And so President Obama has finally raised the stakes in the poker game between himself and George W Bush over who can be the more provocative Commander in Chief. Up til now, Obama has basically played to a stand-still; simply matching each of Bush’s moves. Bush invades Afghanistan and Iraq: Obama keeps us there but rearranges the pieces. Bush opens a detention center at GITMO: Obama continues to employ its use. Bush utilizes “rendition” and torture: Obama scales back on the renditions and outsources the torture. Bush authorizes and employs the Patriot Act: Obama extends all of its provisions for the indefinite future. The beat, seemingly goes on. That is, until yesterday when President Barack Obama issued an order to assassinate two American citizens who were alleged to be Al Quaida operatives in a foreign country. To my knowledge, this is the first time that an order has been issued to kill an American citizen (not openly engaged in deadly combat) without any effort at apprehension, trial, or other elements of due process as defined in the US Constitution. And, given the nature of the current Amerika – the event was cheered by both sides of the political spectrum.
“Anwar al-Awlaki, the target of the U.S. drone attack, was one of the best-known al-Qaida figures after Osama bin Laden. American intelligence officials had linked him to two nearly catastrophic attacks on U.S.-bound planes, an airliner on Christmas 2009 and cargo planes last year. The second American killed in the drone attack, Samir Kahn, was the editor of Inspire, a slick online magazine aimed at al-Qaida sympathizers in the West.”
Please note that Awlaki was linked to two “nearly catastrophic attacks…” No one died or was injured and it is not specified how Awlaki was linked to the non-events. And then there is Samir Kahn; killed because he was the editor of an anti-American magazine. On the surface, these were men not to be liked or admired by Americans. However, we are supposed to be a nation of laws; guided by a constitution that GUARANTEES certain rights and obligations. Paramount among these rights is due process where an American citizen faces his accuser and is afforded the opportunity of defense. This act of targeting and killing American citizens (did you also note the part where this operation was executed by cowardly drone attack?) continues to take our country further down the rabbit hole of totalitarianism. But there is an ironic twist to this story.
“Late Friday, two U.S. officials said intelligence indicated that the top al-Qaida bomb-maker in Yemen also died in the strike. Ibrahim al-Asiri is the bomb-maker linked to the bomb hidden in the underwear of a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.
Authorities also believe he built the bombs that al-Qaida slipped into printers and shipped to the U.S. last year in a nearly catastrophic attack.
Christopher Boucek, a scholar who studies Yemen and al-Qaida, said al-Asiri was so important to the organization that his death would "overshadow" the news of al-Awlaki and Khan.”
And so, while we might have had the killing of a suspected “high value” Al Quaida bomb maker with the death of two American citizens (also suspected in terrorist acts against the US) as “unfortunate collateral damage”, what we are left with is an American president – constitutional law scholar and Nobel Peace Prize winner – officially shredding the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution.
Peace, (If we can find it)
Chad (The Left) Shue