Sunday, October 02, 2011

*yawn*

Thirty-eight degrees out there, but the breeze from Mordor-On-The-Lake to the northwest makes it feel like 31. Brrr. Getting close to that time of year where the A/C tags out with the furnace.

Roomie is apparently sleeping in. Can't say as I blame her; it's cool enough in the house that things are way more pleasant on that side of the blankets.

As for me, I'm already most of a pot of coffee into my day, and am sitting here nibbling tortas and aged Gouda like a proper Broad Riparian. I did my Sunday morning ritual of flipping over to msnbc and using Chris Matthews to pressure-test my cerebral arteries. No aneurysms this morning.

Hey, Chris, you party hack, how come George W. Bush was a cowboy warmonger for launching drone strikes in Pakistan and the Arabian peninsula, but Barack Obama is a visionary, determined leader for launching drone strikes in Pakistan and the Arabian peninsula?

To hear Captain Tingly-Leg talk, you'd think that The Big O had not only launched the Hellfire missiles himself, but had also built the drones with his own two hands after summoning the Air Force into existence from the primordial chaos through the power of his will and his naked intellect... At least Olbermann had the integrity to hold Barry O's itchy trigger finger to the same standards as he held the Shrub's.

Me, I'm of two minds about the pot-shotting of guys like al-Alwaki. On the one hand, citizenship is not a magic olly-olly-oxen-free whereby you get to declare war on the US, but the US can only fight back with handcuffs and warrants. On the other hand, in the absence of a declared war, how hard would it have been to at least try and convict him, if only in absentia, to provide at least a wink and a nod to the forms and procedures and keep us wookie-suiters happy(ish)?

On the gripping hand, will we all be so sanguine in two or three years when the Hellfire missile drops, not on an American Al Qaeda terrorist in Yemen, but on an American dope smuggler in Presidio County, Texas?

36 comments:

Bob said...

If the gubmint gives the Hellfire Kiss of Death to Americans in America, it won't be drug dealers, but the same sort that Clinton's goons went after: white separatists/survivalist types that just want to be left the hell alone. DHS is already on record as saying that the biggest terror threat comes from these, not Muslims. When Eric Holder gets thrown under the bus for Fast & Furious, maybe they'll call Janet Reno out of retirement, she's shown a willingness to turn white trash into Baked Zealot when ordered to. Wonder if Lon Horiuchi has kept up his rifle skills, such as they were?

Anonymous said...

Can't speak directly for al Awlakie, but I think in the case of Samir Kahn, if you write an article in AlQ's English-language glossy about why you are happy to be a traitor, and repeat same over and over while showing that you are very serious about it, then I think that should count towards canceling your citizenship. You may not have formally done all the paperwork and gone to the closest embassy to formally renounce you rights as an American citizen, but the multiple repetitions of publicly stated intent are good enough for me in Kahn's case.

The entire precedent that was set opened a legal can of worms and the libertarian side of me cringed at the news. But I'm not going to miss Khan, Al Awlakie, and their bomb-making buddy.

LittleRed1

Borepatch said...

I wonder how long until we hear about "Project Hellfire walker"?

Sorry, that's the wookie suit. It's warmer.

Joseph said...

Wouldn't it be the cartel firing the hellfires at US border patrol? That seems to be the way things work around here now.

Anonymous said...

Let's get this out of the way early, as someone's sure to jump to the wrong conclusion: I AM NOT MAKING A MORAL COMPARISON between Al-Alwaki's position and the following, but see where the thoughts take you...

"...And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

The Gentlemen who signed that statement would have been arrested and brought to trial by the TYRANT they were leaving, if there were the opportunity for such. Unless Al-Alwaki was in combat with U.S. troops who did the deed in person, after trying to bring him in, then I'd much prefer we don't continue down the path we started last week.

I'd like to see those involved in green-lighting the strike (impeached and) arraigned on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. That was an American citizen, executed without due process.

Ritchie said...

Trial by absence also has a certain whiff about it. The case of U.S. v. Miller comes to mind. Although the defendant was permanently unavailable, the case was not decided on the merits, but by default.

Anon 10:05-Consider the case of an American citizen willingly bearing arms in the service of an Axis power. That passport is not bullet proof.

Tam said...

