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Anwar al-Awlaki Killed in Yemen

Anwar al-Awlaki, a major al Qaeda leader and American citizen, has been killed in Yemem–almost certainly by an American Predator drone.

BBC (“Islamist cleric Anwar Awlaki ‘killed in Yemen’“):

The US-born radical Islamist cleric and suspected al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed in Yemen, the country’s defence ministry reported. US administration officials confirmed the reports, according to US media.

Awlaki, of Yemeni descent, has been on the run in Yemen since December 2007. The US had named him a “specially designated global terrorist” for his alleged role in a number of attacks and US President Barack Obama is said to have personally ordered his killing.

The defence ministry statement said only that he died “along with some of his companions”. It gave no further details of his death.

But tribal sources told AFP news agency Awlaki was killed in an air strike in the eastern Marib province, said to be an al-Qaeda stronghold. It is not clear whether he was killed by Yemeni forces or a US drone strike.

If it was an air strike, it sure as hell was Yemen that did it. And, as Blake Hounshel points out, the fact that the U.S. government confirmed almost immediately makes it a pretty safe bet it was our op.

BBC security correspondent Gordon Correra says the killing, if confirmed, is significant, because Awlaki is able to reach out to people susceptible to radicalisation through his use of the media.

The reported death comes amid concerns in Washington about the impact of Yemen’s political crisis on its ability to go after al-Qaeda militants.President Ali Abdullah Saleh is facing a widespread protest movement, along with an armed insurrection by renegade army units and tribal fighters.

[…]

Awlaki is described by US officials as a key leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

He has been implicated in the US army base killings in Fort Hood, Texas, the Christmas 2009 Detroit airline bomb attempt, and a failed bombing in New York’s Times Square.

When he was imam of a San Diego mosque in the 1990s, his sermons were attended by two future 9/11 hijackers, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi.

The Guardian (“Al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is dead, says Yemen“) adds:

An al-Qaida leader regarded as the terror group’s most potent threat to western interests has been killed in Yemen, defence officials in the capital, Sana’a, say.

Anwar al-Awlaki, a dual US-Yemeni citizen, is believed to have been killed at 9.55am on Friday morning at a site 90 miles (140 kilometres) east of Sana’a between the provinces of Marib and al-Jawf in what is believed to have been an air strike. He is thought to have been travelling in a two-car convoy, which local tribal officials say was destroyed.

The CIA and the US military have used drones to target al-Qaida officials in Yemen and had placed Awlaki near the top of a hit list. The US president, Barack Obama, authorised a request to target Awlaki in April last year, making him the first US citizen to be a legal target for assassination in the post-9/11 years.

The US embassy in Sana’a declined to comment on the reports of Awlaki’s death, fuelling speculation that the CIA had indeed got its man. Yemeni officials said they were not yet sure who had killed him.

However, they released details of the killing within several hours of it happening, suggesting that Sana’a was either directly involved or well-briefed by the US.

Awlaki is credited with inspiring or directing at least four plots on US soil in recent years – a shooting inside the Fort Hood military base, the failed Times Square bombing, the failed underwear bomber and a parcel bomb hidden inside a printer that also failed to explode while inside a passenger jet.

He is thought to have been the leader of the foreign operations unit inside the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula group, which has in recent years taken centre stage in the global jihad campaign inspired by Osama bin Laden.

Awlaki was born in the US state of New Mexico in 1971 to Yemeni parents who took him back to Yemen after early childhood. He returned to the US in 1991 to attend college. US authorities believe he came into contact with at least two of the 9/11 hijackers while giving sermons at a San Diego mosque.

His fingerprints are also all over failed plots to target British and European interests. The attempted murder of the MP Stephen Timms was inspired by Awlaki’s sermons and a British Airways employee, Rajib Karim, was convicted in February of plotting attacks against the airline.

Questions have been raised and will be again about the propriety and legality of targeting and killing an American citizen. But he’s no more entitled to due process than an American-born German citizen fighting with the SS in World War II would have been.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Jay Tea says:

    OK, I’m confused. Al-Awlaki, an American citizen, doesn’t get an American trial, but Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a Pakistani national, is entitled to one?

    Good riddance, but it raises some very troubling questions…

    J.

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  2. myiq2xu says:

    But he’s no more entitled to due process than an American-born German citizen fighting with the SS in World War II would have been.

    He wasn’t killed on a battle field. He was assassinated.

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  3. Jay Tea says:

    @myiq2xu: Actually, that’s debatable. Missile strike from a drone on to a moving vehicle? I could argue that one either way.

    Bin Laden’s death was much closer to an assassination than this one.

    J.

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  4. Lit3Bolt says:

    Still, let’s not call these killings CIA extrajudicial assassinations…that makes me feel all squirmy inside.

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  5. Jay Tea says:

    @Lit3Bolt: How about “kinetic paramilitary action?”

    J.

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  6. My first reaction was one of rejoicing. But then I had the same doubts about rejoicing someone’s death as I had when Osama bin Laden was killed: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/celebrating-death-of-bin-laden/

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  7. Jay Tea says:

    @Andreas Moser: I got no problems rejoicing when bad things happen to very bad people. I agree with the unwritten legal principle in Texas: “some people just need killing.”

    The troubling part is the fact that an American citizen was killed on the orders of the president without even an attempt to bring him to trial for his crimes. That’s a disturbing precedent.

    J.

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  8. James H says:

    @Jay Tea:

    Khalid was captured by ISI, then turned over to the United States. If somebody is your prisoner (rather than an enemy on the battlefield), you have certain duties. And those duties preclude a summary execution.

    Anwar al-Awalki, it seems to me, maintained his rights as a US citizen, but chose not to assert them. If he really wanted a trial, he could have surrendered to US forces and demanded his trial.

