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1 Gus  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 10:07:09am

Anwar al-Awlaki wasn’t just some American minding his own business on holiday overseas. He was connected to the following:

Fort Hood shooter
Christmas Day “Underwear Bomber”
Sharif Mobley
Times Square bomber
Stabbing of British former minister Stephen Timms
Seattle Weekly cartoonist death threat
British passenger plane plot
Cargo planes bomb plot

Had the Christmas Day “Underwear Bomber” been successful, 290 people would have been murdered.

Oh, and drones are incidental since they’re merely a weapons delivery system. However, it does make for good page hit grabbing headlines.

2 Political Atheist  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 10:38:57am

re: #1 Gus

The change in how we view imminet threat is what is changing. Right now that means drones and Obama. In the near future that will be global strike, various weapons and the same legal dilemma. The possibility some strikes are war crimes under international law.

That Iraq WMD threat was legally “imminent” enough to invade. This is not just grabbing headlines. A bit more from the article

“The Justice Department’s legal arguments purportedly defending targeted killing fundamentally misconceive the nature of self-defense,” University of Notre Dame professor Mary Ellen O’Connell said in a prepared statement. “It is a right to use military force against a state that has or is about to launched a major military attack on the United States. The 9/11 attacks led to a war of self-defense in Afghanistan. That had all the hallmarks of legality. Contrast that use of force with the CIA firing of missiles from drones at a single individual and innocent bystanders in Yemen. You do not need to be an expert in international law to understand the enormous violation of law involved and the egregious conduct involved in attempting to exploit lack of knowledge of the law to achieve political cover for targeted killing.”

Do we want future Presidents wielding this authority?

3 Glenn Beck's Grand Unifying Theory of Obdicut  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 10:43:54am

re: #2 Political Atheist

I think the fact the Iraq invasion (based on highly criticized evidence that didn’t get thoroughly critiqued) is legally fine and a drone strike against a guy with a very high degree of certainty is legally dubious shows that what’s legally right and wrong isn’t the most important yardstick to measure the wisdom of these actions.

4 Gus  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 10:45:50am

re: #2 Political Atheist

The change in how we view imminet threat is what is changing. Right now that means drones and Obama. In the near future that will be global strike, various weapons and the same legal dilemma. The possibility some strikes are war crimes under international law.

That Iraq WMD threat was legally “imminent” enough to invade. This is not just grabbing headlines. A bit more from the article

Do we want future Presidents wielding this authority?

When al-Qaeda and the Taliban start talking about the legality and ethics of their operations then perhaps we can talk. In the mean time, we seem to be having a lop-sided philosophical debate on the topic. Also, the notion that “Obama is droning Americans” has been extremely sensationalized and over-dramatized. This policy has been put to use minimally.

I eagerly await for al-Qaeda and the Taliban to enter this moral debate.

5 harrylook  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 11:18:52am

Gosh, so glad you trust the current president to be correct when he orders an extra-judicial assassination of an American citizen. When the next guy comes in, though, we should re-instate the 14th Amendment.

Remember,
Waterboarding al Qaeda: against our values!
Military tribunal for al Qaeda: against our values!
Obama assassinating Americans: whatever….

Also, was al Awlaki’s 16 year old son was a “senior operational leader” of al Qaeda? Maybe they were targeting someone he was with, but we don’t know b/c it’s secret. So, reviewing administration’s stance: we can kill you based upon our suspicion; there need not be any intelligence of an imminent attack; and we never have to account for or justify any of this.

6 Political Atheist  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 12:42:18pm

re: #4 Gus

Unlike the Taliban, we have agreed to obey the law. When did we end that?

7 Political Atheist  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 12:53:29pm

re: #3 Obdicut

I think the fact the Iraq invasion (based on highly criticized evidence that didn’t get thoroughly critiqued) is legally fine and a drone strike against a guy with a very high degree of certainty is legally dubious shows that what’s legally right and wrong isn’t the most important yardstick to measure the wisdom of these actions.

Since the criteria is secret )we have no idea how certain) and the administration has re defined imminence, (no proof they won’t attack) the article makes a very valid point. Our drone strike program might sometimes be a war crime.

8 Glenn Beck's Grand Unifying Theory of Obdicut  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 12:56:51pm

re: #7 Political Atheist

Since the criteria is secret )we have no idea how certain) and the administration has re defined imminence, (no proof they won’t attack) the article makes a very valid point. Our drone strike program might sometimes be a war crime.