Would it have been legitimate to drop a Hellfire out of a B-25 onto Tokyo Rose?

John Stephens said...

I expect Churchill would have whacked William Joyce if the opportunity had arisen. Of course, he's not real popular around the white House these days (Churchill, that is. Lord Haw Haw would fit right in with the rest of the White House Press Corps).

Anonymous said...

"Anon 10:05-Consider the case of an American citizen willingly bearing arms in the service of an Axis power. That passport is not bullet proof."

"Would it have been legitimate to drop a Hellfire out of a B-25 onto Tokyo Rose?"

@Ritchie: Do we consider broadcasting, writing, and speaking the same as "bearing arms"? If so, the blogosphere ought to consider the impacts. Concerns about "a couple years from now" could end up being "tomorrow".

@Tam: If Tokyo Rose was alone in a field? I would say "No". If she were broadcasting and the target was the studio/transmitter/antenna and she ended up as collateral damage? "Yes".

I don't know exact circumstances of the attack. But, if he was marked for death years ago, which is implied in some of the stories I've read, then I think the U.S. has crossed a very ugly line.

To paraphrase our hostess' occasional line, "Dude! I want my country back!"

Joel said...

"At least Olbermann had the integrity to..."

A phrase rarely used in any sentence. Kudos, Tam. You have to dig deep to find any journalistic foolishness that makes Olbermann look good by comparison.

Don't Drone Me, Dude! Remember, citizens, we mustn't give in to domestic terrorists and the first amendment is not a suicide pact. If you're obeying the law, you needn't fear drones and missiles.

Gad, I wish I were joking.

Tam said...

Anon 10:58,

You want your country back? Me, too.

But which one? The Rose-Colored Land Of Mythological Constitutionality, or the real one?

Kristopher said...

Hellfire?

Tokyo rose would have gotten an M34 2,000 Lb GP bomb from a B-29, if they could have pinpointed her location at any given time.

Anon: Americans who had joined the Waffen SS were put up against a wall and shot on capture.

No trials other than a fast military tribunal. Ezra Pound got a trial for doing Fascist propaganda radio in Rome only because a bunch of Literati went to bat for him.

Drang said...

IIRC, and FWIW, Ezra Pound was found non compos mentis

Bubblehead Les. said...

Since I'm not a Constitutional Lawyer (nor do I play at being one like a certain Occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. does), I do recall that certain Terrorists in the 80's and 90's that were captured by the Military Overseas were taken to Sovereign U.S. Territory, (i.e a Carrier), where the FBI was waiting to read them their Rights and Formally Arrest them. If I recall, even Manuel Noreiga was arrested by the DEA when he finally gave up.

So if that much care was used to ensure Due Process under the 5th. Amendment for Foreign Nationals, one does have to wonder why this White House Administration, who SOOOO want to close Gitmo and bring Terrorists to Trial in the U.S., have no compunction to letting Hellfires rain down on "High Value Targets", no matter whether they are in another country, who doesn't want their Sovereign Territory Violated (i.e., Pakistan), nor whether they are U.S. Citizens or not.

But since a lot of the same people who were behind Waco are in this Administration, something tells me that the "Constitutionality" of more "Scheduled Events" is going down a very Slippery Slope towards the "Who Gives a Frack? Just Do It!" Law and Order Philosophy.

But I'm sure the Congress will put a Stop to it, right? All it takes is a Round of Golf and some Beer in the Rose Garden, and the Republic will be secure, and the Wookie Suits can go back into the closet.

Yeah. Right.

Brian Dunbar said...

On the one hand, citizenship is not a magic olly-olly-oxen-free whereby you get to declare war on the US, but the US can only fight back with handcuffs and warrants.

I don't mind that he's dead. I mind how it was done.

Not that he got in the way of a missile: you go to war, that's what you can expect.

What I mind is that he was put on a list, marked for execution, no judge, no jury.

It's the precedent that bothers me.

will we all be so sanguine in two or three years when the Hellfire missile drops, not on an American Al Qaeda terrorist in Yemen, but on an American dope smuggler in Presidio County, Texas?

That, pretty much, sums up my worry about where we're going.

Divemedic said...

