A Secret Panel Put Anwar al-Awlaki, Others, on Government Kill List

Mark Hosenball of Reuters wrote a story which sheds slightly more light on the process by which recently deceased Anwar al-Awlaki and others are marked for assassination by the U.S. Government:

American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials.

There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House's National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.

Sources again said as far as they knew, al-Awlaki was the only American put on the kill list. The other American killed in the drone strike which took out al-Awlaki was confirmed to have been "collateral" and not an intended target. 

But there is a panel of sorts (described so wittily as a REAL death panel by Adam Serwer of Mother Jones) which decides who will be on the list, but there are some differing accounts of the exact involvement of Obama:

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, was asked by reporters about the killing.

The process involves "going through the National Security Council, then it eventually goes to the president, but the National Security Council does the investigation, they have lawyers, they review, they look at the situation, you have input from the military, and also, we make sure that we follow international law," Ruppersberger said....

Other officials said the role of the president in the process was murkier than what Ruppersberger described.

They said targeting recommendations are drawn up by a committee of mid-level National Security Council and agency officials. Their recommendations are then sent to the panel of NSC "principals," meaning Cabinet secretaries and intelligence unit chiefs, for approval. The panel of principals could have different memberships when considering different operational issues, they said.... They confirmed that lawyers, including those in the Justice Department, were consulted before Awlaki's name was added to the target list.

The whole thing is well worth reading. As is this Glenn Greewald rant which again highlights how unproven the case against al-Awlaki remains. And he points to a Washington Post article from last year which suggested that al-Awaki was not the only American on the kill list. 

I wrote up some of the less-than-ethusiastic responses to the assassination the day it happened. Jacob Sullum of course recently summed up the potental uses of this power:

While Awlaki may have been guilty of everything the administration claims, it is not hard to imagine how a program of classified, unreviewable death decrees might go awry, especially in the service of a perpetual, geographically undefined war against an amorphous enemy.  

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  • Citizen Nothing||

    What could go wrong?

  • PR||

    good point. we probably need a panel to watch this one. panels all the way down.

  • Suki||

    I love it when reason parrots Glenn Beck and Mother Jones at the same time!

  • ||

    Agreed. Just goes to show that no matter what position on an issue one holds, there is some raging a-hole(s) out there that mostly agrees with you. Isn't this an iron law or something?

  • ||

    There are some policy decisions that are just so outrageous that voices across the political spectrum (Glenn Beck, "Mother Jones") unite in opposition to them.

  • ||

    Don't respond to it, Tonio. It just encourages it.

  • Suki||

    No it don't.

  • jj||

    I wondered how long it would be before Sucky's anti mooooozlem bigotry surfaced. Not long.

  • Suki||

    You are so RACIST.

  • ||

    Glenn Greenwald's general deameanor is enough to drive me into the arms of Dick Cheney.

  • WTF||

    we make sure that we follow international law,"

    There's an international law about whacking American citizens in foreign countries? Who knew?

  • Brett L||

    We could just follow the Constitution.

  • T||

    But it's old and stuff, Brett. International law is new and shiny, like the Treaty of Westphalia.

  • o2||

    gosh and palin dropped-out of dropping-in just before her death panel warning proved her bone fidos. u betcha

  • shut the fuck up||

    and obama is still an assassin, no matter how much deflection you try

  • Warty||

    Remember, Ron Paul is a lunatic for objecting to this.

  • Max||

    No, he's a racist.

  • Suki||

    No, you are.

  • How many people has...||

    Roaun Paoul killed, and how many has Obama the Murderer killed? come on, MaxiePad, ask the right questions for a change.....

  • How many thousands of....||

    black Africans has Obama exterminated and how many has Ron Paul.....?

  • Tman||

    Top. Men.

  • Raven Nation||

    Understatement of the day award:

    "it is not hard to imagine how a program of classified, unreviewable death decrees might go awry."

  • Mainer||

    Based on the editorials and letters to the editor I've seen, alot of people find it almost impossible to imagine how this could go awry. al-Awlaki was a bad guy, so the President had him killed...who's side are you on ?

  • ||

    OK.

    How long before a President orders a hit on an American citizen within the USA? (And officially admits it. I would not be surprised to find it had already happened unofficially.)

    Will there be lists of Proscribed Citizens?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I live next door to the CIA farm. They've been blowing up shit on a regular basis lately, waking up the baby in the middle of the night. I can only imagine what they're practicing for.

  • Suki||

    Construction on the Beltway and Dolly Madison parkway disguised as covert ops practice. Brilliant!

  • ||

    And they have no domestic charter. I'm sure that gets obeyed.

  • ||

    It didn't in the 1960s and early 70s. But honestly, I think it probably does. The CIA was very scarred by the Church Commission. They never want to go through that again. And they can have plenty of fun fucking things up overseas. They don't need to operate in America.

    The organization to worry about is the NSA.

  • BakedPenguin||

    The organization to worry about is the NSA.

