Obama: Warrior Or Assassin?
Published on: October 1, 2011
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  • stephen b

    You’re certainly correct in that he can’t have it both ways, but he will, as well as his supporters, defenders, and apologists, attempt to do so, thus amplifying an incandescent cognitive dissonance.

  • Luke Lea

    Maybe a more apt comparison than Ron Paul’s would be with a police shootout against a fugitive holed up or even holding hostages. Though I don’t approve of a lot of shootouts when the cops are trigger happy, as they are around here (Chattanooga).

    Or maybe it’s just our amygdala talking here. There are situations in life in which we instinctively know what the appropriate response is even though we may not be able to justify it in abstract terms. Human beings are like that — as when we use the right word to say what we mean but can’t define what that word means.

  • Luke Lea

    “This is not the normal behavior of a Chief Magistrate faithfully executing the laws. It is the behavior of a president locked in a bitter struggle against a dangerous foe.”

    You are referring to the Republican Party I presume?

  • Kenny

    Al-Awlaki, a fellow citizen? Plueeze.

    And that’s the problem right there for narrowly & technically he was a ‘fellow citizen’

  • SteveMG

    While I agree with the general view here I have an unease (yes, poor old me) about these types of actions against American citizens, even traitorous one. The drone strikes may come out of the sky but the people ordering them aren’t angels (as Madison warned us). What’s to prevent an abuse of this power? Who gave the orders by the way? Did the President sign off? Who carried out the orders? The CIA? Defense?

    As to Greenwald: He has been, to his credit, very consistent in condemning executive branch actions of this sort whether directed by a Republican or a Democrat. But I can’t see placing him among the Jeffersonian left. He may be a civil libertarian when it comes to the police and national security powers of the state but he is most definitely a statist when it comes to the economic sphere. His opposition to the Article One powers seems to come and go.

  • Tom Holsinger

    Location also has legal ramifications. Use of deadly force is appropriate in some areas and inappropriate in others. Yemen is not Japan. Somalia is not Chile. Pakistan is not Germany. Afghanistan is not Colorado.

    Those who fail to note such distinctions don’t want to.

  • Anthony

    “Mr. Al-Awlaki chose to make himself what used to be called an outlaw; a person at war with society who is no longer protected by the laws he seeks to destroy. He was not a criminal who has broken some particular set of laws; he was an enemy seeking to destroy all the laws and the institutions that create them…. The President is clearly acting like a man who is fighting a war.” The above sums it up adequately WRM; treasonous behavior and war belligerence against the state beget violent death….

  • Kevin

    The analysis suggests that the Executive Branch is in violation of War Powers. If we are at War, then it follows that this war must be authorized and otherwise administered according to present law. If not, then the order to assassinate an American citizen is problematic in my view. This order is one step down the slope and I can feel the slide beginning.

  • Toni

    I’m glad this decision was somebody else’s. Left up to me, I’d still be dithering.

    That said, I’m *very* glad the news was immediately made public. Early in the Cold War, to fight a foe with no scruples, the CIA was tasked with doing things that would ordinarily violate American scruples. Shenanigans like trying to prevent Allende from taking office and re-installing the Shah on his throne ensued. All this came to light in Congressional hearings.

    My point: if America is going to task anyone with making such decisions and carrying them out, it’s much better for all Americans to know.

  • Which brings up another point. We are not fighting a War on Terror any more (it always was a dreadful term). What is Team Obama calling this kinetic action?

  • Isn’t voluntary taking up arms with the enemy in a war against the US one of the very few ways one can lose US citizenship? (The others, IIRC, are taking up a policy-level position in a foreign government and renouncing one’s citizenship in front of a consular official. As tax fugitive Marc Rich learned, even the latter is not guaranteed.)

    In any case, I agree with Greenwald for once (a broken clock etc.): the hypocrisy of the Ministry for Democrat Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, a.k.a., the mainstream media, is absolutely staggering. In other news, water is wet and the sun rises in the East.

  • Tom Perkins

    “If we are at War, then it follows that this war must be authorized and otherwise administered according to present law.”

