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Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Attacks on Iran get even more inane

How ridiculous are the attacks on Iran? An Argentinian prosecutor says Iran has "the goal of committing, fomenting and fostering acts of international terrorism in concert with its goals of exporting the revolution" in "Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago." Really? Let's start at the top - fomenting an Islamic revolution in Brazil? That's going to be pretty darn tough, because there are a grand total of 27,000 Muslims in Brazil - a whopping 0.01% of the population.

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.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Defending the "indefensible": Anwar al-Awlaki

Today the U.S. government acknowledged killing Anwar al-Awlaki with a drone strike. Was this killing "just," as Eric Holder says?

The U.S. says it was because not only was Awlaki saying bad things, but doing them - actively participating in and planning a variety of terror plots. If that were true, and proven, you would probably concede the killing was justified, at least "morally" if not legally.

But here's the thing - this claim is just that, a claim. An assertion. It rests on secret evidence. Not only is the evidence itself secret, but so is the method of obtaining that evidence. For all we know, it came from false confessions obtained at Guantanamo or elsewhere under torture.

Here's what we do know - the U.S. also claimed to have evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Evidence that was so strong it warranted not killing one person, but going to war, overthrowing a government, and resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands, possibly more than a million, people, including thousands of Americans. And that evidence was completely, and utterly, false. And what's more, even if the government didn't know for a fact that the evidence was false, they certainly knew that it wasn't sufficient to know that it was true, and they also knew that they were lying to the American public when they said it was.

So the evidence against Anwar al-Awlaki? I'll believe it when I see it. And probably not even then. For now, there is absolutely no reason to believe the U.S. government had anything like sufficiently reliable evidence to conclude that Awlaki was an actual terrorist, planning active attacks against Americans.

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