The lethal presidency of Barack Obama

Tom Junod had an article with the above title that dealt with the murder of 16-year American Abdulrahman al-Awlaki by the Obama administration and the total lack of information they have given as to why and how it was done.

His name was Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, and he was 16 years old when he died — when he was killed by a drone strike in Yemen, by the light of the moon. He was the son of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was also born in America, who was also an American citizen, and who was killed by drone two weeks before his son was, along with another American citizen named Samir Khan.

He was a boy who hadn’t seen his father in two years, since his father had gone into hiding. He was a boy who knew his father was on an American kill list and who snuck out of his family’s home in the early morning hours of September 4, 2011, to try to find him. He was a boy who was still searching for his father when his father was killed, and who, on the night he himself was killed, was saying goodbye to the second cousin with whom he’d lived while on his search, and the friends he’d made. He was a boy among boys, then; a boy among boys eating dinner by an open fire along the side of a road when an American drone came out of the sky and fired the missiles that killed them all.

Junod later appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe TV to discuss his article and to talk about the remarkable fact that this murder has not sparked any outrage from the two major political parties and the media.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Glenn Greenwald captures the rotten nature of our political discourse as exemplified by the response of the panel, especially the odious Harold Ford Jr, the former Democratic congressman and fulltime lackey of the oligarchy who represents some of the worst aspects of American politics. Greenwald describes his career as one of opportunistic nepotism, calls him a ‘smirking sociopath’ and goes on:

Harold Ford, Jr. is the walking, breathing embodiment of virtually everything rotted and corrupt about the American political class.

So that’s Harold Ford, Jr.: opportunistic, craven, sleazy nepotistic corporatist who has made a career out of converting his unearned political influence and loyalty to the banking industry into large wads of cash.

But it’s Ford’s smirking, self-satisfied, effete ignorance — from a warmonger whose delicately manicured hands have never been and will never be near any of the carnage he reflexively defends — that is particularly nauseating. Like most mindless defenders of U.S. violence, Ford just repeatedly utters the word “Terrorist” over and over like a hypnotic mantra.

Even after Junod describes the heinous death of the indisputably innocent American teenager, Ford just smirks and pronounces that it’s better to Kill The Terrorists than to capture them.

Remember that popular war slogan that we needed to fight the terrorists in Baghdad so that we would not have to fight them in Buffalo? (You could replace those two cities with any two that alliterated, depending on your audience.) So now we have that it is better to kill 16-year old boys in Yemen so that they don’t kill us in Yosemite.


  1. interrobang says

    The thing that disturbs me most about this is not quite so much that they’re doing it, per se, because the US has never exactly been shy about wetwork, but that they’re so brazen about it now. They’re not even bothering with plausible deniability anymore; the attitude is less “The CIA being around when that coup happened and El Presidente was assassinated was a coincidence, completely” to “Yeah, we installed our favourite Christian heroin warlord most friendly to the West, what are you going to do about it?” They’re not even trying to pretend to play by the rules anymore. And speaking as someone who lives out here in The Rest of the World™, that’s a very scary and dangerous precedent.

  2. says

    But remember – they hate us because of our “freedoms.” Presumably by that, we mean our freedom to rain death on anyone who we decide is potentially annoying.

  3. ollie says

    here is what is ironic: the drone strikes are less lethal than sending in troops or striking with “dumb” weapons.

    It is still horrible, but I’d like to know what your thoughts are as far as Al Qeada goes. Should we not fight them at all and just leave them alone?

    Should we have any “counter terrorism” programs at all…what would the perfect American response be?

  4. Joe T says

    I like ollie’s question. It reminds me of one the sections of the article where a source of the author’s asks why people are more upset about targeted killing but firing missiles at caves doesn’t generate nearly as much anger.

  5. says

    Omar Khadr is still alive, but what your government and mine have conspired to do to him is likewise shameful. A Canadian citizen, he was arrested at the age of 15 when American troops attacked the village where he was with his father. Even if he fought back, even if he did in fact kill someone (evidence which is inconclusive at best, at worst, likely obtained through torture), he was a child soldier. He’s still in Guantanamo, now convicted for “war crimes” because after so many years, he consented to a plea agreement.

  6. Mano Singham says

    Those are not the only two options. The other is to treat terrorist attacks as a law enforcement matter. When people commit crimes, you find them and prosecute them. This is what was done in the UK and Portugal when similar terrorist attacks were carried out there. The war on terror is just creating more enemies and killing lots of innocent people.

  7. Mano Singham says

    We must not forget that the US classifies as a terrorist any person in the countries their troops are occupying who attacks those troops. By this measure, the French and other national resistance forces who attacks the Nazi occupiers in World War II would be terrorists too.

  8. leni says

    So that’s Harold Ford, Jr.: opportunistic, craven, sleazy nepotistic corporatist who has made a career out of converting his unearned political influence and loyalty to the banking industry into large wads of cash.

    That was extremely gratifying to read. I don’t even know who Harold Ford Jr is, but I still felt like clapping. He unfortunately isn’t the only person that could fit this description.

    And that whole “defining terrorists by their proximity to drones” is appalling. It really is like they aren’t even trying to justify it.

  9. says

    If by “fight them”, you mean treat them as though they are an enemy army during a time of declared war, then no, we shouldn’t fight them. They are not an army; they aren’t that powerful or numerous. They are not that well organized and they are not that influential. They’re not brave, either.

    Treating a bunch of sociopathic criminals as a threat to all civilization creates the very problem it claims to solve.

  10. says

    We ought not to forget that Osama bin Laden was a “freedom fighter” when he was part of the Mujahideen waging a guerrilla war against the Soviet occupation. Turns out that opportunistically giving weapons and support to people based on the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” principle doesn’t always work out so well.

    And hey, when it doesn’t, we’ll just change the propaganda. No big.

  11. ollie says

    The problem is that there isn’t always law enforcement available. This is probably why we don’t use drones in countries that have functioning law enforcement capabilities.

    Also, there is the case where there isn’t a strong centralized government and the local government (or what passes for one) supports the terrorist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *