- President Obama unilaterally ordered the assassination of an American citizen. The weapon was a predator drone. The drone failed to kill the intended victim. The drone did kill several others.
The rest is just framing. Let me guess how they’ll spin it:
■ The president is the hero who gave us the head of Osama BL on the point of a spear. Osama needed killing, but he’s the exception.
■ The American was Muslim. He was a talk show host who said bad things about us on the Internet. Worse yet, he said those things in English so people would understand them. He carried kittens on the point of a spear as he walked around the house. He needed killing too. But there’s only four Americanswho need killing like he does. These four are the exception.
■ The guys actually killed were possibly bad. They might have needed killing too. But even if they were children, Collateral Damage. They’re always the exception.
■ This will never happen to you, because you’re not bad. Or standing next to someone who is. Or collateral.
Let’s check to see if I got that framing right. Here’s the New York Times on the story:
A missile strike from an American military drone in a remote region of Yemen on Thursday was aimed at killing Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born clericbelieved to be hiding in the country, American officials said Friday.
The attack does not appear to have killed Mr. Awlaki, the officials said, but may have killed operatives of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.
It was the first American strike in Yemen using a remotely piloted drone since 2002, when the C.I.A. struck a car carrying a group of suspected militants, including an American citizen, who were believed to have Qaeda ties. And the attack came just three days after American commandos invaded a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed Osama bin Laden, the founder of Al Qaeda.
Muslim, check. Radical, check. Death of unknown others who may have been operatives, check. Hero-killer of Osama bin Laden, check. Kittens … the jury’s still out, but JSOC has pictures.
Glenn Greenwald has exactly the right take. Please read it through. But note this:
There are certain civil liberties debates where, even though I hold strong opinions, I can at least understand the reasoning and impulses of those who disagree; the killing of bin Laden was one such instance. But the notion that the President has the power to order American citizens assassinated without an iota of due process — far from any battlefield, not during combat — is an idea so utterly foreign to me, so far beyond the bounds of what is reasonable, that it’s hard to convey in words or treat with civility.
Did you note that Bush last tried this in 2002? Obama has revived the practice. Makes that little“predator drone” joke he made last year a little grisly, doesn’t it. Or telling.
But hey, where else you gonna go? The Republicans are far worse. And besides, he’s got this head on the point of his spear.