White House approves assassination of cleric linked to Christmas bomb plot

Using the Authorization of Use of Military Force passed in 2001, as well as ongoing Executive Orders renewing a declaration of a State of Emergency, the Executive Branches of both the Bush and Obama administrations have continued to escalate violations of Constitutional principles, domestic and international laws. Now targeted “enemies” will be assassinated based on suspicion without evidence or trial with official and public sanction. President Ford’s Executive Order, motivated by the revelations of the Church Committee that the U.S. government was plotting to assassinate foreign and domestic “enemies”, still included an exemption from the ban based on “issue of national security”. Congress can and should reverse or modify both the authorization of use of military force and review the declaration of emergency every six months as legally mandated. Every excess since 9/11 in terms of civil liberties, militarization of justice and violations of treaty and international law has used these authorities as sanction and permission, despite no specific statements in either one authorizing any such actions. Sadly, we are still back in 2001, when Bush said he liked the law of the Old West and the posters that depicted targeted criminal suspects as “Wanted Dead or Alive”, or as the Red Queen said in Alice in Wonderland, “Sentence first, then the evidence” John Judge

White House approves assassination of cleric linked to Christmas bomb plot

Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki placed on hit list in unprecedented move backed by Congress

Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni cleric said to have met the Nigerian accused of the The Obama administration has taken the rare step of authorising the killing of a US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric linked to the attempt to blow up a US airliner on Christmas Day.

The decision to place Awlaki on a US hit list followed a national security council review because of his status as an American citizen.

“Awlaki is a proven threat,” a US official told Reuters. “He’s being targeted.”

Born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, Awlaki has been accused of encouraging terrorism in his sermons and writings. He is believed to be in hiding in Yemen’s rugged

Shabwa or Mareb regions, an area that has become a haven for jihadis. He has been linked to Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in November, and to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for “targeted killing”, officials told the New York Times. A former senior legal official in the Bush administration said he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president.

The decision to place Awlaki on a hit list took place this year, the paper said, as US counterterrorism officials judged he had moved beyond inciting attacks against the US – he has a large following among English-speaking Muslims – to participating in them. “The danger Awlaki poses to this country is no longer confined to words,” an official told the New York Times. “He’s gotten involved in plots.”

The policy of targeted killings is controversial. President Gerald Ford issued an executive order banning political assassinations in 1976. However, Congress approved the use of military force against al-Qaida after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. People on the target list are considered to be military enemies of the US and therefore not subject to the ban on political assassination.

In February, the director of national intelligence, Dennis Blairan, alarmed civil liberties groups when he told Congress that the US may, with executive approval, deliberately target and kill US citizens suspected of being involved in terrorism.

Under Obama’s watch, the US has stepped up attacks on al-Qaida figures around the world from Somalia to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border through the use of Predator drones or other aircraft. The Pakistani government tacitly permits CIA-operated unmanned aircraft to target terrorist sites and militants up to 50 miles inside the country,  and there have been reports of helicopter-borne raids into Pakistani territory.

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