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  9. Dave Schuler says:

    I don’t know, James. I think I find this more troubling than you do. Is there evidence that al-Awlaki was actually involved in operations against us? Or did he just talk about it and encourage others to do so? That sounds like a pretty low bar to me.

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  10. michael reynolds says:

    It’s a “disturbing precedent” for Jay because there’s a (D) after the president’s name. If the President’s name were Palin (R) he’d defend it as a sacred act and evidence of her roguiness and maverickitude.

    The most important fact is that under Obama we have simply been massacring Al Qaeda. Some may recall that long ago Al Qaeda declared war on the US. Finally we are dismantling them, the actual foe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  11. Boyd says:

    @michael reynolds: Glad to see you include the “k” in “maverickitude,” Michael. Most people erroneously leave it out, which annoys me to no end.

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  12. @michael reynolds:

    Anwar al-Awlaki has been charged with no crimes. He was not located in a warzone. Even we accept the accusations made against him, his role was purely propaganda. He attempted on several occasions to access the US court system to dispute the charges and was rebuffed. The government want as far to make the ridiculous argument that he can’t even talk to a lawyer because that would make the lawyer a terrorist as well.

    Whether or not he deserved to die, anyone arguing he should have died this way is imbuing the president with the power to kill anyone who annoys him with no need for justification or oversight.

    That should scare you.

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  13. James H says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    As I understand it, analysts believe he was one of the operational leaders of his local AQ franchise. To my eye, this puts him in the same territory as a US citizen who, as Doug put it, becomes an officer in the German SS: Fair game as a military target.

    Part of the problem here is that we’re not fighting a country. We’re fighting an NGO. A lot of the old rules get blurred.

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  14. James Joyner says:

    @Dave Schuler: Oh, I’m disturbed. I just don’t see what the alternative is but elect good men president and then hold them accountable for their decisions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Jay Tea says:

    @michael reynolds: Kiss my ass, michael. I find it troubling that ANY president would issue a “kill on sight” order on ANY American citizen. But just to run with your little hypothetical, I could name several commenters here who would consider it grounds for impeachment and a war crime had it been done on the orders of a Republican president.

    J.

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  16. anjin-san says:

    I could name several commenters here who would consider it grounds for impeachment and a war crime had it been done on the orders of a Republican president.

    Really? Who? I don’t have a problem with it. AQ declared war on the U.S. Obama is taking them apart. Works for me.

    Funny how all these folks had no moral qualms when Bush started a war that killed God knows how many innocents in Iraq who were no threat to us at all. And it seems like such a short time ago that Republicans were telling us that we had no business questioning the limitless powers of the Unitary Executive in a time of war.

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  17. @michael reynolds:

    If we’re going to get into partisan hypocrisy, how can you explain cheering this and yet condemning Rick Perry’s executions in Texas? At least Perry gave the people he killed a trial and when the execution came it didn’t also kill a building full of people who just happened to be standing near the accused at the wrong time.

    Rick Perry is rightly condemned for his rather glib disregard for the innocents who’ve gotten caught in the gears of the Texas justic system. Obama’s targeted assassination program is orders of magnitude worse.

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  18. @anjin-san:

    It’s not like AQ members come with little stamps on their foreheads so everyone knows which people are in AQ and which aren’t. It’s great to say we need to kill AQ, but in practice that has meant running around killing people nearly at random based on innuendo and intuition. If our experience at Guantanomo is any indication, we get it wrong nearly two thirds of the time.

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  19. anjin-san says:

    @ Stormy

    If you have a better idea, I am all ears. This is a war with a group that attacked our country. Tragically, innocents get killed in war. Drones kill a lot less of them than B-52s do.

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  20. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    The difficulty lies in the fact that the government decided the evidence against al-Awlaki was So Secret and So Sensitive no one could independently review it. As in, a court.

    Our government was probably right in this case, but these assassinations are only possible thanks to shiny red buttons we can press to make robots kill people. It’s an interesting mix of legal, foreign policy, and technology questions, but these questions need to be asked, instead of belched platitudes and bromides Unless you’re comfortable with the all powerful State deciding you must die with no due process..

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  21. Lit3Bolt says:

    @anjin-san:

    Just like our War on White Terrorism we declared after Oklahoma City?

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  22. Jay Tea says:

    @anjin-san: Let me take it a bit further: under the laws of war, it is the obligation of the combatant to keep themselves apart from innocents. And if innocents are killed, by either side, it is the fault of the ones that chose to mingle with the civilians. It’s a solid, pragmatic principle; it takes away some of the incentive to take hostages.

    Oh, and I’ve reconsidered here. I’m no longer happy that Al-Awlaki was killed.

    It turns out that some of the stray body parts from the strike weren’t his, but Samir Khan’s. I’m downright exuberant.

    J.

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  23. @anjin-san:

    This is a war with a group that attacked our country.

    And it shouldn’t be a war. Even if terrorism got extremely bad, say a 9/11 scale attack occuring every month, your chances of dying in a terror attack would still be less than your chance of dying in a car accident.

    If a politician proposed we need a war on bad driving, including empowering the president tolaunch missiles at people rumored to be accident prone, they would rightly be dismissed as a loon. Our response to terrorism has made no more sense.

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  24. Tlaloc says:

    He wasn’t killed on a battle field. He was assassinated.

    Exactly. We’re not at war with AQ. We literally can’t be. They aren’t a nation state. They’re criminals. Criminals get trials. At least they do in a law abiding society. In today’s america however the president can simply order you assassinated in secret with no oversight.

    I’d like you to harken back to the horror stories of the no fly lists, the hundreds if not thousands of instances of mistaken identity. And the worst that happened there was missing a connecting flight.

