00 — Last Friday a US drone strike killed US-born Abdulrahman al-Awlaki in Yemen. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because two weeks before a drone strike killed his US-born father. At the time, the US government said that the son was a twenty-something Al Qaeda fighter. A recently released birth certificate shows he was 16. What follows is a back and forth across two articles that focus on the issue, followed by a third, New York Times article that appeared today and calls this relatively new form of warfare a success.
01 — Glenn Greenwald: Two weeks after the U.S. killed American citizen Anwar Awlaki with a drone strike in Yemen — far from any battlefield and with no due process — it did the same to his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, ending the teenager’s life on Friday along with his 17-year-old cousin and seven other people.
02 — Amy Davidson: Maybe he was just in the wrong place, like the Yemeni seventeen-year-old who reportedly died, too. Abdulrahman’s family said that he had been at a barbecue, and told the Post that they were speaking to the paper to answer reports said that Abdulrahman was a fighter in his twenties. Looking at his birth certificate, one wonders what those assertions say either about the the quality of the government’s evidence—or the honesty of its claims—and about our own capacity for self-deception. Where does the Obama Administration see the limits of its right to kill an American citizen without a trial?
03 — Glenn Greenwald: It is unknown whether the U.S. targeted the teenager or whether he was merely “collateral damage.” The reason that’s unknown is because the Obama administration refuses to tell us. Said the Post: “The officials would not discuss the attack in any detail, including who the target was.” So here we have yet again one of the most consequential acts a government can take — killing one of its own citizens, in this case a teenage boy — and the government refuses even to talk about what it did, why it did it, what its justification is, what evidence it possesses, or what principles it has embraced in general for such actions. Indeed, it refuses even to admit it did this, since it refuses even to admit that it has a drone program at all and that it is engaged in military action in Yemen. It’s just all shrouded in total secrecy.
04 — The New York Times: Another Victory for a New Approach to War
The death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is the latest victory for a new American approach to war: few if any troops on the ground, the heavy use of air power, including drones and, at least in the case of Libya, a reliance on allies…
…[T]he last six months have brought a string of successes. In May, American commandos killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. In August, Tripoli fell, and Colonel Qaddafi fled. In September, an American drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a top Qaeda operative and propagandist, in Yemen.
This is an important victory for the First Amendment, and for the freedom of the press in the United States. Some people don’t seem to understand the connection between the ability of journalists to protect their confidential sources and a free press. But if whistleblowers in government, in corporations, and elsewhere in society can be hounded and persecuted, and if the Justice Department is able to use its power to turn reporters into informants, then investigative journalism in America will surely wither and die. The First Amendment will have lost its meaning.
Email from the New York Times’ James Risen to Salon’s Glenn Greenwald.
On Friday, a judge ruled that Risen would not have to testify about the identity of a source during the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA official.
Sterling was arrested in January and is accused of leaking classified information to Risen.
Glenn Greenwald, Salon. Obama’s whistleblower war suffers two defeats.
The results of a routine hack by members of the group Anonymous has uncovered an insidious plot to undermine and discredit several prominent journalists sympathetic to Wikileaks, according to the contents of leaked emails posted to The Pirate Bay and Anonleaks.ru.
Among the targets listed in the cache of nearly 60,000 emails belonging to the corporate security firm HBGary Federal, were Jennifer 8. Lee formerly of The New York Times, as well as Glenn Greenwald of Salon and James Ball of The Guardian. Lee is seen as a major factor in the spread of the “Collateral Murder” video, in which an American Apache helicopter gunned down a group of Iraqi men, including a Reuters photographer.
According to the contents of one email, apparently sent by HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr, journalist Glenn Greenwald could be made to acquiesce if placed under sufficient pressure. “These are established professionals that have a liberal bent, but ultimately most of them, if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals,” the email said.
For his part, Greenwald responded that the journalists named as possible attack targets might choose legal redress, but it was also alarming how free the security companies felt discussing their plans, with no one raising objections.
A nasty fight is underway that clearly has many levels to sink.