Al-Awlaki And The Law, Ctd

Robert Chesney pushes back against Greenwald and co.'s line: I suspect that their view was that deadly force was only compatible with the 5th Amendment in this setting because al-Awlaki was located, purposefully, in a place where neither the host-state government nor the United States had a plausible opportunity to capture him. Ben Wittes seconds: It is … Continue reading Al-Awlaki And The Law, Ctd

Al-Awlaki’s Reach

The man we were debating only recently was the inspiration for the knifing of a member of parliament in Britain. John Burns on the terror suspect’s allegedly growing threat to innocent Western lives: Increasingly, Mr. Awlaki is being depicted by Western intelligence officials as a threat on the scale of Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Mr. Awlaki was the only militant leader singled out this week in the first public speech ever made by a head of Britain’s MI6. Sir John Sawers, the current MI6 chief, described “reading, every day, intelligence reports describing the plotting of terrorists who are bent on maiming and murdering people in this country,” and cited Mr. Awlaki and Yemen as increasingly dangerous. “From his remote base in Yemen,” he said, Mr. Awlaki “broadcasts propaganda and terrorist instruction in fluent English, over the Internet.” Mr. Gohel, the terrorism analyst, said the importance of Mr. Awlaki and the Yemen-based Qaeda group he leads rested on the fact that they operate independently from the leadership of the main branch of Al Qaeda, with their own membership, cell structure and finances.

Answers For Glenn Greenwald; Yes, We Are At War


[Re-posted from yesterday]

Let me restrict myself to Glenn's direct questions on the al-Awlaki case because I think they largely address the points of many others as well.

1. I wrote

But a single American al Qaeda terrorist in a foreign country actively waging war against us seems to me to be a pretty isolated example.

Glenn responds that Awlaki is most certainly not a singular case, and that there are three others whose identity we do not know. Not to nit-pick, but in a global war now almost a decade old, with thousands of casualties, four individuals is not a massive number. Now, I concede that even one could be a precedent that could enable the killing of countless, and on this Glenn has a point … which leads me to the second response.

2. Glenn asks

Could Andrew please explain how he knows that Awlaki is an "al Qaeda terrorist"?  Being an "al Qaeda terrorist" is a crime with which many people have been charged and convicted.  But Awlaki never has been.

There is much public information about Awlaki, and I urge readers to go to Wiki and examine the public record and sources in detail to make their own minds up. Witnesses report he was a spiritual adviser to and met with two 9/11 mass-murderers, Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Khalid Almihdhar; his personal phone number was found in the Hamburg apartment of the 20th 9/11 terrorist; in 2006, he was arrested by Yemeni authorities for being part of an al Qaeda plot to kidnap a US military attache; his name was on a list of prisoners that al Qaeda affiliates sought to be released in Yemen; in December 2008, al-Awlaki sent a communique to the Somalian terrorist group Al-Shabaab, thanking them for "giving us a living example of how we as Muslims should proceed to change our situation. The ballot has failed us, but the bullet has not … if my circumstances would have allowed, I would not have hesitated in joining you and being a soldier in your ranks." He sent a message in March of this year, urging treason and murder of Americans by American-Muslims:

To the Muslims in America, I have this to say: How can your conscience allow you to live in peaceful coexistence with a nation that is responsible for the tyranny and crimes committed against your own brothers and sisters? I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad (holy struggle) against America is binding upon myself just as it is binding upon every other able Muslim.

This year, he has directly threatened several writers, journalists, cartoonists with death, one of them in an al Qaeda magazine, Inspire. From Wiki:

Al-Awlaki's name came up in a dozen terrorism plots in the U.S., UK, and Canada. The cases included suicide bombers in the 2005 London bombings, radical Islamic terrorists in the 2006 Toronto terrorism case, radical Islamic terrorists in the 2007 Fort Dix attack plot, and Faisal Shahzad, charged in the 2010 Times Square attempted bombing. In each case the suspects were devoted to al-Awlaki's message, which they listened to on laptops, audio clips, and CDs.

Independent news reports have directly connected Awlaki to meeting with and inspiring the Christmas day underpants bomber. The undie bomber "told the FBI [not under Bush-style torture] that al-Awlaki was one of his al-Qaeda trainers in remote camps in Yemen. And there were confirming 'informed reports' that Abdulmutallab met with al-Awlaki during his final weeks of training and indoctrination prior to the attack… In January 2010, al-Awlaki acknowledged that he met and spoke with Abdulmutallab in Yemen in the fall of 2009. In an interview, al-Awlaki said: 'Umar Farouk is one of my students; I had communications with him. And I support what he did.'" More recently, a Seattle cartoonist, Molly Norris, has had to go into hiding because of a direct threat to her life from Awlaki.

I could go on. But seriously, is Glenn honestly saying that a man who has commited treason, has had multiple direct contacts with al Qaeda, including the 9/11 mass-murderers, has been directly connected with inciting American citizens to kill others in terror attacks is not, self-evidently, an al Qaeda terrorist who poses a direct and imminent threat to innocent human beings, motivated by a poisonous religious ideology that was responsible for the murder of 3,000 people on 9/11? Is he really trying to say that despite all this public evidence, and with this record of terror attacks, we need a full civil trial – even if we were able to capture him – to know that this individual is at war with his own country and a direct threat to all of us?

3. Glenn asks:

Are we "at war" on the entire planet — the centerpiece of the Bush/Cheney assertion of radical powers — or are there physical limits to where the President's war powers apply, i.e., where the "battlefield" is?  If we're "at war" anywhere and everywhere Terrorists are found, does that apply to U.S. soil?

No it doesn't.

Yes, Of Course It Was Jihad, Ctd

A couple of points that may inform two long-running debates between me and Glenn Greenwald. The first is the motive for the Boston bombings. Of course, we should always wait for the full evidence, and there is always an interplay between a particular psychological journey and religious fanaticism. I’ve said that from the get-go. But … Continue reading Yes, Of Course It Was Jihad, Ctd

Yes, Of Course It Was Jihad

Below are the many posts across which Andrew examines the motives of the Boston Marathon bombers, including debate with other bloggers as well as readers. Apr 22, 2013 @ 11:30am There are many nuances to the story of Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev – and there is no doubt that, like all human beings their acts … Continue reading Yes, Of Course It Was Jihad

Where Have You Gone, Barack Obama?

This was going to be the most transparent administration in history. It was going to roll back executive over-reach and put warfare against terrorism within a constitutional framework that could defend the country against Jihadist mass murder without sacrificing our values. And yet on a critical issue – the killing of allegedly treasonous citizens who … Continue reading Where Have You Gone, Barack Obama?

The Executive As Executioner

Justice Department Memo on Legal Case for Drone Strikes on Americans Greenwald analyzes the Isikoff memo (embedded above): This is the crucial point: the memo isn’t justifying the due-process-free execution of senior al-Qaida leaders who pose an imminent threat to the US. It is justifying the due-process-free execution of people secretly accused by the president and his underlings, with … Continue reading The Executive As Executioner

The Drone War On Trial

The relatives of Americans killed in drone strikes are suing the government. Given my support of drone war due process, Greenwald thinks I should cheer the lawsuit: [F]or the moment, let’s put aside the question of whether Obama’s drone assassinations are justified. Shouldn’t we all be able to agree that the power to order people executed (including U.S. … Continue reading The Drone War On Trial