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  25. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    If we’re going to get into partisan hypocrisy, how can you explain cheering this and yet condemning Rick Perry’s executions in Texas?

    A good and valid question. First, I’m not entirely sanguine about this killing, but I see no practical alternative. He was clearly a terrorist, clearly a member of Al Qaeda, we have no practical way of bringing him to justice, and the alternative — allowing him to continue fomenting violence against us — is unacceptable.

    By contrast, we have an alternative to the death penalty: it’s life in prison.

    I’ve never had an objection on humane grounds to the death penalty. If we could be 100% sure we had the right guy I would withdraw my objection to execution. I rather enjoy it when evil men die.

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  26. michael reynolds says:

    Exactly. We’re not at war with AQ. We literally can’t be. They aren’t a nation state. They’re criminals. Criminals get trials. At least they do in a law abiding society. In today’s america however the president can simply order you assassinated in secret with no oversight.

    I think that’s a legalistic quibble. We can be “at war” with any organization that flies passenger jets into our buildings, whether they are a nation state or not. If we had the option of arresting these people, I would be all for it. We don’t have that option. And throwing up our hands and saying ‘well, I guess we’re just screwed then,’ is not acceptable or tolerable.

    We have a perfect right to attack terrorist organizations that have attacked us and that work ceaselessly to attack us again. We are not the world’s punching bag, and the constitution is not a suicide pact.

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  27. Jay Tea says:

    @Tlaloc: No, they’re not criminals. At least, not in the common definition. Terrorists draw from aspects of both criminals and military, not really enough of one or the other. That’s why we need to fight them on both fronts.

    J.

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  28. @michael reynolds:

    I rather enjoy it when evil men die.

    As do I, but you seem far more sure of your qualifications to decide who belongs in that category than I am. Just as with the Death Penalty, it’s easy to pull out a Timothy McVeigh and go, “This man obviously deserves to die”. But the problem with the Death Penalty isn’t the Timothy McVeigh’s, it’s the Corey Mayes and the Cameron Todd Willinghams.

    Likewise the problem with targetted assassinations isn’t the Osama bin Ladens, it’s the Maher Arars and Khaled Masris. It’s bad enough when Bush was just disappearing and torturing them. Now Obama wants to just kill them so there’s no chance of them becoming an embarrasment later when they get released and reveal the extent of our screwups.

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  29. anjin-san says:

    @ stormy

    Still waiting for a real world alternative to drone attacks as a principal tactic for dealing with AQ.

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  30. @anjin-san:

    The same as the real world alternative to dealing with suspected murderers via lynch mobs.

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  31. Ben Wolf says:

    Despite repeated statements of al-Awlaki’s guilt, the man has never been charged with any crime. Nor has our government seen fit to reveal the evidence it insists proves the man is a terrorist beyond a single video which falls within the man’s constitutional rights; advocating violent resistance to our government is in fact constitutionally protected speech. The word “terrorist” no longer has any meaning beyond “Someone, preferrably a muslim, who needs to be gotten rid of”.

    What his murder effectively means is that if the government doesn’t like you, it has the option of waiting until you leave the country, then accusing you of being a terrorist, then executing you. But I’m sure this power will never be abused as all our politicians, appointees and men in uniform are honorable.

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  32. michael reynolds says:

    @Boyd:
    The question for me was the “i” after the “k.” I had to put some thought into whether that extra syllable should be in there. An excellent way for me to procrastinate on real work.

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  33. To quote from a Globe and Mail interview on the tenth anniversary of 9/11:

    Sonia Verma: What about the relationship between the American government and American Muslims? Of course you’re aware of Maher Arar, who said he was tortured in Syria after being deported there by American authorities.
    Tom Ridge: I’m familiar with his claims. I’m not familiar with how accurate they are. This is a global scourge. It’s really a case of first impression for everybody. [emphasis added] As secretary of homeland security after 9/11, I dare say America was confronted with a set of challenges it had never seen before and we acted with what we thought was in the best interest for securing America. We also looked back at what we did and made some adjustments. I’ll just leave it at that. We can kill bin Laden and eliminate a lot of these other extremists, but that whole belief system is out there. It doesn’t take too many people to buy in to it to cause enormous damage.

    Is the only solution to terrorism really a world where the US reserves the right to arbitrarily kill on the basis of the president’s “first impressions”? If that’s your solution, then you’re really just a more sophisticated version of Pamela Geller.

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  34. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    It’s in the nature of war that innocents are devalued relative to our own civilians. For example, we don’t call in drone strikes to stop bank robbers because we value the possible collateral victims more highly than we would if they were in a foreign country in a war or quasi-war situation.

    I think over even just the last 60+ years we have changed a lot on this, and become much more determined to avoid killing innocents. (Hiroshima being just one easy example of the prevailing approach within living memory.) I think the Predator/Hellfire system is actually evidence of a desire to minimize collateral damage. And I expect that as the technology improves we’ll see fewer innocents killed, and our tolerance will evolve to keep pace.

    But right now we have Al Qaeda — what’s left of it. And there is strong evidence that this man was an AQ recruiter. Would we hold a Nazi recruiter guiltless even if he wasn’t a front-line combattant? Wouldn’t we have been more than justified in raining bombs on Joseph Goebbels? What if Goebbels had US citizenship? Should he have been immune from assassination pending some utterly impossible arrest and trial?

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  35. Moosebreath says:

    “We’re not at war with AQ. We literally can’t be. They aren’t a nation state. They’re criminals. Criminals get trials. At least they do in a law abiding society. In today’s america however the president can simply order you assassinated in secret with no oversight.”

    I entirely agree with Tlaloc. This is abhorrent.

