I rarely if ever find difference with or object to the opinions of Dr. Charles Krauthammer. However, his justification of America’s ongoing, undeclared drone wars and the killing of innocent civilians is immoral, ethically wrong and bad military strategy. Here’s why.
The foundation of my position on drones, secrecy and transparency is best exemplified by Thomas Jefferson’s statement: ““Democracy demands an intelligent and informed electorate.” How can citizens in a democracy be intelligent and informed, and responsible as they are for control and election of the government, if the government is protecting itself and hiding its actions with secrets and executive privilege?
Dr. Krauthammer justifies Obama’s drone wars, including civilian deaths in this article: http://www.humanevents.com/2013/02/15/krauthammer-in-defense-of-obamas-drone-war/
Dr. Krauthammer uses Anwar al-Awlaki as an example of a terrorist killed by Obama. Al Awlaki was killed by an Obama=approved drone attack in Yemen, and so I will use the same example.
Undeclared drone wars are categorically, black and white, wrong for America because they kill innocent civilians and there is a practical way to prevent terrorist attacks in America without these drone attacks. Militarily, America’s ongoing drone wars are a wrong-headed, counter-productive strategy which is exponentially increasing the number of terrorists even while it kills the supposed terrorists leaders. As a result of the civilian deaths and the obvious terror of drones flying overhead, anger against America is growing exponentially among the civilian population. But this civilian population is the only real hope of ever eradicating terrorism as a strategy of radical Islamic jihad. As a practical matter, America cannot police the world with drones and blow up terrorists wherever they may hide.
Anwar al-Awlaki was a U.S.-born, a U.S. citizen, and earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University and an M.A. in Education Leadership from San Diego State University. He was an al Qaeda terrorist and self-acknowledged enemy of America. He was on Obama’s approved hit list for 17 months. He was killed by an Obama-authorized drone strike, the second attempt, on September 30, 2011. His 16 year old son was killed two weeks later in another drone strike. On October 14, 2011, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki [the son] was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Yemen along with a group of his teenage friends while eating dinner under the moonlight.
Before you read further, listen and watch Anwar al-Awlaki in this troubling PBS video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2Ofg2BacIM
Anwar al-Awlaki openly espoused violent jihad against America and recruited others to that role.
FBI suspects al-Awlaki, “could have bought air tickets for three of the 9/11 hijackers before the attacks.”
“Two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the FBI knew that al-Awlaki had used his Visa credit card to buy flights for Mohammed Atta, their ringleader, and two other hijackers, one internal document states.”
“Yet in February 2002, just four months later, al-Awlaki was invited to a dinner held at the Pentagon as part of the military’s “outreach to the Muslim community” in the aftermath of the attacks.” This is convincing evidence of government incompetence.
In 2001, al-Awlaki presided at the funeral of the father of Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who later e-mailed him extensively in 2008–2009 before the Hasan killed 13 people and wounded 29 others in November 2009 in the worst shooting ever to take place on an American military base.
“Another document details how al-Awlaqi was detained and questioned at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport in October 2002, under an arrest warrant for passport fraud – a crime carrying a potential 10-year sentence. However, the FBI ordered his release, allowing him to fly to Washington, DC, before eventually returning to Yemen.”
“Previously released documents showed that al-Awlaki was detained by US authorities a further two times in 2006 and 2007, both times again being released for undisclosed reasons.” Another indictment of U.S. government incompetence.
“Al-Awlaki is also said to have directed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the British-educated “pants bomber” who attempted to bring down a packed commercial jet bound for Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.”
Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, the pressure group that secured the release of the documents [by filing suit under the Freedom of Information Act], said they “further confirm disturbing dereliction by our national security establishment”.
“These and other documents leave little doubt that al-Awlaki had something to do with 9/11 and violated the law,” said Mr Fitton.”
“Yet this terrorist was feted at the Pentagon and given the proverbial ‘get out of jail free card’ by law enforcement – with deadly consequences.”
