Obama has not delivered on May’s promise on transparency on drone strikesAugust 18, 2013
The media estimate that more than  37 people have died in a series of strikes in Yemen. The US government has refused to officially acknowledge the strikes surge or  reports of potentially unlawful deaths – just as it did, for years, refuse to confirm reports of the more than 300 drone strikes in Pakistan. On drones, secrecy is business as usual – and it carries on.
Earlier this summer, however, there was hope for a different way forward. In late May, the White House released more information about US drone strikes than it ever had before. Following a  major address on national security by President Obama, the government pledged to keep sharing “as much information as possible”.
In fact, since May, the White House has not officially released any new information on drone strikes (though leaks still abound). While NSA surveillance has taken center-stage, the government’s policy of secrecy and obfuscation on drones persists, too. Past critics of the drone program – ranging from Senator Rand Paul (Republican, Kentucky) to Senator Ron Wyden (Democrat, Oregon) – should take notice. It is time to renew and expand the demand for answers about who is being killed.
Instead of acknowledging the new strikes and describing a coherent policy and legal approach, the government has again chosen to selectively disclose information that raises more questions than it answers. Thus, an unattributed leak to the  New York Times on Monday served up a major policy change in the form of a morsel, with little elaboration, that a recent terrorist threat has “expanded the scope of people we could go after”.
So, the question of whom the  United States believes it can kill in drone strikes remains, as it ever was, full of unknowns. A handful of bullet-points on the government’s  "policy standards" for using lethal force, which the White House released in May concurrently with the president’s national security speech, initially appeared to provide some guidance. But it expressly does not apply in “extraordinary circumstances”, and since the embassy closures of earlier this month could be interpreted as providing such justification, the memorandum may not be relevant to the latest spate of strikes in Yemen.
The White House could clarify this issue; better yet, it could move beyond conveniently malleable policy standards and describe how the government applies existing international law. Instead, the White House has again chosen to operate secretly and under rules of its own creation, which may permit killing individuals under a concept of “imminence” (of threat) that departs radically from all conventional interpretations of the law.
Even more damning is that, in the absence of any commitment to investigating credible allegations of unlawful deaths, the United States appears indifferent to the question of who is actually dying in drone strikes. President Obama admitted in May that four US citizens had been killed, three of whom – including 16-year-old Abdulrahman Aal-Awlaki – he admitted were not intended targets. But the president did not define the identities of the more than 4,000 other people killed, or specifically address reports that a significant number of the dead – in assessments varying between 400 and nearly 1,000, according to the  Bureau of Investigative Journalism – were civilians.
When the president acknowledges four deaths of US citizens, but not 4,000 deaths of non-Americans, he signals to the world a callous and discriminatory disregard for human life. Perhaps only a fraction of these 4,000 deaths were unlawful. But acknowledging and investigating these deaths is a matter of dignity and justice – for the survivors of strikes, their communities and their countrymen.
Full article

Obama has not delivered on May’s promise on transparency on drone strikes
August 18, 2013

The media estimate that more than  37 people have died in a series of strikes in Yemen. The US government has refused to officially acknowledge the strikes surge or  reports of potentially unlawful deaths – just as it did, for years, refuse to confirm reports of the more than 300 drone strikes in Pakistan. On drones, secrecy is business as usual – and it carries on.

Earlier this summer, however, there was hope for a different way forward. In late May, the White House released more information about US drone strikes than it ever had before. Following a  major address on national security by President Obama, the government pledged to keep sharing “as much information as possible”.

In fact, since May, the White House has not officially released any new information on drone strikes (though leaks still abound). While NSA surveillance has taken center-stage, the government’s policy of secrecy and obfuscation on drones persists, too. Past critics of the drone program – ranging from Senator Rand Paul (Republican, Kentucky) to Senator Ron Wyden (Democrat, Oregon) – should take notice. It is time to renew and expand the demand for answers about who is being killed.

Instead of acknowledging the new strikes and describing a coherent policy and legal approach, the government has again chosen to selectively disclose information that raises more questions than it answers. Thus, an unattributed leak to the  New York Times on Monday served up a major policy change in the form of a morsel, with little elaboration, that a recent terrorist threat has “expanded the scope of people we could go after”.

So, the question of whom the  United States believes it can kill in drone strikes remains, as it ever was, full of unknowns. A handful of bullet-points on the government’s  "policy standards" for using lethal force, which the White House released in May concurrently with the president’s national security speech, initially appeared to provide some guidance. But it expressly does not apply in “extraordinary circumstances”, and since the embassy closures of earlier this month could be interpreted as providing such justification, the memorandum may not be relevant to the latest spate of strikes in Yemen.