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  36. @michael reynolds:

    It’s in the nature of war that innocents are devalued relative to our own civilians.

    Yes, yes, “it takes balls to execute an innocent man”. I realize most people have absolutely no trouble with all manner of horrible things happening to distant others as long as they know it won’t happen to them. That doesn’t make it moral.

    I think the Predator/Hellfire system is actually evidence of a desire to minimize collateral damage.

    The problem is they have become like police with tasers. Tasering people is certainly preferable to shooting them, but then the police started tasering people left and right without any justification and it became a problem. Likewise surgical drone strikes are certainly preferable to carpet bombing, but we’ve started using them in situations we never would have authorized a bombing.

    To use Dr. Joyner’s SS Officer example, when Adolf Eichmann escaped to Argentina, we never would have dreamed the correct response was to carpet bomb Buenos Aires. So even if drones are better than carpet bombing, that’s an irrelevant comparison for present purposes.

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  37. @Moosebreath:

    If it makes you feel any better, imagine how Michael Reynolds and anjin-san feel about being on the same side as Jay Tea.

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  38. anjin-san says:

    @ stormy

    That is a non answer unless you are proposing we parachute sheriffs into Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somilia with search warrants in hand.

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  39. @anjin-san:

    Yes, because clearly the only two options are no due process at all and do things exactly like we would in an area where we have law enforcement control.

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  40. Jay Tea says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I can’t speak for those worthies, but I think I’m getting hives…

    J.

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  41. anjin-san says:

    @ stormy

    I would love to hear a better option. Still waiting. Something real world please.

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  42. Neo says:

    Was anybody else in the car, who just happened to be a terrorist ?
    Anwar al-Awlaki is collateral damage.

    Warning: Hanging out with known terrorists may be hazardous to your health

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  43. Jay Tea says:

    @Neo: Actually, apparently there was another American Al Qaeda in the car: Samir Khan. So it was a twofer!

    J.

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  44. michael reynolds says:

    Yes, yes, “it takes balls to execute an innocent man”. I realize most people have absolutely no trouble with all manner of horrible things happening to distant others as long as they know it won’t happen to them.

    I hope you don’t mean to include me in that group. I always insist on acknowledging — and ask others to do the same — that when we go to war we kill innocent people, we mutilate children, we create orphans and widows and shatter lives.

    The two sides are not neatly divided into Hate War and Love War. If you had an alternative strategy I would love to hear it. But, as Anjin is pointing out, you don’t. The alternative of leaving Al Qaeda to attack us at will is just not acceptable. To refuse to fight back is to cede control over human affairs to the most ruthlessly brutal members of the species. And demanding law and order where no law or order is possible is just futile and impotent.

    That’s the difference between a Hellfire attack on a terrorist and the death penalty in Texas. In the first instance we have no more acceptable means of dealing with the problem. We simply have to kill those people, and given the limits of current technology that means we will also kill children and old people and wives.

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  45. Tlaloc says:

    I think that’s a legalistic quibble. We can be “at war” with any organization that flies passenger jets into our buildings, whether they are a nation state or not. If we had the option of arresting these people, I would be all for it. We don’t have that option. And throwing up our hands and saying ‘well, I guess we’re just screwed then,’ is not acceptable or tolerable.

    We have a perfect right to attack terrorist organizations that have attacked us and that work ceaselessly to attack us again. We are not the world’s punching bag, and the constitution is not a suicide pact.

    I cannot fully express my utter revulsion at how a not insignificant number of callow people on the left immediately started mimicking the arguments of the right as soon as it was a democrat in office. My contempt for you is absolute.

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  46. Tlaloc says:

    I would love to hear a better option. Still waiting. Something real world please.

    Well since you choose to ignore the option of law enforcement yeah I guess we might as well just kill them all and let god sort them out. Hey why not just nuke the whole region, it’s not like there’s a realistic alternative.

    You’ve spent way too long looking into the abyss when you start countenancing these horrors as not only reasonable but necessary.

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  47. anjin-san says:

    Well since you choose to ignore the option of law enforcement

    Easy to type on a blog, somewhat harder to effect in the real world. What is your plan for arresting terrorists in Yemen and bringing them to the U.S. for trail? How will we subpoena witnesses that are in Yemen? As this point in the discussion, “law enforcement” is a slogan, not a practical plan for dealing with the problem. You don’t like my answer? Guess what, I don’t either.

    Like it on not, and I don’t, the world is a violent place. As a nation state, and as the world’s sole superpower, we are going to engage in military action, and we are going to kill people. That’s reality. What we need to worry about then is how do we best use our power in the most restrained manner that is still effective. Sometimes, we are going to need to act. I grew up a hippie during Vietnam, I think my wishes for peace and justice are pretty strong. But we live in a highly imperfect world.

    Hey why not just nuke the whole region, it’s not like there’s a realistic alternative

    Anyone who has ever read my posts knows I am not one to turn to violence as a first resort, and that I am not a war monger. Do you have anything to say that is not idiotic?

    callow people on the left immediately started mimicking the arguments of the right as soon as it was a democrat in office. My contempt for you is absolute.

    Imagine how little I care. Drones were the least bad solution to a very difficult problem when Bush was President, my position has not change a bit. If simply throwing stones when you have no real solution to offer gets you off, go for it. But some might say it is a bit… callow on your part.

    when Adolf Eichmann escaped to Argentina

    Israel figured out a way to deal with the problem that worked in the real world.

    “We’re not at war with AQ. We literally can’t be. They aren’t a nation state. They’re criminals. Criminals get trials

    You might want to look at a calendar and check what year it is. I know the world I grew up in is gone, along with the assumptions that we made that worked in that time for the most part. The post WW2 world is no more. Things have changed, and as always, the rule of adapt or die is in effect. Sending in the Marines will not solve all our problems, nor will putting the FBI on the case.

    your chances of dying in a terror attack would still be less than your chance of dying in a car accident.

