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05 October 2011


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I was slightly disturbed by Sydney Freedberg's take on the matter.

He seems to be suggesting that killing Alwaki was not just justifiable policy in the context of the war on terror, but justifiable policy for any similar situation. Which is exactly what the civil liberties types are upset about, the idea that this normalizes extrajudicial execution in a way that cannot and will not stay confined to the context of the war on terror.

The Twisted Genius

I also believe this is a war and Awlaki was an enemy combatant in that war, but I was moved by Michael Brenner's soul searing "State of the Union." We must find our way out of the abyss.


You've brought out the true issue:
"..."wars" of suppression internally focussed against dissenters. There is a great danger of that."

Due process? Constitutional right to peaceably assemble? Look no further than Wall Street.

The Twisted Genius

This looks like the kind of crap that Colonel Lang and Michael Brenner are warning us about.


The idea of having a secret panel deciding which American citizens can be killed or disappeared into Gitmo is revolting. Either you break a law and are dealt with within the judicial system or you take up arms against the United States and become a legitimate target of military action. That's it. Secret panels are an abomination.


Exactly! "...the idea that this normalizes extrajudicial execution in a way that cannot and will not stay confined to the context of the war on terror."

Might it be a good thing Awlaki is gone? Sure. Was justice served? No. Where is the Administration's evidence? State secret. We can't know, might compromise the war, just trust the Executive.

The unintended consequences of endless war and new laws (Patriot Act) that help define it. There are environmental and animal rights "terrorists" being confined to the new CMU federal prison in Terre Haute, IN: http://www.eugeneweekly.com/2008/12/04/news1.html
No violent crimes committed by these "terrorists".

No Klan members at the prison yet, because as we all know they're not terrorists. Sounds a bit arbitrary and politically motivated already.

Roy G.

Michael Brenner nails it.

William R. Cumming

Well the issue is clearly joined with many different points of view. Time for new international consideration of the technology of the drone and its implications for international law. Yes model airplanes remote controlled dangerous if not utilized properly. Add explosives and what do you get? Domestic or international deployment this technology not going away and will expand. We are even now selling our surveillance drones as if no liklihood they will advance armed drone development elsewhere. What happened is not a violation of international or domestic law both of which fail to address the issue. The question then is should they and my answer is YES!


"I am accustomed to wars fought against America's enemies abroad, not "wars" of suppression internally focussed against dissenters. There is a great danger of that. pl"

Bad facts make bad law--and bad policy. If the circumstances are limited to combatants like Awlaki, that's one thing. I fear the extension of this power.


The triumph of unaccountability. Morass.



It seems that you do not accept the warmaking powers if givernments. Are you a pacifist? pl



I fear the same thing. pl


The US use of drones can be a blessing for the future use of drones by other countries; in other words, the US offers a convenient precedent for rogue regimes by pre-empting the international and domestic laws.


This report is shocking. It is a genuine threat to American democracy. A precedent has been established - without oversight, accountability or justification.

I guess we'll just have to trust the good intentions of the new Inquisition.



Yes, the precedent has been established that an American citizen who makes himself an enemy combatant in time of war is a legitimate target. Has that not been true in all our wars? pl pl


Does it do that? What restricts this - what is it? A Commission? - from deciding about anything else? Shall it authorize the murders of people involved in the drug trade? DOn't we have a war on drugs, too?

Who voted for this? Who oversees it? Who decides the protocols? It's a Star Chamber. They answer to no one.

I just can't see that as the American way, frankly.

Brad Ruble

Drones are today flying the Mexican and Canadian borders.
Let's say the drug cartels are getting a little inconvient so we do a couple of strikes to get things back under control. Surgical. Maybe send some more real serious people down south to hit 'um where they live. Show them we mean business.
Doesn't quite work, so we start to strike along the border. That's where they come across. They're in a pickup, moving. no time for a road block. Nobody out there but "bad guy's" anyhow. So now we have to hit both sides of the line because, hey, they don't respect borders.
OK, now they know we're serious. Gloves are off. We'll hit 'em "anywhere" we can find 'em. So now what do "they" do? Take out a kindergarten in Ohio...


As far as international law is concerned the use of drones constitutes a violation of national sovereignty of the target nations. Using drones to attack targets of any kind in a foreign country is an act of war, and in the absence of a declaration of war, constitute aggression. One better sheds any illusions about that.

More important here, continued US drone strikes are setting a precedent under international law.

While the US merrily claim the right to do this, they certainly won't accept reciprocity. Well, obviously, being exceptional makes all the difference.

The apparently increasing use of drones is inherently destabilising because it is undermining the Westphalian order. They make violations of national sovereignty routine. Before some nitwit comes along to say that it is quaint and obsolete anyway (yeah, like Geneva [PDF]), he should think long and hard whether there is anything better there yet. I don't see it.

