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September 30, 2011

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And the "legal" defenses here and here are much less than convincing, and amount to "the executive branch views him as bad, and thus he was, or at least that view, in combination with the AUMF, means he's subject to death on the executive's say so. Which we've done."

It's a remarkably "trust in the executive branch" view of the world, with Congress as enabler.

Gary, help me here: When the South revolted, and over the course of the Civil War, Confederate soldiers were routinely captured and held in prisons without charges, counsel, bail, a trial or anything else. Many others were killed, sometimes in open battle initiated by Confederate forces and thus arguably in self defense, but other times, US troops would begin a battle, using surprise if possible, to kill or wound as many Confederate troops as possible. No warning shots, no chance to surrender, nothing, just start shooting. On US soil. Was this wrong?

As McKinney points out, war and peace are different. As noted by the NYT: "In a traditional war, anyone allied with the enemy, regardless of citizenship, is a legitimate target; German-Americans who fought with the Nazis in World War II were given no special treatment."

But even when people are wanted for crimes, the frequently get killed if they resist arrest and can't be safely apprehended.

I think the problem here, McKinney, is that the only publicly available information on Anwar al-Awlaki's activities (that I'm aware of), which doesn't come directly from anonymous "senior administration officials" with an interest in the matter, seems to be not only not subject to the death penalty, but not criminal at all.

And yet, boom.

I think the problem here, McKinney

Well, so much of this is subjective. My antipathy for this administration is not small, for reasons unrelated to this issue or the wider issue of dealing with AQ/terrorism. That said, I don't see Obama approving this operation without really good cause and I have no trouble imagining why that 'good cause' must remain private.

I think that even in the Civil War it wouldn't have been legal to kill an unarmed southern male, even if he wrote a lot of pro-secessionist propaganda. But I could be wrong.

Good to see you posting, Gary.

I think that even in the Civil War it wouldn't have been legal to kill an unarmed southern male, even if he wrote a lot of pro-secessionist propaganda. But I could be wrong.

What is your evidence that An-a-Al was unarmed? Or that the sole reason for killing him was an anti-US attitude?

I do agree with you: nice to have GF back.

"Sentence first -- verdict afterwards!" said the Red Queen.

Ugh, was there publicly available information (to use McKinney's example) on all of the Civil War soldiers killed on all of the battlefields? The legal question would probably be: whether Yemen is a battlefield for the purposes of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

I think you are wrong, Donald.

What is your evidence that An-a-Al was unarmed?

I assume DJ has no such evidence. OTOH, there isn't any evidence that he was armed, and it seems the burden of proof is on those asserting the latter, before dropping a JDAM on his a$$. Also, being armed in a foreign country, even while spouting anti-american propaganda, generally does not subject you to summary execution under US law, AFAICT.

Or that the sole reason for killing him was an anti-US attitude?

But part of the point, shouldn't there be some burden to present such a reason? I mean, as we're operating now, in the words of that classic tootsie pop commercial, "the world may never know."

I mean, what if it turns out 30 years from now that the executive branch knew that all the guy did was produce propaganda videos and was not involved in terrorist operations at all, but instead was, hey, he managed to convince people to join the jihad, then....?

Ugh--or, suppose it turns out 30 years from now that, as is said to be the case, he participated in operational planning of terrorist attacks. We can suppose either way. I'll go first and take your hypothetical to be true: if true, it's murder and as a gross a violation of the constitution as I can imagine.

Ball's in your court: a US citizen in Yemen has planned and continues to plan terrorist attacks, in concert with non-US citizens, on US citizens. He is presumed to be armed and dangerous. You are President, what do you do?

sapient: The legal question would probably be: whether Yemen is a battlefield for the purposes of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

The AUMF:

the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

It seems to me the "necessary and appropriate force" part has been forgotten, or at least subsumed into "whatever the President wants to do," which I don't think accords with the grammar. And, in any event, it seems to me the executive has claimed the power to drop a JDAM on An-a-Al if he were sitting in a cafe in Des Moines.

Also, what of the other American killed in the attack? Sucks to be him?

"On US soil. Was this wrong?"

No. That was war. It had two sides, both held territory, and were governments. (It was also a rebellion and treason, but that's not directly relevant to your question.)

The "War on Terror" is not a war by any legal definition I'm aware of. There's an AUMF, which is hardly the same thing.

The American Civil War had two sides that could surrender. One did.

The "war on terror" has no such thing. It's as much of a "war" as the "war on drugs." Which also is never-ending until we stop warring on ourselves.

These are cases of using the word "war" AS A METAPHOR.

When the polity confuses a metaphor with reality, because of political demagoguery, we're all in deep doo-doo.

Sapient: so you'd be fine with President Sarah Palin having the unilateral right to order the assassination of American citizens? This is, you believe, a standing presidential prerogative?

"You are President, what do you do?"

First, seek an indictment in court. If there's all this proof, why not? It's not as if evidence couldn't be presented under seal, or that all evidence would somehow need to be "state secrets." (Let's not get into the nonsensical origin of that legal concept and its subsequent wild abuse.)

Meanwhile, I'm sorry, but I'm unconvinced that this guy is more of danger to me than the local drunk driving population.

Terrorism is a threat. But look at the frigging statistics. It's, no matter how horrible September 11th was -- and I'm a New Yorker, I worked in that building, so I'd ask that no one suggest I take it remotely lightly -- terrorism deaths are a statistically insignificant blip in deaths in the U.S. in that year, subsequent years, the previous decades, and there's no reason to see this changing in the next decade.

And if we give up our -- that is, anyone's -- Constitutional rights, civil liberties, and America's proclaimed ideals of freedom and liberty, what the heck are we fighting for? Do I need to quote Ben Franklin?

This is simply fear and madness.

History will judge us as we judge the Palmer Raids, the Red Scare of 1919-20, the Alien and Sedition Acts, the imprisonment of Americans of Japanese descent simply because of fear and racism.

All surrenders of our values to our fears.

McKinney - Well, I guess, ignore him? Take defensive, as opposed to offensive, measures? Give him an honest to God chance to turn himself in (which I guess would also have to include a real chance of a fair trial, and not some sort of, uh, other option, as we seem to continue to claim the right to choose)? Denigrate him as some douchebag with a website? Risk life and limb flying stealth helicopters and Navy SEALs into Yemen in an attempt to "capture" him, which there seems to be some sort of precedent for in the case of a more objectionable person?

Supplementary to Ugh's apposite comment, the AUMF also says:

b) War Powers Resolution Requirements-
(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supercedes [sic] any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.
Not that Congress would bother to try to enforce this.

But are there any other limits on that AUMF that prevent, say, the President from, say, dropping a nuke, or carpet bombing an American city, legally speaking? (A legal hypothetical.)

No. That was war. It had two sides, both held territory, and were governments. (It was also a rebellion and treason, but that's not directly relevant to your question.)

I agree it was a war, but was it a war-war? You see, the confederacy were states in rebellion, not a recognized government, at least not recognized by the US gov't. So, rather than a war-war, we were, back then, suppressing a rebellion. It took an army to do it, and four years, and a bunch of other stuff, but it was not a war-war, i.e. a declared state of belligerency between two or more opposing sovereigns.

The late An-a-Al was what? A rebel, an insurgent, a dope dealer, or an active combatant aligned or in league with a non-nation organization seeking to inflict harm on US citizens? The bar you and Greenwald set is so high that it can only be surmounted in theory, or at such high cost as to make a mockery of the principles to be vindicated.

Bombing an active terrorist overseas who happens to be a US citizen--assuming he is, in fact, a terrorist--is not bombing a home in Amarillo or Peoria in which an escaped murderer is believed to have fled. There is a difference and it is material.

Bombing an active terrorist overseas who happens to be a US citizen--assuming he is, in fact, a terrorist--is not bombing a home in Amarillo or Peoria in which an escaped murderer is believed to have fled. There is a difference and it is material.
A) How can we "assume"? B) What legal theory or law are you citing? The AUMF?

"You see, the confederacy were states in rebellion, not a recognized government, at least not recognized by the US gov't."

Let's take it as read that I'm more than a bit familiar with Civil War history.

I have no problem charging Anwar al-Awlaki with treason, or any other charge the government wishes to charge him with.

What's the problem with starting with that?

Awlaki had years of warning to negotiate a surrender and enjoy due process under the criminal justice system. Remaining at large in a hostile region, he made clear his allegiance to the enemies of the United States and a legitimate military target.

What's the problem with starting with that?

And where does that get us? There are at least two ways of looking at this: either (1) our gov't is lying through its teeth and claiming the right to murder someone who is merely very, very inconvenient or (2) our gov't is shooting straight and An-a-Al is, in fact, actively engaged in planning and directing terrorist operations in league with other, non-US citizen terrorists. If it's (1), then we have a bad, bad, bad administration. I've conceded the point and so has nearly everyone else I've read on the subject. If it's (2), the response, if I read you correctly remains: indict, arrest, try and convict, all according to law with all implied thereby. Which gets me back to my original post regarding all of those Confederate captives held for the duration without any of the rights you would afford An-a-Al.

I say (a) we handled the Civil War just fine and (b) assuming we're not being lied to, canceling An-a-Al' ticket was justified under the doctrine of self-defense.

What I'm trying to get from you, Ugh and anyone else in the Greenwald camp is: assuming the gov't is telling the truth, is it really your position that An-a-Al should be treated like a domestic criminal suspect? And, if that is true for An-a-Al, why isn't that true for every member of the Taliban, AQ and their assorted compatriots?

Additionally, the Civil War was conducted under General Order 100, the Lieber Code. If we were at war, and somehow the rebellion of U.S. states were at all like some guys hanging out in foreign countries allegedly (I'm willing to stipulate it's probable) plotting mass murder, or involved in past mass murders, of U.S. citizens), then we presumably would be following similar constraints as during the Civil War.

But I really don't see how a massive rebellion of U.S. States, claiming secession, is at all like Anwar al-Awlaki hiding in Yemen.

There have always been criminals who flee overseas. There have always been mass murderers and terrorists.

Is the AUMF to be indefinite and unlimited? How is that compatible with proclaimed American values?

either (1) our gov't is lying through its teeth and claiming the right to murder someone who is merely very, very inconvenient or (2) our gov't is shooting straight and An-a-Al is, in fact, actively engaged in planning and directing terrorist operations in league with other, non-US citizen terrorists.

Are those the only two options?

Could it be that the US government believes that Awliki is directing terrorist operations but that they have no legitimate evidence to justify that belief?

I mean, people believe things without sound evidence all the time. Governments do as well. For example, if the primary basis of this belief is a torture-induced confession by some guy in Baghram or Gitmo...

The reason we have due process is that it is not enough for the government to really really really believe that someone is guilty. Not all beliefs are correct or even justified. Beliefs must be tested.

Which gets me back to my original post regarding all of those Confederate captives held for the duration without any of the rights you would afford An-a-Al.

Confederate captives had a great many rights under General order 100, the Lieber code, which was the predecessor to the Geneva Conventions.

History will judge us as we judge the Palmer Raids, the Red Scare of 1919-20, the Alien and Sedition Acts, the imprisonment of Americans of Japanese descent simply because of fear and racism.

For a point of historical comparison, Luigi Galleani followed an international career as an anarchist agitator and polemicist by moving the to the US in the early 1900's.

While here, living in bucolic Barre VT, he actively and I do mean actively encouraged Americans and other folks living here to violently overthrow the government and the institutions of capitalism.

By "actively", I mean among other things publishing explicit instructions for bomb-making, which were in fact used to make actual bombs which were used against actual people.

Under the Alien and Sedition Act, Galleani was deported.

So, we appear to have upped the ante quite a bit since then.

But I really don't see how a massive rebellion of U.S. States, claiming secession, is at all like Anwar al-Awlaki hiding in Yemen.

In this, size doesn't matter. A rebel is a traitor, no matter how many there might be. There is no constitutional principle that allows for short cuts if the number of traitors exceeds (fill in the blank with the number of your choice).

There is one over-arching relevant similarity, conceptually, between a Confederate detainee and Al-a-Al: both are traitors.

