Noam Chomsky was asked, ‘What do you think of the U.S. increased reliance—President Obama increasingly using drones to attack people in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and beyond?’
He answered: ‘Good comment about that made by Yochi Dreazen. He’s the military correspondent—was the military correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, is now for some other outfit, a military analyst. He pointed out accurately—this after the killing of Osama bin Laden, which he approved of, but he said that there’s an interesting difference between Bush and Obama. I mean, I’m now paraphrasing in my own terms, not his terms, so the way I would have said it is: Bush—if Bush, the Bush administration, didn’t like somebody, they’d kidnap them and send them to torture chambers; if the Obama administration decides they don’t like somebody, they murder them, so you don’t have to have torture chambers all over.
Actually, that tells us something else. Just take a look at the first Guantánamo detainee to go to trial under Obama. Trial means military commission, whatever that is. The first one was a very interesting case and tells us a lot. The first one was Omar Khadr. And what was his crime? His crime was that when he was 15 years old, he tried to defend his village against an attack by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. So that’s the crime, therefore he’s a terrorist. So he was sent to Bagram, then to Guantánamo, eight years in these torture chambers. And then he came up for trial under Obama. And he was given a choice: you can plead not guilty and stay in Guantánamo for the rest of your life, or you can plead guilty and get another eight years. So his lawyers advised him to plead guilty. Well, that’s justice under our constitutional law president, for a 15-year-old kid defending his village against an attacking army. And there was nothing said—the worst part is, there’s nothing said about it.
Actually, the same is true of the Awlaki killing, you know, this American cleric in Yemen who was killed by drones. He was killed. The guy next to him was killed. Shortly after, his son was killed. Now, there was a little talk about the fact that he was an American citizen: you shouldn’t just murder American citizens. But, you know, the New York Times headline, for example, when he was killed, said something like “West celebrates death of radical cleric.” First of all, it wasn’t death, it was murder. And the West celebrates the murder of a suspect. He’s a suspect, after all. There was something done almost 800 years ago called the Magna Carta, which is the foundation of Anglo-American law, that says that no one shall be subjected to a violation of rights without due process of law and a fair and speedy trial. It doesn’t say, if you think somebody’s a suspect, you should kill them.’