    This. The NSA is something like 5 or 6 times the size of the CIA, and it gets much less scrutiny

  • ||

    ""They don't need to operate in America.''

    There was a lot of talk about how "the wall" that prevented the CIA from operating in the US should be knocked down. I'm not sure, but I think it was.

    Then there's this,

    "A veteran CIA officer, while still on the agency's payroll, was the architect of the NYPD's intelligence programs. The CIA trained a police detective at the Farm, the agency's spy school in Virginia, then returned him to New York, where he put his new espionage skills to work inside the United States."

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44.....tners-cia/

  • ||

    The wall still exists. And it also doesn't mean anything. Big police departments hire their own teams of analysts and run intelligence operations just like the CIA used to under Nixon. Law enforcement agencies have the capability of doing everything the CIA can do and probably better in some cases.

    How is that for your daily kick in the balls?

  • ||

    "'Law enforcement agencies have the capability of doing everything the CIA can do and probably better in some cases."'

    Not completely true else the NYPD wouldn't have hired a CIA agent. But yeah, big PDs have been beefing up their intel programs since 9/11.

    It's tough to say the wall exist since it could have easily been removed via a secret panel.

  • ||

    It still exists. But it just doesn't mean anything.

  • ||

    ""It still exists.""

    Can you cite that somehow? Nothing personal, but just because you say it doesn't make it true.

  • ||

    YEs Vic, it is called Executive Order 12333.

    http://www.ise.gov/sites/default/files/eo12333.pdf

    That is where the wall comes from. And it is still in effect. Sorry to be late in posting this. Hope you read this.

  • ||

    "'Hope you read this."'

    If I ask, and you take the time to post, I alway will. Or at least give it a good scan. ;-)

  • ||

    Kick in the balls indeed.

  • Argentina here we come!||

    "The Disappeared", coming to Neo-Progressive-Conservative Left-Right Fascist America soon. Led by "Honest" Barack Obama, defender of the Homeland.

  • Felix Sulla||

    It's a great way to raise revenue if you include asset forfeiture.

  • ||

    It will no doubt be someone "operationally involved in selling drugs". Those operationally involved in online gambling and selling caffeinated soft drinks will come later.

  • CatoTheElder||

    "How long before a President orders a hit on an American citizen within the USA?"

    The most likely reason for the Administration's refusal to even release the legal justification for its assassinations is that it universally applicable. The president can order up a hit squad against anyone, anywhere.

    The fact that lawyers review the hit for adherence with international law is no comfort at all. Six of the 22 defendants at Nuremberg were lawyers.

  • Sal Paradise||

    Told you they had death panels!

  • Palin was right....||

    ...but not in the way she thought.

  • CatoTheElder||

    This is a murder panel.

  • ||

    I don't have a problem with killing people American or not who are actually making war on this country. But, you can't do it like this. If the government thinks person A is part of a terrorist group and making war on this country, then come out and say why and how. And very publicly make it clear why we are going to hunt him down and kill him. To have the process be secret is madness.

  • Suki||

    Maobama and his Maobamatrons did that months ago and announced the guy was on their hit list.

  • ||

    I go back and fourth about this. Despite Greenwald's whining, Al Awlaki was a serious shit bag. But, whacking Americans is a very bad precedent.

  • ||

    Should have put a bounty on him "dead or alive"

    Free Market!!

  • Abdul||

    One of the few problems I have with this one is that it appears Al Awlaki provided more moral support and introductions than material support. I may be wrong about this, but I am unaware of any evidence showing that he passed weapons or money on to terrorists.

    I think it would be constitutional to kill an american living abroad who provided material support for terrorists. But just being a terrorist cheerleader? It's like killing Jane Fonda in Hanoi--morally satisfying, but legally suspect.

  • ||

    Suppose Jane had moved to Hannoi and was doing propaganda broadcasts every day. Would it have been unlawful for us to bomb her radio station with her in it? I don't think so.

  • Abdul||

    I looked up the americans who provided Nazi propaganda during WWII. Most of those who didn't die of other causes were tried for treason.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.....of_Treason

    It seems none of the tokyo rose and Lord Haw Haw types were targetted for assassination, but there were plenty of bigger fish to fry back then.

  • BakedPenguin||

    IIRC, Lord Haw Haw was the only one hanged - and that was by the Brits.

  • Brett L||

    I would think so if we targetted it during one of her broadcasts specifically. That is, if there was any discussion by the persons designating the targets of coordinating the attack to her regularly scheduled broadcast. If you couldn't establish that link, it is collateral damage. Splitting hairs, but intention matters.

  • ||

    You also have a defined battlefield.

  • Suki||

    Wasn't the WWII battlefield the whole world?

  • ||

    No

  • Suki||

    Wasn't the WWII battlefield the whole world?

  • ||

    No

  • Suki||

    Wasn't the whole world the battlefield in WWII?

  • ||

    And no.