Being in armed rebellion against one's own country is treason on steroids, location being a matter of fortuity. Neither the Confederate soldier nor An-a-Al is a member of a sovereign military service in a declared state of hostilities. Your premise seems to be that there must be a legal war (which is not a rebellion whether it is one person or 20 million in rebellion) for the US to be permitted to use lethal force without due process, and that due process must be accorded in all other circumstances. I point out, again, that due process was no part of the treatment of Confederate detainees, or pirates on the high seas. I also point out that the Leiber Code would not pass constitutional muster then, much less now, so that doesn't get us anywhere.

Focusing for the moment on An-a-Al and only on him, if he is who the gov't says, isn't it your position that he is due the full range of constitutional protections and that anything short of according same to him falls short of American law and justice?

Could it be that the US government believes that Awliki is directing terrorist operations but that they have no legitimate evidence to justify that belief?

I would put this in the same class as lying through their teeth. Simply believing that someone is up to something rotten, a/k/a suspicion but not proof and certainly not compelling proof, is not enough by a long shot.

But Turb, you're not addressing the possibility that the gov't is telling the truth. If it is, what is wrong with taking this particular person out?

Under the Alien and Sedition Act, Galleani was deported.

So, we appear to have upped the ante quite a bit since then.

Apparently so, but this observation begs the question, assuming the gov't is telling the truth, whether An-a-Al was dealt with correctly (using the term "correctly" somewhat elastically).

I would put this in the same class as lying through their teeth. Simply believing that someone is up to something rotten, a/k/a suspicion but not proof and certainly not compelling proof, is not enough by a long shot.

Eh, I don't think it is the same. Information is often compartmentalized. Especially in national security matters. Once your name gets on the 'bad dude' list, people in government aren't going to be asking tons of questions about how and why it is there before agreeing that you should be taken out. They're going to assume that whoever's job it was to compile the list had very good reasons.

I mean, if you believe that information elicited by torture is correct and you've tortured someone into saying that Awliki is Hitler 2, then we're not talking suspicion anymore: you have 'evidence', at least as you construe it. Now, you couldn't convince a judge to execute someone based on torture, but that's my whole point.

But Turb, you're not addressing the possibility that the gov't is telling the truth. If it is, what is wrong with taking this particular person out?

There's nothing wrong with doing so after you convict him of treason. Now, maybe you can explain to me, if the government is telling the truth (like you posit) and you say he's a traitor, why can't the government just convict him of treason in court? Does the US government not have any lawyers on staff? Are the courts prejudiced against government claims in matters of national security?

The late An-a-Al was what? A rebel, an insurgent, a dope dealer, or an active combatant aligned or in league with a non-nation organization seeking to inflict harm on US citizens? The bar you and Greenwald set is so high that it can only be surmounted in theory, or at such high cost as to make a mockery of the principles to be vindicated.

Bombing an active terrorist overseas who happens to be a US citizen--assuming he is, in fact, a terrorist--is not bombing a home in Amarillo or Peoria in which an escaped murderer is believed to have fled. There is a difference and it is material.


(Emphasis added.)

Oh, totally agree. "Innocent until proven guilty" is far too high a bar.

Less sarcastically, his legitimacy as a military target is sketchy, based on the outline of the circumstances of his assassination. Note that the above should not be constituted as a legal opinion in regards to Operational Law. But I'll damn well say that I'd not want to answer for giving that order in an impartial court martial.

assuming the gov't is telling the truth, is it really your position that An-a-Al should be treated like a domestic criminal suspect? And, if that is true for An-a-Al, why isn't that true for every member of the Taliban, AQ and their assorted compatriots?

Um, yes? And also yes, yes, and yes? Terrorism should not in general be viewed through the lens of "military conflict". It should be viewed as a law enforcement matter. Specific instances may be justified in invoking limited military involvement - even large scale limited involvement - but you're setting the bar so low as to not even pose a tripping hazard. You'd propose that there be no limits in the degree to which terrorism is treated as acts of war, and to which military SOPs dictate our approach to alleged terrorists, and that the law enforcement framework be cast aside entirely if it's convenient. Not necessary, but convenient. You'd throw due process right out the window, and make a very public, very blatant, very systematic, and very shameless mockery of our long-held legal traditions.

Being in armed rebellion against one's own country is treason on steroids, location being a matter of fortuity.

Your definition of "armed rebellion" is... um... interesting. And, uh, kinda rather irrelevant to how you claim the government can and should be able to deal with accused traitors. There are a few pesky, quaint legal documents mouldering in attics and basements that disagree with your carte blanche interpretation.

(Also: no, armed rebellion isn't "treason on steroids", as far as US law is concerned. It's pretty much bog-standard, run-of-the-mill treason. Nothing special as far as treason goes - not the lowest form of treason possible, but very vanilla none the less. You pretty much need to be at least involved in, even if not perforce actively engaged in, armed rebellion just to meet the legal definition.)

nice to see you Gary.

For the record, is actually the second American citizen killed by drone.

But it was just an oopsie!

[...] Officials said the CIA did not know that Derwish was in the car before it launched the missile that blew apart the vehicle, reducing it to black ash.

Mattt:

Awlaki had years of warning to negotiate a surrender and enjoy due process under the criminal justice system. Remaining at large in a hostile region, he made clear his allegiance to the enemies of the United States and a legitimate military target.
He did? Which court indicted him?

Besides the court of public opinion.

Let's also recall some names: Richard Jewell. Steven J. Hatfill. Wen Ho Lee.

We simply are to, forever more, trust that the Executive will always be right in determining who is guilty, in secret?

Is that the principle being defended?

These are principles at stake. This is not a matter of the details of the specific case being key.

It's simply this: do we want a state in which the Executive has the right to determine, with no checks or balances, in a secret Star Chamber, which individuals should be killed?

Is everyone comfy with all future imaginable Presidents having that power?

McK:

What I'm trying to get from you, Ugh and anyone else in the Greenwald camp is: assuming the gov't is telling the truth, is it really your position that An-a-Al should be treated like a domestic criminal suspect?
I think we should start there, and then discuss practicalities and options.

I'll go with Steve Benen's questions:

* Do Americans who leave the country to join terrorist networks forfeit the rights given to other Americans? Does it matter if those terrorist networks are targeting the United States? [edited slightly for clarity]

* If the Justice Department had prepared a criminal indictment against Awlaki, would the preferred route have been to pursue extradition or to try to seize him in Yemen through law enforcement?

* If Americans leave the country to fight for a foreign army, do they also give up their rights to due process? Should al Qaeda be considered a foreign army or a stateless terrorist network? Does it matter in this context?

* Media reports indicate that Awlaki was an “operational” leader of al Qaeda — instead of just being a propagandist — and has “links” to several violent plots. Are these accounts true? Would it matter if they are? (Is there a difference between killing an “operational” terrorist vs. a propagandistic one?)

* Did the 2001 AUMF declare war against al Qaeda? And if so, is there any limit to the scope of the “battlefield”? Does it matter that al Qaeda has declared war against the United States?

* If the United States is at war with al Qaeda, is there an expectation that we would execute that war differently when dealing with American members of al Qaeda?

* If the United States is at war with al Qaeda, is al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula the same thing?

Meanwhile, there are plenty of experts arguing al-Awaki was pretty much just a propagandist. Is that right? Perhaps not. But wouldn't it be wacky if there were a trial to determine that? Or an indictment?

And, if that is true for Al-Awlaki, why isn't that true for every member of the Taliban, AQ and their assorted compatriots?
That's an interesting question, but without beginning to go fully into it, I'd say there's a crucial distinction between U.S. forces invading a country, and fighting an undeclared war, and simply bombing a country in which U.S. military forces aren't already fighting.

Without getting into pro/con arguments on the former, the two do differ that way.

Moreover... too many links. New comment.

Continuing on McK's last query: as Spencer Ackerman points out:

[...] The Obama administration relies on the vague Authorization to Use Military Force, passed in the days after 9/11, to justify its Shadow Wars against terrorists. Under its broad definition, the Authorization’s writ makes Planet Earth a battlefield, legally speaking.

But the Authorization authorizes war against “nations, organizations, or persons [the president] determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” It’s a stretch to apply that to al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate, which didn’t exist on 9/11. But when House Republicans tried to re-up the Authorization to explicitly bless the new contours of the war against al-Qaida, the Obama administration balked, fearing the GOP was actually tying its hands on the separate question of terrorist detentions.

“It is only during the intense fighting of an armed conflict that international law permits the taking of human life on a basis other than the immediate need to save life,” O’Connell continues. “In armed conflict, a privileged belligerent may use lethal force on the basis of reasonable necessity. Outside armed conflict, the relevant standard is absolute necessity.”

So did al-Awlaki represent an “absolute” danger to the United States? President Obama, in acknowledging Awlaki’s death on Friday morning, didn’t present any evidence that he did.

And: is the AUMF also retroactive? If you had nothing whatever to do with September 11th, the AUMF covers making war on you with what language?

No one has claimed al-Awlaki had anything to do with September 11th.

There's nothing wrong with doing so after you convict him of treason. . . you say he's a traitor, why can't the government just convict him of treason in court?

Do we appoint a lawyer for him? Does the lawyer get to see the gov't's file, including current intelligence data?

There is a bright line here, under present circumstances: either the constitution applies fully, as if he were a domestic criminal, or it does not apply at all. I infer your view is that An-a-Al gets the full constitutional ride and if the gov't cannot convict beyond a reasonable doubt and if the gov't isn't willing to open its currently intelligence assets to public view, then An-a-Al gets to continue in business.

The WoT has not been fought by any rules other than, AFAICT, an attempt to avoid collateral damage and, post-Obama, no more torture. The effect, given the lack of foreign-launched attacks on US soil, has been salutary. Intuitively, I attribute this to erring significantly on the side of aggressiveness.

But if I were to imagine a different world, one in which a US president permitted only law enforcement, and then only in strict accordance with the constitution, to apprehend and prosecute AQ, the Taliban etc, I would also imagine a much higher US civilian body count. And then I would imagine that president being turned out of offic and his views falling into permanent disrepair.

That's an interesting question, but without beginning to go fully into it, I'd say there's a crucial distinction between U.S. forces invading a country, and fighting an undeclared war, and simply bombing a country in which U.S. military forces aren't already fighting.

This is true, and I had considered trying to address this in my above comment before giving up and eliding it. Though I don't think I elided it entirely. Though I may have. But in any case, Gary evokes to the crucial distinctions well enough. The overriding point is that we chose to militarily invade and overthrow the government of Afghanistan (our refusal to recognize its legitimacy being not wholly material), and these were forces resisting said military operation. In that capacity, they were unequivocally military targets (with the protections due them under the relevant laws of war). In their capacity as parties to acts of terrorism... not so much.

Do we appoint a lawyer for him? Does the lawyer get to see the gov't's file, including current intelligence data?

Excellent point! If only someone had considered the possibility of court cases involving classified information and had drafted laws regarding their execution! Tragically for all of us, no had ever considered this previously. Oh, woe is us...

The WoT has not been fought by any rules other than, AFAICT, an attempt to avoid collateral damage and, post-Obama, no more torture. The effect, given the lack of foreign-launched attacks on US soil, has been salutary. Intuitively, I attribute this to erring significantly on the side of aggressiveness.

Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.

Outside armed conflict, the relevant standard is absolute necessity.

Actually, this is BS. The traditional common law standard for the use of lethal force in defense of oneself or of another is a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury.

Gary, the problem with touting Ackerman is that the criticism he levels is a failure to lay out sufficient evidence of guilt.

My question is: suppose there is sufficient evidence of ongoing terrorist activity? The answer, it seems, is that it doesn't matter. Guilty as sin, we still have to arrest and try someone in the US with full constitutional trimmings.

Good thing we didn't apply that rule to the South.

It should be viewed as a law enforcement matter.

Excellent. And which agency should we have sent, if any, into Afghanistan post 9-11? And to whom would they have applied for search warrants? And should trial have been local, a jury of their peers, or could we extradite without a treaty?