I oppose the death penalty because there is no way that we can ALWAYS execute the right guy, and we occasionally kill the innocent. As a society, if we purposely kill even one innocent man, we are all collectively guilty of murder. That is a process where we have a trial and years of appeals, and we have still undoubtedly killed innocent people in the name of the death penalty.

How can a president signing an executive order/death warrant be any less likely to get the wrong guy? Aren't we all entitled to a jury trial? Or are we only caring about some parts of the constitution and ignoring others?

Joanna said...

Serious question: Had a government-sponsored assassin gone in and done the deed in person, would there still be such a sour taste about this?

wolfwalker said...

On the gripping hand, will we all be so sanguine in two or three years when the Hellfire missile drops, not on an American Al Qaeda terrorist in Yemen, but on an American dope smuggler in Presidio County, Texas?

I won't say I'm not worried about such a scenario ... but I will say I'm less worried about it than you are. It would be illegal. Really illegal, not just technically-maybe-gray-area illegal. You can look it up, it's called "posse comitatus." The United States military, acting under federal control, may not be used for domestic law enforcement without the express authorization of Congress.

This doesn't apply to calling out the National Guard for riots and such, because the "National Guard" is actually a state organization, and in such cases it's acting under the orders of the state governor.

Jac said...

@wolfwalker Okay, but what about Due Process?

Brian Dunbar said...

The United States military, acting under federal control, may not be used for domestic law enforcement without the express authorization of Congress.

This would be the same Congress that passes bills without reading them? That has shown all the spine of a cooked noodle as long as their man is the one calling the shots? That Congress?

I am not comforted.

wolfwalker said...

Well, due process for what? For al-Alwaki? He was an enemy combatant killed on the field of battle in time of war. Civilian concepts like "due process" are irrelevant.

Jac said...

Except that there's been no (constitutionally mandated) declaration of war, and he was killed by a specifically ordered, direct attack (as in, assassinated).

wolfwalker said...

Yes, there was. It happened on 9/11/2001. Perhaps you missed it?

Kristopher said...

Jac: Congress gave the Pres under the war powers act authority to use force against Al Qaida.

Al Qaiada ain't a country ... so a formal declaration of war is not exactly applicable. They did, however, kill 3000 Americans in a single attack.

The last group who did that got their asses nuked.

So I am not about to support the wookie-suit crowd's contention that the US military should do nothing because we were not attacked by a specific country, and can't war dec anyone as a result.

Granted, I would rather see a declaration of war before an assault on a country ... but such is not exactly applicable when you are dealing with AQ pukes hiding in a country we do not want to war dec.

Should Obama have declared war before killing Osama bin Laden in Pakistan?

( mind you, I personal;ly feel Pakistan should have been war dec-ed in 2001 )

Brian Dunbar said...

So I am not about to support the wookie-suit crowd's contention that the US military should do nothing

You're missing the point.

He should be hunted down, killed or captured. He caught a missile and that's about what you can expect.

The problem: the government ordered the assassination of a citizen.

No judge, no pretense of the judiciary. Just 'General, go kill that man, he's a threat to our interests.'

The guys with the guns are defining both 'interest' and 'threat'.

They did it once, they'll do it again.

This is a huge problem, long term.

Larry said...

In Presidio County TX said dope smuggler would be under the direct jurisdiction of the US.
A terrorist in Yemen (regardless of his nationality at birth), not so much.
Put me in with the bunch that can't seem to get all worked up about it.
Let it happen in Texas, though, and I'm right there with you.

Kristopher said...

Brian: No ... not "He is a threat to our interest".

Something closer to "He is a member of a terrorist group that murdered 3000 US citizens, and is trying to murder even more of them".

I am not going to stand idle while you attempt to polish that turd with nice sounding semantics.

Killing terrorist assholes who are actively trying to murder US citizens is exactly the job of the US government. Killing pirates is also one of their legitimate jobs. Both deserve to hang from yardarms. Your attempt to conflate this with assassinating mere lawbreakers is ludicrous.

Show me where it is US policy to assassinate smugglers and other mere felons, and your point might make sense.

benEzra said...

"He is a member of a terrorist group that murdered 3000 US citizens, and is trying to murder even more of them."

This guy happened to be, sure. But there have been plenty of innocent people *accused* of belonging to AQ in the past ten years who turned out to have been completely innocent (and some of them we abducted and tortured anyway, to our shame). What due process would you suggest to make sure we don't kill citizens who are merely *accused* of being bad guys?

