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Drone Kills Top Al Qaeda Figure 885

Posted by Soulskill
from the automated-violence dept.
wiredmikey writes with this excerpt from a Wall Street Journal report: "The U.S. ushered in a new CIA-led counterterrorism program in Yemen on Friday, sending unmanned aircraft to kill an American-born cleric who occupied a top place on the U.S.'s anti-terrorist list. The death of Anwar al-Awlaki eliminates a leading figure in Yemen's branch of al Qaeda and one of its most charismatic recruiters. A Web-savvy Islamic preacher with sparkling English, Mr. Awlaki was known for his ability to couch extremist views in ways that appealed to Western youth. He had been linked to suspects in the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, shooting spree and the botched bombing of a Detroit-bound jet that Christmas."
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Drone Kills Top Al Qaeda Figure

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  • 5th Amendment (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 01, 2011 @09:40AM (#37576364)

    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; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ArcherB (796902)

      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; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

      I highlighted the relevant part.

      • by Pharmboy (216950)

        I think you are correct in that this would qualify as an exception, but it is still a slippery slope. What if he had been on US soil? Or in Canada or Mexico? Aren't they "allies" as well, so why would it make a difference?

        Obviously he wasn't here or in a truly 'friendly' country, but the question remains, where do we draw the line? When it comes to US citizens, it is more of a problem, even though the Constitution doesn't differentiate "citizen" and "person". We just take the government killing a citiz

        • US soil doesn't make a difference on Due Process, I think. According to the media, the judge in the case said that if he wanted due process, he could hand himself in, but otherwise the courts shouldn't step in. What bothers me is that his dad had to sue to get it before a judge in the first place--it seems to me that there should be at least a magistrate or neutral arbiter involved, and that you should have the same constitutional standards you do for convicting someone of treason--or at least probable ca

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          but it is still a slippery slope.

          I don't think this is "slippery" at all... this is a clear case of someone who was an enemy of the state operating from within a nation where we are already fighting militarily.

          where do we draw the line?

          You don't draw "a line", because it's a subjective decision. You leave it up to the Commander-In-Chief. If he's "wrong", he pays for it either politically or through the actions of Congress or the courts.

        • When it comes to US citizens, it is more of a problem, even though the Constitution doesn't differentiate "citizen" and "person".

          This IS the precedent for that, as al-Awlaki was a US Citizen.

      • Re:5th Amendment (Score:5, Informative)

        by dkleinsc (563838) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @09:59AM (#37576488) Homepage

        Anwar al-Awlaki was not and had never been a member of the US military, which is what that clause is plainly referring to. And even the military doesn't have carte blanche to just slaughter people - they're (in theory at least) bound by treaties and rules of engagement. No matter how you slice it, this was a US president ordering (or even worse, the CIA and DoD acting without orders) a US citizen killed far from any battlefield without presenting a shred of evidence to a jury.

        There would be also some question about whether this was a time of war, as no declaration of war has ever been passed by Congress against Iraq, Afghanistan, or Al Qaida. Regarding "public danger", your chance of being killed by a terrorist has never been greater than your chance of being killed by a washing machine.

        • They are also bound by the constitution. The military does not have the right to violate it, although the courts would give them a lot of leeway to bend it if they claimed they had to. (See, e.g., the Korematsu case.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jiro (131519)

          By this reasoning, a US citizen who simply went overseas and, oh, joined the German army during World War II couldn't be shot either. You say "far from any battlefield", but you are not claiming that the fifth amendment doesn't apply to battlefields, you are claiming that it doesn't apply to people who are not members of the US military, which a German soldier wouldn't be.

          Of course, someone who is fighting the US "far from any battlefield" is, since he is fighting, actually on the battlefield.

          • Re:5th Amendment (Score:5, Informative)

            by chill (34294) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @11:04AM (#37576942) Journal

            World War 2 was a real war, with a declaration by Congress. The "war on terror" is not. Thus the other side are not "soldiers" and your comparison is invalid.

            Terrorist activity, like it or not, is *criminal* activity and not under the rules of war, regardless of how the press refers to it.

