The Targeted Killing of Anwar al-Awlaki

by Roger Koppl

Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a drone strike today.  If you recognize the name Awlaki, then you know that he was bad guy.  He was a propagandist for Al Qaeda who seems to have inspired the Fort Hood shooting, in which Nidal Hassan killed 13 people.  He was also an American citizen, born in New Mexico.  He was charged with no crime.  No attempt was made to arrest him.  The United States government seems to have had no plan to try him or charge him with any crime.  He was simply targeted for killing, and killed. Continue reading

Time for a Truth Commission

by Roger Koppl

London’s The Times reports on evidence suggesting “George W. Bush ‘knew Guantánamo prisoners were innocent.’”  (HT: Radley Balko)  Supposedly, Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were all in on it.  “The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee.”

According to The Times, “He [Wilkerson] said that many [persons] were turned over by Afghans and Pakistanis for up to $5,000.”  The problem with these payments is clear.  Paying persons serious money to turn in supposed terrorists creates a powerful incentive to invent false charges so that you can get the money.  In that part of the world, $5,000 is very serious money indeed.  It is hard to avoid the conclusion that many persons swept up in that operation were innocent persons who were sold out to fatten a wallet.

Karl Rove has said that waterboarding is not torture.  (Go to about 3:07.)  He has also said that “harsh interrogation” produced lots of good actionable intelligence (2:25).  That’s not a credible remark in my book.

In the US, our government has rendered, sequestered, and tortured.  Our government has flouted the rule of law and suspended habeas corpus.  It has made war on a nation that was not a threat to us in any way.  It has spied on us without the legal nicety of a specific warrant.  It has, in other words, grown tyrannical.  Isn’t it time for a truth commission?  It is too much to hope for a real criminal trial of our highest officials, but is it really too much to ask for the truth?  Patrick Leahy called for a truth commission in February 2009.  It’s time.

That’s Evidence for What?!

by Gene Callahan

I certainly don’t mean to try to decide the “root causes of terrorism” in a blog post, but I just read an “analysis” of this issue that’s so bad that, well, gosh darn it, I had to take up my pen (keyboard) and write (type).

The article in question was written by Rich Lowry over at National Review, and is called “The Death of a Theory.” What is the theory that has been decisively falsified by recent events?

“Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab couldn’t ignite the bomb in his underwear on Flight 253 on Christmas Day. All he managed to blow up was a worldview. His failed attempt put paid to the notion that terrorism is the byproduct of a few, specific U.S. policies and of our image abroad.”

Ah, so, we are going to find out that Mutallab confessed to officials, “No, there is no U.S. policy that prompted me to do this — I just hate America!”

So it’s a bit of a surprise when, just a little later, Lowry tells us, “In taking responsibility for Abdul Mutallab’s attempted attack, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed it was in retaliation for a U.S.-sponsored strike against its leadership in Yemen.” Continue reading

Wishing for a Government that can Google

by Chidem Kurdas

What do you want your government to do in the 2010s? The wish lists tend to be ambitious.  Here is one from Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf: “Somehow, we must manage to sustain a dynamic global economy, promote development, deliver environmental sustainability and ensure peaceful and co-operative international relations.”

He adds, “This will take sustained statecraft of the highest order.” No kidding. Last month the superpower that is supposed to lead efforts to achieve those broad, complex and elusive objectives demonstrated its inability to—run a search engine. Continue reading