The White House could clarify this issue; better yet, it could move beyond conveniently malleable policy standards and describe how the government applies existing international law. Instead, the White House has again chosen to operate secretly and under rules of its own creation, which may permit killing individuals under a concept of “imminence” (of threat) that departs radically from all conventional interpretations of the law.

Even more damning is that, in the absence of any commitment to investigating credible allegations of unlawful deaths, the United States appears indifferent to the question of who is actually dying in drone strikes. President Obama admitted in May that four US citizens had been killed, three of whom – including 16-year-old Abdulrahman Aal-Awlaki – he admitted were not intended targets. But the president did not define the identities of the more than 4,000 other people killed, or specifically address reports that a significant number of the dead – in assessments varying between 400 and nearly 1,000, according to the  Bureau of Investigative Journalism – were civilians.

When the president acknowledges four deaths of US citizens, but not 4,000 deaths of non-Americans, he signals to the world a callous and discriminatory disregard for human life. Perhaps only a fraction of these 4,000 deaths were unlawful. But acknowledging and investigating these deaths is a matter of dignity and justice – for the survivors of strikes, their communities and their countrymen.

Full article

The drone that killed my grandson by Nasser al-AwlakiJuly 20, 2013
I learned that my 16-year-old grandson, Abdulrahman — a United States citizen — had been killed by an American drone strike from news reports the morning after he died.
The missile killed him, his teenage cousin and at least five other civilians on Oct. 14, 2011, while the boys were eating dinner at an open-air restaurant in southern Yemen.
I visited the site later, once I was able to bear the pain of seeing where he sat in his final moments. Local residents told me his body was blown to pieces. They showed me the grave where they buried his remains. I stood over it, asking why my grandchild was dead.
Nearly two years later, I still have no answers. The United States government has refused to explain why Abdulrahman was killed. It was not until May of this year that the Obama administration, in a supposed effort to be more transparent, publicly acknowledged what the world already knew — that it was responsible for his death.
The attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., said only that Abdulrahman was not “specifically targeted,” raising more questions than he answered.
My grandson was killed by his own government. The Obama administration must answer for its actions and be held accountable. On Friday, I will petition a federal court in Washington to require the government to do just that.
Abdulrahman was born in Denver. He lived in America until he was 7, then came to live with me in Yemen. He was a typical teenager — he watched “The Simpsons,” listened to Snoop Dogg, read “Harry Potter” and had a Facebook page with many friends. He had a mop of curly hair, glasses like me and a wide, goofy smile.
In 2010, the Obama administration put Abdulrahman’s father, my son Anwar, on C.I.A. and Pentagon “kill lists” of suspected terrorists targeted for death. A drone took his life on Sept. 30, 2011.
The government repeatedly made accusations of terrorism against Anwar — who was also an American citizen — but never charged him with a crime. No court ever reviewed the government’s claims nor was any evidence of criminal wrongdoing ever presented to a court. He did not deserve to be deprived of his constitutional rights as an American citizen and killed.
Early one morning in September 2011, Abdulrahman set out from our home in Sana by himself. He went to look for his father, whom he hadn’t seen for years. He left a note for his mother explaining that he missed his father and wanted to find him, and asking her to forgive him for leaving without permission.
A couple of days after Abdulrahman left, we were relieved to receive word that he was safe and with cousins in southern Yemen, where our family is from. Days later, his father was targeted and killed by American drones in a northern province, hundreds of miles away. After Anwar died, Abdulrahman called us and said he was going to return home.
That was the last time I heard his voice. He was killed just two weeks after his father.
A country that believes it does not even need to answer for killing its own is not the America I once knew. From 1966 to 1977, I fulfilled a childhood dream and studied in the United States as a Fulbright scholar, earning my doctorate and then working as a researcher and assistant professor at universities in New Mexico, Nebraska and Minnesota.
I have fond memories of those years. When I first came to the United States as a student, my host family took me camping by the ocean and on road trips to places like Yosemite, Disneyland and New York — and it was wonderful.
After returning to Yemen, I used my American education and skills to help my country, serving as Yemen’s minister of agriculture and fisheries and establishing one of the country’s leading institutions of higher learning, Ibb University. Abdulrahman used to tell me he wanted to follow in my footsteps and go back to America to study. I can’t bear to think of those conversations now.
After Anwar was put on the government’s list, but before he was killed, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights represented me in a lawsuitchallenging the government’s claim that it could kill anyone it deemed an enemy of the state.
The court dismissed the case, saying that I did not have standing to sue on my son’s behalf and that the government’s targeted killing program was outside the court’s jurisdiction anyway.
After the deaths of Abdulrahman and Anwar, I filed another lawsuit, seeking answers and accountability. The government has argued once again that its targeted killing program is beyond the reach of the courts. I find it hard to believe that this can be legal in a constitutional democracy based on a system of checks and balances.
The government has killed a 16-year-old American boy. Shouldn’t it at least have to explain why?

