics, he’s always been a centrist at heart, and I can deal with it. But the tea partiers aren’t the only ones who “want their country back.” During the campaign Obama did a masterful job appealing to this nation’s best instincts, reminding us that it doesn’t matter how bad our enemies are, that it’s not about who they are at all, it’s about who we are. We are Americans and we are better than the things we had stooped to.

I spent 8 years living under a President who shamed the US and spit on the Constitution with his whole “I’m the President, what I do is right by definition” crap, with the creepy security state encapsulated by the “Homeland Security” bureaucracy and things like the Patriot Act internally and torture against our enemies. I had to listen to a large portion of this country/media/political class dub me a “traitor” for speaking out against such things and not supporting our President during a war. The whole maddening thing reminded me of the Colonel in A Few Good Men. I imagine Cheney and Bush and the rest snarling “The truth-you can’t handle the truth!” while they do illegal things and claim the right to keep it all secret. Obama was supposed to be different when it came to that, at least. But he isn’t. He’s continuing to expand the security state, continuing to claim executive privilege and invoking “state secrets” far too often, continuing to claim the President can ignore a citizen’s rights when HE’s decided they’re dangerous, continuing to appeal to this country’s worst instincts instead of it’s best (this guy’s bad, we should be so scared of him that we risk killing the wrong people if we get a chance to take him out, but trust us, we won’t abuse that power and it won’t go wrong). All for the chimera of “security.” It’s utterly demoralizing.

I do not believe that all black ops are bad. But must they be used against American citizens convicted of…nothing? I agree that we are already on a slippery slope of compromised rights, and that the somnolent citizens of this country are doing a fine job pissing away our liberties (religion as an opiate of the masses? Ha—try TV). The fact that we’re already sliding doesn’t mean we should give up! And this crosses lines that haven’t previously been crossed: it’s not just monitoring us, it’s convicting and KILLING a citizen while skipping their right to a trial or put on a defense. If we can’t draw a line at executive murder, a murder they are claiming they can keep secret all their evidence to justify, where will it be drawn?

It’s amazing, all the concerns you listed about civil liberties and government power, yet you’re willing to let the government kill a citizen they’ve decided is dangerous? I don’t care if it’s Obama and every news outlet in the world (they get their information from the same leaks that trace right back to the government) telling me “don’t worry, he deserves it.” Sorry, I know I’m repeating myself, but our founding fathers didn’t create those Constitutional rights because they were worried we’d forget about them when times were good and things were easy. They’re there to remind us what is right when things are stressed, we are threatened, and times are hard. I won’t shed any tears for al-Aulaqi, but I will for what it means we’ve become and what it means for our future.

Deacon Blue said...

Actually, my point wasn't that we've lost so much that we should throw up our hands.

My point is that the vast majority of government evil (past and future) and the damage it has done has not been with things like this or with secret activities. Most of its evil has been done right in the damned open, and yet people point to things like THIS as the sign of evil...as the slippery slope upon which our reputation and the integrity of our government hinges.

That doesn't wash.

This kind of thing is a tiny fraction of government activity in shady areas. Tiny.

As and for this jackass and giving him a trial? Well, if he can be captured easily, fan-tucking-tastic. But you know what? Unless I'm missing something, he isn't exactly trumpeted his innocence. If he wants to happily cozy up and make plans with people who gleefully target civilians routinely and typically to make their political points, then he can fucking die with them and I won't shed a fucking tear over it.

Jester said...

Deacon, listen to yourself. Please.

If I walk up to you in front of 100 witnesses and shoot you in the face six times with 20 video cameras are rolling, then jump up and down on your corpse screaming "I killed him!" over and over again until the cops come, I still get a trial.

And there's a 99% chance that when I'm arraigned for that trial, I'll STILL plead "Not Guilty" to see what kind of deal I can get from the D.A.

The fact that I did it is irrelevant. The fact that there are 100 witnesses and lots of proof is also irrelevant. The fact that I admitted it at the top of my voice is irrelevant.

I still get due process. And so does this guy we're talking about. That's one of the top 14 benefits of being a U.S. citizen.

To have you sit there and say we should just give up on those rights because they're too hard to defend is infuriating. And to have you sit there and say you'd applaud if someone else lost them right in front of you is worse.

Deacon Blue said...

Jester, the fucker is in another country, plotting with terrorists. Apparently, leading many of those plots.

He's not engaging in some abstract protest against the United States.

He marched out of this country to go hang out in another one to commit terrorist acts.

If that doesn't amount to renouncing your fucking citizenship, I don't know what does.

This is NOT a normal situation. Please don't compare apples and oranges if you're going to chastise me from your ideologically immature and wholly impractical perch.

This man is an enemy combatant, if there ever was one.

If this were WWII, and I marched off to Germany to aid the Nazis, or to Japan to work for the Emperor, I would totally expect that I could catch a bullet from the military for stepping to the other side.

Has this man asserted his citizenship and shown any interest in residing in the United States as a productive citizen or being a productive expatriate citizen? If he has, please point me to evidence of that and I'll shut the fuck up.