“In 2000, [Esam] Omeish personally hired … Anwar al-Awlaki to be the imam of Falls Church, VA, Dar al-Hijrah mosque [translates to ‘land of migration’]. According to IPT [Investigative Project on Terrorism] analysis, more terrorists have been linked to Dar al-Hijrah since 9/11 than to any other mosque in America.” The Saudi-backed North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) purchased the mosque’s grounds on June 19, 1983. The current building, on a 3.4 acre plot was finished for $5 million in 1991 ($8,531,639 today) with financial help from the Saudi Embassy’s Islamic Affairs Department.”
…“Esam Omeish, former head of the Muslim Brotherhood-created Muslim American Society, visited the White House three times.”
“Omeish has continued visiting the White House even after the kill order on Al-Awlaki and even after Al-Awlaki’s death, as recently as March of this year [2012.] Omeish heads the Libyan Emergency Taskforce and it would be interesting to know that impact this notorious terrorist supporter had on Obama’s Libyan policy.”
“Then there’s Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR’s Los Angeles office, who, “publicly defended Palestinian terror attacks in comments before Muslim students at the University of California – Los Angeles, saying that terrorists were exercising their “legitimate right” to defend themselves against Israeli occupation.””
“And Muzammil Siddiqi, a former head of Islamic Society of North America, who “supported laws in countries where homosexuality is punishable by death.””
“Hatem Abudayyeh – executive director of the Chicago-based Arab American Action Network, founded by Rashid Khalidi, a friend of President Obama. Abudayyeh has been under criminal investigation at least since September 2010, when FBI agents raided his home and office in connection with a terror-support probe. “
Documents received by a Freedom of Information request revealed that al-Awlaki “had ties to 26 terrorism cases and was described by the United States as head of the terror network’s most effective and lethal franchise. The documents uncovered indicated he had been held for at least eight months between late 2006 and mid 2007.”
“About six months before … Anwar Al-Awlaki was killed in a drone strike in Yemen… U.S. State Department officials appear to have instructed the U.S. Embassy in Yemen to invite” him “to come to the embassy to receive “an important letter regarding [his] U.S. passport.”
“Post is to hold and retain the revocation letter and send a separate letter to Mr. Aulaqi informing him that there is an importatnt [sic] letter for him at post regarding his U.S. passport,” the march 24, 2011 cable said. “The department’s action is based upon the determination by the secretary that Mr. Aulaqi’s activities abroad are causing and/or are likely to cause serious damage to the national security or the foreign policy of the United States.”
“It’s unclear from the documents whether the embassy ever actually sought to contact Anwar Al-Awlaki or succeeded in doing so. It’s possible that the attempt to reach out to Al-Awlaki was part of an internal effort by the Obama Administration to provide a form of due process to U.S. citizens targeted for the use of deadly force. Some of the documents refer to classified discussions about the passport revocation. Such a notice, if delivered, would put Al-Awlaki on official notice that the U.S. Government wanted to talk to him.”
“However, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton called the effort bizarre.”
“The idea of inviting al-Aulaqi – a known terrorist – to our embassy in Yemen in order to revoke his passport is beyond belief,” Fitton said in a statement.”
The above is clear and sufficient evidence of the need for transparent profiling, and action based on those public profiles. The multiple examples of incompetency by government shows that the pervasive use of secrecy by the government endangers lives, reduces the ability of citizens to protect themselves, and prevents citizens from intelligently controlling and electing their government.
President Obama said, “The death of al-Awlaki marks another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates. Furthermore, this success is a tribute to our intelligence community, and to the efforts of Yemen and its security forces, who have worked closely with the United States over the course of several years.”
Obama continued, “Awlaki and his organization have been directly responsible for the deaths of many Yemeni citizens. His hateful ideology — and targeting of innocent civilians — has been rejected by the vast majority of Muslims, and people of all faiths. And he has met his demise because the government and the people of Yemen have joined the international community in a common effort against Al Qaeda.”
