Change Indeed

From the Telegraph, via  Q&O:

Barack Obama's administration has authorised the assassination of the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a rare move against an American citizen.

I am reminded of what I wrote on the day of Obama's inauguration:

I will be suitably thrilled if the Obama administration renounces some of the creeping executive power grabs of the last 16 years, but he has been oddly silent about this.  It seems that creeping executive power is a lot more worrisome when someone else is in power.

But don't worry, separation of powers has been respected:

The decision to add him to the US hit list required a National Security Council review because of his citizenship.

You see, before Obama can unilaterally order an American citizen killed, he has to review the decision with, uh, a group of people he appointed and that work directly for him.  From Bruce McQuain:

But who the hell is Barack Obama to arbitrarily and unilaterally waive Constitutional due process (oh, that's right, he's a Constitutional law professor, isn't he?) and order the assassination of a US citizen?  And as an aside "“ where are all the liberal voices who spent every waking hour worrying about George Bush's eavesdropping and loudly denouncing it, forever and ever, amen?  Why are they, for the most part, silent on the subject of assassinating a US citizen?


  1. dullgeek:

    Thank you for this post. The silence on this topic (which is already 1 full day old) is deafening. I was beginning to wonder if I was alone in thinking this:

    Good to know I'm not.

  2. anon:

    I don't see the problem here. It's not like they want to waterboard him.

  3. hewler:

    From the article;
    On Tuesday, Jane Harman, the Democrat chairman of the House homeland security subcommittee, said Al-Awlaki was "probably the person, the terrorist, who would be terrorist No 1 in terms of threat against us."

    What happened to Bin Laden? Did I miss something?

  4. caseyboy:

    ....where are all the liberal voices who spent every waking hour worrying about George Bush’s eavesdropping and loudly denouncing it, forever and ever, amen?
    Certainly this was said tongue in cheek. Liberals denounce the anointed one? They're willing to overlook a little bitty thing like due process so that Obama can roll in the full progressive agenda. Besides, I heard that Mr. al-Awlaki's parents were republican contributors.

  5. IgotBupkis:

    > (oh, that’s right, he’s a Constitutional law professor, isn’t he?)

    That's actually not quoted properly.

    No, I don't mean the statement isn't accurately repeated, I mean someone, somewhere, missed the obvious punctuation:

    (oh, that’s right, he’s a "Constitutional law professor", isn’t he?)

    I'm a stickler for detail...

  6. IgotBupkis:

    > What happened to Bin Laden? Did I miss something?

    Yeah, he frickin' died in 2004 sometime, buried under a mountain of rock.

    Al-Q's been faking his status ever since -- note how none of the appearances are demonstrably "live", and the tone changed so utterly from that of Hannibal Lechter ("We will feed our goats from your carcasses!!") to that of Michael Moore -- recall "his" speech as the election approached in 2004 mentioning 'My Pet Goat' and the whole "if you left us alone we'd leave you alone" schtick? That video was SO obviously bogus.

    What messages are released are almost always audio and whatever video comes out looks like it was shot using a 1966 Super-8 camera (what, they can't get modern video equipment in Afghanistan? AT ALL?), which could easily have a faked voice-over on old footage, it's so fuzzy that you couldn't possibly lip-read.

    The Western governments go along with it because it's better to have a dead-but-never-admitted-so figurehead who fades away than risk having a dead martyr who fires people to action.

    Mark my words -- in 20, 30 years, there will be some reasonably valid expose acking that he died almost certainly in 2003 or 2004 in a missile attack and hasn't actually been seen ever since.

    So, yeah, you missed something, "sorta". The obvious signs that he's been dead for over 5 years, despite the lacking admission by anyone of what, if you really look at it, is inherently self-evident. Don't be concerned, that's the entire point of the whole folderol. NOT being obvious about what's already known by Them In Power. And, lest this be misconstrued as some crackpot anti-government "conspiracy" suggestion, no, I concur with it, it's politically astute assuming I'm correct.

  7. mesaeconoguy:

    Put him in ObamaCare.

  8. Tim:

    Can someone explain to me why the US government can authorize the assassination of anyone?

    I know these guys are theoretically dangerous but how are the US government actions any different from the fatwas that islamic clerics like to put on people that they consider 'dangerous'?

  9. me:

    Oddly enough, we impeached a president because he had sex in the oval office and lied about it. Sex? Can't have that.

    Using the constitution as a somewhat inconvenient replacement for toilet tissue, by contrast, apparently is just a case of "move it along, nothing to see".

