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Friday, May 14, 2010

We Are Going to do What?

Reporter Scott Shane has this item, "U.S. Approval of Killing of Cleric Causes Unease" in Thursday's issue of The New York TimesUNEASE?

The Cleric in question is Anwar al-Awlaki and he is in Yemen.  He is also a US Citizen.

Let us be clear about this.  The decision is attributed to the Central Intelligence Agency, but it had the approval of the National Security Council.  The lede:
The Obama administration’s decision to authorize the killing by the Central Intelligence Agency of a terrorism suspect who is an American citizen has set off a debate over the legal and political limits of drone missile strikes, a mainstay of the campaign against terrorism.
So, you step beyond the reach of US law enforcement and you become a target for assassination?

Let's look at a hypothetical.  Let us take the case of Dr Hatfield, who the FBI (yes, those guys who protected Whitey Bulger for so long and maybe longer) was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt had not only planned but had actually launched a terror attack against Americans (anthrax,) but, they did not think they could nail him within our judicial system.  Should they have waited until Dr Hatfield went on vacation to Jamaica and had the CIA get rid of him?

I know that the protections of the US Constitution do not hold for non-US Citizens beyond the three-mile limit, but shouldn't it hold for US citizens overseas?  Sure, it is war and if he were on a battlefield it would be reasonable to go after him, but he is in Yemen, spreading propaganda (albeit powerful propaganda).

We are trying folks who are our enemies in civilian courts, rather than by military tribunals, but yet those not within the area of the battle—Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Pakistan.  Perhaps we are going to make Yemen part of the battle zone.  If so, please tell us.

Some days you just wish George W Bush was still the President.  Then we might find the proper amount of outrage along the coasts of this great nation over this kind of abuse of the Constitution.  My wife is outraged over this.  I am outraged over this.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Chairman of the National Security Council (NSC) is the President of the United States.
  But, I disagree with that view, what with my Neo-Con view that the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution are universal in their language and their affirmations of who we are as human beings.


Craig H said...

Completely agreed--this is moral corruption of the highest order, a complete and utter rape of our Constitution, and an unconscionable attack against a US citizen for which the perpetrators should be tried for murder--regardless of whose signature they believe they have. (And all signatories should be tried as accessories to murder--including the president if his should be found anywhere near this abomination).

Positively Cheney-esque, and a horrific example of how the terrorists have, if this is the indication, already won.

Jack Mitchell said...

What if we have Scott Brown & Joe Lieberman excommunicate him or something? Can we paint him with a laser, then?

Do the words "domestic enemy" have any meaning? They were in my oath. Could we pop him if he was in Montana?

C R Krieger said...

I am not sure the Ruby Ridge confrontation was a sterling example of how to execute an arrest warrant, but as you ask, if the chap is up there in the intermountain region (or anywhere else in the US) then he should be arrested.  He should be charged with sedition or treason or some other worthy crime, but not for something like "Picking Your Toes in Poughkeepsie".

And if he resists and starts shooting, then shooting back is fine with me.  But, I don't think we should set out to execute him without the trial.  And, creating a bunch of martyrs while trying to arrest him seems counter-productive from a public diplomacy point of view.  The President Clinton/Attorney General Reno example with the Branch Davidians should be avoided.

Regards  —  Cliff

Jack Mitchell said...

Cliff, the two examples you provided where clearly issues for law enforcement officials. Albeit, our enforcement personnel are highly militarized, as of late. See SWAT.

The enlisted oath I took affirmed my commintment to engage "domestic enemies." This makes sense. The Union was once divided. So it must be that US Citizens are targets of the US military. No one was reading miranda scripts at Pickett's Charge.

So, if we accept US citizens are game for warfare, don't we simply need to settle on "scale?"

Half the US states seceding from the Union? War, not cops.

50,000 organized, armed and hostile militia members in Maine. I'd choose 18th Airborne Corps.


1 guy in Yemen with a bullhorn and a gathering of wouldbe suicide bombers?

The CIA sure is making the SOCOM look like a bunch of do'nuthin's.

ncrossland said...

Tough question without an "easy" answer simply because of the extreme chasm that has opened in American society....there are those who believe in the rule of law no matter what...even if it means ignoring the Constitution. These are the folks who will be relatively inconsistent over the long hall because "it depends."

At the other extreme are those who believe in a ultra domestic terrorist America love it or leave it philosophy.