The US, out of professed concern for their own precious national sovereignty, is merrily violating the sovereignty of others - and in doing so sawing off the branch they're sitting on. Meanwhile, they also refuse to accept alternative routes to the Westphalian order, like, say, trading this order for the internationalised regime of organisations like the UN or the ICC.

They are trying to have it both ways. That is as inconsistent legally as it is stupid in the long run - for one it undermines the very idea of sovereignty that unilateralism is supposed to protect, and second, the feasibility of the US approach rests on strength alone, and that is something that can wane quickly. What then?



Once again, you’ve taken a clear sensible position.

I am sure that with globalization and austerity there will never again be full employment in the USA and that, as a corollary, drone surveillance will come to America and then eventually targeted killing.

Wall Street hates President Obama. Why in the world would they feel this way? He has given them everything they’ve wanted including “get out of jail free cards”. There is one reason, greed. They are stealing anything they can grab. The Oligarchs are going to need one cop/contractor for every 40 citizens, plus targeted killing, to keep their heads attached. They know in their guts that he is not up to the job that they want done.


Colonel, TTG, WRC,

With the GOP Convention coming up in Tampa, and announcements that the Tampa PD will be using airborne drones. Question is, will they be 'armed', and 'who' is supplying them?

Who would have ever thought of DARPA's broadswords of war (airborne drones capable of carrying/firing armaments like hellfires) one day being turned 'inwards' on our own fellow 'unarmed' citizens/demonstrators on American Soil. You don't supposed they would 'tell us' before hand that they were 'arming' those drones, would they? Last GOP Convention, NYPD locked up lawful demonstrators in cages like a bunch of monkeys, and deprived them of basic sanitation, food, water, and calls to legal representation. Question is, would Tampa's finest lower themselves to pond-scum level like what we saw with the NYPD?

-- "• Two "unmanned aerial vehicles" that could hover for 20 minutes, fly in 20-knot winds and carry cameras with zoom lenses or thermal imaging capabilities. ..... A lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said the city is "overdoing it," especially with the drones. "They're hitting a gnat with a sledgehammer," said John Dingfelder, the ACLU's senior staff attorney for mid Florida. Whatever Americans think about the use of unmanned drones overseas, Dingfelder suspects that many people aren't ready to see them in their back yards.
Police could decide against the drones, Hamlin said, especially if other agencies provide enough aviation support." --


It is not the act of killing Awlaki that is the issue.

The issue is the lack of a transparent, accountable judicial process by which such a decision was taken, that is in accordance with basic human rights as described in the U.N. charter on the same.

We know, through bitter experience in the Twentieth Century, that this power the White House has arrogated will inevitably be abused.

All we need now is our own Reichstag Fire to justify turning the powers we have awarded the Government on "dissidents".

- All pervasive surveillance.

- Movement control and monitoring.

- Detention in secret.

- Torture.

- Execution.

But hey! If I was a Wall Street Oligarch that owned a few Congressmen; "Whats not to like?"

Babak Makkinejad


I do not get this; was Jessie James an outlaw?

When various US territories and states - in 19-th century - had "Wanted" posters with the words "Dead or Alive" one them; was there any criticism from anyone?

Were those posters illegal?

Can someone shed some light on this?

William R. Cumming

J! Wonder who might use Cuban airfields for drone deployments during the Republican convention?

William R. Cumming

Hopefully adding to the drone discussion I would state that the problem is in part that what I would called a "Failed State" meaning one that cannot control non-state actors from acting as terrorists against another nation-state or its citizens probably are a new category that justifies international sanctions perhaps up to and including invasion to prevent these non-state actors from doing there thing. The biggest problem with this is that the USA often meets the definition of needing international controls of some sort, whether economic sanctions or other means,because it almost always falls into the realm of meeting the test of a failed state. My best example of course is a state that cannot control illegal immigration and has no real idea of even legal immigrants or visitors overstay their visas. Despite 10 years of effort, with just a little slight of hand the USA is probably as penterable by those with hostile intent as any nation-state in the world. Thus, if Homeland Security or Homeland Defense is your bag how do you justify the failed efforts since 9/11/01 to control USA borders? I think immigration policy is the huge elephant in the room for both parties in the 2012 Presidential elections. But could be wrong.

William R. Cumming

BABAK! I would argue good question! There can be no authorization of the use of deadly force by a citizen in advance of a specific situation. So perhaps those turning up for the reward just argued that they stumbled on the dead body. Of course bounty hunters had some legal status in the WEST and even now but not sure exactly what the limits are on their citizen arrests! I an not expert in criminal law so defer to others.


Colonel, I'm a little surprised at your stance on this one. I'd always thought you were weren't all that comfortable with the GWOT designation.

Perhaps, in trying to decide whether this whole business does constitute a war, the sort of concerns you raise in the latter part of your comment should weigh heavily in the balance. After all, answering yes opens many doors into darkness which could otherwise more easily be kept closed.

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