Like I said earlier, this sets the bar so high the system can't defend itself.

[...] isn't it your position that he is due the full range of constitutional protections and that anything short of according same to him falls short of American law and justice?
Not quite.

What exactly constitutes "the full range of constitutional protections" is highly subject to debate. That's part of this discussion.

But I'm not here to make a case to define those.

I do take the position that we apply constitutional protections to all people, because that's what, you know, the Constitution says. I'm not interested at present in nitty-gritty arguments about procedure.

I can't accept that the POTUS simply has the power to unilaterally decide, in secret, to kill whomever it thinks violates some secret standard, at well.

McKinney, you believe in small government. One of the beliefs inherent to that -- correct me if I have this wrong, please -- is that government often gets things wrong.

Does that fly out the window when it comes to minor things like executions without trial?

Do we appoint a lawyer for him? Does the lawyer get to see the gov't's file, including current intelligence data?
Yes. And we have procedures for dealing with intelligence data in court. It's presented under seal, and data isn't operational security, or "methods and means." It simply would be the government being able to make a case.

Are you asserting that the evidence against him is so thin that the government couldn't make a case without revealing, say, NSA eavesdropping methods.

And the principle then would be that, again, we must simply trust the executive to get it right?

"... and if the gov't isn't willing to open its currently intelligence assets to public view...."

This is a straw man argument. Can you give a cite the government is making such a claim, or has ever made this claim, if this is the case?

You're simply hypothesizing that a trial couldn't be possible, and couldn't convict Anwar al-Awlaki.

We could have tested that.

He didn't even get a "military commission." Just Sekrit Memos within the executive.

How can that be something we simply accept as presidential prerogative? The government can't be trusted to administer EPA laws, or registering guns, or mandate health insurance, but the Executive Branch can be trusted to, on its own, kill people because... why?

"...then An-a-Al gets to continue in business."

Worst case, yes. There are all sorts of people around the world with hostile intentions towards Americans. I'm still alive. You're still alive.

2,996 people died on September 11th.

I don't have an exact count handy of how many people have died in the U.S. since then due to Islamist extremist violence, but it's well under a hundred people, is it not?

Why are you so scared of this guy? Or anyone else in Yemen? So frightened that we have to toss out the Constitution to protect ourselves from this grave grave threat that we must spend hundreds of billions of dollars on, which has killed... a few dozen people in this country in the past just under ten years?

This is madness.

Let's imagine, for the sake of discussion, that the government indicted Anwar al-Awlaki. Then what happens?

Option 1: try him in absentia. With or without a court-appointed counsel, who is probably not in a position to consult with his client. Seems like that's just as unconstitutional -- but perhaps an expert can explain otherwise.

Option 2: demand his extradition. Small problem: there is no government with both the authority and the ability to extradite him. Even before Yemen started lapsing into full blown civil war.

Option 3: go arrest him, to bring him back for trial. It might be possible to do that without a full-scale invasion of Yemen -- but I wouldn't count on it. After the raid that got bin Laden, I doubt very much that al-Awlaki's security would be weak enough for anything less to get thru.

Option 4: having indicted him, procede to (effectively) do nothing.

Anybody want to weigh in on which option they prefer? Or, better yet, present one that I haven't thought of?

FWIW, I've just read all 83 pages of the District Court's opinion dismissing Awlaki's father's suit in 2010 to attempt to stop this.

The decision, as anyone can read, is 100% dismissal for lack of standing.

But there are interesting aspects in the early parts of the opinion:

[...] Stark, and Stark, andperplexing, questions readily come to mind, including the following: How is it that judicial approval is required when the United States decides to target a U.S. citizen overseas for electronic surveillance, but that, according to defendants, judicial scrutiny is prohibited when the United States decides to target a U.S. citizen overseas for death? Can a U.S. citizen -- himself or through another -- use the U.S. judicial system to vindicate his constitutional rights while simultaneously evading U.S. law enforcement authorities, calling for "jihad against the West," and engaging in operational planning for an organization that has already carried out numerous terrorist attacks against the United States? Can the Executive order the assassination of a U.S. citizen without first affording him any form of judicial process whatsoever, based on the mere assertion that he is a dangerous member of a terrorist organization? How can the courts, as plaintiff proposes, make real-time assessments of the nature and severity of alleged threats to national security, determine the imminence of those threats, weigh the benefits and costs of possible diplomatic and military responses, and ultimately decide whether, and under what circumstances, the use of military force against such threats is justified? When would it ever make sense for the United States to disclose in advance to the "target" of contemplated military action the precise standards under which it will take that military action? And how does the evolving AQAP relate to core al Qaeda for purposes of assessing the legality of targeting AQAP (or its principals) under the September 18, 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military
Force?

These and other legal and policy questions posed by this case are controversial and of great public interest. "Unfortunately, however, no matter how interesting and no matter how important this case may be . . . we cannot address it unless we have jurisdiction." United States v. White, 743 F.2d 488, 492 (7th Cir. 1984).

One of many reasons the suit lacked standing, interesting, is that "Plaintiff cannot show that a parent suffers an injury in fact if his adult child is threatened with a future extrajudicial killing."

Whether the fact that the extrajudicial killing has finally taken place means the suit can be launched again, I don't know, though the plaintiff would have to overcome the hurdle of the political question doctrine preventing the case from being heard, and I wouldn't be at all optimistic about that.

"What is your evidence that An-a-Al was unarmed? Or that the sole reason for killing him was an anti-US attitude?"

What Ugh said. I don't have any evidence he was armed, but I'm not the one blowing people up with flying robots, so my lack of evidence is somewhat less important here.

I don't think there is any particular reason to trust any American administration when it comes to foreign policy issues. Maybe they had good reasons for killing Anwar al-Awlaki, but their word on this doesn't mean much.

"I think you are wrong, Donald."

About what?

Meanwhile, what of Samir Khan?

He wasn't on the government's kill list.

There was a grand jury investigation that apparently found no evidence of any act by him beyond: blogging.

So American citizen Samir Khan was killed because he was standing within range of Awlaki, and probably shared his opinions?

Why, what could possibly be wrong with that? How could this precedent possibly be misused in future?

Robert Farley at LGM links to Robert Chesney in addition to Greenwald and Spencer Ackerman and also writes this, which rings true with me.

All that said, my “lack strong opinions” reflects a belief that the killing of al-Awaki is not the most troubling state sanctioned killing of the last two weeks; the process that killed Troy Davis is to my mind more likely to be replicated and more likely to kill innocent people than the process that led to the death of al-Awaki. The state is the state; it kills when it makes road policy, when it makes health policy, and when it rolls out of bed in the morning. The killing of al-Awaki doesn’t represent the crossing of some sort of Rubicon, rather an assessment of the cost of legal inconvenience, and this is obviously nothing new. But then this simply represents an assessment of the gravity of the killing, not of its justice.

Whoops, I see gary already posted the Ackerman link. Sorry for the reduplication.


I'm of the opinion that Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes have done greater damage to the United States as a nation than al-Awlaki ever threatened, much less carried out.

May I assume that, were I somehow to become President, McTex would support me in hitting Murdoch's compound with a Predator ?

The decision, as anyone can read, is 100% dismissal for lack of standing.

Because, as anyone who can read knows, once something is dismissed for lack of standing (100%), the court doesn't reach the merits. Done.

Because, as anyone who can read knows, once something is dismissed for lack of standing (100%), the court doesn't reach the merits.
Exactly. Are we supposed to be disagreeing about this? :-)

It's rather pointless to discuss the legalities of this under the Constitution, when the Constitutional branches of government (the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary) are right there to do it for us. One case was brought and it was dismissed on procedural grounds. That's what usually happens when there's a judicial challenge to an Executive act of war - the judiciary chooses to find a way to defer to the Executive.

Gary, you ask whether I would support a President Sarah PalinS "having the unilateral right to order the assassination of American citizens". The answer is NO. First, I would not support Sarah Palin for President, period. Second, I would not support an assassination.

But if Congress had passed a law such as the AUMF, and if there an American citizen made public statements that he was a member of the very organized group that provoked the September 11 attacks, and if Sarah Palin ordered a strike against that person, I'd have to be okay with that. Because that person would be a declared enemy of our country.

And Gary, yes, we're agreed on the standing issue, but that means that the rest of the opinion is dictum (or in layman's terms, bloviating).

But it IS nice to see you back.

But I really don't see how a massive rebellion of U.S. States, claiming secession, is at all like Anwar al-Awlaki hiding in Yemen.

There have always been criminals who flee overseas. There have always been mass murderers and terrorists.

Anwar al-Awlaki wasn't "hiding," he had built a fortress in a lawless country where he could continue to plot against the US from where he was located. He wasn't a criminal who "fled". He was a person involved in an ongoing threat. Your observation that there have "always been" mass murderers and terrorists doesn't really illuminate the situation when you don't tell what was done about the mass murderers and terrorists. They weren't allowed to just continue to mass murder and terrorize until someone could break through their ranks of armed guards with an arrest warrant. That's insane.

russell, the situations between Galleani and al-Awlaki legally don't resemble each other at all. (Galleani in the US; al-Awlaki in Yemen. No war against Galleani's people; war against al-Awlaki's people. Galleani deported after fomenting; al-Awlaki in a fortress in Yemen actively fomenting. Galleani not a citizen; al-Awlaki a citizen. Etc.)

sapient: Thanks for the welcome back, and to all.

Your observation that there have "always been" mass murderers and terrorists doesn't really illuminate the situation when you don't tell what was done about the mass murderers and terrorists.
The ones in other countries are who we're discussing, and what we've always done is either seek extradition, or if that isn't possible, we go on with life.

This isn't secret info. But now I've told you what we've done.

They weren't allowed to just continue to mass murder and terrorize until someone could break through their ranks of armed guards with an arrest warrant. That's insane.
Really? What have we done, do you think, with murderers who have fled to countries we don't have extradition treaties with?

Oh, wait. We're talking about what we've done with convicted criminals.

He wasn't a criminal who "fled".
Wait, he wasn't a criminal? I guess you're right: no court has convicted him. Okay.

He didn't flee the U.S.? Odd.

[...] The FBI conducted extensive investigations of al-Awlaki, and he was observed crossing state lines with prostitutes in the D.C. area.[24][48] To arrest him, the FBI considered invoking the little-used Mann Act, a federal law prohibiting interstate transport of women for "immoral purposes".[24] But before investigators could detain him, al-Awlaki left for Yemen in March 2002.[24][48]
Maybe it was a vacation, not fleeing before arrest.

But you're correct that sometimes we treat mass-murdering terrorists different. Heard of Luis Posada Carriles?

But in general, terrorists have commonly done their best to get to countries without extradition treaties.

There are quite a few of those countries:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, the Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo (Kinshasa), Congo (Brazzaville), Croatia, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, São Tomé & Príncipe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovenia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican, Vietnam, and Yemen.
Also, Taiwan, but it's currently under negotiation.

And, of course, the countries we have no diplomatic relations with at all: Bhutan, Cuba, Iran, North Korea.

The list of fugitive killers who have fled the U.S. is vast.

But we haven't bombed a single one before now. No matter how many people they killed. Do I need to start listing names?

When Nixon's government thought there would be revolution, they still didn't seek out any of the domestic bombers who fled abroad to countries without extradition with the U.S.

We just lived with it.

Why are people to willing to be terrorized by terrorists?

Just stop being so damned afraid, folks.

[...] Anwar al-Awlaki wasn't "hiding," he had built a fortress [....]
Do you have a cite on that "fortress"? I'd like to read more about it, please, just out of curiosity.
[...] But if Congress had passed a law such as the AUMF, and if there an American citizen made public statements that he was a member of the very organized group that provoked the September 11 attacks [...]
What, al-Awlaki time traveled into the past to join al Qaeda in Afghanistan?

Then had lunch at the Pentagon?

Even according to RICO, or any conspiracy law I'm aware of (IANAL; anyone with a cite is welcome to correct my ignorance) in the U.S., you don't become part of a criminal conspiracy (the 9/11 attacks) by saying after the fact that you approve.