    I am not particularly concerned about my personal safety, the odds of being killed by a terrorist attack are low indeed, and I am a middle aged guy who has done pretty much everything that I really had to do in life already. Not that I am not hoping for 20 or 30 more years of causing trouble :)

    I think its important to keep in mind that the damage 9.11 has done to our country goes beyond the lives lost by orders of magnitude, and that our civilization rests on pillars that are not nearly as solid as we might wish them to be. If terrorists could figure out how to cause massive disruptions of interstate trucking, we would have people killing each other for food before too much time went by.

    We are in a war with these people, 21st century style. War really is hell, and we all have blood on our hands, regardless of if we admit it or not.

    Tell me Taloc, living in this country, with its amazing standard of living, with a small percentage of the world’s population using a large percentage of its resources, do you really imagine your hands are clean? Grow up.

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  48. michael reynolds says:

    @Tlaloc:
    I’m not mimicking anyone, right or left. I supported the invasion of Afghanistan and, with some quibbles (and later regrets) the move into Iraq as well. Liberal is not a synonym for pacifist.

    I’m sure you’re aware that Obama made an increase in attacks on AQ part of his campaign for election. He ran on it, and I supported him in it.

    Just because I’m pro-choice, pro-gay, favor a progressive tax system and universal health care, that does not interfere with my desire to see terrorists blown to hell. Feel free to hold me in contempt, but get your facts straight: I’m mimicking no one.

    Now let’s address this non-sequitur:

    Well since you choose to ignore the option of law enforcement yeah I guess we might as well just kill them all and let god sort them out. Hey why not just nuke the whole region, it’s not like there’s a realistic alternative.

    There exists no law enforcement alternative. I don’t believe the FBI or even the CHP have a lot of influence in the hinterlands of Yemen or Pakistan. So that’s drivel. Pap. Meaningless.

    As for why we don’t “nuke” the region, well, that would be because we can do the job with a single missile. And if you are unable to see the difference between carefully targeting one evil man while trying to minimize civilian casualties on the one hand, and slaughtering millions on the other, well, dude, you’re not really in a position to deliver moral lectures, are you?

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  49. Tlaloc says:

    Easy to type on a blog, somewhat harder to effect in the real world. What is your plan for arresting terrorists in Yemen and bringing them to the U.S. for trail? How will we subpoena witnesses that are in Yemen? As this point in the discussion, “law enforcement” is a slogan, not a practical plan for dealing with the problem. You don’t like my answer? Guess what, I don’t either.

    Gosh if only there were some international organization tasked with arresting criminals who flee the original jurisdiction. Oh…wait…

    There’s nothing more difficult about dealing with terrorists than dealing with organized crime, narco-traffickers, or any number of other groups that tend to have the money to afford ordinance. It’s exactly the same thing. Just because we messed outr drawers over 9/11 doesn’t give us a free pass to kill people we suspect of being terrorists- and until you have a trial it is nothing but a suspicion. We’ve gotten it wrong way too many times to pretend otherwise.

    Like it on not, and I don’t, the world is a violent place. As a nation state, and as the world’s sole superpower, we are going to engage in military action, and we are going to kill people. That’s reality.

    So we should just shrug our shoulders at each new atrocity and say “well, that’s life.” Lovely. And people wonder how these things get so badly out of hand.

    Anyone who has ever read my posts knows I am not one to turn to violence as a first resort, and that I am not a war monger. Do you have anything to say that is not idiotic?

    We murdered a man who was no threat to us. Actually we don’t even know for sure we did get the guy we were aiming for much less that he was ever a terrorist. We did this in a secret raid with no oversight. There were no checks or balances to make sure we were pulling the trigger on who we thought we were. And we’ve pulled the trigger on the wrong people many times before.

    And you cheer this.

    Tell me again how you’re not a warmonger.

    Imagine how little I care. Drones were the least bad solution to a very difficult problem when Bush was President, my position has not change a bit.

    Then at least I have to admit you’ve consistently been reprehensible. Any assertions that you might once have been on the right side are hereby withdrawn with apologies.

    You might want to look at a calendar and check what year it is. I know the world I grew up in is gone, along with the assumptions that we made that worked in that time for the most part. The post WW2 world is no more. Things have changed, and as always, the rule of adapt or die is in effect. Sending in the Marines will not solve all our problems, nor will putting the FBI on the case.

    But of course randomly blowing people up in a foreign country is a sure way to solve the issue of them hating us. Do you idiots ever even consider learning something from history? Was it so much fun you just have to repeat it like a four year old screaming “Again! Again!”?

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  50. Tlaloc says:

    There exists no law enforcement alternative. I don’t believe the FBI or even the CHP have a lot of influence in the hinterlands of Yemen or Pakistan. So that’s drivel. Pap. Meaningless.

    What’s drivel is you ignoring the one law enforcement agency that does definitively have jurisdiction- Interpol. If they need military support to do their job, then fine, by all means support them. But the job is criminal investigation because terrorism is a crime.

    As for why we don’t “nuke” the region, well, that would be because we can do the job with a single missile. And if you are unable to see the difference between carefully targeting one evil man while trying to minimize civilian casualties on the one hand, and slaughtering millions on the other, well, dude, you’re not really in a position to deliver moral lectures, are you?

    Except if you’ve paid attention it’s never “carefully targeting” one man. It’s often not even targeting the right man. How many wedding parties have we blown up now? Three? Four? To pretend we are able to carefully target anything under these circumstances is nothing more than deliberately turning a blind eye to the horrendous innocent casualties.

