Reports are coming in that a US drone strike in Yemen has killed Anwar al-Awlaki. If confirmed, this would mean that the US government has murdered a US citizen purely on the orders of president Obama. The media are relaying the anonymous and self-serving claims of the intelligence community that al-Awlaki was a top al Qaeda operative, ‘seemed’ to have instigated attacks against the US, and was ‘reported’ to have had links with terrorist groups, and similar allegations. But all skirt the issue of the legality of this act, let alone its morality.
When the dust settles, what we are left with is the stark fact that the US president ordered and carried out the murder of a US citizen without any due process of any kind. He had no trial, no formal charges were made against him, no efforts to extradite him back to the US, nothing. Obama decided that al-Awlaki must die and he was killed by Obama’s agents. It has all the hallmarks of kings in medieval times ordering the beheadings of their opponents or mob bosses ordering hits on their rivals.
Back in 2002, another US citizen Kamal Derwish was killed in an airstrike in Yemen but back then in the bad old George W. Bush days, the government felt obliged to say that his death was collateral damage and that they were unaware that he was in the car that was destroyed. But with our Nobel Peace Prize winning, constitutional scholar president, even such transparent excuses are not required because many of those who were on the alert for abuses by Bush now seem quite comfortable if the death sentence is signed by Obama. Even before this event, Jonathan Turley said that the Obama presidency may be the most disastrous in our history for civil liberties. One can only shudder at what further abuses are in store.
What I would like to know is in what way the killing of al-Awlaki differs from the heinous crime of ‘killing his own people’ which was laid at the feet of people like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Ghadafi and which formed the basis of war crimes accusations against those two people and war against the countries they led.
Glenn Greenwald has more.