And what "very organized group" did al-Awlaki belong to? Are you claiming that al Qaeda is, today, a single organization? A "very organized group"?

Have you consulted all the statements from the Administration explaining how al Qaeda is largely destroyed? How it's capable of little more than propaganda now? Are you suggesting that the various groups that like to use the name "al Qaeda" are all one and the same, organized together?

The facts don't support the latter at all. No reputable expert suggests such a thing.

And now we're killing people for "public statements"?

Hey, why not?

What do you think of the killing of Samir Khan? Also justified?

Gary,

Welcome home. You are right with your argument in this post and in the thread. Targeting citizens without trial is hard to reconcile with "I (insert name), having been appointed a (insert rank) in the U.S. Army under the conditions indicated in this document, do accept such appointment and do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God."

Especially given that "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

And what "very organized group" did al-Awlaki belong to? Are you claiming that al Qaeda is, today, a single organization? A "very organized group"?

I took "the very organized group" to mean "the one particular organized group" rather than "the extremely organized group". Not that this makes the statement any less ridiculous, but it does become a different kind of ridiculousness...

Apparently so, but this observation begs the question, assuming the gov't is telling the truth, whether An-a-Al was dealt with correctly (using the term "correctly" somewhat elastically).

My post was in response to the mention of the Alien and Sedition Acts. My point was to compare and contrast deporting someone who was very dangerous, and blowing them up.

Times change, apparently.

But I don't mind answering the question directly.

Al-Awlaki was not handled correctly.

If you want to use the rule of preventing imminent danger, it behooves you to at least demonstrate the imminent danger. Encouraging other people and possibly being involved in planning past events that didn't actually kill anyone do not constitute imminent danger.

With respect, the comparison between Al Awlaki and the Confederate States is specious. The CSA was in all respects a nation. It had a formal government, which conducted relations with other nations. It fielded an organized army, which fought in uniform under a clear and recognizable command. We did not recognize it. That does not change its nature.

The rules of war do not apply here. Not unless you want to define "battlefield" as the entire freaking planet, and "enemy soldier" as anybody we think might be working, or even just intending, to harm us.

There are not enough drones in the world to cover that population. Thankfully.

There is a good argument to be made that our current institutions and laws are not well equipped for dealing with the phenomenon of terrorism. I'm not sure I buy that argument, but it is a reasonable position.

But the solution to that is not to adopt a policy that we can kill anybody we like, anywhere in the world, on the say-so of the executive, with no meaningful review or recourse. That is the situation we have now, and it should be *extremely obvious* to anyone with any historical awareness and a lick of sense that it's a very, very, very bad idea.

We have established a very powerful precedent, and in my opinion it is highly likely to bite us on the ass. The US can generally get away with doing whatever the hell we like, because we sort of follow the rules, and we are the biggest gorilla in the room. Since 9/11 (at least) we have been eroding the first. The second is not that meaningful in a world where 19 people with box cutters can come damned close to throwing the nation into chaos.

Al Awlaki should have been dealt with according to the laws we have on the books. If that increases our risk, then that's the price we pay for being a nation of laws.

There is no perfect safety, and sending drones around the world to blow people up will not change that fact.

Interestingly, Scott Atran says (or seems to, Robert Wright keeps interrupting him) here at around 20:30, that he thought Awlaki should have been killed. I say interestingly because I believe that he's been cited here several times.

Scott Atran has been cited by me a number of times, because he's an anthropologist who is an expert on political violence and political extremism and the psychology of terrorists (in his view they are not mentally disturbed.) I generally respect his views and would listen to what he has to say on this subject, but unless he has answers for the issues that Gary raises here I wouldn't agree with him. (I haven't listened to the conversation though. No time today.)

Here is a thought experiment.

A while back, the IRA thought the way to gain independence from Ireland was to bomb British people. There were a lot - a lot - of Americans and/or Irish expatriates living in America who supported them in this effort by raising money and sending them cash and ordinance.

One of the possible ways the British government could have responded might have been to identify the more notable of those folks and set about assassinating them, here in the US.

They didn't have drones at the time, so substitute some other historically appropriate means of assassination. But make it one that has a high potential for collateral damage.

Maybe letter bombs.

Imagine a campaign of letter bombs, sent by the UK, to individuals in the US, intending to blow them up. Some would kill the intended target, some would kill someone other than the intended target. Some would kill the intended target *and* someone other than the intended target.

But the Brits would likely rub out a few folks who were directly supporting a campaign of organized political terror, aimed at their citizens.

So - occasional letter bombs, sent by the British government, blowing up people here in the US. Sometimes people who supported IRA terrorism, sometimes folks who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Collateral damage as it were. But, at least some of the time, folks who were actively involved in planning or supporting acts of terrorist violence against British citizens.

Would that be wrong? If so, why?

russell: The rules of war do not apply here. Not unless you want to define "battlefield" as the entire freaking planet, and "enemy soldier" as anybody we think might be working, or even just intending, to harm us."

I agree that the AUMF is too vague, but I don't agree that with your apparent belief that the concept of war doesn't apply here.

Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who were killed, had long expressed their own affiliation with al Qaida, which is pretty clearly the primary "organization" (under AUMF) responsible for the September 11 attacks. If people want to wring their hands and beat their chests about a President, with Congressional authorization, and with apparent judicial accordance (see Hamdi, for example, which although precisely on point contains language which certainly seems to approve dealing with an American citizen abroad under the AUMF as an enemy combatant,) targeting specific people who are making a concerted effort to kill people, and doing so from places in the world beyond the reach of the law, then they can go ahead. But saying that it's not lawful - when all three branches of government seem to approve of it - that seems to me to be incorrect.

Even conceding that the AUMF is too vague, it's much better (I think) than declaring war against the many nations where al Qaida has "cells" on the theory that such a declaration would better define the battlefield. Targeting a relatively small number of people in various countries seems much more palatable than invading and occupying a country.

As to whether we should fear an organization that actively plots terrorist attacks - well, I'm generally against using fear as a basis for public policy. But I do think that preventing further murder by an organization which has already succeeded in producing the largest loss of life in a single terrorist attack on the United States is a reasonable basis for the Executive to act, especially when he has Congressional and apparent judicial authorization. It seems to me that if an attack did take place in the face of a failure to use the apparent legal means of preventing it, the Executive would be guilty of gross malfeasance. If I were President, I would rather have the deaths of Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan on my conscience than another mass attack.

But the solution to that is not to adopt a policy that we can kill anybody we like, anywhere in the world, on the say-so of the executive, with no meaningful review or recourse.

It's not a "policy"; it's a law - the AUMF. It's not "anybody we like ... on the say-so of the executive," it's people who are encompassed by the AUMF. Fine to argue that you don't like the law; not fine to mischaracterize it as some kind of unilateral executive "policy".


...targeting specific people who are making a concerted effort to kill people....
Where's the evidence? Why should I take the word of the Executive?

[...] It's not "anybody we like ... on the say-so of the executive," it's people who are encompassed by the AUMF.
Who can be anyone on planet Earth.

How is this not on the say-so of the exective? I don't understand what your basis is for this claim. Are you asserting that, in fact, the President or staff person consults Congress or the judiciary as to who goes on the "kill list"? Is that not a decision made solely by the Executive Branch?

[...] Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who were killed, had long expressed their own affiliation with al Qaida, which is pretty clearly the primary "organization" (under AUMF) responsible for the September 11 attacks.
So we should kill people for speech? Really?

Really?

Stepping back, I've been gone for a while from ObWi, so I certainly am asking this from partial ignorance, Sapient, but, respectfully, are there any serious decisions by the Obama administration that you don't defend?

Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who were killed, had long expressed their own affiliation with al Qaida, which is pretty clearly the primary "organization" (under AUMF) responsible for the September 11 attacks.

Weasel words. Define affiliation in this context. Be precise. In particular, demonstrate how they "planned, authorized, committed, or aided" in the commission of the attacks of 2001, or how they are actually members of Al-Qaida qua Al-Qaida. Being a member of an organization expressing solidarity with, ideological sympathy with, or partially shared name with Al-Qaida is not sufficient.

If people want to wring their hands and beat their chests about a President, with Congressional authorization, and with apparent judicial accordance (see Hamdi, for example, which although precisely on point contains language which certainly seems to approve dealing with an American citizen abroad under the AUMF as an enemy combatant,) targeting specific people who are making a concerted effort to kill people, and doing so from places in the world beyond the reach of the law, then they can go ahead.

Non-sequitur. Please demonstrate how these individuals were making a concerted effort to kill people, insofar as said killing would constitute "acts of international terrorism against the United States". Note that this alone is not in any case sufficient to invoke the AUMF; you'll first need to demonstrate the above contention regarding membership in a group that carried out, or alternately operational involvement in the planning or execution of, the 2001 attacks.

There is actual precedent of a foreign government assassinating its own citizens on US soil, in Washington DC no less. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Condor>Operation Condor included the murder by car bomb of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orlando_Letelier>Orlando Letelier. Iirc Pinochet's Chile was a prime vassal..eh..ally of the US at the time. Just to refresh memory: Pinochet's putsch against Allende took place on 9/11, it was even the same day of the week.

Some excellent charts on casualties of terrorism should be looked at by many, please, here.

One set of numbers to compare:

Iraq experiences 27.79 Fort Hood shootings a day and averages the equivalent casualties of September 11th every 8.23 days.

Afghanistan experiences 1 Fort Hood shooting a day and averages the equivalent casualties of September 11th every 231.24 days.

Iraq and Afghanistan combined experience 28.78 Fort Hood shootings a day and average the equivalent casualties of September 11th every 7.95 days.

In total, Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced the equivalent of 348 September 11ths or 79960 Fort Hood shootings.

Hartmut is quite correct about Letelier and Operation Condor, by the way.

But that bombing also killed not just Letelier, but also an American citizen:

[...] His assistant, Ronni Moffitt, a U.S. citizen, also died in the explosion. Michael Townley, General Manuel Contreras, former head of the DINA, and Brigadier Pedro Espinoza Bravo, also formerly of DINA, were convicted for the murders. In 1978, Chile agreed to hand over Townley to the US, in order to reduce the tension about Letelier's murder. Townley, however, was freed under the witness protection program. The US is still waiting for Manuel Contreras and Pedro Espinoza to be extradited.
And let's jump back to someone I mentioned earlier:
[...] According to the Miami Herald, Luis Posada Carriles was at this meeting that decided on Letelier's death and also about the Cubana Flight 455 bombing.
Then one can read -- I can give plenty of other sources than Wikipedia, if anyone would like -- about U.S. support for Operation Condor.

Gary, I don't see why I shouldn't defend the Obama administration. I find his policies reasonable. In fact, I think he's the best President we've ever had (certainly in my lifetime). I don't agree with every aspect of what he does, but I try to understand what he does in light of the challenges we face and the political environment he operates in. I believe that terrorism is a problem, and that a President has the job of preventing attacks on the U.S. (and to whatever degree is demanded by treaty, to allies). I don't think we should stage imperialistic wars as Bush did, but I'm not averse to using the military. (As to killing for "speech," I don't think killing Joseph Goebbels would have been a problem, and I feel the same way about people propagandizing for al Qaeda's terrorists, especially those who have had direct communications with people who have murdered Americans in the U.S, and themselves are protected in an armed encampment.)

As to things I would prefer (but I understand might be politically impossible or unwise): I would prefer less coddling of Israel. I would prefer having had some kind of truth commission or something to "look back" on the issue of torture. I would prefer seeing some more serious accountability for the financial crisis, and question whether Wall Street has had too much of an influence on policy (caveat: my knowledge about "fixing" the financial crisis is shallow, and my opinions on this issue are based on emotion). But in every case, as to things I would prefer, I understand that decisions have to be made as to whether the outcome of a policy would actually further the ends sought. If a "truth commission" would become a media circus, it wouldn't really serve the ends of justice. If prosecutions would be unsuccessful, they would do more harm than good. I have no clue who would have done a better job than Geithner. Obama made reasonable judgments, and I don't see the point of second guessing him without a firm conviction about a better outcome.