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  51. anjin-san says:

    And you cheer this.

    Hey asswipe, kindly show me where I am “cheering” about the deaths of other human beings. Put up or shut up.

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  52. michael reynolds says:

    @Tlaloc:

    Interpol? Ah hah hah hah hah. Interpol, with a budget of 59 million Euros which is to say: nothing. Interpol couldn’t take down the Girl Scouts.

    You realize after that you have zero credibility, right? Interpol is an international joke. You might as well invoke the Justice League or the Super Friends. Let’s talk foreign policy when you actually know something.

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  53. anjin-san says:

    What’s drivel is you ignoring the one law enforcement agency that does definitively have jurisdiction- Interpol. If they need military support to do their job, then fine

    Did you follow your own link? Here are some of the items in the wikipedia article:

    In order to maintain as politically neutral a role as possible, Interpol’s constitution forbids it to undertake any interventions or activities of a political, military, religious, or racial nature

    Interpol differs from most law-enforcement agencies—agents do not make arrests themselves

    The agency functions as an administrative liaison between the law-enforcement agencies of the member countries, providing communications and database assistance.

    In the event of an international disaster, terrorist attack or assassination, Interpol can send an incident response team. This team can offer a range of expertise and database access to assist with victim identification, suspect identification and the dissemination of information to other nations’ law enforcement agencies. In addition, at the request of local authorities, they can act as a central command and logistics operation to coordinate other law enforcement agencies involved in a case

    A look at Interpol’s tells us:

    http://www.interpol.int/About-INTERPOL/Overview

    Our role is to enable police around the world to work together to make the world a safer place

    We work to ensure that police around the world have access to the tools and services necessary to do their jobs effectively. We provide targeted training, expert investigative support, relevant data and secure communications channels.

    Action is taken within the limits of existing laws in different countries

    The vision:
    “Connecting police for a safer world”.
    The mission:
    “Preventing and fighting crime through enhanced international police co-operation”

    Let’s review. Interpol is prohibited by it’s own constitution from being involved with military action. They are constrained by the law’s of the countries they operate in, which leads one to think that if Yemen, Pakistan or whoever said “Hey Interpol, back off” Interpol would comply. Interpol has no jurisdiction, and they do not come swooping down with the 101st Airborne to arrest terrorists.

    Why don’t you come back when you have a tiny clue about what you are talking about? Ignorance is just as bad coming from the left as it is from the right.

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  54. anjin-san says:

    @ michael reynolds

    Well, your Tlaloc smackdown was 1/4 as long as mine and three times as good. Guess thats why you write bestsellers and I write press releases :)

    Bringing in the Super Friends? Good call… Maybe we can get Streaky the Super Cat too.

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  55. Tlaloc says:

    Hey asswipe, kindly show me where I am “cheering” about the deaths of other human beings. Put up or shut up.

    Yeah it’d be impossible to take your “this is war, gosh it’s just too bad we had to kill innocents” as cheerleading. I suppose apologist is really more accurate. But really either make you a douche bag so why are you quibbling?

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  56. Tlaloc says:

    Interpol? Ah hah hah hah hah. Interpol, with a budget of 59 million Euros which is to say: nothing. Interpol couldn’t take down the Girl Scouts.

    Okay if you say so. Actually wait, no I think I’ll go with facts. The fact is Interpol works to foster cooperation between various law enforcement agencies. Beyond which I already said that if they need help by all means support them with military units through the UN.

    You realize after that you have zero credibility, right? Interpol is an international joke. You might as well invoke the Justice League or the Super Friends. Let’s talk foreign policy when you actually know something.

    *shrug*
    well frankly I don’t really lose sleep if I don’t have cred among the warcrimes apologists and cheering squad. Actually let me go further, I’d really rather not be held in high esteem by people like you.

    And I use the term “people” very loosely.

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  57. Tlaloc says:

    Let’s review. Interpol is prohibited by it’s own constitution from being involved with military action. They are constrained by the law’s of the countries they operate in, which leads one to think that if Yemen, Pakistan or whoever said “Hey Interpol, back off” Interpol would comply. Interpol has no jurisdiction, and they do not come swooping down with the 101st Airborne to arrest terrorists.

    they wouldn’t be involved in a military action even if they were assisted by military units so your first point is null. They do have to work with the country’s law enforcement unless the UN steps in and says that the country is effectively lawless and unable to maintain order. More to the point though any country that refused to work with Interpol would paint themselves as harboring terrorists. Yemen’s not on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, you think they want to be?

    I’m amused that you dispute interpols jurisdiction as a way of justifying an illegal incursion and assassination on foreign soil. Where exactly is the jurisdiction for that coming from?

    Why don’t you come back when you have a tiny clue about what you are talking about? Ignorance is just as bad coming from the left as it is from the right.

    Okay you have a huge boner for war, it’s pulling the blood from your brain exactly like it did to the right. You think what you are saying is a rational argument which makes you not just a war crimes cheerleader but a delusional ass. Try to fight through the haze of “America F*ck Yeah” that you’ve been spewing and see what a tool you’ve become.

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  58. anjin-san says:

    “this is war, gosh it’s just too bad we had to kill innocents”

    “America F*ck Yeah”

    Well, since I did not say that, I guess you are down to simply lying. It’s where the slow kids here generally end up.

    At any rate, the interpol thing and your general commentary has showed you to be simply too stupid to spend any more time on. You are pretty much a lefty doppelganger of bithead. Run along now.

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  59. michael reynolds says:

    @Tlaloc:
    I’m going to guess you’re young. That’s no crime, and I’m pretty sure when I was young I went around denouncing people without knowing what the hell I was talking about, too. I imagine Anjin did the same — although he’s younger than me.

