Has the U.S. Targeted Cleric al-Awlaki for Assassination?
First we had the congressional hearing at which Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair gave details of information Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (aka Private Underpants) has given to the FBI during debriefing sessions. He also explained that it's acceptable policy for the U.S. to target Americans overseas for assassination.
Now we have more law enforcement leaks about Abdulmutallab's debriefings: He's ratted out cleric (and American citizen) Anwar al-Awlaki. Not that al-Awlaki knew about his Christmas Day attack, just that he was his "teacher" and they had met and communicated, something al-Awlaki also acknowledges. [More...]
A senior U.S. intelligence official said Mr al-Awlaki represented the biggest name on the list of people Mr Abdulmutallab might have information against. His information could provide fresh clues for forces attempting to kill or capture him in the remote mountains of Yemen.
Weeks ago, the U.S. was negotiating with the tribes in Yemen, where al-Awlaki is believed to be hiding out, to turn him in. That hasn't happened. What next? Seems to me our officials staged these public leaks to let al-Alwaki know if he doesn't surrender, he's on our hit list.
If true, it means the lofty, principled United States has put out a contract on al-Awlaki, who has not been charged with a crime, who insists his role is inspirational not operational and that he had no knowledge of either the Ft. Hood killings or Abdulmutallab's Christmas Day attack. Yes, he's a recruiter for Jihadists, and a very successful one. He's associated with AQAP. Does that make it okay to give orders to kill him on sight? Sure seems that's the message.
Have we really moved from torture to outright murder of people we regard as suspects, before we even charge them with a crime? How abysmal, first for the victims killed by such a policy, but especially for us as a nation supposedly dedicated to freedom, due process and the rule of law.
Just the other day I was praising some of the lines in Obama's SOTU address, particularly this one: "America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity." Guess it was just a soundbite after all.
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