          • by tmosley (996283)
            No, it means that a US citizen who went to Germany as a priest and recruiter for a non-state paramilitary organization PRIOR TO A DECLARATION OF WAR against Germany couldn't be targeted for assassination.
        • Re:5th Amendment (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Calibax (151875) * on Saturday October 01, 2011 @10:48AM (#37576824)

          You're chance of being killed by a terrorist is low, but the chance of a US citizen being killed is over 300 million times higher. Or are you saying that elected officials should only be concerned about you and not all citizens?

          I'm strongly against the death penalty. I think it's barbaric and has at least one overwhelming reason not to do it - you can't reverse mistakes. However, in the case of people who are spending their entire lives working out ways to kill their fellow citizens in wholesale quantities using military grade weapons if available or airplanes if not, I'm willing to make an exception.

          I would argue that this cleric would have been more than happy to renounce his citizenship, except he knew full well that visiting an embassy to sign the required paperwork would not end well for him.

      • Re:5th Amendment (Score:5, Insightful)

        by alcourt (198386) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @10:00AM (#37576496)

        During World War I and II, individuals in some cases joined the armies of those nations fighting against the US. That made them legitimate targets for military action. The most significant precedent however, is the US Civil War.

        It would be hard to argue that a leader in a group that the US has effectively declared war on (including resolutions of Congress that authorize military force) is not a legitimate military target.

        • by magarity (164372)

          The most significant precedent however, is the US Civil War.

          A civil war is one in which two (or more) groups fight for control of the same government. The southern states did not want to control the entire union, therefore it should be called the war for southern independence, not the civil war.

          • http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/civil+war [reference.com]
            civil war
            noun
            a war between political factions or regions within the same country.

            Not accurate. The States that seceded attepted to setup a federal government, which included a constitution. They may not have tried to rule the ENTIRE US, but that does not mean it was not a civil war.

            In Sudan for instance, the South recently gained independance from the north. They ever tried to control the north. But it was still called a civili war.

            The only people who dont cal

        • during vietnam (Score:3, Insightful)

          by decora (1710862)

          we went around to villages executing civilians because they were "aiding the enemy". how did we know? we just knew. stop asking questions hippie.

          of course, when a radical leftist president starts executing right wing militia people without due process, rush limbaugh will shit a brick. .

          • by couchslug (175151)

            You know going after Awlaki wasn't some random act like Calley turning his troops loose on Son My.

            One doesn't waste extremely expensive mission resources plinking J. Random Jihadist.

            A YEMENITE judge BTW ordered he be captured "dead or alive", so local due process was indeed followed.

      • Are we in a declared war, then?

        For that matter, can you declare a war with al-Qaeda?

        Not that I particularly object to this guy's death, but the legalities are potentially troubling.
        • by alcourt (198386)

          If a US born person happened to serve with the Barbary Pirates, you think that would have made them not a legitimate target for the military reprisal?

          Authorized military action isn't only a congressional resolution that explicitly calls it war.

      • by no-body (127863)

        US wars - hahaha! Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and now - the World - hahaha!

      • Re:5th Amendment (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon&gamerslastwill,com> on Saturday October 01, 2011 @10:46AM (#37576812) Homepage Journal

        that highlighted section is meant to refer to the UCMJ for active duty military personnel during a time of war or public danger.

        It does not, in any way, say that when a war is going on, you can suspend the 5th amendment. It only means that in a time of war, active duty military personnel are not granted due process by the constitution.

        Regular citizens are granted full protection of due process in all times.

        don't even attempt to think that this wasn't a violation of the constitution.

        I'll abridge to the pertinent bits for you: {No person, except in cases in the forces or militia in actual service in time of war, shall be deprived of life without due process of law}

    • Re:5th Amendment (Score:5, Insightful)

      by redemtionboy (890616) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @09:50AM (#37576428)

      Came here to say this. It's amazing what our government decides it can get away with. Once we allow it to have the power to do this for someone who was most certainly guilty, we have given it the power to do this with anyone else it decides is guilty enough. It's very dangerous territory that we need to retreat from. End American imperialism. It's time we got rid of Obushma.

      • by hoggoth (414195)

        And replace Obushma with who? Down with the Republicans! Down with the Democrats!

        Say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cirby (2599)

      "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"

      He's in the land forces. He's just in service in the land forces of an enemy.

      That sort of thing happens when you commit treason and declare war against the country you're supposedly a citizen in...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        1. We're not at war with Yemen
        2. Who decides that someone deserves to die? Who is this 'government' you refer to?