So, no, some decisions I don't absolutely agree with, but I understand. I'm generally pleased with Obama's policies and am incredibly grateful that he's President. I don't know if he will win reelection. If he doesn't, the country might be unsalvageable. That's my opinion. Although I respect and appreciate yours, Gary, I think it's important to distinguish between two sets of standards, war and criminal justice. And I believe that undermining Obama's popularity with the left only serves the right.

envy, the people targeted publicly proclaimed their affiliation with an organization with the same name and the same terrorist principals as the one we've identified as having conducted the 9/11 attacks. If it's not specific enough for you, perhaps you should encourage the matter to be litigated. Or perhaps you're of the view that we should primary Obama or elect a Republican. Maybe you should encourage Congress to repeal or amend the AUMF. (I might be in favor of amendment to clarify situations where military, rather than law enforcement, authority is authorized. Such an amendment would not be an effort to change Obama's current policy.)

I'm sure I've made my point as well as I can so I'm going to try to refrain from commenting further on this.

Hell freezes over, as Rick Moran announces he agrees with Glenn Greenwald.

Gary Johnson isn't happy, either.

Neither are a lot of libertarian conservatives.

Sapient:

Gary, I don't see why I shouldn't defend the Obama administration.
I asked:
are there any serious decisions by the Obama administration that you don't defend?
So is that a "no," or a non-sequitur?

Later, you stated you had "preferences" for policies. This doesn't answer my question.

[...] As to killing for "speech," [GODWIN] I feel the same way about people propagandizing for al Qaeda's terrorists
So you do favor killing people for their speech. Thanks for clarifying. (If I'm somehow misunderstanding this, please do correct me.)
[...] And I believe that undermining Obama's popularity with the left only serves the right.
Yes, that's consistent with what you write.

I agree we're not apt to get much further whenever we discuss anything related to the Obama presidency, since it appears that you will simply defend Obama no matter what, on absolutely any and every issue of consequence, so as not to "undermine" him.

I don't share the view that because a politician is far less worse than others, or is even great, we must not criticize them in public.

As a matter of practical politics, if we don't push politicians to support our causes, we surrender to those pushing them the other way.

Causes are what matter: not cults of personality.

envy, the people targeted publicly proclaimed their affiliation with an organization with the same name and the same terrorist principals as the one we've identified as having conducted the 9/11 attacks.

Hmm. Let's see. Proclaimed affiliation (for some undefined definition of affiliation), with a similarly-named and principled organization to the one that would allow for the invocation of the AUMF. So you still won't or can't identify them as actually being members of Al-Qaida (you know, "the one that [...] conducted the 9/11 attacks"), but rather continue to opt for conflation via a hand-waving assertion of "affiliation". However, I must at least give you credit for admitting you wanted them killed for what they said rather than continuing to argue they represented a clear and present danger to the US. None the less, I think it's pretty safe to agree that you're not going to make your point any more clear than you just did.

Precision matters in law. If you're not willing to demonstrate how and why a law applies, it doesn't help your apologia to invoke it.

envy,

How would YOU identify anybody as a "member of Al-Qaida"? I am asking the question seriously, but I am willing to consider that it may be a meaningless question.

Let's suppose, however, that there exist people in the world who consider themselves "members of Al-Qaida". There's no guarantee that "Al-Qaida" (whatever it is) considers them "members" (whatever that means), but if "Al-Qaida" exists, some people have to be "members" of it.

I am not asking WHO should decide whether some fellow who says "I am a member of Al-Qaida" is indeed a member of Al-Qaida. I am NOT asking whether the POTUS, or the SCOTUS, or you or I, should decide the question. I am NOT asking whether you think bona fide members of Al-Qaida ought to be considered enemy soldiers or international criminals or even just obnoxious pissants. I am only asking what evidence you would consider adequate for you, yourself, to say, "Okay, that guy IS a member of Al-Qaida."

--TP

I agree we're not apt to get much further whenever we discuss anything related to the Obama presidency, since it appears that you will simply defend Obama no matter what, on absolutely any and every issue of consequence, so as not to "undermine" him.

Well, I also happen to agree with Obama's policies, which is why I'm so impressed with his presidency. As to the "Godwin" accusation, when we're distinguishing "war" from courtroom procedure, it's helpful to have a point of reference from a previous war, and most people are familiar with the propagandist for the enemy in WWII. He would have been a fair target, in my opinion. As far as I know, Goebbels was a "speech" guy too.

Why should I take the word of the Executive?

And there you have it.

Thank you.

*At a bare minimum*, the President should be required to demonstrate that the person assassinated actually did represent a threat that was so credible and so immediate that other channels were simply not adequate.

At a minimum.

And welcome back Gary, it's great to see you back here!

For those who find the killing of Al Awlaki non-problematic, I'll ask the question again:

Imagine a campaign of letter bombs, sent by Britain to the US during the Troubles, intended to assassinate folks who provided material support for the IRA in their campaign of terrorist bombings.

The context is not hypothetical, there most definitely were people, American citizens and others, living in the US during that time who provided direct support for terrorist activity by the IRA, with the full knowledge that that is what they were doing.

They were donating time, money, and materials to *kill innocent British citizens*. Knowingly.

So - imagine the Brits responded with a campaign of letter bombs, targeted as precisely as is practical at the folks who were, directly or indirectly, killing their citizens. As a result of this letter bomb campaign, some folks who provided direct support to real live terrorists get killed. Unfortunately, some other folks get killed. A neighbor, a postman, some guy who happened to walking down the wrong street at the wrong time.

Sh*t happens.

Good? Bad? Legitimate? Not legitimate? Why?

I'll look forward to a reply from McK and sapient in particular, but anyone else who wants to weigh in, feel free.

If Al Awlaki's assassination was legitimate, the action I've just described would be legitimate. If you think not, please explain why.

I am only asking what evidence you would consider adequate for you, yourself, to say, "Okay, that guy IS a member of Al-Qaida."

Group membership for ill-defined groups can be a tangled mess. Not denying that. However, when discussing groups like this, there is more involved than proclamation of membership. Indeed, the AUMF can be argued to have this as an unstated premise. It authorizes the military to attack nations, organizations, and individuals involved in the 2001 attacks in order to prevent future attacks. Attacking the groups who carried out or assisted in the planning or execution of the attacks is to the end of avoiding recurrence. There is an implicit notion of causality, which suggests some form of command and control. If the organization to which the individual belongs is not meaningfully subject to the orders of the leaders of, nor materially or logistically affected by attacks on, the 9/11-responsible organization, it is unreasonable to assert that it is actually the same organization. And it does not help to assert that this separate but "affiliated" group or individual aids the responsible group (or vaguer still, aids the realization of said group's overarching goals); the AUMF makes no provision for use of force against non-members unless the non-members can be said to be "harboring" them. Harboring is something that can't really apply to sub-national organizations in this context, so that's not overmuch helpful either.

If you have groups which share nothing but name and methodology, then "declaring war" on all of them (rather than following the AUMF's lead and declaring war on the initial group that was actually responsible for the attacks referenced therein) amounts to the frequently-heard accusation of having declared war on an abstract noun or a tactic. At which point, we've returned to the above-mentioned accusations of the executive having carte blanche to dole out assassinations and military strikes as they see fit...

There's little evidence that Al-Awlaki motivated almost anyone outside the United States.

Or heard of him. He was a propaganda in English, as an American, directing his agitprop at Americans.

[...] “A dime-a-dozen cleric” was one response, by Gregory Johnsen, a Princeton professor who studies Yemen. Another: “I don’t think your average Middle Easterner knows who Anwar al-Awlaki is,” said Emad Shahin, a scholar of political Islam at Notre Dame University. While Western officials and commentators saw the end of the long-elusive Mr. Awlaki as another serious loss for Al Qaeda, a very different reception in the Middle East was the latest reminder of the recurrent disconnect between American aims and Arab perceptions. In a region transfixed by the drama of its revolts and revolutions, Mr. Awlaki’s voice has had almost no resonance.

“I don’t think this will really get people’s interest, I can’t imagine why it would,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center. “It seems totally irrelevant to how Arabs view the world right now. They don’t care about Awlaki.”

It is a remarkable feature in the Arab world these days how little Al Qaeda actually comes up in conversations. Even before the eruption of revolts and revolutions, a group that bore some responsibility for two wars and deepening American involvement from North Africa to Iraq was losing its significance. When Osama bin Laden died, his killing seemed more an epitaph for another era. As is often remarked, the events of Sept. 11 seem an historical note to much of an Arab population where three in five are younger than 30.

In that atmosphere, many saw Mr. Awlaki’s death as an essentially American story: here was a man that American attention helped create, and its Hellfire missiles killed, in a campaign born out of American fears of homegrown militancy. What distinguished Mr. Awlaki was not his ideas or influence but his American upbringing, passport and perfectly idiomatic English.

“When the Obama administration and the U.S. media started focusing on him, that is when Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula pushed him to the fore,” Mr. Johnsen said, referring to the group’s Yemeni branch. “They were taking advantage of the free publicity, if you will. And any stature he has now in the Arab world is because of that.”

Another analyst, Michael Wahid Hanna, a fellow at the Century Foundation, echoed the idea that Mr. Awlaki’s fluency in English generated more interest about him. “The U.S. focus on Awlaki was a function of his language abilities and their understanding of his role as a recruiter and propagandist. If recent events can be said to further marginalize violent rejectionists such as Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri, then there is very little room for a virtual unknown such as Awlaki to command any serious attention.”

Mr. Hanna said that was even more the case with the Arab world having plunged into what he described as “this transformational juncture.”

Unless he had lasers coming out of his eyes, or similar super-powers, I don't see the threat sufficient to grant the President of the United States unilateral power to secretly order executions.

This is insane fear. al Qaeda does not command an army that conquered Europe. The comparison is simply insane.

President Obama -- in video, in his live speech to the nation on June 22, 2011:

[...] Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11. Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al Qaeda's leadership. And thanks to our intelligence professionals and Special Forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al Qaeda had ever known. [...] The information that we recovered from bin Laden's compound shows al Qaeda under enormous strain. Bin Laden expressed concern that al Qaeda has been unable to effectively replace senior terrorists that have been killed, and that al Qaeda has failed in its effort to portray America as a nation at war with Islam -- thereby draining more widespread support.

[...]

By the end of 2004, the U.S. government proclaimed that two-thirds of the most senior al-Qaeda figures from 2001 had been captured and interrogated by the CIA: Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in 2002;[197] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2003; and Saif al Islam el Masry in 2004.[citation needed] Mohammed Atef and several others were killed.

What is "al Qaeda"?

[...] Al-Qaeda's management philosophy has been described as "centralization of decision and decentralization of execution."[22] Following the War on Terror, it is thought that al-Qaeda's leadership has "become geographically isolated", leading to the "emergence of decentralized leadership" of regional groups using the al-Qaeda "brand".[23][24]
Many terrorism experts do not believe that the global jihadist movement is driven at every level by bin Laden and his followers. Although bin Laden still had huge ideological sway over some Muslim extremists, experts argue that al-Qaeda has fragmented over the years into a variety of disconnected regional movements that have little connection with each other. Marc Sageman, a psychiatrist and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, said that al-Qaeda would now just be a "loose label for a movement that seems to target the West". "There is no umbrella organisation. We like to create a mythical entity called [al-Qaeda] in our minds, but that is not the reality we are dealing with."[25]
If people want to discuss "al Qaeda," PLEASE BE SPECIFIC: are you referring to: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula?

Islamic Jihad of Yemen?

"Al-Qaeda in Iraq"?

"Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb"?

Al-Shabaab (Mujahideen Youth Movement) in Somalia?

Egyptian Islamic Jihad?

The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group?

East Turkestan Islamic Movement in Xinjiang, China?

Or just Loudmouthed Guys On Teh Internetz, who are as dangerous as the commenters on YouTube, or any anti-American Chinese citizen online, or any loudmouth extremely left or rightwing internet shouter on the internet?

