After months of speculation, the U.S military has killed an American-born cleric in what is probably the clearest indication that the U.S Constitution has been set aside for another (ever-evolving) piece of paper called the Authorized Use of Military Force (AUMF). Now the military has truly become judge, jury and executioner, with the full blessing of the White House and the other branches of government behind it.
According to the most recent reports, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico, and has preached in American mosques and was allegedly a spiritual inspiration to the Fort Hood Shooter and the unsuccessful Underwear Bomber, was killed in a U.S-led airstrike in Yemen. Story here:
The U.S government has spent the last year trying to convince us that it was legal to target an American citizen for termination because he was a “terrorist” and “key al Qaeda leader,” though it never bothered to give us the evidence because of course, any intelligence it had on Awlaki was “classified” and we just had to take their word for it. Plenty of smart people are pointing out today that Awlaki was hardly a significant operational threat, much less the new Osama bin Laden — though the White House was trying so hard to make him OBL’s replacement.
So now the U.S government has gone from blowing up from the sky any foreigner it deems a threat to national security (and anyone unlucky to be next to him at the time), to picking off American citizens with the same impunity. A foreboding moment, seeing that Awlaki’s assassination comes the same month we’re told the military is working on pilotless, automatic killer drones, and amid growing reports that American police and border patrol agents are routinely using surveillance drones for law enforcement here in the United States. Scarier still, is that by public accounts, Awlaki was targeted for what he said, not what he did. He was an extremist and a propagandist in a war that has been just as much about moving hearts and minds as it has about tearing into flesh and imprisoning the enemy. Crazy people might have listened to him and acted on their own impulses — much like Anders Behring Breivik liked to listen to American Islamophobe propagandists Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller before he went out and killed 76 people in Norway — but we have yet to hear any evidence that he picked up a gun or planted an IED or even plotted a successful attack against the United States. Judge, jury and executioner — it doesn’t matter much to Awlaki now, but we deserve to hear the proof.
Good thing for Geller and Spencer the Norwegians don’t have their own AUMF. Sadly, our AUMF has taken on a life of its own, and will unlikely be stopped before turning its voracious sights right back home.