        • by tycoex (1832784)

          Are you saying that governments are the only international actors that matter?

          IOs matter very much in our present international system. Anwar al-Awlaki was a member of an international non-state military force, that has declared war against the United States. He is no different than any other enemy soldier.

      • Re:5th Amendment (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 01, 2011 @10:19AM (#37576610)

        "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"

        He's in the land forces. He's just in service in the land forces of an enemy.

        That sort of thing happens when you commit treason and declare war against the country you're supposedly a citizen in...

        They say he did that BUT if you read his speeches it doesn't quite jibe with the claims so this is fierce propaganda. Also, the declaration of war must be against a soverign nation and not an idealistic and nebulous term such as terrorism. By definition that can mean anyone who doesn't like the US. Al Queda isn't a soverign nation and there is no evidence he was actually a member. Rooting for those who fight arguably illegal US operations abroad isn't treason. If it is then we are in deep caca. If, in fact, he is guilty of the alleged crimes why was there no grand jury indictment or warrant out for his arrest? Now it is moot because he is dead. The "secret" list has 12 names on it of US citizens targeted for assassination and none have been vetted through any legal process

        • by MonsterMasher (518641) <Steven.Work@uvm.edu> on Saturday October 01, 2011 @11:20AM (#37577062)

          I know of no proof that the played a role in AlQueda. I'm talking proof, not propaganda. If there was proof, he could have been charged, but he was never charged...

          It's the politically motivated assassination of a USA citizen by the USA government with no justifiable legal reason or attempt at process.

          What the hell else could it be? And it troubles me on so many levels. And the basic fact is that the few speeches I've heard on youtube were normal and righteous positions I generally agreed with.

          Ops.. did I just make myself a target .. get it.. GET IT! .. Stupid cock-suckers.

    • Re:5th Amendment (Score:4, Insightful)

      by localman (111171) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @01:12PM (#37577934) Homepage

      The part that weirds me out is how some well-known terrorist leader gets taken down and we're all of a sudden concerned about who we're killing over there? What about all the innocent people we're killing all the time? Nobody seems to care much about that.

  • I didn't think drones had stingers. Did he choke on it or something?

  • Drones don't kill people - people kill people

    • No, people with drones kill people without drones and drones with people kill people.

      Because drones that kill people require people with drones that kill people. You cannot kill people with drones without drones and without people with drones operating drones to kill people.

      Can I have a drone? I'll name it Buster, I already got the dronehouse in my yard.

  • One of 'us' (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maxume (22995) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @09:51AM (#37576432)

    It's fascinating how many people are worried that the U.S. government assassinated a U.S. citizen, rather than worrying that the U.S. government is assassinating people.

    And yes, I understand that there is a legally declared war and that there is a very strong case that this guy was involved with the enemy in that war.

    • And yes, I understand that there is a legally declared war...

      No. There isn't. The US hasn't declared war in a very long time, in fact. I believe, if I remember correctly, that it's classified as a "military action". The US has not, however, declared war.

      Well, except the war on drugs and the war on terrorism but I don't think that's what you meant when you said "legally declared war".

    • Well, if he was head of the peace movement, I'd be angry and outraged.

      As things are, I think our government's strategy now is to kill off anyone who declares themselves a leader of a terrorist group with clear intention to cause trouble for USofA---before long, nobody would want to be a leader (if they're systematically killed off months/weeks after assuming the role).

      Morale of the story: if you don't want to be a (drone) target, don't declare America as your target.

    • Re:One of 'us' (Score:5, Insightful)

      by imuffin (196159) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @02:21PM (#37578424)
      Right. The 5th amendment doesn't specify that due process is guaranteed only for citizens; it applies to all persons. That's the point of the bill of rights: it outlines inalienable human rights that belong to all humans, citizens or not.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @09:52AM (#37576444)

    Inefficient. Drones should assimilate, not kill.