Back to Wikipedia:

[...] As of 2009, it was believed that no more than 200–300 members were still active commanders.[41]
According to the award-winning 2004 BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares, al-Qaeda was so weakly linked together that it was hard to say it existed apart from bin Laden and a small clique of close associates. The lack of any significant numbers of convicted al-Qaeda members, despite a large number of arrests on terrorism charges, was cited by the documentary as a reason to doubt whether a widespread entity that met the description of al-Qaeda existed.
Meanwhile, since September 12th, 2001, how many Americans have even supporters of al Qaeda killed on American soil?

Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people, but oh look:

In November 2009, after examining the e-mails and previous terrorism investigations, the FBI had found no information to indicate Hasan had any co-conspirators or was part of a broader terrorist plot. The U.S. has since classified Anwar al-Awlaki as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the UN considers Awlaki to be associated with al-Qaeda.[7] A year after the Fort Hood shooting, however, questions still lingered as to whether the incident was caused by mental health issues, and government agencies still had not officially linked Hasan to any radical terrorist groups.[8]
So, who wants to suggest a number for how many Americans on American soil have been killed "by al Qaeda" since ten years ago, oh, today?

Al Qaeda is an ideology, and support for it in the Islamic world is presently next to nil. It's almost dead.

Support among American Muslism is about non-existent.

[...] A comparably small percentage of Muslim Americans express favorable views of al Qaeda – 2% very favorable and 3% somewhat favorable. And the current poll finds more Muslim Americans holding very unfavorable views of al
Qaeda than in 2007 (70% vs. 58%).
Ditto Muslims around the world.

[...] Over time, support for bin Laden has dropped sharply among Muslim publics. Since 2003, the percentage of Muslims voicing confidence in him has declined by 38 points in the Palestinian territories and 33 points in Indonesia. The greatest decline has occurred in Jordan, where 56% of Muslims had confidence in bin Laden in 2003, compared with just 13% in the current poll. Jordanian support for bin Laden fell dramatically (to 24% from 61% the year before) in 2006, following suicide attacks in Amman by al Qaeda. In Pakistan, where 2011 data is still not available, confidence in bin Laden fell from 52% in 2005 to just 18% in last year’s survey.

[...]

Al Qaeda also received largely negative ratings among Muslim publics in the 2011 survey. Only 2% of Muslims in Lebanon and 5% in Turkey expressed favorable views of al Qaeda. In Jordan, 15% had a positive opinion of al Qaeda, while about one-in-five in Indonesia (22%) and Egypt (21%) shared this view. Palestinian Muslims offered somewhat more positive opinions (28% favorable), but about two-thirds (68%) viewed bin Laden’s organization unfavorably.

Ratings of al Qaeda are, for the most part, unchanged, except in Jordan, where al Qaeda’s favorable rating fell from 34% in 2010 to 15% currently.

If Awlaki was Goebbels, let me quote dear old Joseph Stalin:
The Pope! How many divisions has he got?

Said sarcastically to Pierre Laval in 1935, in response to being asked whether he could do anything with Russian Catholics to help Laval win favour with the Pope, to counter the increasing threat of Nazism; as quoted in The Second World War (1948) by Winston Churchill vol. 1, ch. 8, p. 105.

Al Qaeda as remotely the threat Nazi Germany was? Insanity. I'd like to be politer, and will take suggestions for a word that's politer, and still accurate about the comparison.

Hi Russell,
Obviously any comparison is going to apply until it doesn't, but I don't think the IRA one gets us so far. I could make some snarky aside about Peter King deserving something, but the IRA concentrated their overseas attacks on military installations and visible representations of the government (the Brighton bombing). This is not to dismiss the IRA's violence in Northern Ireland, but you aren't imagining some acolyte of Ian Paisley choosing to assassinate someone here as you say 'sent by Britain'.

If you accept that 9-11 was a different kind of attack (and maybe you don't, but be careful how you say that, you can see the trouble Ward Churchill got in), you might see how it might the need for a different kind of response. The Marine Barracks bombing and the USS Cole did not generate this kind of response. This is not to say that they are the same, but I wonder if things would be the same if all three planes had crashed into the Pentagon.

This is not to take sides in all this, I have a number of rather contradictory thoughts about the whole thing, but just to try and respond to what you are thinking.

Just adding to the comment by liberal japonicus, russell, I don't think a comparison is apt given the 235 years of history that exists between the United States and Britain, and the diplomatic and law enforcement efforts made to address the problem.

Gary, I never said that the threat of al Qaeda and Nazi Germany were equal threats, as you know. Such a statement would present a Godwin issue. I said that the role of an enemy agent as propagandist doesn't protect the enemy agent merely because such a role is that of "speech". But you know what I was saying and you're trying to obfuscate.

Whether or not you believe that al Qaeda is a threat (and perhaps they aren't a threat precisely because of the war that's been waged against them for the past 10 years), Congress did issue the AUMF (which appears to be accepted by all three branches of government as legitimate) to protect against further terrorist attacks. Awlaki, a self-proclaimed member of al Qaeda, was connected to the perpetrators of one successful murder and two attempts. As long as the AUMF is in place, and there's that connection with someone admitting to be an enemy, I don't really see how anyone could expect the Executive not to act.

But I repeat myself. This is about war, not Constitutional criminal procedure. If you don't approve of it, lobby Congress to withdraw the Authorization.

This whole back-and-forth between Gary and sapient is dismayingly familiar.

Sapient:

But you know what I was saying and you're trying to obfuscate.
Please don't do this. Thanks.

I agree that Congress should, at the least, heavily modify the AUMF.

I think we can conclude this interchange, Sapient, since we've said our pieces, and we don't seem to have facts left worth arguing about; you're certainly entitled to your opinions and feelings. Thanks for your views.

Awlaki, a self-proclaimed member of al Qaeda, was connected to the perpetrators of one successful murder and two attempts. As long as the AUMF is in place, and there's that connection with someone admitting to be an enemy, I don't really see how anyone could expect the Executive not to act.

Really? So it's now a capital offense to be "connected" to a murderer? Really? Honestly, it's hard to take your arguments seriously when you offer up specious assertions like this.

But I repeat myself. This is about war, not Constitutional criminal procedure. If you don't approve of it, lobby Congress to withdraw the Authorization.

Um. Go read up on Law of War before you try to handwave away any questions about the legitimacy of Awlaki's killing with simple-minded repetitions of "this is war". You don't do yourself any credit by suggesting that all one need do is hand off operational control to a military command and suddenly anything goes. Seriously. I'm going to repeat what I said upthread: I would not want to answer for having given the order to hit him before an impartial court-martial. I'm not saying the case could not be made that he was a legitimate military target, I'm saying it would have to be made, and from where I'm sitting, it's looking pretty damned weak. This looks an awful lot like a targeted killing of a non-combatant, if you want to view it from a purely military standpoint.

the IRA concentrated their overseas attacks on military installations and visible representations of the government

It's not my understanding that IRA acts of terror were limited to British military and specifically government people or institutions.

And I'm not sure how much of a difference it makes. Likewise, I'm not sure how much of a difference our 235 years of history matters.

We can blow up people in Yemen, because we share less of a common history with that country? How does that make sense?

I'm making a very simple point.

The executive reserves the right to target individuals for assassination, anywhere in the world, using means that are highly likely to result in other folks being killed, based on their assertion that those people are somehow involved in planning, encouraging, or carrying out acts of terror against Americans.

That's a very broad brief, more than broad enough to cover supporters for the IRA resident in the US.

And I have no idea where you're going with the Ward Churchill comment.

Long story short - what's good for the goose is good for the gander. There are people in the US concerning whom other nations could make a case for assassination based on the same rationale that we use to assassinate Al Awlaki. A stronger case, probably. But we would lose our collective sh*t if any other nation went about blowing them up here, and taking whoever happened to be nearby with them.

If we can blow up Al Awlaki, and whoever happens to be near enough to him that they are within the footprint of the ordinance we use, can other nations do the same to people living here, who they consider to be threats to them?

Those people exist.

If they can't do so, why not?

If they can, are we going to accept the occasional killing of our friends, neighbors, and fellow-citizens as part of the deal?

Irish republican attacks during "the Troubles" in London, alone.

I was going to cut and paste, but it's too long. Not a lot of sticking to military and governmental targets.

The Provos stated their method in 1977:

The 1977 edition of the Green Book, an induction and training manual used by the Provisionals, describes the strategy of the "Long War" in these terms:
A war of attrition against enemy personnel [British Army] based on causing as many deaths as possible so as to create a demand from their [the British] people at home for their withdrawal.


A bombing campaign aimed at making the enemy's financial interests in our country unprofitable while at the same time curbing long term investment in our country.

To make the Six Counties... ungovernable except by colonial military rule.

To sustain the war and gain support for its ends by National and International propaganda and publicity campaigns.

By defending the war of liberation by punishing criminals, collaborators and informers.

Note #2.

Chronology of Provo IRA actions.

The executive reserves the right to target individuals for assassination, anywhere in the world, using means that are highly likely to result in other folks being killed, based on their assertion that those people are somehow involved in planning, encouraging, or carrying out acts of terror against Americans.

No, the Executive doesn't "reserve" anything like that. The AWMF authorizes the Executive to do certain things. Read the language. "That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

This is not Obama "reserving the right" or broadening the reach of Executive authority. This is Obama being authorized to use his determination to take action to prevent any future acts of terrorism. In other words, if future acts of terrorism occur, and he didn't prevent it by using his authorization, he is to blame. This Congressional authorization (otherwise known as a law) gives him this duty. The Supreme Court has cited this law in its opinions. Its constitutionality hasn't been challenged. Please get this straight. You don't like the law? Tell your Congressperson.

Hi Russell,
My understanding is that the IRA campaign (known as 'the Long War') restricted its attacks to British military infrastructure and economic targets. This from wikipedia

Despite the fact that most of the IRA's security force victims by the late 1980s were locally recruited RUC or UDR personnel, the Provisional leadership maintained that the British Army was their preferred target. Gerry Adams in an interview given in 1988, said it was, "vastly preferable" to target the British Army as it "removes the worst of the agony from Ireland" and "diffuses the sectarian aspects of the conflict because loyalists do not see it as an attack on their community".

Towards the end of the troubles, the Provisionals widened their campaign even further, to include the killing of people who worked in a civilian capacity with the RUC and British Army. The bloodiest example of this came in 1992, when an IRA bomb killed eight Protestant building workers who were working on a British Army base at Teebane.

The part below that describes IRA attacks outside of Ireland, and emphasizes the 'targeted' nature of the attacks. This seems to be a bit different than 9/11 or attempts to blow up airliners in terms of targeting. And yet, by making this hinge on citizenship, IRA bombs targeting RUC are excluded.

The Ward Churchill allusion was to his comment that those working in the WTC were a "technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire".

This is not to claim that IRA violence was justified or to claim you are making as an inflammatory a statement as Churchill. But this goose and gander argument seems to suggest that Al Queda's attack on 9/11 is not an upping of the ante.

I also said that I have a lot of contradictory thoughts about this. I'm not really sure why the presence of a passport makes calculations so different, though I understand this in historical terms. I'm also not suggesting that the US government start offing US citizens in order to prove that point.

But I don't think these shoe on the other foot arguments really move the ball down the field. If some grieving father from Bhopal were to attempt to blow up a meeting of Union Carbide stockholders, there would be one response, if a group of young men from Bhopal decided to cripple the economic infrastructure of the US by bombing Wall Street, it might require a different response. If the Indian government took an attitude similar to what Pakistan apparently did with Bin Laden or was simply unable to do anything, as Yemen seems to be, that's another difference. If one of the cell had dual citizenship, I don't think that automatically short circuits these responses. This is not to say that I think killing Awlaki was right or justified. But I don't think it is black and white in terms of decision making.

Here's Guardian's article on the drone attack, which should provide more grist for the mill.

Rereading a couple of things, I see Gary's comment that No one has claimed al-Awlaki had anything to do with September 11th.

But,

"Still more disturbing were Mr. Awlaki's links to two future Sept. 11 hijackers, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaq Alhazmi. They prayed at his San Diego mosque and were seen in long conferences with the cleric. Mr. Alhazmi would follow the imam to his new mosque in Virginia, and 9/11 investigators would call Mr. Awlaki Mr. Alhazmi's 'spiritual adviser.'"