    I know of evidence it is authorized and to my knowledge it is administered according to present law. The involvement of civil law–due process–is no more required for Awlaki to be killed by a missile than it is for a warrant to be issued or a guilty verdict read for a soldier to pull a trigger.

  • drjohn

    Who decides when someone is beyond the protection of US law?


    How easy is it now to declare anyone beyond the protection of US law?

    Who can now be taken out under such an aegis without all the publicity?

  • Kevin:
    We are at war. Congress authorized the executive branch to prosecute a war against Al Qaeda, and Obama is doing it.

    Al Awlaki was by strict legal definition not a criminal, since the justice department had no charges against him. It is obvious by the documented facts and government action that the Executive Branch chose to treat him not as a criminal but as the enemy combatant he was.

    Tom Holsinger also brings up a good point. AQ is on the move in Yemen, and Awlaki was part of that and therefore a legitimate military target. Had we assassinated him as he walked freely through the streets of London or even Riyadh, I think that would be a different situation entirely.

    SteveMG worries rightly about abuse of power. My answer would be that all of this was carried out with due legal diligence and in a transparent manner befitting a democratic government. We know the unclassified details of what happened. Congress will investigate this, including the classified operational details.

    I do not believe any new precedent was set that allows a president to summarily execute citizens without a trial. Awlaki freely chose to be an enemy combatant serving in an organization congress has approved military action against. He chose his fate.

  • drjohn

    Barack Obama has already identified Americans who oppose him as the “enemy.”

    Think about it.

  • drjohn

    What of Timothy McVeigh? Why was he granted the protections of the Constitution?

    Faisal Shahzad?

    Nidal Hasan?

  • martin heilweil

    color me stupid…

    an american citizen shooting at me in war has the same protections as a non-citizen– death

    color me stupid, we are at war

    color me stupid, those who support the enemy shooters are enemies

    we fight The Long War, it has come to us, history tells: the virus erupts from the desert every few hundred years, infects the globe until we develop anti virus vaccines, and the virus hibernates until it morphs and mutates into some new virulence, and we repeat

    our two tiny centuries of america are historically ignorant of 1300 years of islam, we were born into the barbary wars, and protected, by british imperialism, from the mahdi of the Sudan; arab resurgence in algeria, post-ww2, gave us khomenie, and now history repeats, from iran and wahhab saudi arabia, the latter consumed by its revolutionary children or soon

    wahhab was born from the islamic defeat at vienna, via desert retreatism and spiritual purgation and purification, militarism restored

    the Long War is not one of victory, but of ‘containment’

    islam will never be pacified, just as chicago or los angeles or Washington DC will never be ‘pacified’

    war is the human condition

    is the latest DOA a valid military target, shoot on sight, global war, unlawful combatant?

    we give our military discretion as to whom to shoot, with review before and after

    as for st paul, ron paul, he elsewhere advocates the constitution’s letters of marque

    is THAT? our response? and if so, does a letter-carrier have access to B-52s and predator strike power?

    i prefer obama to letter-marque

    but as we hire mercenaries, private security forces, are they not our latter-day marque’s-men? who knew, st paul advocates for Blackwater!!


  • sherlock

    I wish we Americans could expect that our Democrats, media, and movie stars would always give our CIC the dispensation to kill our deadly enemies, and not just when we have earned such, in their eyes, by electing a Democrat.

  • nadine

    Today, we have quiet murmurs of protest from Glenn Greenwald et. al. Just imagine how they would have gone ballistic, had George W. Bush still been in office!

    Curious how the one area where Obama has maintained and in some cases even increased the policies of his predecessor is the Voldemort Affair (the war formerly known as the GWOT). Sounds to me like Bush’s laconic comment on leaving office, “When Mr. Obama hears what I hear every morning, his views of the world will change,” has come to pass.

  • With one exception, this article is spot on.

    The exception is that our war with al Qaeda and its offshoots isn’t a quasi-war, it’s a real war.

    Just because they aren’t an officially recognized state doesn’t make it any less a war.

    Even though al Qaeda does not OFFICIALLY control a recognized foreign government, they do occupy territory in various parts of the world.