  • by mwasham (1208930) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @09:53AM (#37576456) Homepage
    If you value liberty you need to suck it up and admit that Ron Paul is right and quit playing this dems/reps game. They are one and the same.
  • by burris (122191) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @09:58AM (#37576484)

    Watch out for those links to suspects, they'll get you and everyone in your immediate vicinity killed without warning by a missile fired from a robotic aircraft controlled by foreigners hundreds of miles away. There is no point in building a case against someone, capturing them, and having a public trial where the evidence is subject to intense scrutiny and the outcome is determined by disinterested peers. That kind of thing is messy and time consuming, and there is no telling what the outcome might be. After all, 20-25% of the victims in this instance were linked to someone who is suspected of carrying out some horrible crime.

  • Statistically it was bound to happen.
  • by IonOtter (629215) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @10:14AM (#37576576) Homepage

    Suppose Iran decides that someone in this country is an "enemy of the state", and launches drones from their "warships" off the coast of the US? Or they get "government approval" from someone in Mexico, and do the same? Heck, they won't even have to launch from that close.

    North Korea has already been caught using poisoned needles to take out people they consider to be "enemies".

    Just to be clear, I have no objection to taking this asshole out once and for all?

    But I won't be standing atop the Mountain of Purity, wearing white robes and singing hosannas, either. Dirty pool goes both ways, folks.

  • by eddy (18759) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @10:33AM (#37576718) Homepage Journal

    >Mr. Awlaki was known for his ability to couch extremist views in ways that appealed to Western youth.

  • Ron Paul (Score:4, Informative)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @11:15AM (#37577020) Homepage Journal

    That's why you vote for Ron Paul [youtube.com].

    Realize that just a little while ago, FBI argued that there is significant terrorist threat within USA [fbi.gov] coming from various militias (remember Oklahoma?)

    So it's not a stretch to say that if POTUS gets to keep the power to kill American citizens without a trial, eventually it will be used to kill American citizens in USA without a trial, who have suspected 'ties' to 'terrorism', and when government gets to decide who is a terrorist, who is a suspected terrorist and who has ties to them, the lines become increasingly blurry as to who can be killed next and where.

    Realize that pretty much ANYBODY can eventually be tied to something that has to do with terrorism somehow, after all the 6 degrees of separation separate you from Kevin Bacon as much as they separate you from anybody, including various terrorists. (Now, it's not scientific, but there a point there. Something you said somewhere on the Internet at any point can be linked to something else, even if it is only similar, but not exactly the same, but who gives a shit about nuance, right?) In any case, this is completely illegal, immoral and anti-Constitutional.

    I am making this comment right now, and it can be turned against me - it can be declared that this is equivalent to terrorist-sympathizing, because I don't want POTUS to kill Americans on a whim. Is that enough to launch a drone strike after me?

    If you don't see me commenting here for over 2 weeks in a row, then that's it (and foes can cheer.)

  • by Veggiesama (1203068) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @11:54AM (#37577314)

    Where the fuck were you during the last president?

    Let's put this shit in perspective:
    1 dead American-born cleric
    100,000+ dead Iraqi civilians

    I think we have had bigger issues than one asshat's due process rights.

    • by Uberbah (647458)

      Where the fuck were you during the last president?

      Why the fuck do you think this is binary?

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @02:15PM (#37578376) Homepage

    This is not about Awlaki. In my opinion, Awlaki is a piece of shit who deserved to die and his death makes the world a better place. A better place for us, for Yemen, for the Middle East, for Islam, and perhaps most of all; a better place for the impressionable kids whose minds he has been twisting. This has nothing to do with whether Awlaki getting capped was a good thing.

    This is about us. It is about the principles that we choose to live by, even when it means we can't kill some piece of shit who clearly deserves it.

    You are not allowed to punch people who talk on their cell phones in the movie theater. That is clearly bullshit, because people who talk on their cell phones in movie theaters totally deserve to get punched in the face. The reason we do not do it has nothing to do with what that asshole deserves. He deserves to get punched in the face. The reason we do not is because we, The United States and its Citizens, live by principles. Our unwavering dedication to our principles is the bedrock of our moral superiority. The bedrock of our principles is what lets us sleep at night when we must send our children to risk their lives and to kill.

    We don't whine, wheedle, and try to figure out angles around our principles. We puff out our chests, point at The Constitution, and with a gleam in our eye declare, "We are just, and we do not sacrifice our principles to our passions. We are better than you." When that bedrock turns to sand, we become the enemy. If we give up our principles, all we have left to fight for are our money and power.

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