I suppose to answer the question....or at least provoke even more discord and arugment.....I suggest the following posit.
Say that we are back in the days of Nam....and say that we have an American who has gone over to the enemy and is actively fighting against us and directing others to take as much lethal action as possible against us. What do we do as a response? Should we sent the FBI over to a combat zone or perhaps Federal Marshalls...or do we plead with the "host" nation to go get our man? And lets just say that we do find him. Then what? Do we blindfold him and slap him on a C-17 and haul him back to where? Does he go to DC? Does he go back to his hometown and state? Do we arbitrarily assign him to a stockade at some base.....decidedly low security at that? And what do we charge him with? Treason? Was it? Or is it murder with how many provable counts? Or do we declare him an enemy combatant (which is is in every practical sense of the word) and send out a team to capture him and hold him over for a military tribunal......but he is an enemy combatant....isn't he then technically a POW? But wait, we haven't got a declared war....I know, I know.....minor detail..unless you dig into the LOAC and other pertinent international documents that nobody seems to pay attention to anyway. Or is he just an enemy agent....and needs killin'. How many "enemy agents" has the US "disposed of" over the years and years? I'd venture to guess we just don't want to guess.

And frankly, that gets me to one of my important points. Why does every American with a TV set have to be involved in the minutae of how we conduct our decidedly black operations. It is so easy to sit on the sidelines and make intellectual judgements as many did with the 3 SEALs whose trials were a much greater obscenity than anything we might do to or with this raghead piece of garbage.

And while CIA may be making SOCOM look like do nothings, I would remind the readers that much of what SOCOM does IS for the one really doesn't know who is the do nothing. My guess....neither. The long work that I was priviledged to do with AFSOC, the 160th SOAR, and SOCOM tells me that we really don't know what we don't know....and hardly even suspect.

Perhaps its best to not ask the question if you can't stand the answer.

Jack Mitchell said...

We know it's done. We just don't know the details. Americans enjoy plausible deniability.

I'm more concerned with Blackwater hunting down loiters in NO. What oath have they taken? The board members answers to the share holders. How thick is that corporate veil?

ncrossland said...

Would that be Blackwater....which have now changed their doubt to protect....well......everything......or would that be the looters.....

The oath taking.....

C R Krieger said...

Given the history we have endured, I am all for openness whenever possible.  Sure, there are some things we don't talk about, but we should make those items as few as possible.  But, going with that is no grandstanding by members of Congress.

As I recall, Jack was talking about enemies foreign and domestic and I I agree that domestic enemies need to be dealt with and by military force if necessary.  However, as part of the South's rear-guard action after Appomattox, when the Presidential Election of 1876 looked more like the elections in the UK last week, it was agreed that the US Military would NOT do domestic police work (1878).  The reasons for this were all wrong, but I think the outcome over all, over time, was probably for the better.  But, with a declaration of a national emergency it can all be changed.

My rule of thumb is to keep it with the police as long as possible.  But, when the time comes, send in the troops.

Regards  —  Cliff

ncrossland said...

Sadly, posse comitatus has been more of a political convenience over time. Supposedly, by the act, Federal troops or NG personnel under Federal control may not be used for domestic law enforcement purposes except where provided by the Constitution (see...that inconvenient document just keeps getting in the way....)or by the expressed direction of the Congress. Neither of those requirements have ever been met when "calling out the troops" became politically advantageous...or as a means of flexing Federal muscle. As you recall.....MacArthur and a very young Patton used cavalry to run the veterans off of the Federal lands in DC when they sort of moved into a cardboard city to protest their financial treatment. Then we have the use of NG troops (still argued by legalists) to put down student discord at Kent State....and there are other instances whereby...."Executive Order"...the troops have been called out......and the Congress has become less and less inclined to insist on their statutory role.

My own personal sense is that this so called American has become an enemy of the state and should be dealt with accordingly. I will strongly advocate however that before taking definitive deadly force action against him, he should be formally stripped of his citizenship and declared persona non grata. We need to do more of that sort of thing...

Instead.....unknown to many today....the immigration reform package quietly making its way through the bungling bureaucracy that is our very own Congress....contains the process and timeline (90 days as I recall) to grant every illegal immigrant in the US today instant citizenship with all its benefits including SS and so on. Like Obamacare.....they'll need to pass the legislation first so we can find out what's in it.

I bring immigration reform up in this venue only because the national philosophy regarding what we do to those who do unto us and immigration issues are almost all in the same breath.

We just can't be "meanies."

I think it began with Fidele Castro when he cleaned out his prisons and sent them all to the US......and we welcomed them with open arms......well...we did whine about it for a short time probably just for show.

Jack Mitchell said...

So, on Anwar al-Awlaki, FBI or CIA?

His life & liberty are infringing on my pursuit of happiness.

I say, thumb down.