"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki

Al Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki was apparently assassinated by American drones firing Hellfire missiles somewhere in Yemen today.   I use the word "assassinated" advisedly.   Anwar al-Awlaki was a terrorist, to be sure:  he helped plan multiple attacks on the U.S., including the failed 2009 Christmas bombing, and he inspired the Fort Hood shooting by Nidal Hasan, which resulted in the deaths of 13 people. 

But... he was an American citizen (born in New Mexico), he was in a country with which we are not at war, and there's obviously no evidence that American authorities attempted to apprehend him.   We assassinated him, period.  

Which I guess I'm all right with.   Although we are not at war with al Qaeda, a terrorist organization, not a nation-state, they are at war with us, and so I don't have any problem with trying to disrupt their organization by decapitating their leadership.    I think it sends the right message to the Middle East -- don't mess with the U.S.

On the other hand, I find it very interesting that the same people (liberals like Obama) who won't let us dunk a guy's head under water to get information without otherwise harming him, much less killing him; and who think that terrorists we've detained must have access to the full panoply of legal rights, including jury trials in federal court; nevertheless appear to think targeted extra-judicial assassinations around the world are just peachy.

Just sayin'.  


Oh, and by the way, the whole trope that poverty in the Middle East causes people to be drawn to radical Islam has always been hogwash, but it's particularly hogwash now.    Al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents who were educated; as a child his family moved back to Yemen, where he father served as a professor at Sanaa University and as the agriculture minister.   And al-Awlaki himself studied civil engineering at Colorado State University, education at San Diego State University, and did doctoral work at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., undoubtedly all on scholarships he obtained as a beneficiary of the schools' diversity programs.   This wasn't a poor person angry because he didn't have basic needs.   This was a middle-class or upper-middle-class, educated child of the elite in his country, who simply hated America and the West out of a virulent ideology.

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