10th Anniversary of Obama Killing a Young American

art work from The American Conservative https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/assassin-nation/

Today is the 10th anniversary of the drone killing of Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, a 16 year old born in Colorado and killed in Yemen.  He perished as part of Obama’s crackdown on terrorist suspects around the world. His father, who was also an American citizen, was killed two weeks earlier by another drone strike ordered by Obama.

Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi

I wrote a piece condemning Obama’s assassination program for Christian Science Monitor in 2011,  “Assassination Nation: Are There Any Limits on President Obama’s License to Kill?” I derided the Obama administration’s claim that the president possessed a “right to kill Americans without a trial, without notice, and without any chance for targets to legally object…. Killings based solely on presidential commands radically transform the relation of the government to the citizenry.”

Readers responded by calling for my assassination.  My article mentioned an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit pressuring the Obama administration “to disclose the legal standard it uses to place US citizens on government kill lists.” “Will R.” was indignant: “We need to send Bovard and the ACLU to Iran. You shoot traders and the ACLU are a bunch of traders.” (I was pretty sure the ACLU was not engaged in international commerce). “Jeff” took the high ground: “Hopefully there will soon be enough to add James Bovard to the [targeted killing] list.” Another commenter—self-labeled as “Idiot Savant”—saw a grand opportunity: “Now if we can only convince [Obama] to use this [assassination] authority on the media, who have done more harm than any single terror target could ever dream of … ”

Here’s  riff I did on Obama’s assassination program in 2013:

The Obama administration yesterday leaked out its confidential legal paper on killing Americans to NBC News. Obama’s legal wizards decided that the Fifth Amendment’s pledge that no citizen shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” is invalid in cases of imminent attack by terrorists.

Though this might sound reasonable, the memo proceeds to craft a totally bogus notion of “imminent.” But, as John Glaser notes at Antiwar.com, “The memo refers to what it calls a “broader concept of imminence” than what has traditionally been required, like actual intelligence an ongoing plot against the US. ‘The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,’ the memo states, contradicting conventional international law.”

In a January 2017 USA Today piece, I urged Trump to open the files on Obama’s killings:

“Trump should quickly reveal the secret memos underlying Obama’s “targeted killing” drone assassination program.

Administration lawyers defeated lawsuits by the ACLU, The New York Times, and others seeking disclosure of key legal papers on how the president became judge, jury and executioner. A Trump administration could disclose the memos and white papers without endangering anything other than the reputation of the soon-to-be former president and his policymakers.

Didn’t happen.  The Trump administration could have exposed vast numbers of abuses by the Obama administration the same way that Obama (partially) opened the files on some of President George W. Bush’s torture policy and other atrocities.  But as usual, the Trump team blew the opportunity.

As a result, Obama can pirouette as a champion of civil liberties while the horrendous precedents he set continue to endanger Americans and anyone else in the world in the vicinity of people suspected of bad thoughts by the U.S. government.

Hat tip to Dan Alban, an Institute of Justice lawyer who has scourged the Justice Department, IRS, and plenty of other government agencies.

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3 Responses to 10th Anniversary of Obama Killing a Young American

  1. Nancy Bovee October 16, 2021 at 11:13 am #

    Thank you for not letting us forget. This still bothers me so much. I wrote a song about this (apologies if it’s a little long). Here are the lyrics:

    He could have been your son
    Caught between the crosshairs
    Yet you gave the order
    You were here and he was there

    Looking for his father
    Caught between two cultures
    On a simple kind of quest
    Didn’t see the circling vultures

    Did he hear the hum?
    Did he fear the buzz?
    Feel the sudden transformation
    From what is into what was?
    Did you believe the lies
    Were you faced with resignation
    Or the steely beaded focues
    In the eyes of the assassin?

    He might have been your father
    You never were quite sure
    As the many tales and stories
    Always made your dreams obscure

    Did you ask your mother
    In her cloak of different colors
    And her need for reinvention
    Becoming one and then the other

    Did you hear the hum?
    Did you fear the buzz?
    Feel the sudden transformation
    From what is into what was?

    You might have been a hero
    Maybe just a thief
    You got more than you aimed for
    Letting go such a relief

    Seeking out a landing
    Trying to find a place
    Where the secrets that you hold
    Won’t leave you in disgrace

    We are, we are, we are
    We were, we were, we were
    We will, we will, we will
    Continue to kill.

    Did we hear the hum?
    Did we fear the buzz?
    Feel the sudden transformation
    From what is into what was?

    Is there just a twinge
    A slight note of compassion?
    Or just steely beaded focus
    In the eyes of the assassin

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