It makes a perfectly valid point. My point is that saying the invasion of Iraq was legal and drone strikes aren’t is actually working against your point, since the Iraq war was far more dangerous, killed far more people, etc. so much more than the drone strikes do.

I think that our drone stuff isn’t actually useful and should be stopped, but in terms of whether it’s formally a war crime, I don’t care nearly as much as I do of the massive loss of life represented by the Iraq war and what led us to that point.

9 EPR-radar  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 1:05:11pm

re: #7 Political Atheist

Since the criteria is secret )we have no idea how certain) and the administration has re defined imminence, (no proof they won’t attack) the article makes a very valid point. Our drone strike program might sometimes be a war crime.

No other nation in the world presently has the military power to make a war crimes charge against the US stick, and this is likely to be true for many years to come. Thus the question of “war crimes” may be more of a distraction than anything else.

The underlying issue of the shaky grounds for this kind of preemptive action (both assassinations of individuals and preemptive wars such as Iraq) is, IMO, the main point.

Not so incidentally, I also tend to regard the issue of whether or not an individual assassination target is a US citizen as basically a distraction.

10 Political Atheist  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 2:18:38pm

re: #8 Obdicut

It makes a perfectly valid point. My point is that saying the invasion of Iraq was legal and drone strikes aren’t is actually working against your point, since the Iraq war was far more dangerous, killed far more people, etc. so much more than the drone strikes do.

I think that our drone stuff isn’t actually useful and should be stopped, but in terms of whether it’s formally a war crime, I don’t care nearly as much as I do of the massive loss of life represented by the Iraq war and what led us to that point.

The actual legality of the Iraq invasion is a matter of quite some dispute. Since “Bush lied people died” became the most common conclusion after the weapons were not there at all. Either we have a policy that has a rational definition of imminence or we don’t. At this time do not. That’s damn dangerous for a nation this powerful and frankly, reactionary.

11 Gus  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 2:19:44pm

The death of Awlaki is a major blow to Al-Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate. He took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans … and he repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda. [The strike] is further proof that Al-Qaeda and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world.
— President Barack Obama

12 Political Atheist  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 2:22:05pm

re: #11 Gus

Would we be so accepting of this policy if Mitt Romney had won? Or worse?

13 EPR-radar  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 2:23:11pm

re: #10 Political Atheist

The actual legality of the Iraq invasion is a matter of quite some dispute. Since “Bush lied people died” became the most common conclusion after the weapons were not there at all. Either we have a policy that has a rational definition of imminence or we don’t. At this time do not. That’s damn dangerous for a nation this powerful and frankly, reactionary.

To be fair to both the Bush and Obama administrations, a good definition of ‘imminence’ in this context is not easy to come up with.

In both administrations, political expediency seems to be taking the place of principle. Bush wanted to go to war in Iraq, and made up excuses to do so. Obama (correctly) sees that there is little political danger in an aggressive drone strike policy, so that is implemented.

14 Gus  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 2:28:19pm

re: #12 Political Atheist

Would we be so accepting of this policy if Mitt Romney had won? Or worse?

Awlaki remains the only American “citizen” to have been eliminated under the so called “kill list.” I do not see any “droning of American citizens” as the hyped title of this article implies. Drone Americans?

So to answer your question, would I be more accepting? I think the answer would be I would trust Obama’s judgement better on this matter.

How would you have felt if this happened under a Republican president? How would you have felt in 2004?

15 Glenn Beck's Grand Unifying Theory of Obdicut  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 2:39:04pm

re: #10 Political Atheist

The actual legality of the Iraq invasion is a matter of quite some dispute.

Well, what you said before was:

That Iraq WMD threat was legally “imminent” enough to invade.

16 Achilles Tang  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 3:28:34pm

re: #6 Political Atheist

Unlike the Taliban, we have agreed to obey the law. When did we end that?

Do you think “the law” can deal with all circumstances?

17 Achilles Tang  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 3:34:36pm

We have no problem with helicopters or airplanes with cameras, as long as they have a pilot on-board; but we are supposed to freak out if a similar vehicle happens to be piloted remotely.

The real advantage with using drones domestically is in various remote sensing modes, for agriculture, mapping and the like; which we also do now with piloted planes and satellites.

