Cross-posted from Mike Malloy
The Obama administration doesn't know when to quit when it's ahead. It's winning the war of public opinion in the Affordable Care debate; made its oddly-Eisenhower-esque commitment of 300 "military advisers" to quell the ISIS crisis in Iraq; and has made a sensible argument about raising the minimum wage. Then, as happens so often, comes a bombshell like this headline from ABC News: US Justified Drone Killings by Citing Al-Qaida Law
Not good. Not good at all. The US Justice Department has rationalized the use of drone strikes against Americans by citing the questionable practices of Bush-era terror war (war crime) logic -- anybody who is not our friend is our enemy. You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists. Here's an excerpt from the ABC story:
"The Obama administration justified using drones to kill Americans suspected of terrorism overseas by citing the war against al-Qaida and by saying a surprise attack against an American in a foreign land would not violate the laws of war, according to a previously secret government memorandum released Monday.
"The memo provided legal justification for the September 2011 killing in Yemen of Anwar Al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida leader and one-time cleric at a northern Virginia mosque who had been born in the United States, and another U.S. citizen, Samir Khan, who edited al-Qaida's Internet magazine. An October 2011 strike also killed Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, al-Awlaki's teenage son and also a U.S. citizen. The memo, written by a Justice Department official, said the killing of al-Awlaki was justified under a law passed by Congress soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The law empowered the president to use force against organizations that planned, authorized and committed the attacks.
"In February, U.S. officials acknowledged that the Obama administration was considering authorizing the CIA or the military to kill another American, this one a militant hiding in Pakistan who allegedly has helped al-Qaida plan attacks against U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan. Justice Department lawyers were said to be reviewing the evidence and had not yet determined whether the president should add the American, identified by the New York Times as Abdullah al-Shami, to the so-called 'kill list.'
"A Yemeni human rights activist, Abdel-Rahman Barman, said the memo released Monday shows any security tip that reaches the U.S. government could lead to somebody being killed."
Is there a more important issue, Truthseeker, than the question of which circumstances give our government the power to kill us? The memo was only released after FOIA requests and was heavily redacted. Notably missing was the evidence that Al-Awlaki posed an imminent threat to the United States. With the Justice Department rubber-stamping the "kill list" from the White House, where are the checks and balances? We expected this from the Bush Crime Family, but didn't Obama come into office pledging to stop this kind of questionable practice? Like his pledge to close GITMO . ... (wait a minute ...)
The Guardian, UK has this:
"Known as the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), the broad and controversial 2001 law played a major role in the legal decision to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, the former al-Qaida propagandist and US citizen, in 2011, according to a redacted memorandum made public on Monday.
"'We believe that the AUMF's authority to use lethal force abroad also may apply in appropriate circumstances to a United States citizen who is part of the forces of an enemy authorization within the scope of the force authorization,' reads the Justice Department memorandum, written for attorney general Eric Holder on 16 July 2010 and ostensibly intended strictly for Awlaki's case.
"Among those circumstances: 'Where high-level government officials have determined that a capture operation is infeasible and that the targeted person is part of a dangerous enemy force and is engaged in activities that pose a continued and imminent threat to US persons or interests.'
"The 2nd US circuit court of appeals in Manhattan released the memo on Monday in response to a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times."
US Drone strikes have killed or maimed thousands of people, the vast majority of them innocent bystanders. It seems an obvious question, but if the administration has complete justification for these strikes, why is there not full transparency? Why the need for a secret kill list if, in fact, killing these individuals (and the unlucky crowd standing nearby) is absolutely essential to national security? You would think they'd be bragging about all the work they are doing to keep America safe from further terror attacks, not hiding their actions under redacted memos that are only released under pressure of lawsuits.
This underscores the argument of why whistleblower protections are so important in today's Orwellian America. Why Edward Snowden's and Chelsea Manning's revelations are crucial to protecting what remains of our right to information about -- and knowledge of -- our government's actions. (What a quaint idea ...) We are being kept in the dark about the number of these targeted attacks and the determining factors at to who is considered an "imminent threat." We deserve to know who is being killed -- in our name -- and why.
We need to know, Mr. President and, to borrow a phrase: Are you with us, or against us?