The normal venue for that in this country has been a court of law. The other approach---a mere declaration of "that guy is a ____, take him out"---has had a pretty bad track record where it's been implemented.

If you don't ever want to see the U.S. executive branch acting in Soviet ways, don't grant it Soviet powers, IMO.

mikee said...

The United States has a declared war, authorized by the Congress, signed by the previous President. The Authorization for Use of Military Force makes for some interesting reading, as it debunks every anti-war argument of the last decade. Quite a few Dems voted for it, as I recall.

And may God have mercy on the recently departed, and soon to be departed, souls of the illegal combatant enemies.

Kristopher said...

benEzra:

There were plenty of German and Japanese citizens bombed to death in WWII because they were passively supporting the Nazi and Imperial war machine by not fighting against them.

The gave aid and comfort to our enemies, and became military targets as a result.



This traitor joined an organization that has declared war on the US, and became a military asset of AQ, and therefor a legitimate target.

If he wanted to not get shot or blown up, there is a standard option available to all combatants to avoid this: Surrender. He can always walk up to the nearest representative of the US government, lay down his arms, and allow himself to be captured.

If he had been executed in a POW camp without a proper treason trial, then you may have an issue. He was engaged in acts of war against the us, so yes, he can be shot or blown up if he fails to surrender.

**********

Ultimately, if you join in war against the US, and don't want to get shot or blown up, you need to surrender and become a POW.

Matt said...

"This traitor joined an organization that has declared war on the US, and became a military asset of AQ"

Says who?

If we were talking about a firefight, then sure...he's shooting at our guys, they shoot back, and he dies. Sucks to be him, but that's how things go, in a war, and there's certainly no time to check passports in a firefight. Duh.

But that's not what we're talking about. This isn't battlefield tactics here...there was time for consultation with the highest levels of the chain of command. There was deliberation. There was no _imminent_ threat. And they knew he was an American citizen, in advance.

Now if he was, in fact, working with AQ? Well, that makes him a traitor. And the penalty for treason is death...as it should be.

But I'm not prepared to just take some politician's word for it. Particularly not a politician whose own administration considers _you and me_ to be threats to national security.

In order to be an enemy combatant, you need to be _engaged in combat_. Engaging in combat means taking your life in your hands. But if you're not engaging in combat, different rules apply.

A Critic said...

What was really wrong about this was making it a publicity stunt in order to set precedent.

I agree with Tam, next will be a drug dealer here in America. After that - political dissidents.

We shall reap what we have sown - and deathsquads shall roam the land.

Tam said...

Matt,

"Says who?"

Well, says him, actually.

Sigivald said...

You can't have a trial in absentia, because that really would be a violation of due process.

One has to face one's accusers and be able to question them.

A trial in absentia is worse than killing him as an active military enemy; the former goes against actual established American jurisprudence*, and the latter is giving him exactly the same due process rights every active military enemy gets, which is none at all unless captured.

* Since at least 1884, according to Wookiepedia, and the argument is simple and direct and follows clearly from the plain text of the Bill of Rights, so it seems pretty open-and-shut.

(I do like the "magic olly-olly-oxen-free", though, which is a snarkier way of saying the thing I was grasping for earlier today over at Sarge's.)

Ian Argent said...

Given the choice, the Hellfire is closer to letter and spirit than the trial in absentia. AUMF is likewise not unprecedented; see the authority under which Lt. O'Bannon went to the sands of Tripoli, much less the rest of the Barbary Unpleasantness.
The president in role of commander-in-chief, forces of the USA, ordered a military attack on a high-value, self-proclaimed, military target, in an active theater of war. Lincoln did much worse, ask things considered. Did Sherman touch base with Higher before strolling across Georgia?

Kristopher said...

Matt: Tam answered the question about what side he was on sufficiently for my tastes. The dude told us in propaganda broadsides exactly what side he was on.


As for not killing him in a fair fight ... too fucking bad. The Japanese citizens who died from exposure to nuclear weapons were certainly not afforded a chance to shoot back at us.

Neither were those Germans manning bunkers at D-Day, once the engineers got behind them with flamethrowers.

If you are fighting a war "fairly", you are doing it wrong.