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Friday, May 24, 2013


Killing civilians

In his speech yesterday, President Obama talked about how we just had to kill people with drones, because, you see, even if we could capture those "terrorists" (he meant "alleged terrorists," of course, he's a Constitutional professor, you know), it might "pose profound risks to our troops and local civilians." He could have stopped at "our troops," though, because we know for a fact that the "local civilians" part was just a sop for the suckers in the cheap seats. How do we know that? Because the drone which killed Anwar al-Awlaki's son Abdulrahman, was aimed at an outdoor cafe! A place which surely is at the top of the list if you're trying not to kill "local civilians." Not.

Then we have Obama's assertion that under his alleged new policy, "before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set." But despite his admission that "U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties," his administration has always insisted that almost no such casualties have occurred. In other words, his "new" standard of "near-certainty" of no civilian casualties could certainly describe, at least according to his own administration's claims, the policies he has been following.

Ultimately, as Stephen Colbert reminded us last night, all of this killing, civilians or "terrorists," rests on the AUMF. And, although the Administration continually uses the phrase "associated forces" so he can "legally" justify attacks against "al Qaeda affiliates" (most or all of which did not even exist at the time of 9/11), the AUMF includes no such phrase. It authorizes force "against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons." None of those "legal" justifications apply to the vast majority of the attacks, drone or otherwise, that have been committed by the U.S. Even the "notorious" Anwar al-Awlaki, even if you were to believe Obama's assertions that he was actively participating in the planning and execution of recent attempted terrorist attacks, had nothing whatsoever to do with "planning, authorizing, committing, or aiding" the attacks of 9/11, nor of harboring anyone who did.

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