The F.B.I., whose agents interviewed Mr. Awlaki four times in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, concluded that his contacts with the hijackers and other radicals were random, the inevitable consequence of living in the small world of Islam in America. But records of the 9/11 commission at the National Archives make clear that not all investigators agreed."

So, actually, yes, someone did claim ...

Oh, yes, "links."

Everyone who posts a comment to ObWi is "linked."

Perhaps you haven't noticed that "linked" is a complete weasel word that subsumes every possible "link," such as wow, having been in the same room with someone, or talked to them, or exchanged a blog comment.

"So, actually, yes, someone did claim ..."

Please finish the sentence: what did they claim, specifically?

LJ, I trust you hadn't had a chance to read my links before posting again about IRA "targeting"?

"This is not Obama 'reserving the right' or broadening the reach of Executive authority. This is Obama being authorized to use his determination to take action to prevent any future acts of terrorism. In other words, if future acts of terrorism occur, and he didn't prevent it by using his authorization, he is to blame. This Congressional authorization (otherwise known as a law) gives him this duty. The Supreme Court has cited this law in its opinions. Its constitutionality hasn't been challenged. Please get this straight. You don't like the law? Tell your Congressperson."

The law and how the law it is applied are sometimes two separate issues. For example, it can be constitutional for a cop to pull over a car with a faulty brake light. It is not constitutional for a cop to do so only for latino and african-american drivers.

Sapient, can you imagine how the AUMF might have been deemed constitutional as it has been applied so far, but not when it is used to justify due-process-free assassination? If due-process-free assassination of an American Citizen represents a novel application of the AUMF, that may mean prior evaluations of the AUMF's constitutionality will not apply. You assume they will, but you offer no grounds for that assumption.

You say that Obama is "authorized to use his determination," without any indication of what limits you think there might be on his authority. Do you think there are none (besides personal discretion, which, remember, is not a meaningful limit)? Do you think there should be some?

Your argument is deeply flawed because you're speaking so broadly as to be hard to rebut without soliciting further detail. Any specifics you can offer in advance of us asking for them would be much appreciated.

This is Obama being authorized to use his determination to take action to prevent any future acts of terrorism.

No. No, no, no, no, no. Not even close.

Read the language:

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

It's not near so broad as you claim it is. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, it's somewhat narrow. And the longer it's been since 2001, the fewer and fewer groups and individuals it will cover, if applied as actually written, rather than as loosely interpreted.

So if an individual is not a member of an organization that participated in planning or executing the attacks 10 years ago, and did not personally do so either... the AUMF says bugger all about the President's authority to use military force against them. Even if that person is "linked to", "connected to", or "affiliated with" individuals who were involved. The same goes for any other vague, conflating, weaselly associative turn of phrase you might subsequently care to offer.

Actually, Gary, I didn't, I was writing my reply and comments written then don't appear, I think. But the quote you has specifically notes 'British Personnel' and you focus on the the Provisional IRA, where there were several other IRA factions. In addition, the RUC and the British forces apparently had a shoot to kill policy (I'm sure you've read John Stalker's book in relation to that inquiry, which was squashed), which seems to be to be a rough equivalent of the drone attack on Awlaki and the people he was with.

This is not to claim you are wrong or to question what you wrote. It is more to explore the nature of the IRA parallel that Russell brings up. I'd also be interested in anyone wanting to give their take on wj's questions at 6:56pm

Lord Haw-Haw may be a better comparision than Goebbels (Tokyo Rose less so since she did not advertise her name and origin).

"Perhaps you haven't noticed that "linked" is a complete weasel word that subsumes every possible "link," such as wow, having been in the same room with someone, or talked to them, or exchanged a blog comment."

Now, that is a sentiment I can enthusiastically endorse, having made that point myself on numerous occasions.

And while we're on the subject, "Person of interest". Just an excuse to treat somebody as a suspect, without admitting any of the legal rights attendant on that status have kicked in.

My understanding is that the IRA campaign (known as 'the Long War') restricted its attacks to British military infrastructure and economic targets.

First, I'm not really sure that an exact equivalence in the targets of terror is essential to my point.

That said, the IRA attacked, among other things, subway stations, Heathrow airport, and some pubs.

My point overall is not to draw an equivalence between the IRA and Al Qaeda.

My point overall is to try to make *what we are actually doing* a little more concrete.

We send unmanned drones flying around other countries, armed with rockets and bombs, to blow up individual people whom the executive has declared to be worthy of assassination.

Other people also get killed in the process. And, folks who live near where these persons of interest happen to be have to live with the idea that drones armed with bombs and rockets could be flying over their heads at any moment.

These *are not* countries or people that we are at war with. They are places that people we want to kill just happen to be residing.

In My Very Humble Opinion, it has been and continues to be a mistake to work from the premise that what we are involved in with Al Qaeda is a war. Because a state of war, for better or worse, gives license for a more or less unbridled use of force, and in our country specifically, at this point in time, gives the executive enormous room to act with little accountability.

We send mechanical angels of death around the world, with the intent of killing individuals with ordnance capable of annihilating a tank, or a small building.

Al Awlaki was killed with a Hellfire missile. Here is a Hellfire missile blowing up a person.

I'm not sure "targeted" is quite the right word to use.

There are people residing in this country who other nations could reasonably consider to be threats as dangerous as Al Awlaki was to us.

If it's legitimate for us to kill Al Awlaki with freaking anti-armor missiles, it's legitimate for them to do the same.

That's the pragmatic objection.

The principled objection, which I haven't even gotten into, is that it's extremely problematic to give the President and/or the executive the authority to kill people anywhere on the planet based on their sense that those people deserve killing, without any due process or meaningful review or accountability.

You say that Obama is "authorized to use his determination," without any indication of what limits you think there might be on his authority. Do you think there are none (besides personal discretion, which, remember, is not a meaningful limit)? Do you think there should be some?

Your argument is deeply flawed because you're speaking so broadly as to be hard to rebut without soliciting further detail. Any specifics you can offer in advance of us asking for them would be much appreciated.

Julian, there hasn't been much case law on the AUMF, but Hamdi makes it clear that a United States citizen doesn't merit special treatment if he has joined enemy forces, and the decisions don't question the Constitutionality of the AUMF or question its breadth. There aren't many other specifics to discuss. There have been a lot of wars where far more people have been killed by the United States than in the instance we're talking about here without much interest in the specific status of the people being killed. Looks like a bridge that enemies could use to get to a target? Boom! Looks like a train carrying enemy supplies? Boom! Who was asking questions about the complicity of the fishermen under the bridge, or the driver of the train? You're in the "enemy" territory, wearing a uniform? Boom! Who cares that you were 16 years old and just drafted?

The bad thing about the AUMF is that it doesn't specify geographic boundaries, and the identity of the "enemy" seems up to the President to determine. The good thing is that it's resulted in an attempt (by Obama) to kill only specific people who are actually furthering the agenda of people who are doing the harm. Certainly, there have been instances where civilians were mistakenly killed and things went wrong. But the "collateral damage" is much less with this kind of warfare than with the Iraq kind of warfare.

Would I favor changing the law? Yes, I already said so. I would include a sunset provision which would require Congress to reconsider the law at various intervals. That might be enough to spur questions as to whether the law has been inappropriately used, and would provide an opportunity to define the scope of the President's authority more clearly. But, in the meantime, Obama "determines".

I'm not sure "targeted" is quite the right word to use.

It's exactly the right word. I'm not sure what your objection is, other than overkill, but it's a technically correct usage.

Anything that helicopter did to an individual or small group would tend to look like overkill. I've never seen a Hellfire used to take out a single person walking in the open; that is generally frowned upon I think because they're a lot more expensive (over $50k each, I think) than 30mm ammo. Both the missile and the 30mm chain-gun tend to make bloody rags out of a person, but it's hard to get more dead than dead.

I'd guess it's the overkill aspect you're objecting to, but my guesses are frequently wrong.

These *are not* countries or people that we are at war with. They are places that people we want to kill just happen to be residing.

Yes, these are. The people who are being killed are people we are at war with (except for people killed accidentally), if you interpret the AUMF (as the Supreme Court has) as the functional equivalent of a declaration of war. You don't like the terms of the statute, but that doesn't mean you get to redefine what the statute does.

Well, sending cruise missiles into other countries not at war with us is hardly novel. Clinton did it, without even the fig leaf of an AUMF, and didn't apologize either, when it turned out the pharmaceutical factory he blew up wasn't really making chemical warfare agents.

Think nobody died back then, either?

I suppose we should be thankful that drones allow assassinations to be carried out without rearranging large areas of the landscape. At least you should be thankful of it if you happen to live in the house next door to somebody the government doesn't like.

These *are not* countries or people that we are at war with. They are places that people we want to kill just happen to be residing.

Yes, these are. The people who are being killed are people we are at war with (except for people killed accidentally), if you interpret the AUMF (as the Supreme Court has) as the functional equivalent of a declaration of war.

Oh? So now we're at war with Yemen? Pakistan? Interesting. See, here's the funny thing about that. The AUMF may be somewhat vague and leave room for weaseling about in terms of individuals and group membership, but the area where it's actually pretty much unambiguous is nations. To wit:

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons [...]

Note the past tense. If a nation did not participate in the planning or commission; provide authorization or material aid; or harbor organizations or persons doing so while they were doing so... there's really no way for you to claim that the AUMF allows for double-secret temporary declarations of war against them. You can make (IMO very unconvincing) arguments in re: fluid and weakly associative organization membership to argue that arbitrary individuals are covered, but nations? Not so much. Even if the Determiner determines what is best would be to be at war with Yemen, the AUMF doesn't really have his back. So no, I'm gonna have to emphatically agree with russell. These are *not* countries we're at war with.

Because a state of war, for better or worse, gives license for a more or less unbridled use of force

<sigh>

No, it doesn't. It really, really doesn't. We are a nation of laws, and there are most certainly laws governing our conduct in war. You as a civilian have the luxury of sitting back in contented ignorance of them, but military personnel, as well as the civilian leadership thereof, are bound to understand and abide by them. Your apparent refusal (here and previously) to accept or even acknowledge this fact which should be very, very uncontroversial is extremely depressing.

"People", envy. I wrote "people." I did not write "nations." That was a big part of my point.

Oh, my. Missed the second part of russell's conditional. I think the correct rebuttal to a possible assertion that these are people, as in individuals, that we're at war with is that this runs afoul the conventional definition of war. The AUMF may authorize the use of military force against individuals, but it can't authorize a declaration of war against them without fairly drastically altering the definition of war, which is something you've been desperately seeking to avoid. War, as it is understood in the law, is a condition existing between nation-states or substantially similar sub-national organisms. It has proven problematic to attempt to define war as encompassing a state of hostilities between non-state actors when said actors are organizations. When they are individuals, it is so far detached from the intent and conventional understandings of the laws and customs governing war as to be pure "War on Poverty" or "War on Drugs" material.

Basically, there's a reason those of us arguing this generally should be viewed as a law enforcement matter do so. States make war on states. The laws in place reflect this. They pursue police actions, even if militarized, against individuals. The laws in place reflect this. Trying to do the former is a blatant end run around the latter laws for the convenience of the state.

Of course, one could always be a killjoy and point out that the AUMF has wiggle room that works against the executive as well as in its favor. It does, after all, only authorize all necessary and appropriate force. So even if it's authorized military action against individuals, it still needs to be an appropriate action as governed by military necessity. And acts like this are, well, questionable. To put it mildly. If the judiciary and legislator were not both so utterly cowed as to let the imperial executive legislate and arbitrate so very often, that might even come back to bite it.

(I'll not be holding my breath, however.)

Also: "furthering the agenda of" will be added to the list along side "linked to", "connected to", and "affiliated with".

You're not helping your credibility even a little when you continue using weasel words like these to elide pertinent but inconvenient details.

I'm not the one who wrote the law, envy.