    The thing to do when you get schooled is to appreciate the moment. That’s what’s cool about threads like this: it’s a free education. I don’t want to speak for Anjin but I suspect he’d agree — despite your denunciations — that we really wish to f–k the world was the way you think it is. That you think either of us enjoys the fact that the world is this way I’ll attribute to youth and inexperience.

    It’s good to be passionate. It’s not good to be an intolerant prig. I’m not suggesting you should defer to weary old men — I never did — but that’s no excuse for you to be as big an asshole as I was. There is some knowledge and some wisdom stored in the hard drives that are the brains of your elders.

    Here’s my summary of the last 57 years: it’s more complicated than you think.

    In any case, for my part, no harm no foul. Whatever you think of me in the heat of this particular moment, I’d rather we not be foes, and meet again in another thread as potential allies.

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  60. Lit3Bolt says:

    My question to Michael and anjin-san is what did we do to keep ourselves safe before Predator drones? We must have been unsafe for centuries before then. Good thing we’re not fighting a war in a desert and mountains and not in a forest or jungle, otherwise we’d have to go back to napalming.

    The alternative of leaving Al Qaeda to attack us at will is just not acceptable. To refuse to fight back is to cede control over human affairs to the most ruthlessly brutal members of the species. And demanding law and order where no law or order is possible is just futile and impotent.

    Wait, this really is an existential struggle? And I’ve been shopping all this time?! Why didn’t you tell me?!

    It seems to me that the so called foreign policy experts are leading the charge in bromides and chortles and not so much in asking the hard questions. Unless you’re truly so jaded and cynical now that “might makes right” and Empire America is the true reality, and anyone who believes otherwise is a naif. That’s the sense I’m getting.

    I’d imagine you guys would support the execution of everyone in Bagram and Guantanamo because, well, they’re evil and evil people absolutely need to die because the government said they’re evil. That is after we’re done extracting useful information from them, of course.

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  61. Neo says:

    t’s really amazing that nobody got it.
    This is what you get when you decide that the most important priority is the closing of the prison at Gitmo. It follows that you really don’t want any “high value” prisoners entering the facility (and Congress has already forbid them being transferred to the US), so the only reasonable alternative is to gun them out, without mercy.
    Shoot, Eric Holder was out in just the last couple of weeks reemphasizing that Gitmo will close. It’s almost as though they were saying “merciless deaths ahead.”

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  62. michael reynolds says:

    @Lit3Bolt:
    Did you say something worth responding to? Or were you just composing text to stick on a protest sign?

    Try again. Plain English this time. The sarcasm is tiresome. I have teenagers and honestly I get plenty from them.

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  63. michael reynolds says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    Actually, I will answer this:

    My question to Michael and anjin-san is what did we do to keep ourselves safe before Predator drones?

    Here’s what we did: we threatened to launch thousands of nuclear warheads against the USSR and its allies in retaliation for what we expected would be an identical launch from them. We threatened to obliterate the entire human race in a war that would dwarf all previous wars combined.

    Prior to that for, oh, let’s say all of human history, we fought huge wars.

    Now we blow up six guys in Yemen.

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  64. anjin-san says:

    what did we do to keep ourselves safe before Predator drones?

    Well, during WW2 we slaughtered Germans and Japanese, in vast numbers and without mercy. We slaughtered them wholesale, systematically and without remorse until the survivors said “we will do anything you say, anything at all, if you stop killing us”. It was not that long ago, during my parents lifetimes. Much as the current situation sucks, it is an improvement. A pretty large one actually.

    We must have been unsafe for centuries before then

    Up until the mid 20th century, geography was very, very kind to us. Oceans and weak neighbors kept us safe. Does not work with modern technology.

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  65. anjin-san says:

    I’m going to guess you’re young.

    That was my thought too, and I am going to endorse your remarks towards Tlaloc, which a a bit more thoughtful than mine.

    Being called a war cheerleader got under my skin, I remember Vietnam too well and know too many guys who have actually been in combat and have told me a little about what it really is. I have a buddy who’s dad was on the Hornet during the kamakazi attacks, 65 odd years ago. He still wakes up screaming.

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  66. anjin-san says:

    I’d imagine you guys would support the execution of everyone in Bagram and Guantanamo because, well, they’re evil and evil people absolutely need to die because the government said they’re evil.

    Well, I suppose you have never read anything either one of us has says, or possibly you are just young and self-righteous. There seems to be a lot of that going around. As I said earlier, this kind on nonsense is just as tiresome coming from the left as it is when it comes from Jan or Jay Tea.

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  67. Lit3Bolt says:

    @michael reynolds: @anjin-san:

    Jesus, I make one post and get the full throttle “old man routine.” Being extra condescending must make everyone want to listen to your wisdom, I suppose.

    Ok here’s my questions:

    Is there anything objectionable to the killing of al-Awlaki in your mind?
    Do believe that al-Qaeda is an existential threat to the United States? If so, when may we cease playing whack-a-mole with missiles and declare victory?
    Are you truly so cynical that you only positions are War is Hell and Might Makes Right and civilization and laws are mere myths and illusions? Because you fail to actually come out and say it.
    Do you uncritically agree with the government on all issues relating to terrorism?
    Do you agree that the evidence against al-Awlaki is so secret that everyone must be shielded from it, less the horror of the true efforts of our national security be laid bare?

    But please, no more Jack Nicholson routines from “A Few Good Men.”

    Well, I suppose you have never read anything either one of us has says, or possibly you are just young and self-righteous.

    Dude, do you just get off of typing bullshit like that? I realize that this thread has made you grumpy, but try to chill a little bit.

