That’s right, not just one, but two, Americans were summarily and extrajudicially executed by their own government today, at the direct order of the President of the United States. No trial, no verdict, just off with their heads. Heck, there were not even charges filed against either Awlaki or Khan. And it is not that the government did not try either, there was a grand jury convened on Khan, but no charges. Awlaki too was investigated for charges at least twice by the DOJ, but non were found.
I confess to not knowing about the halfhearted attempts at legally dealing with Awlaki and Khan, but it’s not surprising to see them overlooked in media coverage of Friday’s assassination. It fits the big picture. We couldn’t convict them in any court of anything, so let’s just blow their asses away!
So that is where we stand. Bringing to its logical conclusion a process started under Clinton, the current president has declared himself to be Emperor of the Planet. If he says you’re an Extra Special Evil Enemy, you’re dead, even if you’re an American citizen. This is not the first time Obama’s exercised the imperial prerogative to put names on a death list, but it’s the most high-profile instance. And to read the responses from media and politicians–mostly bowing to the somber need to rid our country of these fucking cockroaches–is to cry.
I don’t think much has changed since I wrote “First they came, the invisible whites, and dealt death from afar” nearly a year ago. Except that now the USA is in major “Fuck Yeah!” mode in zapping terror leaders! And the efficiency of drone attacks has improved, uh, miraculously. Top counterterror honcho John Brennan now claims zero accidental deaths from drone strikes.
He actually said this:
There hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop.
Yes, ZERO. Earlier a key figure said, in the pages of the Times, that the success rate was more along the order of one in fifty. Now it’s one HUNDRED PERCENT.
Did the science of targeting big-ass rockets at blurry shapes on monitors improve that dramatically, or did the government just decide to lie brazenly about it?
Take your pick, but you should really ponder this report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism before you do….
There have been a good few critical responses to the Awlaki killing, mostly focusing on the fact that we are now murdering Americans without due process.
Truly, that is appalling, but isn’t it a tiny nuance, compared to the fact that a nation, protected by massive oceans on either side and friendly neighbors north and south, is vaporizing any human beings on the other side of the planet –the targeted person(s) and whoever else happens to be nearby when the Hellfire missile explodes–and then claiming self-defense? Mighty America is defending itself from a preacher in YEMEN?!!!! Just let the crazy of that sink in for a moment.
The libertarians have been getting to me, I guess. Not their goofy belief in the magic benevolence of markets, but in their justified questions of what exactly empowers the state to kill anyone, whether it be a hapless poor person of color who can’t afford decent counsel, or renegade Muslim clerics, or indeed anyone in a country that is not massing its troops at our border.
I can’t counter the thought that all of these decisions to murder arise not from an earnest desire to protect Americans (though I grant that might be mixed into the motivation), but mainly from considerations of domestic political expediency. The local DA has to appear “tough on crime” to win re-election, just as the president has to avoid the “soft on defense” tag to undercut the kneejerk criticisms on this account that are certain to come from the opposing party.
The low, dishonest decade hasn’t bottomed out yet.
Anyway, here is that earlier piece I mentioned above. Sadly, it’s even more relevant than it was last year.