    Personally, you'll see me swinging an "Impeach Obama Now!" placard on the nearest onramp to 405, at least until the black helicopters arrive.

    I have to admit, though, I am impressed. I was pretty convinced a few month ago that things couldn't possibly get any worse. Goes to show.

  10. IgotBupkis:

    > I know these guys are theoretically dangerous but how are the US government actions any different from the fatwas that islamic clerics like to put on people that they consider ‘dangerous’?

    Simple. These are our guys. Those are their guys. Our guys rule!


    That sounds flip, but it's one of those ha-ha-only-serious things.

    Fatwas are placed not on dangerous ACTORS -- people doing direct harm to others -- but on people expressing dangerous IDEAS.

    Since we generally don't ack that notion, that's why what we do is acceptable and what they do is not. The Western ideal (not that we live up to it 100% any more than anyone ever lives up to ideals) is that ideas must be able to win against other ideas. It's a kind of Darwinian attitude that dates back to Hellenistic times, and flourished even more so with the Renaissance.

  11. IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society:

    > Oddly enough, we impeached a president because he had sex in the oval office and lied about it. Sex? Can’t have that.

    Uhhhh, NO, but thanks for playing.

    He was impeached because he LIED UNDER OATH.

    You and I do that, WE GO TO JAIL.

    THAT is why Clinton was impeached. The sex had nothing to do with it. And if you doubt that, then I suggest you look carefully at the articles of impeachment. The charges were "perjury, obstruction of justice, and malfeasance in office". See anything about "sex with an intern" or "sexual harassment of co-workers"? No? That's because those were merely immoral and hypocritical, not illegal.

  12. NormD:

    So would you object if a local police commander ordered one of his snipers to shoot a person holding a gun to a hostage's head?

    Where does he get the authority?

    Why is this not a simple extension of this power?

  13. ParatrooperJJ:

    One generally does not have constitutional rights when one is not on US soil.

  14. caseyboy:

    I think it is the hypocrisy of the media and liberal elite in not raising the holy “H” that they would if Bush were in office pursuing these actions. To be honest I’m in favor of playing hardball with terrorists who blow up innocent women and children. I like that Obama is using more drone attacks to take out Al-Q’s leaders and foot soldiers. There is poetic justice in the manner in which they meet their end. Everything quiet, peaceful and then a lightning bolt from the heavens blows them away. I shed no tears and feel no remorse for those monsters. The sooner they take out Anwar al-Awlaki and others like him the better. The Constitution need not be a suicide pact. I only wish that Congress would declare outright war on AL-Q and any organization or state found to be aiding them.

  15. Tim:


    People only get prosecuted for lying under oath if it is in the public interest to do so.
    The subject matter of the lie is quite important when it comes to making that decision.
    It is not clear to me why lying about consensual sex between adults is a crime worthy of prosecution.

  16. caseyboy:

    Tim, President Clinton was being deposed in a civil proceeding that had to do with sexual harassment (Paula Jone). He lied under oath in that proceeding. The fact that the case was about sexual harassment is irrelevant unless you are inclined to believe that executives, be they civil or corporate, have the right to sexual harass employees. When you swear to tell the truth in a legal proceeding the nature of the underlying complaint/offense doesn't matter. If it did we could just take public opinion polls to decide legal matters.

  17. Tim:

    fair enough. sexual relationships with subordinates is a legitimate line of inquiry in a sexual harassment proceeding.
    I though it came up during one of the whitewater inquiries and would have been irrelevant in that context.

  18. John Moore:

    There have been many instances where American citizens joined enemy armies, and hence were fired upon by American troops.

    I am not sure how different this is. If they kill him on US territory, I would agree it would be a travesty. But if he's with an armed gang of enemies (which he usually is), well, too bad - that makes him a legitimate military target.

  19. Matthew Brown:

    A US citizen who is senior in an organization currently in armed conflict with the armed forces of the United States, however. I think that does change things a little.

    I agree that many on the left would have flipped their lid about it if Bush authorized it, though. Most people are hypocrites about things like this; they only care about the other guys' (real or purported) abuse of power, not their own guys.

  20. Del:

    Some facts are in order re. Clinton's perjury.

    Perjury is perjury. Doesn't matter what the subject is.

    In fact, most people have no idea that Bill Clinton's Justice Department (years before it formally charged bin Laden with working in concert with Saddam Hussein's Iraq) successfully prosecuted a female Federal employee for lying about sex under oath. She wasn't above the law, but Clinton apparently was.