Friday, September 30, 2011

We Will Kill You Because We Can, No Due Process Necessary

Two dissident Americans were assassinated today by terrorists.

Although the two were active vocal opponents of United States policies, and though they were accused by some of being "linked" (whatever that means) to various acts of violence and conspiracy, the two dissidents were not charged with crimes, apprehended or arrested, nor prosecuted and tried by American authorities. Nobody was asked to prove their guilt or allowed to profess their innocence before the button was pressed that ended their lives.

The two Americans were killed, apparently by a CIA predator drone, in a military strike on Yemen, which allegedly is at peace with the United States. The U.S. is currently attempting to bolster the rule of Yemen's beseiged dictator. The two were Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, both allegedly propagandists for the Al Qaeda network.

Let it be said: this was extra-legal murder, and anybody who has ever said a critical word about the United States or its policies — including American citizens who falsely believe themselves to be protected by the rule of law — should feel a chill at this action undertaken by the Obama administration. These two American citizens were executed without any due process because the government said they deserved to die. No evidence, no charges, no trial, no defense, nothing.

Al-Awlaki and Khan were accused of being members of an organization that any fighter for justice, indeed any decent human being, should abhor. With a faux anti-imperialist sheen, Al-Qaeda's politics are a vile blend of religious fundamentalism and nihilism: these alleged fighters for Islam have killed thousands and thousands of decent, peace-loving Muslims. They've killed children at a rate to rival the worst excesses of the American war machine or Apartheid Israel. But advocating for a horrible organization is not a capital offense: and if the two were engaged in capital crimes or conspiracies, why were they not brought to the halls of blind justice that the U.S. claims to be so proud of?

The action that the CIA undertook today was a blatant act of terrorism: a random act of death from the skies for which there could be no defense. The people in Yemen killed today were going about their lives as hapless as the Americans killed on 9/11.

This was a terrible, terrible precedent. And one has only to read columnist Glenn Greenwald's tweet today to ponder the unleashed potential:

While it seems highly unlikely that she will be the one to replace President Obama, Michele Bachmann (or someone just as bad as her) has just been enabled to dispatch murderous predator drones to kill opponents of her policies on her say-so. Samir Khan is accused of publishing a web-based Al-Qaeda magazine. Al-Awlaki is accused of giving pro-Al-Qaeda video sermons on Youtube. If these are now considered executable crimes without proof or process, what will the next resident of the White House consider kill-worthy?

It is not enough that the government said these two men were criminals or terrorists: that's not the way the law is supposed to work. Or perhaps, we've just been shown that the law is an utter illusion. Look to the skies.

Graphics snagged from today's Times.


  1. It took 45 days after the 9/11 attack to sign the USA Patriot Act into effect. That act did more to destroy America than all the planes did on September 11th.

    Until someone has the courage to repeal this act and return to law and order in this country I can see no hope for America.

  2. I think you should keep in mind that 50% of the CIAs anti-terrorism force are contrators who work for private corporations. So, it is not simply the U.S. government who can target citizens for assassination. The truth is that any of the corporations who provide intelligence workers and foreign operatives can label any American citizen as a terror threat.

    This may sound like a paranoid conspiracy to some. However, we know that many of these private companies are owned by extreme right wingers. Many of them have conservative religious views. How that will effect their work for the CIA remains to be seen. They could manufacture evidence -- we saw that happen with the false evidence of WMDs that were used to justify the Iraq War.

  3. @ Annie, I'm sure you grew up like I did being taught that our freedoms protect us. Sigh.

    @ Fritz, great points. The CIA seems to be a law unto itself...which drives me crazy. It's military Americans who don't have to admit to being military Americans; who cares about reality.