I submit to you that this chain of events, actions and inactions, culminating in the assassination of al-Awaki by drone along with the assassination of his teenage son and the deaths of the son’s friends and innocent civilians is more than sufficient evidence of the incompetence, command negligence and dereliction of duty by President Obama, and the U.S. intelligence community, and dereliction of duty by the FBI and federal law enforcement under both the Obama and Bush administrations. The terrorist al-Awlaki was profiled and was arrested and should have been faced trial in the United States. Al-Awlaki’s profile was not made public and the terrorist was released. The public was endangered by the government’s negligence. Many innocent people died.
Also, arguably, the 13 people who died at Ft.Hood probably would not have died had al-Awlaki been arrested, tried and convicted for his connection to the events of 9-11-2001. The deaths at Ft.Hood certainly would have been prevented if Army psychologist Hasan had been profiled and arrested or removed from the military.
I submit to you that profiling and arrest and trial of terrorists in the United States is the best way, the moral way, to eradicate terrorism. Doing so will help immensely to recoup the moral standing of America in the world. American terror in the skies and the resulting deaths of innocent people from America’s undeclared drone wars should be stopped. The drone war is unnecessary. The public will have to get over its politically correct, guilt-ridden concerns about profiling and judging the behavior of others. The occasional overly aggressive search of an individual fitting the profile of a terrorist is a very small price indeed compared to the deaths of innocent civilians perpetrated in our name by our President and the counter-productive terror and anger among the grieving families.
Dr. Krauthammer’s attempt to justify drone killing of innocents is wrong. He claims innocent deaths by drones is comparable to killing of civilians in Germany by bombings in WWII and North Vietnam. These three wars are all different. WWII was a war legally declared by Congress, and it was a symmetric war between virtually the entire United States including its civilians and industries as well as the government (and other allied countries’ civilians, industries and governments) against Germany and Japan including the civilians, industries and governments of Germany and Japan. All of America and its allies, Germany and Japan and their allies knew these countries were in all out war and most citizens participated in the war one way or another. The drone war is killing truly innocent people, and the terrorists are intentionally hiding among innocent people.
Opposite to WWII, America’s drone war is part of a legally undeclared, asymmetric war secretly waged by our government against a relatively small group of radical Islamists who are spread over many countries. Parts of the war have been waged openly by America and its allies in two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), but today the secret drone war is ongoing in several other countries, for example, Pakistan, Libya, and Yemen. Most of the civilians, almost all industries and almost all of the governments in these countries do not support the radical Islamists. But, these innocent people in these countries are living in terror of death by American drones.
The small group of radical Islamists has been secretly supported in their terrorism and violence by several governments, mostly Middle Eastern Islamic tyrannies, but sometimes also secretly supported by the America and its allies. These secrets are killing innocent Americans and citizens of other counties.
America probably created Al Qaeda, perhaps accidentally, by its secret supply of weapons (e.g. ground to air missiles), intelligence and training to the Mujahedeen during the Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan. The name Al Qaeda did not appear until after the Soviet Union had left Afghanistan. After the Soviets left, the radical militant group (now called Al Qaeda) turned against the Americans, wanting America out of Afghanistan and the Middle East. History records that actions of the American government and its allies and industries helped build the early pre-war fascist state in Germany and Imperial Japan, but this was not done in secret and WWII was not a proxy war.
In eye-opening parallel to the American proxy war with the Soviet Union through the Mujahideen, followed by the Al Qaeda anti-American reaction in post-Soviet Afghanistan, America once again secretly armed Al Qaeda-affiliated militants in Benghazi Libya, and then after Gaddafi’s government was overthrown in Libya, the Al Qaeda militants turned on the Americans. After Gaddafi died, America wanted to move the automatic weapons, heavy anti-aircraft, etc. which were supplied to Islamic militants, onward to Syria via Turkey to support the overthrow of the government in Syria. After Gaddafi died, covert U.S. military (managed by Brennan, approved by Obama) attacked the Al Qaeda-connected militants in Libya, and then these well armed militants counter attacked the U.S. Consulate and CIA compound in Benghazi, resulting in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Stevens and 3 other Americans. As in post-Soviet Afghanistan, America aided the radical Islamists in accomplishing their goal and then the radical Islamists turned on the America.
