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.