    As I said earlier, the US probably did right in this case. Like, 99% sure. But the furtive State Secrecy about the evidence that condemned al-Awlaki probably hampers more than helps, I would argue. There’s more I want to discuss and elaborate on, but maybe we can do that in another thread.

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  68. michael reynolds says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    I realize that this thread has made you grumpy, but try to chill a little bit.

    Yep. Something about being told we’re contemptible, war criminals, etc… Sometimes that annoys people.

    As for the old man routine, if you don’t like the answers don’t ask the questions. Anjin and I both grew up in a time where we routinely expected to wake up to sirens going off and the knowledge that ICBMs were on the way. So forgive us if we don’t fall over dead from the sheer outrage of popping a single missile at some asshole in Yemen.

    Is there anything objectionable to the killing of al-Awlaki in your mind?

    Yes, it’s troubling.

    Do believe that al-Qaeda is an existential threat to the United States?

    Not to the existence of the US but to a moderate and reasonable lifestyle, yes. Which is why I’m only supporting reasonable responses — such as targeted killings — as opposed to Tlaloc’s suggestion that we blow up the world.

    If so, when may we cease playing whack-a-mole with missiles and declare victory?

    If it’s whack-a-mole, which presupposes an endless supply of bad guys, then victory is impossible, right? Likewise if what it really is is a criminal matter. So you’re in conflict with yourself on this.

    Actually, I think we are now doing very well against AQ. But we aren’t done yet. We’ll know when we are.

    Are you truly so cynical that you only positions are War is Hell and Might Makes Right and civilization and laws are mere myths and illusions? Because you fail to actually come out and say it.

    Are you truly so indifferent to evidence you think that’s what either of us said? There is no international law that can currently be enforced in failed states like Yemen. That’s not exactly controversial. Making that simple factual observation does not leave Might Makes Right as the only counterpoint. You’re posing a false choice, a particularly odd one since absolutely no one who knows anything at all about foreign policy believes there is a law or set of laws that can be enforced inside Yemen, Pakistan, etc…

    Do you uncritically agree with the government on all issues relating to terrorism?

    Yes, because I’m a fu–ing idiot and only very, very, exra smart people like you have the wisdom to question authority. The rest of us are mere sheep. Let’s indulge in a bit of history: so far, lived through the Vietnam era, the Cold War era, and the George W. Bush administration and yet I emerged so devoid of critical thinking that I wait here passively for you and Tlaloc to teach me lessons in skepticism. Thanks.

    Do you agree that the evidence against al-Awlaki is so secret that everyone must be shielded from it, less the horror of the true efforts of our national security be laid bare?

    I can’t even guess what that’s supposed to mean in a real world context. The “evidence” is well-known. He was an AQ recruiter. He was an AQ member.

    I have written more than once on the topic of a world government. I think it’s a goal we should begin to pursue. But right now we are nowhere near it. When we have a system of laws that can be enforced worldwide we’ll have other options. In a really perfect world we might me there in 50 years. Right now? No.

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  69. jpe says:

    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a Pakistani national, is entitled to one?

    Anyone successfully captured needs to get some sort of trial. We could’ve killed KSM on the battlefield if we were unable to capture him w/o subjecting our troops to needless risk. Having captured him, he’s required by our GC obligations to get some sort of trial.

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  70. anjin-san says:

    Is there anything objectionable to the killing of al-Awlaki in your mind?

    I object to killing anything, including spiders and snails. I object to the killing of American citizens, and I object to the killing of peasants in places we have never heard of.

    I can object to the death of enemy of our country and find it necessary at the same time. It’s not a well defined black and white issue. There are necessary evils in the world.

    extra condescending

    You kind of opened that door with statements like this:

    We must have been unsafe for centuries before then

    Don’t complain because something came through it. If you want to be a wise ass, make sure you have some game to back it up.

    Do you uncritically agree with the government on all issues relating to terrorism

    No.

    Might Makes Right

    Perhaps you could show where I said this, or even inferred it.

    Do believe that al-Qaeda is an existential threat to the United States?

    In a physical sense, no. In a political sense, in a spiritual or moral sense? Perhaps. Millions of Americans now think torture is a fine and necessary thing. The list of negative consequences within our society since 9.11 is a very long one. I would like to keep it from becoming even longer. I would also like to prevent 9.11, act II. I don’t want to live in a fortress/bunker society, and I don’t think any other rational person does.

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  71. anjin-san says:

    Saying things like this:

    I’d imagine you guys would support the execution of everyone in Bagram and Guantanamo because, well, they’re evil and evil people absolutely need to die because the government said they’re evil. That is after we’re done extracting useful information from them, of course

    Sort of disqualifies you from being taken seriously when you say this:

    Dude, do you just get off of typing bullshit like that?

    I support an action you feel 99% certain was the correct one. How exactly does that parse into my support for wholesale executions by carried out at the government’s whim?

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  72. Lit3Bolt says:

    @anjin-san:

    Ok, not worth talking to you. Ever. Because you’re old, your sarcasm is holy, woo. Clearly you have never played the dozens.

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  73. Lit3Bolt says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So the killing is troubling? Why? You never said.

    So because Yemen is a failed state and a lawless region, that precludes any physical raid? That seems to be your implicit conclusion.

    By the way, both of you have failed to acknowledge the imperial presidency that grows ever more powerful behind you, about which your precious past says very little good about. But he’ll always use it on evil people, right?

    Don’t refuse to define your positions like it’s some horrible inconvenience, by the way. You seem to type snark and insults back at me readily enough. Sorry for asking questions that fed your egos, it clearly was a burden to you.

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  74. anjin-san says:

    your sarcasm is holy

    No, just a bit more cutting than yours. Well, a lot more actually. You should not throw down unless you are ready to rock & roll :)

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