  • Suki||

    Yes it was. The Axis and the Allies were doing all sorts of spy things in South America and almost everywhere else where humans roamed the earth. I doubt the Nazis in Antarctica stuff. Everywhere else, yes.

  • ||

    Spying is not war.

  • Suki||

    How did I do that?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Exactly. This guy Al-Awlaki, even if he was what the government claimed him to be, was more Lord Haw-Haw than Heinrich Himmler.

  • ||

    and we don't know who else is on the list. Just because they went public this time doesn't mean they will in the future.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I think this administration is so fucked up and out of touch, they honestly thought this would be a feather in their cap. Kind of a 'mini Bin Laden'. They simply couldn't comprehend that anyone would object.

  • ||

    So, who else will they kill for votes before the election?

  • BakedPenguin||

    A few thousand Pakistani army guys? Just spit-ballin' here.

  • Suki||

    He is always working on ruining Israel. Maybe a few hundred Jews to appease his base?

  • ||

    Hank Williams, Jr.? And Netanyahu?

  • CatoTheElder||

    Well, there are a whole bunch of tea-party terrorists ...

  • Brett L||

    Hunt him down is okay. Killing him without a trial, not so much. Shitbag or not, I think the Constitution is pretty clear on the subject.

  • squarooticus||

    It's been about 400 years since the Star Chamber was abolished. Old ideas are new again!

  • ||

    No, really only about 30.

  • ||

    Is there anything scarier than evil Hal Holbrook?

  • ||

    And why does Peter Hyams always cast him as evil?

  • ||

    He hates Mark Twain.

    Incidentally, I saw a Holbrook Mark Twain show live in Tampa ten years ago. Really entertaining. I hope we can restore Clemens as a head in a bottle sometime soon--I bet he was great in person (he made boatloads of money from public speaking).

  • Warty||

    Here's a Mark Twain impersonator who knew him. If that's accurate, it's not quite the accent I always imagined he had.

  • Warty||

    Though it sounds better than Hal Holbrook's version. Even though Hal's doing my favorite Mark Twain bit.

  • ||

    Too bad there's not a recording of Clemens. I've read that there was one, but it's apparently lost.

  • Warty||

    There had to have been many. He was friends with Edison, after all.

  • ||

    That's what I read--an Edison taping (or spooling) of Twain occurred at least once.

  • ||

    They lost all of the tapes of Buddy Bolden, the actual inventor of Jazz. The guy is a real legend. And no one alive has ever heard him play.

  • Warty||

    It's a shame that jazz has been reduced to being white people music.

  • ||

    Yes it is Warty. Same with blues. Hip Hop is a scourge that robbed black America of its heritage.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Because Holbrook is mainly known for his nice-guy roles, so he's even more effective playing a real bastard?

  • ||

    Like that sweet retarded guy from L.A. Law being a villain in Darkman?

  • BakedPenguin||

    I never saw L.A Law or Darkman, so I'd have to take your word on that.

  • ||

    Yes. One of the best villains in movie history was all time nice guy Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West.

  • ||

    Weren't there a couple Evil Wilford Brimley movies?

  • Brett L||

    Andy Griffith in "A Face in the Crowd" is the best contrast ever.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I've been 2 minutes slow this whole week.

  • ||

    Not sure. Brimley was a cowboy, body guard to Howard Hughes and a stunt man before he became an actor. He was apparently a serious bad ass back in the day.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Actually, John & Brett named the ones I was thinking of - Griffith & Fonda. PL, Brimley played a mean guy in The Firm.

  • kinnath||

    two minutes ;-)

  • BakedPenguin||

    And my @3:00 should be here. for as long as I've been posting here, I think this is the first time the squirrel got me.

  • kinnath||

    The Firm; Grisham novel, Movin staring Tom Cruise.

  • ||

    I saw, nowhere in that explanation, the words "judge", "warrant", or "conviction".

    Yeah, this is constitutional. All. Day. Long.

  • ||

    If someone in effect joins a foreign army making war on the United States, and hides in a country out of reach of law enforcement, I have no problem with killing him, and I seriously doubt if the Founders would have, either. However I admit that all of this would have been much clearer legally if we had officially declared war on Al Qaeda.

    The idea that this sets some sort of precedent for knocking off any citizen anywhere is absurd.

  • ||

    Our political system passed "absurd" quite some time ago.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Yes to the papaya.

  • ||

    No to the cytotox!

    If the founders had intended to empower the assasination of americans overseas without an indictment, public trial and appeals process and without any evidence adduced, they would have so said.

    FIND IT IN THE FUCKING CONSTITUTION ASS WIPE. FIND IT!

  • ||

    There is a great deal of constitutional precedent for killing enemy soldiers in war, even if they are U.S. citizens.

  • ||

    There is no TEXTUAL support for what you bless. Find it in the constitution. Please, show me the words which EXPLICITLY authorize this.

  • ||

    "To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations."

