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Obama Team’s Al-Awlaki Memo Furthered Bush Legacy

Memo Pad

Obama Team’s Al-Awlaki Memo Furthered Bush Legacy


Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) — Killing terrorists with drones is great politics. To the question, “Is it legal?” a natural answer might well be, “Who cares?”

But the legal justifications in the war on terrorism do matter — and not just to people who care about civil liberties. They end up structuring policy. As it turns out, targeted killing, now the hallmark of the Barack Obama administration’s war on terrorism, has its roots in rejection of the legal justifications once offered for waterboarding prisoners.

The leaking of the basic content (but not the text) of an Obama administration memo authorizing the drone strike that killed U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki therefore calls for serious reflection about where the war on terrorists has been — and where it is headed next.

The George W. Bush administration’s signature anti-terror policy after the Sept. 11 attacks (apart from invading countries) was to capture suspected terrorists, detain them, and question them aggressively in the hopes of gaining actionable intelligence to prevent more attacks.

In the Bush years, after the CIA and other agencies balked at the interrogation techniques being urged by Vice President Dick Cheney, the White House asked the Department of Justice to explain why the most aggressive questioning tactics were legal. Lawyers at the Office of Legal Counsel — especially John Yoo, now a professor at the University of California at Berkeley — produced secret memos arguing that waterboarding wasn’t torture.



  1. Indy 60 October 18, 2011

    If you want to continue to call Al-Awlaki a “US citizen” then he should have died for treason. He promoted the killing of US soldiers and the destruction of America – his own broadcasts confirmed this. Treason during wartime is a death offense. He brought the action upon himself and no sympathy should be given anyone (US citizen or not) who promotes the killing of anyone or the destruction of his “own” country.

    Your article is basically saying it is better for thousands of soldiers to die rather than take the rights of a treasonous US citizen, who left the US and sponsored destruction of the US during wartime. Save your sympathy for the families of military personnel who have give the ultimate sacrifice rather than for a man who has committed treason. (BTW: the same goes for Khan.)

    As for his father, he sounds like one of these parents who thinks his child is right, no matter what they do!

  2. jarhead gene October 18, 2011

    Treason….I agree. Al-Awlaki (U.S. Citizen) refused to acknowledge the rights of other U.S. citizens to their rights, by wanting to kill them ,based on some MORONIC Fatwah set forth by a MURDERER named Osama Bin-Laden. Maybe the “nay” sayers need to stop saying The President is a sympathizer to “his muslim brothers”. About time we realized The President wants what is best for America, even backed off on pro-PLO UN stance. Our Real enemies besides the jihadists are the excessively graft corrupted Congressman and Senators that pander to lobbyists and Big Corporate Greed, at the cost of every typical taxpaying citizen. Vote down the GREEDY SCUM.

  3. US Citizen October 19, 2011

    It’s about time we stand behind the Position of the President!

    All Congressmen/women & Senators need to carry the burden that ALL US Citizens have….start paying for your pensions, health care & go into the Military….NO MORE FREEBEES!

  4. Makaainana October 19, 2011

    Lets see… If a lawyer writes that the moon is made of green cheese and backs it up with good reasoning does that make it true?

    Is the US President and his murder panel the only head of state that is “Legally” allowed to kill people without due process or trial or even an attempt at capture?

    If it is legal to reason that it is smarter or more efficient or cheaper to kill than to capture and try in court, when do the local police get to use that reasoning?

    You do remember FISA and the FISA court that was to be consulted before spying on US citizens was allowed right? Then came the Patriot Act and now even the expanded FISA court is being ignored and we are being spied on. Is this “policy creep” or “A necessity to keep us safe”?

    So are you going to argue that killing US citizens is going to happen only outside of the US and only if the folks are enemies of the state? Remember Ruby Ridge and Waco Texas? About 21 kids were killed in Waco, burned to death. Perhaps the kill is better than the nuisance legal trial stuff is already happening here???

    What if the President calls someone an enemy of the state? (Sounds a lot like the old Soviet Union to me.)

    Come on folks like it or not, like the defendant or not, like his/her politics or religion or philosophy designating the person an enemy and to be killed on sight is not JUSTICE.

    Remember what the statue of Justice looks like? A set of scales and a blindfold?

    AT some point the world will point to the US and start talking about war criminals. You can’t wage legal war on a philosophy, or on those that practice it.

    War is a legally defined state of conflict between NATIONS. Terrorism is a philosophy and those that practice it are terrorists that commit crimes against humanity. They should be caught and tried as criminals in a court of law regardless of what Congress says.

    If the head of another country gets drones and fires them at someone in the US, will we call it murder and a war crime? If it’s a “legal” drone killing?

    What goes around comes around sooner or later.

    What differentiates one mans terrorist and another’s freedom fighter? Sounds like the answer is becoming whose lawyer you want to believe.

    Do you REALLY trust lawyers that much?

  5. senorn2000 October 19, 2011

    I love Obama. I write him political ‘fan mail!’ I’d trust him with my life—as we all do, in a sense. Also, I feel Al Awlaki’s killing was entirely justified. Still, those who are upset about it have a very good point.
    We are supposed to be a nation of laws, with a balance of powers that limits the power of the president. Surely, rational people can’t countenance the idea of one man’s having the absolute power to target an American citizen with a frickin’ missile! It sounds like something out of an Austin Powers movie!
    A fully-informed senate intelligence committee and perhaps a judicial review board, should have to approve each and every such action individually.

  6. rumpunch October 19, 2011

    Expediency and financial savings are mentioned by Mr. Feldman so many times as assumptions, that they almost start sounding like established fact. These guys were killed because they had directly or indirectly been responsible for the deaths of our own. And, the fire at Waco that killed the children was started by David Karash and his adult followers. I’m all for drones that can get these guys on the road rather than in a compound hiding behind civilians (adults & children). Any potentially deadly device can be misused if in the wrong hands whether a designated weapon or something as common as caster beans. President Obama has used our weapons in a way that does not bring shame on our country or our values.


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