The Obama administration was secretly working to change the regime in Libya, conducting a secret, undeclared war through proxies. The radical, rebel proxies probably never were actually under Deputy Brennan’s and Obama’s control. Even the CIA and normal military chain of command were not aware of Obama’s secret war being carried out by Deputy National Security Adviser Brennan. The Congress and the people were blinded to U.S. involvement in this regime change in Libya. Government secrecy and Command Negligence killed Americans.
Osama bin Laden himself may have been a CIA “Asset” i.e. a paid collaborator, possibly trained by American intelligence, although there is dispute about this collaboration.
In a 2004 BBC article entitled “Al-Qaeda’s origins and links”, the BBC wrote:
“During the anti-Soviet jihad Bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding. Some analysts believe Bin Laden himself had security training from the CIA.”
“Robin Cook, Foreign Secretary in the UK from 1997–2001, and Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council from 2001–2003, believed the CIA had provided arms to the Arab Mujahideen, including Osama bin Laden, writing, “Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.””
“In conversation with former British Defense Secretary Michael Portillo, two-time Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto said Osama bin Laden was initially pro-American.”
“Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia, has also stated that bin Laden once expressed appreciation for the United States’ help in Afghanistan. On CNN’s Larry King program he said: “This is ironic. In the mid-’80s, if you remember, we and the United – Saudi Arabia and the United States were supporting the Mujahideen to liberate Afghanistan from the Soviets. He [Osama bin Laden] came to thank me for my efforts to bring the Americans, our friends, to help us against the atheists, he said the communists. Isn’t it ironic?””
Contrary to the opinion of Dr. Krauthammer, the Vietnam War was categorically different from WWII in many ways. The Vietnam War was not legally declared by Congress. The Vietnam War was begun and progressed in secret on the American side for about 10 years. Secret American activity in Vietnam began in 1954 and expanded under President Kennedy and was secretly conducted by intelligence and U.S. Special Forces. The American people knew nothing about this war until it was already well advanced and after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident in August, 1964, an incident which President Johnson used to expand the war.
The North Vietnamese people, industries and government were entirely behind the war, attempting to unite North and South Vietnam into one communist country, the Vietnam which exists today. The American people did not know they were at war with North Vietnam for about 10 years, but the America government was secretly conducting psychological warfare, spying and bombing the North Vietnamese people, industries and government. The America government had involved itself in a civil war in Vietnam – part of a global, political, cold war between capitalism and communism – without the legally required declaration of war against North Vietnam and without the knowledge of the American people and most of American industry. Within 1 to 3 years (1965 to 1968) of Americans becoming aware of this secret war, the majority of Americans had turned against both the war and the American government, both Democrat and Republican, eventually resulting in exit of American forces from Vietnam in 1975…a 31 year war.
Dear Dr. Krauthammer, the secret drone wars of the American government today are similar to the Vietnam War, but not how you imagine. Both were immoral and strategically wrong. Today, once Americans understand the deaths and destruction being done by their government in their name, Americans will demand the secret, counter-productive drone wars be stopped.
Germans and Americans were entirely committed to WWII. North Vietnamese were entirely committed to their war against Americans and the South Vietnamese. For about 10 years Americans in general were unaware of the war against North Vietnamese and the deadly decisions of the American government. It is now more than 10 years after September 11, 2001, but Americans in general still do not have transparency about their government’s decisions and actions prior to and after that date. It is abundantly clear that Americans do not know what happened in Bengazi or what our government really is doing in Yemen, Algeria, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and many other countries and especially in the United States. U.S. Government contracts reveal that Americans are being spied upon by their government. Instead of doing their duty to protect our liberty, our government is invading it and planning to further reduce it.
Secrecy is the focus of the problem. Transparency in government is the solution. There is no doubt that a database of international terrorists already exists inside American and other governments. Are you in that database? How much would you have to spend to find out? The information in that database would be dramatically improved if peaceful, reform-minded Muslims, especially, and all citizens in general believed that their government would arrest and convict violent terrorists within their community. But that database must be public and government, politicians, intelligence agents, military personnel who slander must be held civilly and criminally liable for damages.