  • ||

    There's plenty of precedent when they're part of an army and there's a military objective. The difference here is that the only objective was killing him.

  • ||

    The idea that this sets some sort of precedent for knocking off any citizen anywhere is absurd.

    Its a long step in the wrong direction, IMO. Its certainly a precedent for knocking off a citizen who associates with the Wrong People and flees the jurisdiction.

    We hit the slippery slope with the whole "associates with the Wrong People" thing.

  • ||

    It's a tiny step in what might be a wrong direction, but it's not a very slippery slope. When we start knocking off (say) copyright violators, I'll join the chorus of disapproval. But anyone who joins what is undisputed to be an active, dangerous terror organization in a foreign country out of reach of law enforcement is fair game to me.

  • ||

    Show us the proof that this guy had any involvement with the killing of americans.

    You can't.

    What you can do is demonstrate that you are okay with the nation state taking the lives of whomever it pleases.

  • ||

    No, I am (generally) okay with the nation state taking the lives of people who join terror organizations with a stated agenda and proven abilities to attack my nation state, and who are out of reach of law enforcement.

    There are lots of things the government has no business doing, but defense is a core function, and I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on an edge case like this.

  • ChrisO||

    Why even bother with lawyers if the whole thing is going to be conducted in secret? It's not like anyone could challenge it.

    Remember when all the PATRIOT Act defenders were swearing that nothing like this would ever happen? It's only a matter of time before we learn that these black ops are also being conducted inside the USA.

  • ||

    Why even bother with lawyers if the whole thing is going to be conducted in secret?

    Exactly. Trust us.

  • ||

    Remember when all the PATRIOT Act defenders were swearing that nothing like this would ever happen?

    Non sequitur. This doesn't have anything to do with the PATRIOT Act, and actually doing something according to the PATRIOT Act requires more documentation and paper trail than this committee apparently has.

    This decision is what you get when the government is embarrassed to have a formal procedure, but is determined to do the thing anyway.

    It would be better not to do it, but if it's going to be done perhaps it's better to have a paper trail. Ugly either way.

  • ||

    Yes, denying an American citizen his or her right to due process is wrong, and our government has no business running an assassination program of this sort. But what I find simply unbelievable is the fact that the Reuters reporter's name was Hose-n-ball? Why doesn't this administration protect us from the obviously disgusting connotations evoked by this man's name. Truly, our nation is on the wrong path.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    The other American killed in the drone strike which took out al-Awlaki was confirmed to have been "collateral" and not an intended target.

    Well that certainly makes me feel safer.

  • ||

    Especially when you realize he had been placed on the "collateral" list prior to the attack.

  • ||

    I think it would be more Constitutional to have an American be collateral to a legitimate attack than to have killing an American being the intended target of the attack.

    The former is the sort of shit the happens in war; the latter is assassination of a citizen.

  • ||

    This is a strange situation. I certainly agree that secret panels should not be making this decision. On the other hand, I am delighted that this piece of shit was killed. So, how can assholes like this be killed "legally"? I am not asking that rhetorically. I seriously would like ideas on this.

  • ||

    Conviction in absentia, before a judge and jury, with evidence and a defense.

  • ||

    And if the jury found him guilty, but only gave him life in prison, we just wait until he comes back? And what if he sends another underwear bomber after that trial? And that one is successful? Another trial?

    It is unusual to say the least. I tend to think a jury is overboard. A military trial with a defense might be enough for me in this situation.

  • ||

    Here's what I want--some form of due process, probably less than a full trial, before a warrant of death is issued, and, perhaps even more importantly, some form of check on this power by the other branches.

  • ||

    You and me both, Pro L.

  • kinnath||

    Even the fucked-up rubber-stamping FISA judge would be better than a secret panel of administration wonks.

  • ||

    I have struggled for many years to overcome an unduly optimistic trust of government when it comes to issues of security. I freely admit it. I think it comes form being older and having had so many civics classes (mostly propaganda) foisted upon me as a youngster.

    I have overcome it to a great extent. I definitely agree that the threat of terrorism is often intentionally over-hyped so that government can retain, or increase its power. And deciding to kill Americans without "due process" would seem to be a very cut and dried issue. But, it just isn't. There has to be some leeway in this strange non-war war we are having. The question seems to me to be, what procese is due? If you abide strictly by the Constitution, due process reuires indictment, arrest (including Miranda warnings), a defense, a judge, a jury, etc. but, it appears that most of us would not require all that. (Brett, below notwithstanding). It is quite a pickle.

  • kinnath||

    There has to be some leeway in this strange non-war war we are having.

    There is no fucking war.

    Terrorists are criminals not warriors. The only difference between Bin Laden and McVeigh is that one was born in Suadi Arabia and the other the US.

    It doesn't matter whether the motive is politics or profit. People that target civilians are criminals.

  • Brett L||

    "There has to be some leeway in this strange non-war war we are having. The question seems to me to be, what procese is due?"

    I think the problem is closer to what Papaya has been saying. Rather than rewriting our laws to give "leeway", let's just declare war. Or declare victory and go home. With a war, this guy can be captured on the battlefield legally summarily executed for treason. Without a state of war, there's not much difference between hitting this guy with a drone and hitting Roman Pulanski with a drone.

  • ||

    Yes, the weird thing is that many of the Democrats in Congress strongly object to Republican proposals that sound like declaring war against al Qaeda everywhere, but they support Obama on this.

    So they're not against fighting a war, just against calling it one. And they'd be ashamed to set up official procedures for assassination, but they're okay with it happening quietly.

  • Brett L||

    I even have problems with this. I was under the impression that in absentia trials were also unconstitutional, but I could be misremembering. Not allowing the accused a chance to offer his own account at his own trial seems like a bad idea. And once we establish that there are some conditions where it is okay for the accused not to be present to confront witnesses, doesn't that significantly gut the 5A?

  • Gray Ghost||

    They are currently unconstitutional in the U.S. system, Brett. Crosby v. U.S. is a decent SCOTUS case on point.

    The main concerns are that the accused lacks notice of the proceedings and the ability to assist in his own defense. Tulpa and I went around on this a few days ago, but I think you can sufficiently address the notice issue in cases like this. As far as assisting in his own defense, by hiding out, isn't the accused voluntarily waiving his right to assist? We allow "voluntary" waivers of rights all of the time in the criminal justice system.

    I like Episiarch's 1:43 P.M. layout of what due process I'd like to see. I'm fine, despite the 7th Amend., with a bench trial---easier to handle some of the evidentiary/national security balancing that way---but at least have some process beyond that of an unappealable, secret panel with secret death sentence criteria.

  • ||

    Why limit the process? There is no factual basis upon which to argue that the very survival of liberty and the free market and the free flow of commerce and the free expression of idesa would be subject to extinction if the leviathan does not assassinate the alleged terrorist.

    Why should the individual cede ground to the Soviet? Why should the process be constrained? Particularly in light of the fact that the party seeking to short circuit the process has demonstrated a propensity to perpetrate mass murder, interfer with the governance of other nations, warehouse political prisoners, invade the homes of its citizens and confiscate their wealth and to stage false flag operations with regularity?

    Please. It. is. murder.

  • ||

    Why not declare war on Al Qaeda and their allies? That could also solve the Guantanamo issue: combatants fighting out of uniform could be considered spies and executed after a brief military trial.

  • ||

    AUMF's seem good enough these days and Congress already approved one against anyone involved with any group that was part of the 9/11 attacks.

  • kinnath||

    The raghead that was killed by Obama last week had nothing to do with 9/11. The AUMF is not relevant.

  • ||

    He was associated to some degree with the organization (AQ) behind 9/11, the AUMF clearly covers him in that respect.

    That's not to say the whole thing sucks.

    I pretty much agree with you that non-military folks killing other non-military folks is a criminal matter.

  • kinnath||

    AQ is not a single organization. It's more like a brand name associated with many franchises.

    Being AQ in Yemen means jack shit regarding 9/11.

    I have no problem with the US blowing the shit of of AQ in Afghanistan. I am only slightly queezy about the killing of bin Laden in the raid (he confessed repeatedly on TV that he masterminded 9/11). I would have preferred to see a trial and a public execution.

    But the killing of AA was pure bullshit.

  • ||

    ""AQ is not a single organization. It's more like a brand name associated with many franchises.""

    If you read the AUMF, it seems it would extend to those franchises.

    I'm not defending it, I'm just pointing out what is there.

  • kinnath||

    I disagree, but the language is intentionally fuzzy.

  • ||

    I have a problem with endless, borderless wars.

  • Shake||

    It's completely possible to be both a warrior and a criminal (in other words, a war criminal) - they aren't mutually exclusive. Secondly, what determines the existence of a state of war is the extent of the fighting, not formal declarations of war. War has been waged between groups of people since the dawn of mankind, long before modern nation states and laws were created. From a legal standpoint, a formal declaration of war is not necessary for a state of war to exist. Congressional authorizations for the use of military force are tantamount to declarations of war, and have been treated as such historically (including by the founders).

    He was associated to some degree with the organization (AQ) behind 9/11, the AUMF clearly covers him in that respect.

    Exactly. And Al Qaeda's "many franchises" are united by ideology and cooperate to further their goals; therefore, they're all fair game.

  • ||

    I'm guessing because if we declare war on al-Qaeda, we'd have to adhere to Geneva Convention protections for POWs.

  • ||

    Right, but the big plus is that they can be defined as "illegal combatants" for not wearing a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance and for not following the laws and customs of war. So, a military trial and then execution.

  • ||

    No, how about execution for american military scum and their political handlers?

  • ||

    """illegal combatants" for not wearing a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance ""

    Nobody does that. The purpose of cammo utilites our troops wear is so you will not be recognizable from a distance, or fairly close-up for that matter.

