U.S. mulls legality of killing American al Qaeda “turncoat”

U.S. mulls legality of killing American al Qaeda “turncoat”

White House lawyers are mulling the legality of proposed attempts to kill an American citizen, Anwar al Awlaki, who is believed to be part of the leadership of the al Qaeda group in Yemen behind a series of terror strikes, according to two people briefed by U.S. intelligence officials.

One of the people briefed said opportunities to “take out” Awlaki “may have been missed” because of the legal questions surrounding a lethal attack which would specifically target an American citizen. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — I’m not a lawyer, but isn’t this the way it works? If someone has an Arabic name, then citizenship is secondary. So long as they are “taken out” overseas, preferably in a state or area with a reputation for lawlessness, then legal process fits comfortably into the tip of a Hellfire missile. Extra latitude is of course provided when the “target” is not white.

But maybe the Justice Department could provide a little extra clarity — some new designations in citizenship status just so everyone understands which American citizens can be executed on the basis of a presidential order and which can’t. As for non-Americans, well, America has always reserved the right to kill them as and when it sees fit.

The drone surge

One moment there was the hum of a motor in the sky above. The next, on a recent morning in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, a missile blasted a home, killing 13 people. Days later, the same increasingly familiar mechanical whine preceded a two-missile salvo that slammed into a compound in Degan village in the tribal North Waziristan district of Pakistan, killing three.

What were once unacknowledged, relatively infrequent targeted killings of suspected militants or terrorists in the Bush years have become commonplace under the Obama administration. And since a devastating December 30th suicide attack by a Jordanian double agent on a CIA forward operating base in Afghanistan, unmanned aerial drones have been hunting humans in the Af-Pak war zone at a record pace. In Pakistan, an “unprecedented number” of strikes — which have killed armed guerrillas and civilians alike — have led to more fear, anger, and outrage in the tribal areas, as the CIA, with help from the U.S. Air Force, wages the most public “secret” war of modern times.

In neighboring Afghanistan, unmanned aircraft, for years in short supply and tasked primarily with surveillance missions, have increasingly been used to assassinate suspected militants as part of an aerial surge that has significantly outpaced the highly publicized “surge” of ground forces now underway. And yet, unprecedented as it may be in size and scope, the present ramping up of the drone war is only the opening salvo in a planned 40-year Pentagon surge to create fleets of ultra-advanced, heavily-armed, increasingly autonomous, all-seeing, hypersonic unmanned aerial systems (UAS). [continued…]

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