This whole issue is cretinous.

18 Political Atheist  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 3:59:25pm

re: #15 Obdicut

Well, what you said before was:

But then we found out it was not imminent at all. Hopefully that makes a difference in the legality. re: #17 Achilles Tang

We have no problem with helicopters or airplanes with cameras, as long as they have a pilot on-board; but we are supposed to freak out if a similar vehicle happens to be piloted remotely.

The real advantage with using drones domestically is in various remote sensing modes, for agriculture, mapping and the like; which we also do now with piloted planes and satellites.

This whole issue is cretinous.

Not at all! It’s not about drones as much as it is about precision weapons as an assassination tool. As I said above, for this President later in his term and more Presidents to come, “prompt global strike” (a hypersonic cruise missile able to hit anywhere in the world very quickly and accurately enough to go after a particular office or vehicle) will matter a lot. see these are weapons that go places where our manned forces could not. It’s about the extra reach, and as an assassination tool.

And it’s about altering the meaning of imminent. That has implication for conventional military forces being used too.

19 Political Atheist  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 4:03:38pm

re: #14 Ghost of Gus

How would you have felt if this happened under a Republican president? How would you have felt in 2004?

The Patriot Act and what followed has given me pause since it failed to sunset as promised. That might be after ‘04. Before that I took it as a matter of faith in our government, Bush and the military. The fail to end it as promised really got my attention and holds it to this day. The drone war does give me some concerns as I mentioned in my #18. When we redefine terms to be so broad we should all take notice.

20 EPR-radar  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 4:09:14pm

re: #19 Political Atheist

The Patriot Act and what followed has given me pause since it failed to sunset as promised. That might be after ‘04. Before that I took it as a matter of faith in our government, Bush and the military. The fail to end it as promised really got my attention and holds it to this day. The drone war does give me some concerns as I mentioned in my #18. When we redefine terms to be so broad we should all take notice.

No president wants to be the one to back off on these extraordinary powers, then possibly suffer the political catastrophe of a terrorist attack afterward.

Sunsetting the ‘Patriot Act’ was never a credible possibility.

21 Achilles Tang  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 4:30:15pm

re: #18 Political Atheist

But then we found out it was not imminent at all. Hopefully that makes a difference in the legality. re: #17 Achilles Tang

Not at all! It’s not about drones as much as it is about precision weapons as an assassination tool. As I said above, for this President later in his term and more Presidents to come, “prompt global strike” (a hypersonic cruise missile able to hit anywhere in the world very quickly and accurately enough to go after a particular office or vehicle) will matter a lot. see these are weapons that go places where our manned forces could not. It’s about the extra reach, and as an assassination tool.

And it’s about altering the meaning of imminent. That has implication for conventional military forces being used too.

The military aspect, internationally is different. I was commenting on what I have been reading about domestic use of drones.

As to assassination; while we do need checks on who says kill, and I believe there are such checks even though for some there will never be enough; but the same people will have nothing to say if we land twenty men in harms way to attempt to “arrest” someone who can be guaranteed to resist with violence and probably be killed, with some of our own.

It’s not a perfect world and can’t be made so. People need to live with that.

22 hellosnackbar  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 5:43:54pm

Drone technology is coming on a pace.
In a recent PBS documentary a chap working for BA e systems demonstrated
a 360 degree surveillance system whereby enemy identification was almost fool proof.
The only disadvantage of this technology is the incursion into privacy.
Little four propellor helicopters can fly along corridors and through hoops.
Drones are taking military campaigns into a whole new area.
And fortunately the US is way in the lead!!!
Obama had turned out to be a lot smarter than I first thought.

23 Glenn Beck's Grand Unifying Theory of Obdicut  Tue, Feb 5, 2013 7:28:10pm

re: #18 Political Atheist

But then we found out it was not imminent at all. Hopefully that makes a difference in the legality.

It can’t post facto be an illegal war, unless you’re alleging that there was an actual conspiracy by Bush et al to defraud the US public.

24 harrylook  Wed, Feb 6, 2013 6:28:51am

Recall that the reviled Patriot Act involved Congress and the FISA court. This is a major expansion of presidential power. Hard to imagine a more slippery slope than the one created by this terrible white paper.

And of course, the vast majority of Obama supporters have nothing to say about it, because for them it is all about the man and never about the principles.


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