    ""and for not following the laws and customs of war.""

    But if the laws of war doesn't apply to them, then why would they need to follow them?

  • ||

    No, every military does that. Even camo uniforms have insignia.

  • ||

    Like the instructor for the tank ID class I had to take as an 0351 joked. Enemy tanks have a red star on the side, friendly tanks have a white star on the side.

  • ||

    Sure, fighting out of uniform on a battlefield. But that's not quite the same thing as us targeting a guy when he's home and not doing anything.

    And I don't think that this guy was quite Admiral Yamamoto.

  • ||

    He was at least Tokyo Rose. If in 1944 we could have pinpointed a building she was in and had blown it up, would you have the same objection? Not me.

  • ||

    He was at least Tokyo Rose. If in 1944 we could have pinpointed a building she was in and had blown it up, would you have the same objection? Not me.

  • ||

    At a bare minimum you issue an arrest warrant.

  • ||

    The idea of secret "courts", sitting in judgment on American citizens, living under the sole control of one branch. . .I'm having trouble seeing how this is remotely legal. Is it authorized by NAFTA or something?

    I was initially not entirely shocked by the killing, but this is quite disturbing. Should've known the decision was made without even the appearance of propriety.

    Unfortunately, often results that maybe are warranted aren't justifiable given the damage they do to the legal process.

  • ChrisO||

    The Reuters article says there is no law specifically authorizing the NSC panel in question.

    I'm guessing the government would argue that the National Security Act of 1947 (and later amendments) that created the NSC authorizes such things. That would be a stretch, to say the least. The original purpose of the NSC was merely to coordinate the actions of existing intelligence agencies and provide advice to the president.

  • ||

    There is no grant of power authorizing Congress to create the NSC. If they had intended to so empower the Congress, the framers and ratifiers would have so said. They didn't.

  • ChrisO||

    Article II, Section 2, the "advice and consent" clause.

  • ||

    You can't be serious? Article II sec. 2 does not provide any language authorizing the congress to create a National Security Agency.

  • ||

    The NSA is necessary and proper to prevent activities that would negatively affect commerce. ;-)

    Couldn't resist.

  • ChrisO||

    Did you read it?

    [The president] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

    Sounds like authority to create any amount of federal bureaucracy that they want to. The limitation in the Constitution is not in whether federal agencies may be created, but in what they may do (and not do).

  • ||

    No it does not.

    A secret, spymaster agency is not enumerated.

    Remember, one must always keep in mind that the constitution was drawn to chain government; it was written against a rich and deep legal history which held that governemnt powers are NEVER to be imnplied.

  • ||

    it was written against a rich and deep legal history which held that governemnt powers are NEVER to be imnplied.

    I would more put that it was written against a rich and deep legal history which held that government powers were implied, but to specifically reject that history on the basis of some recent and fashionable (at the time) political philosophy.

    Not that I disagree with it, but come on, the "rich and deep legal history" of the UK is that Parliament could do whatever it wanted, even suspend ancient rights, because it was sovereign.

  • ||

    Not that I disagree with our Constitution being based on limited powers, that is.

  • ||

    For the record, there's no national security exception to the Constitution.

  • ChrisO||

    No, there isn't. Even if the Constitution permits the existence of NSC Death Panel, it doesn't permit the Death Panel to do anything unconstitutional, such as violating due process or exercising Article III judicial powers.

  • CE||

    There's no US citizen exception, or non-US citizen exception either. The government is required to follow due process when prosecuting anyone.

    Going after a bad guy in a foreign land we are not at war with would seem to fall best under the Letter of Marque and Reprisal power granted to Congress -- NOT the President.

  • ||

    Didn't the AUMF do just that?

  • Colin||

    How do we get Rick Santorum on this list?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    So, which one of our 435 spineless Congresscritters will sack up and file articles of impeachment over this flagrant violation of an American citizen's due process rights?

    I guess they don't want to end up on "The List" either.

  • They have ways||

    of finding out who you are, AC. Next time you fly, If the TSA agent gives your nuts an extra-hard squeeze, think about it....

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Interestingly enough, I have never been subjected to the patdown. Not in 10 years of flying. And I look like one of the usual suspects.

  • ||

    That's why. They aren't about to "single out" a Muslim-looking guy for a pat-down - that would be "racial profiling".

    They gotta meet their quota, but they don't want any (legal) trouble.

  • Mainer||

    But this skinny old white guy always seems to get extra attention...

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Price of freedom, Mainer. Getting your sac squeezed by a high school grad with powers of detention.

  • Mainer||

    I've posted this before, but the last time I flew, the TSA guy asked if I knew the procedure, and I said, "Yes I know what you people do, and you should be ashamed of yourself".

  • this one too.||

  • ||

    I know that Ron Paul mused about impeachment over this the other day. Not sure about anyone else.