Quite obviously Muslims not only do not believe that Americans will take effective action against violent jihadists, they are afraid that violent jihadists in their community will harm them, so they must sit in mosques and listen to imams such as Anwar al-Awaki. In contrast, if the terrorist database and hit list were public information and the terrorists were being arrested and convicted, then peaceful Muslims and all citizens could confidently assist in the profiling and resistance to terrorist activities. Terrorists of any persuasion would not be able to move around freely or conduct their violence – if there were transparency and their photos were on the internet and every post office. They would be prevented from boarding airplanes, they would be prevented from entering the country, learning to fly planes and rent cars. Their solicitations of violence would become evidence against them as citizens would report them to police, they would be more easily apprehended. The accused would also have the opportunity to defend themselves in courts of law. Secret information about individuals and hit lists should be outlawed, and punished as a felony when discovered, whether that information is in the Oval Office, the CIA, or any other government agency. Incompetent or nefarious government agents would be prosecuted. Secrecy is the heart of George Orwell’s prophetic book 1984 and the cause of a long list of real life tragedies. Secrecy is antithetical, destructive to liberty.
How are Americans to measure, judge and correct the actions of their government if the government’s actions, up to and including deadly force against its citizens, are kept secret? Do you know who is on Obama’s hit list? The case of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American, and his American son and friends who were all killed in secret without the due course of justice has revealed the incompetence of the U.S. government at many levels.
So long as the American government conducts secret wars in other countries and keeps secrets from American citizens about its actions in those countries and inside America, then America will continue to have unending wars, the deaths of innocent civilians will increase, and an army of angry enemies of America will grow exponentially.
More young people like Anwar al-Awlaki will be turned into terrorists against America by the American government itself. So long as the politically correct memes of tolerance and moral equivalence prevent mis-educated Americans from judging between distinct and conflicting moral behaviors, then Americans and all peaceful people will be in deadly danger from both their own government and those who oppose that government.
There is no difference between Dr. Krauthammer’s justification for the deaths by drone of innocent civilians and the justification of violent jihadists for their actions against any American.
Our governments should be profiling and publishing information about all individuals, groups, companies and governments who incite or commit violence against its citizens or their property so that those citizens may better protect themselves and their property, that is a fundamental role of government. If an accused terrorist is innocent, then by the application of prompt due process, the balance of justice will enable the accused to be released and recover any damages, but not if the government can claim the privilege of secrecy.
The U.S. government should never have been allowed the right of indefinitely and secretly holding a person in America without due process. Anyone could be held in secret for association with terrorism. Consider the instances of government incompetence presented above; those are sufficient reasons to distrust the promises by the President or anyone else that these draconian laws will not be misused. And the President should never have been allowed to kill a citizen without due process of law. But, very unfortunately, today these things are not only possible but they are already being done under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Patriot Act, both laws supported by both Democrats and Republicans. It is in the national interest, in your personal interest, to repeal these laws.
The government defines the words “terrorist” and the very ambiguous word “association” and the facts will be withheld as secrets, unless disclosure can be forced using great expense and time. For example; at least one American, Susan Lindauer, an anti-war activist and CIA “Asset”, was held for two years in an Air Force jail in Texas without due process. The government attempted to shut her up and to use mind-altering drugs on her. The CIA and NSA agents who had abundant, admissible evidence to free her were forbidden to testify by the President. Don’t think it can’t happen here. It is happening here.
The American government must stop terrorizing and killing innocent civilians with its drones. Enemy or hijacked drones will soon be in American skies too. There is a better and moral way. Transparency in government without delay, and due process is the way. Secrets in government must end.
You can read more details about Anwar al-Awlaki here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anwar_al-Aulaqi and here: http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.4729/pub_detail.asp
I rarely agree with Code Pink, but here is one time: They are writing Senator Feinstein to protest against the drone wars and secrecy: http://codepink.salsalabs.com/o/424/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=7129
Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of The Patriot act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq. by Susan Lindauer.