    They are an armed force. Their leaders have already declared war on us, issued mobilization orders, and perpetrated multiple and bloody acts of war upon us.

  • Raymond in DC

    Knowing he was targeted, al-Awlaki could have turned himself in to authorities at the US Embassy. Only then could he have claimed his rights. He chose not to, thus remaining an outlaw at war with the US. He merited no quarter.

  • Jackthe Whack

    I’m having trouble understanding the armchair lawyers who have been agonizing over this “affront” to the constitution.
    Too much of law has become pointless intellectual [futile activity] anyway as far as I’m concerned…..so I’ll skip the legal debate.
    It seems someone who would be considered an officer in a conventional army, a strategist, a literal supplier of fuel and comfort (the ideology of jihad,) a treasonous citizen who physically transported himself to the enemies camp for the expressed purpose of aiding them in killing his own countrymen, a man who recruits foot soldiers for that cause, had a missile shoved up his rear end. Ultimately, by the Commander in Chief of the army he opposes. So ya wring your hands over this ? Ya get all caught up in the “It violates the constitution !!!” frenzy…….uh…no actually it doesn’t…….Take a breath. Read a few law books, and for God’s sake stop with the “I could be next/It could be you next” nonsense

  • LarryD

    Al-Awlaki made go-no go final decisions on acts of war against the US, he was not just a propagandist but a part of enemy command and control structure. As such, he was a legitimate target of war, just as Admiral Yomamoto was during WWII. The fact that he was an American citizen does not grant him any special dispensation, it just means that, if we’d happened to catch him, we could have tried him for treason. (BTW, the Geneva Conventions forbid trying POWs while hostilities are in progress. If Al Qaeda was a state actor, we wouldn’t be able to try it’s personnel except for crimes of war. )

  • richard40

    I find it a little ironic that the only successes of the Obama administration, the killings of Bin Laden and Alwaki, have happened because Obama did exactly what Bush would have done, and what Obama severely criticised in his 2008 campaign.

  • Ted

    He is neither warrior nor assasin. He is however complicit in the murder of border agent Terry. And Guilty of trying to subvert the US Constitution particularly the 2nd amendment, with his corrupt and treasonous gunwalker/fast and furious scheme. We should be talking impeachment and prosecution not re-election. Come on you cowards that are monitoring this site post this and get the word out about the illegal and corrupt activities of this administration.

  • Carl

    About what you’d expect from someone holding the Kissinger fellow at CFR. After all, Kissinger was singularly responsible for the murder of a few million Indochinese women and children. If you follow this dim [illegitimate child’s –ed] logic, condemning the United States for harboring disgusting mass murderers (and their kneeling servants) and calling for justice should be vaporized by American missiles. Let’s say it clearly, once and for all: the United States is greatest threat facing the civilized world today. It’s the world’s biggest polluter. Its sells more arms to Israel and other rogue terrorist nations than any other country on earth. It is a thieving,lying, marauding country run by a corrupt elite that represents the greatest threat to the security of American citizens.

    Okay, Walter Russell (as your mama called her addled little boy) — come and get me. Strap on your little drone and pay me a visit.

  • Jim.

    Is anyone else comforted by the fact that when an action like this is taken — an action that has many justifications but is outside the norms of acceptability — there is a significant outcry against it?

    It seems to me that so long as anyone who might take further actions like this (particularly actions with less justification) is convinced that they will run into overwhelming opposition if they step farther outside the norms of acceptability, we have a reasonably stable system.

    Sometimes the steep and slippery slope slants down towards the middle on each side, not towards one extreme or the other.

  • whitehall

    The Bush Administration did arrest and lockup an American citizen on American soil early on. The guy was clearly AQ but what ever happened to him? That case was a bit spookier.

    Obvious to me, this clown in Yemen needed killing. That can clearly be justified here, whether or not he was a US citizen. Who in a position of elected political responsibility to the US voter will claim otherwise?

    Didn’t FDR have some Nazi sabotours shot after being brought into the States via U-boat? One or more of them were citizens too.

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