  • Can any Obama supporter||

    any longer live in the idol-worship cocoon of the Obama-as-Jesus? What more proof can anyone need that Obama is a violent, blood-thirsty, ultra-secretive, vindictive, race-baiting, power-mad warmonger that if given the chance would turn on any American that falls into his gang's disfavor. At least as bad as Nixon, LBJ and Bush. But nobody died at Watergate.

  • Mainer||

    No no no....he's smooth and cool, cerebral. He stands up for the little guy. He want's to make America a better place. And his wife is so glamorous.

  • ||

    Sorry, black does not make you beautiful. There's nothing inherently sexy or glamorous about a fat assed gorilla faced wife of a mass murderer.

    Michelle Obama is one fugly bitch.

  • Jack The Reaper||

    I always thought she looked like James Brown.

  • ||

    And that's FUGLY!

  • ||

    She does! I saw a Halloween mask in a thrift store the other day, and I thought it was James Brown until I saw the earrings. And the black woman clerk said she thought the same thing! LOL

  • NL_||

    How does having lawyers involved matter? Lawyers are the same people who become prosecutors, US Attorneys, and state attorneys general. Lawyers are in charge of indicting people, knowing they will have to argue against defense lawyers - and they still indict innocent people. How much of a check will lawyers be when they know that no defense counsel will be there to oppose them?

  • ChrisO||

    Exactly. When the executive branch operates in secret like this, it can do whatever it wants, to whomever it wants.

    Undoubtedly, the involvement of lawyers is a preemptive legal argument should the Supreme Court ever address this subject. "Oh, don't worry, we had lawyers scrutinizing it, so it's okay. Of course, we can't tell you what they said or what they were looking at, because it's classified."

    It's also a fig leaf to use should things ever explode politically.

  • kinnath||

    Dick Nixon looks better every day.

    Even Dick Nixon didn't assassinate American citizens living abroad that may have assissted the North Vietnamese during a real-life, shooting war with another country.

  • Fire Tiger||

    Or targeted the Weathermen or Black Panthers for assasination for their "armed conflict" with the US.

  • ||

    KENT STATE?

    How about the thousands of persians who perished at the hands of the CIA assisted SAVAK?

    How about the anit-war demonstrators who were bludgeoned to death on orders from the tricky one?

  • kinnath||

    As far as I know, Dick Nixon did not put the individuals that died at Kent State on a kill-or-capture list.

    I consider the soldiers that fired on the crowd at Kent State to be murderers. So don't give me any shit about the crimes of 1971 as being in anyway relevant to Obama targeting and assassinating a US citizens without any fucking due process.

  • ||

    You are the one who broached the mass murdering tricky dick.

    That the tricky one conceived and ordered murders is sbeyond doubt. It is incontrovertible.

    Both the quisling quaker and Obamao have engaged in mass murder without due process for the victims.

  • kinnath||

    I'm stuck with IE7 at work, so I can't make you disappear. But, I don't have to read you anymore either.

  • ||

    What's the matter?

    A person throws water on your narrative and you want to take your ball and go home?

  • kinnath||

    Nope, it's just that you're a prick and seldom post anything that worth pursuing.

  • ||

    A prick? Again, because some person throws water on your narrative, you have to behave like an immature, un-selactualized name calling adolescent?

    You hava a hard time with assertive anarcho-free enterprise-individualists who know how to argue.

    IMO, a telling sign of a prick is one who wants to take his ball and go home.

  • Nixon was impeached||

    and resigned in disgrace for fighting "commies"....The age of Bush and Obama is here when endlessly escalating the fight against "terrorists" and "drugs" (by way of the insane tactics of invasions, gun-running, assassinations, regime overthrows, domestic spying) get new mega-agencies created (DHS, TSA, etc) and get you reelected.....

  • Nixon was impeached||

    Not to defend Nixon, merely to provide contrast to how the much of public -- and big media-- now accepts that type of presidential behavior as "normal".

    No Nixo.

  • Fire Tiger||

    I'll tell you the rules after I kill you.

  • Mike M.||

    This secret government assassination panel must be those shovel-ready jobs Obama was talking about creating.

  • ||

    shovel-ready

    [snerk]

  • Warty||

    That the said Charles Stuart, being admitted King of England, and therein trusted with a limited power to govern by and according to the laws of the land, and not otherwise; and by his trust, oath, and office, being obliged to use the power committed to him for the good and benefit of the people, and for the preservation of their rights and liberties; yet, nevertheless, out of a wicked design to erect and uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his will, and to overthrow the rights and liberties of the people, yea, to take away and make void the foundations thereof, and of all redress and remedy of misgovernment,
  • death panelist||

    dear me, even the komrades at kos are koncerned about this krap...

  • death panelist||

  • That koncern will kwikly pass.||

    there are more important things like banning plastic bags that will return to the forefront.

  • ||

    We must always remember that one is a better human being, BY FUCKING DEFINITION, if one's loyalty to liberty trumps his loyalty to nation state, particularly if the nation state is amerika.