Oh, for the days of the Battle of Gettysburg, where armies faced each other in a fair fight. Matthew Brady's photographs don't provide an evocative enough snuff film, apparently, for people to realize that "war" is a horrible concept, and the glorious battles of uniformed soldiers weren't so lovely after all.

Perhaps it would be better if we merely declared war on Yemen for harboring people who sent bombs to the United States so that envy wouldn't have to deal with weasel words and challenging concepts.

By the way, envy, I prefer that terrorism be considered a law enforcement problem just like you do. But Congress didn't see it that way, and even though you believe (without citing a single authority) that something is amiss legally, the Executive has the responsibility to use Executive authority to protect the country.

Why is it so distasteful for you to put the blame where it belongs? There are three branches of government.

If the judiciary and legislator were not both so utterly cowed as to let the imperial executive legislate and arbitrate so very often, that might even come back to bite it.

"Cowed?" They're afraid of the Executive branch? I think not! What they're afraid of is making a decision that they themselves have to be accountable for. Much better to stick the Executive with apparently unfettered discretion and then complain when things don't go well!

Okay, Provo IRA killings and bombings of non-military/non-governmental buildings, locations, and people include (I'm quoting Wikipedia, but won't be noting all the incidents -- a smaller number than indiscriminate bombings of civilians -- I'm cutting because they don't meet the criteria):

8 March 1973: The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) conducted its first operation in Britain, planting four car bombs in London. Two bombs exploded, killing one person and injuring 180 others.

24 December 1973: The Provisional IRA left two packages which exploded almost simultaneously in the late evening on Christmas Eve. One was in the doorway of the North Star public house South Hampstead, which exploded injuring six people, and the other exploded on the upstairs verandah of the nearby Swiss Cottage Tavern where an unspecified number of people were
injured.

7 November 1974: An off-duty soldier and a civilian were killed when a bomb was thrown through the window of the Kings Arms pub in Woolwich, and 28 people were injured.

21 December 1974: A bomb was defused in Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, London. A second bomb was defused in the King's Arms public house in Warminster, Wiltshire.

28 August 1975: Seven people were injured when a bomb exploded in Oxford Street, London. A telephone warning was issued to The Sun newspaper five minutes before the explosion.

5 September 1975: Two people were killed and 63 injured when an IRA bomb exploded in the lobby of the Hilton hotel in London.

6–12 December 1975: Four IRA members held two people hostage in the Balcombe Street Siege.

27 March 1976: A bomb placed by the Provisional IRA exploded in a litter bin at the top of an escalator in a crowded exhibition hall, Earl's Court. 20,000 people were attending the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition at the time. 70 were injured, 4 people lost limbs.

1980-1989

26 October 1981: a bomb planted by the IRA in a Wimpy Bar on Oxford Street kills Kenneth Howorth, the Metropolitan Police explosives officer who is attempting to defuse it.

17 December 1983: Harrods was bombed by the IRA. Six people were killed (including three police officers) and 90 wounded during Christmas shopping at the West London department store. (See Harrods bombing)

1990-1999

16 May 1990: Wembley IRA detonate a bomb underneath a minibus killing Sgt Charles Chapman (The Queen's Regiment) and injuring another soldier. No one was ever convicted of Sgt Chapman's murder.

20 July 1990: London Stock Exchange, the IRA exploded a large bomb at the London Stock Exchange causing massive damage.

18 February 1991: A bomb explodes in Paddington Station, damaging the building's roof but causing no casualties. Three hours later another bomb explodes at Victoria Station. One man is killed and 38 people injured.

10 January 1992: Small device exploded. No injuries, Whitehall Place, London SW1.

28 February 1992: A bomb explodes at London Bridge station injuring 29 people.

10 April 1992 Baltic Exchange bombing: A large bomb explodes outside 30 St Mary Axe in the City of London. The bomb was contained in a large white truck and consisted of a fertilizer device wrapped with a detonation cord made from Semtex. It killed three people: Paul Butt, aged 29, Baltic Exchange employee Thomas Casey, aged 49, and 15-year old Danielle Carter. Several people were critically or severely injured. The bomb also caused damage to surrounding buildings (many of which were further damaged by a second bomb the following year). The bomb caused £800 million worth of damage—£200 million more than the total damage costs resulting from all 10,000 previous explosions that had occurred relating to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. A new skyscaper was built on the site of the previous historic building.[17]

11 April 1992: A large bomb explodes underneath the A406 flyover at Staples Corner, causing serious damage to roads and nearby buildings including a B&Q DIY store and causing the closure of the junction. The blast was large enough to be felt many miles away.

12 October 1992: A device exploded in the gentlemen's toilet of the Sussex Arms public house in Covent Garden, killing one person and injuring four others.

16 November 1992: the IRA planted a bomb at Canary Wharf in the Docklands. The device was spotted by security guards and was deactivated safely.

28 January 1993: a bomb exploded in a litter bin outside Harrods, injuring four people.

27 February 1993: a bomb exploded in a litter bin outside a McDonalds restaurant in Camden Town, injuring several people.

24 April 1993 Bishopsgate bombing: the IRA detonated a huge truck bomb in the City of London at Bishopsgate, It killed journalist Ed Henty, injured over 40 people, and causing approximately £1 billion worth of damage,[20] including the near destruction of St Ethelburga's Bishopsgate church, and serious damage to Liverpool Street station. Police had received a coded warning, but were still evacuating the area at the time of the explosion. The insurance payments required were so large that Lloyd's of London almost went bankrupt under the strain, and there was a crisis in the London insurance market. The area had already suffered damage from the Baltic Exchange bombing the year before.

October 1993: Over eight days, a series of IRA bombs were left in various London locations. On 1 October, four bombs were left on Finchley Road, three of which exploded, causing damage to buildings and several injuries caused by falling glass. On 4 October, pairs of bombs were left in Highgate (where one failed to explode), Hornsey, and Archway, causing significant damage but no injuries. On 8 October, bombs exploded in Staples Corner and West Hampstead, again causing damage but no injuries.

March 1994 Heathrow Airport, The IRA launched a series of mortar attacks on the airport, partially paralysing the capital's main air route.

9 February 1996 Docklands bombing: the IRA bombed the South Quay area of London, killing two people.

15 February 1996: A 5-pound (2.3 kg) bomb placed in a telephone box is disarmed by Police on the Charing Cross Road.

Real IRA attacks after the Belfast Agreement

2000
1 June 2000: A bomb exploded on Hammersmith Bridge at 4.30am.

4 March 2001 BBC bombing: At around 00:30 GMT, the Real IRA detonated a car bomb outside the BBC's main news centre in the Shepherd's Bush area of west London.

6 May 2001: A bomb exploded at a Royal Mail sorting office in Colindale, London at 01.53 GMT, injuring one person. This bomb came just three weeks after an almost identical blast at the same office.[

3 August 2001 Ealing bombing: The Real IRA exploded a car bomb in Ealing Broadway, West London, injuring seven.

But that was only in London. So:
1971 31 October: A bomb explodes in the Post Office Tower in London causing extensive damage but no injuries. The "Kilburn Battalion" of the IRA claimed responsibility for the explosion.

1972 22 February: The Official Irish Republican Army kills seven civilians in the Aldershot bombing.

1973 10 September: The Provisional IRA set off bombs at London's King's Cross Station and Euston Station injuring 21 people.

1974 5 October: Guildford pub bombing by the Provisional IRA leaves 4 off duty soldiers and a civilian dead and 44 injured.

1974 5 October: Guildford pub bombing by the Provisional IRA leaves 4 off duty soldiers and a civilian dead and 44 injured.

1974 22 October: A bomb planted by the Provisional IRA explodes in London injuring 3 people.

1974 21 November: The Birmingham pub bombings, 21 killed and 182 injured.

1974 18 December: Bomb planted by IRA in the run up to Christmas in one of Bristol's most popular shopping districts explodes injuring 17 people.

1975 November 27: IRA gunmen assassinate political activist and television personality Ross McWhirter.

1978 December 17: Another bomb planted by the IRA aimed at the Christmas shoppers in Bristol takes out the department store Maggs injuring seven people.

1992 25 August: The IRA plant three fire bombs in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Bombs were placed in Shoplatch, The Charles Darwin Centre and Shrewsbury Castle. The latter causing the most damage as the castle housed the Shropshire Regimental Museum and many priceless historical aritifacts were lost and damaged by fire and smoke. No fatalities or injuries were recorded.
1992 12 October: A device explodes in the gents' toilet of the Sussex Arms public house in Covent Garden killing one person and injuring four others.

1992 3 December: The IRA exploded two bombs in central Manchester, injuring 65 people.[14]
1993 20 March: Warrington bomb attacks. The first attack, on a gasworks, created a huge fireball but no casualties, but the second attack on Bridge Street killed two children and injured many other people. The attacks were conducted by the IRA.

1996 15 June: The Manchester bombing when the IRA detonated a 1500 kg bomb which heavily damaged the Arndale shopping centre and injured 206 people.

And so on.

LJ, respectfully, this is wrong:

My understanding is that the IRA campaign (known as 'the Long War') restricted its attacks to British military infrastructure and economic targets
That Gerry Adams made a nice propaganda statement doesn't weigh against the facts of what was done, wouldn't you agree?

Also, respectfully, what you first wrote was "the IRA concentrated their overseas attacks on military installations and visible representations of the government."

Switching the latter to "economic targets" is not the same thing.

Meanwhile:

[...] The IRA conducted an armed campaign, primarily in Northern Ireland but also in England and mainland Europe, over the course of which it was responsible for the deaths of approximately 1,800 people. The dead included around 1,100 members of the British security forces, and about 630 civilians.

And, really, what politician would announce that they were deliberately targeting civilians? The Provo philosophy had little in common with al Qaeda, and Gerry Adams little in common with bin Laden.

This article in the NYT doesn't make Anwar al-Awlaki sound particularly important.

I'm not sure what your objection is, other than overkill, but it's a technically correct usage.

Sorry, I should have stated this differently.

My objection is to assassinating people using means that are highly likely to kill folks other than, or in addition to, the person we mean to kill.

Whether we should in the in the assassination business in the first place, of course, is another question.

No, it doesn't. It really, really doesn't.

Sorry again. You are quite right, license for use of more or less unbridled force is several steps too far.

The scope of action allowed under the laws of war is broader than, and different from, the scope of action allowed otherwise. Enough so that the idea of being "at war" with individual people seems absurd. To me.

War is not that surgical. It's impossible to "wage war" against individuals without dragging the whole neighborhood into the picture.

And there are lots and lots of reasons - reasons which have important implications for *our own* interests - for not muddying the line between at-war and not-at-war.

There is more at stake here than individual people like Al Awlaki. It's important for the US to deal fairly and proportionately with the phenomenon of terrorist violence, and to be seen to be doing so.

Brookings puts the ratio of civilians to militants killed by drones at about 10 to 1.

That's a lot of dead bystanders.

Does the policy of assassination-by-missile, fired from an unmanned remotely operated drone, make us more or less safe?

And all of this is a purely pragmatic calculus. I.e., it's bad form to kill innocent people in the process of killing not-so-innocent people, because the hearts-and-minds thing is an important aspect of dealing with terrorism as a phenomenon.

The more principled issue - the question of allowing the executive - the President and his reports - to decide, without review, that specific individuals can be killed outside of the system of due process is *extremely problematic*. Justifying it by calling it war against individuals or bands of individuals is even more problematic.

It's a bad idea.

Gary and Russell,

If you recall, Britian is the empire on which the sun never set. Everyone else has now managed to get rid of British rule. The Irish are now the sole subjects unable to shake the yoke of the British. I think you really have to give the Irish some deference in their failing struggle to get out from under Britian.

Because, failing to keep struggling would just open the door to the French looking for a win this last quarter millenia.

And that has already happened: my understanding of the recent British-French military cooperation is really about the French seeking to take partial credit for the continued subjugation of N. Ireland.

So, sure the Irish targeted non-military targets, but they had no other options: being the last nation occupied by a dying empire has to hurt, and then to have the ignobility of France claiming credit? What would you do?


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Whatnot


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