  • ||

    I said four and five years ago that this would be the inevitable consequence of agitating for closing Gitmo, because no one really questions killing, just holding people.

    Not that I would call this perfectly foreseeable consequence as "intended" by those who wanted Gitmo closed.

  • ||

    ""I said four and five years ago that this would be the inevitable consequence of agitating for closing Gitmo, because no one really questions killing, just holding people.""

    The CIA was killing people way before that. And then there's this from 1998

    "Dozens of U.S. cruise missiles struck targets in Afghanistan and the Sudan on Thursday in what President Clinton described as an act of self-defense against imminent terrorist plots and of retribution for the bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa two weeks ago. "

    http://partners.nytimes.com/li.....ck-us.html

  • ||

    Just in case you missed it above, EO 12333 is where the intel wall comes from. And it is still in effect.

    http://www.ise.gov/sites/default/files/eo12333.pdf

  • ||

    More questions than answers, but good enough to concede the point.

    I have to laugh when they use the word unlawful, as if that means something, which is pretty much your point.

  • ||

    That wasn't where the wall originated since that order was after the DHS was created, and the wall was in place prior.

    Just sayin.

  • ||

    That is just the latest iteration of it. It has been around since 1978. Here is why it is meaningless. All it says is that members of the intel community cannot run operations on US persons absent a foreign connection. But LE can. Now that LE have their own intel analysts and such, the wall doesn't mean anything other than what pots of money you can use.

  • ||

    My assumption was based in all the brew ha ha, that was condeming it after 9/11, and the pressure to remove it. I'm suprised the wall survived, at least in print.

  • ||

    Ignore that. There is no date and the amendments to that might have thrown me off.

  • CE||

    EO 12333 is where the intel wall comes from. And it is still in effect.

    But the CIA has lots of spies. And spies can go around any wall they want, as long as they don't get caught. And they're well trained to avoid being caught.

  • anonymous||

    Oh noes! Just as I feared. There is a conspiracy! And now that Samir Khan and Ibrahim al Asiri have also been killed, we'll never learn the truth about Awlaki's innocence. If they can identify Awlaki as Al Qaeda, then none of us are safe from these tyrants. This just proves that if you give government even a little power to provide for the common defense, they will abuse it horribly. This is worse than la Guerra Sucia. Thank you, Reason, for shining a light on the evil that is the American government. Wherever liberty is threatened, whoever threatens it, I know Reason will be there to fight the good fight.

  • ||

    Sources again said as far as they knew, al-Awlaki was the only American put on the kill list.

    Hmm, I wonder which reason staffer, ex-staffer, or Hit & Run commenter will be the first to be added to the kill list. My money's on Balko.

  • ||

    Haven't seen JB around in a while.

  • ||

    I nominate Weigel.

  • CE||

    ...and also, we make sure that we follow international law...

    You would think that international law would at least "frown upon" just blowing people up without even asking for extradition first or presenting any evidence to the government of the targeted country.

  • ||

    For fun, here's proof he wasn't involved with 9/11.

    "Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Awlaki was sought as a media source for questions about Islam and the attacks who could speak English well. He was interviewed by National Geographic[76], The New York Times and other media. He condemned the attacks, stating "There is no way that the people who did this could be Muslim, and if they claim to be Muslim, then they have perverted their religion."

    "Months after the 9/11 attacks, as the U.S. Secretary of the Army was eager to have a presentation from a moderate Muslim as part of an outreach effort to ease tensions with Muslim-Americans, a Pentagon employee invited al-Awlaki to a luncheon in the Secretary's Office of General Counsel.[78][79]

    Al-Awlaki was the Congressional Muslim Staffer Association's first imam to conduct a prayer service at the U.S. Capitol in 2002.[80][81] The prayers were for Muslim congressional staffers and officials for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).[82]"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anwar_al-Awlaki

  • ||

    Why does it seem like all of the American government's supervillains spent some time honeymooning with the American government?

  • ||

    What do his statements prove? Do you really expect a jihadi to be honest? Deep cover operatives will say whatever it takes to stay under cover, and speak their mind once they can, as he did. He wasn't exactly speaking out against 9/11 once he was with Al Qaeda in Yemen, was he?

  • paranoid||

    Perhaps. But when you have someone changing loyalties like that, it makes you wonder which faction was actually being betrayed? Maybe this and killing bin Laden were both so secretive because they were outright illegal -- just cleaning up loose ends, inconvenient CIA assets allied with the Bush-Saudi network.

  • ||

    The fact that we have a secret panel that can decide to assassinate a American citizen surprises me, but I'm sure this panel has been in existence for some time. There are many ethical issues in the al-Awlaki case that we must consider. The following reasons are worth thinking about in this case: The killing of innocent people, violating the sovereignty of another nation, overreaching, and misuse of military power, murder of U.S. citizens without trial, and future retaliation against the U.S. by the victims, and their families or by other nations.

  • Custom Nike Dunk||

    thanks

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