Nasser al-Awlaki, the founder of Ibb University and former president of Sana University, served as Yemen’s minister of agriculture and fisheries from 1988 to 1990.
Source

The drone that killed my grandson by Nasser al-Awlaki
July 20, 2013

I learned that my 16-year-old grandson, Abdulrahman — a United States citizen — had been killed by an American drone strike from news reports the morning after he died.

The missile killed him, his teenage cousin and at least five other civilians on Oct. 14, 2011, while the boys were eating dinner at an open-air restaurant in southern Yemen.

I visited the site later, once I was able to bear the pain of seeing where he sat in his final moments. Local residents told me his body was blown to pieces. They showed me the grave where they buried his remains. I stood over it, asking why my grandchild was dead.

Nearly two years later, I still have no answers. The United States government has refused to explain why Abdulrahman was killed. It was not until May of this year that the Obama administration, in a supposed effort to be more transparent, publicly acknowledged what the world already knew — that it was responsible for his death.

The attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., said only that Abdulrahman was not “specifically targeted,” raising more questions than he answered.

My grandson was killed by his own government. The Obama administration must answer for its actions and be held accountable. On Friday, I will petition a federal court in Washington to require the government to do just that.

Abdulrahman was born in Denver. He lived in America until he was 7, then came to live with me in Yemen. He was a typical teenager — he watched “The Simpsons,” listened to Snoop Dogg, read “Harry Potter” and had a Facebook page with many friends. He had a mop of curly hair, glasses like me and a wide, goofy smile.

In 2010, the Obama administration put Abdulrahman’s father, my son Anwar, on C.I.A. and Pentagon “kill lists” of suspected terrorists targeted for death. A drone took his life on Sept. 30, 2011.

The government repeatedly made accusations of terrorism against Anwar — who was also an American citizen — but never charged him with a crime. No court ever reviewed the government’s claims nor was any evidence of criminal wrongdoing ever presented to a court. He did not deserve to be deprived of his constitutional rights as an American citizen and killed.

Early one morning in September 2011, Abdulrahman set out from our home in Sana by himself. He went to look for his father, whom he hadn’t seen for years. He left a note for his mother explaining that he missed his father and wanted to find him, and asking her to forgive him for leaving without permission.

A couple of days after Abdulrahman left, we were relieved to receive word that he was safe and with cousins in southern Yemen, where our family is from. Days later, his father was targeted and killed by American drones in a northern province, hundreds of miles away. After Anwar died, Abdulrahman called us and said he was going to return home.

That was the last time I heard his voice. He was killed just two weeks after his father.

A country that believes it does not even need to answer for killing its own is not the America I once knew. From 1966 to 1977, I fulfilled a childhood dream and studied in the United States as a Fulbright scholar, earning my doctorate and then working as a researcher and assistant professor at universities in New Mexico, Nebraska and Minnesota.

I have fond memories of those years. When I first came to the United States as a student, my host family took me camping by the ocean and on road trips to places like Yosemite, Disneyland and New York — and it was wonderful.

After returning to Yemen, I used my American education and skills to help my country, serving as Yemen’s minister of agriculture and fisheries and establishing one of the country’s leading institutions of higher learning, Ibb University. Abdulrahman used to tell me he wanted to follow in my footsteps and go back to America to study. I can’t bear to think of those conversations now.

After Anwar was put on the government’s list, but before he was killed, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights represented me in a lawsuitchallenging the government’s claim that it could kill anyone it deemed an enemy of the state.

The court dismissed the case, saying that I did not have standing to sue on my son’s behalf and that the government’s targeted killing program was outside the court’s jurisdiction anyway.

After the deaths of Abdulrahman and Anwar, I filed another lawsuit, seeking answers and accountability. The government has argued once again that its targeted killing program is beyond the reach of the courts. I find it hard to believe that this can be legal in a constitutional democracy based on a system of checks and balances.

The government has killed a 16-year-old American boy. Shouldn’t it at least have to explain why?

Nasser al-Awlaki, the founder of Ibb University and former president of Sana University, served as Yemen’s minister of agriculture and fisheries from 1988 to 1990.

Source

nickpolitik

thepeoplesrecord:

In the trio of unalienable rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence, the reason “life” was listed first should be obvious: If you aren’t alive, you can’t have liberty or pursue happiness (or much of anything else, for that matter). That’s why this week’s revelationsabout President Obama personally overseeing a “Kill List” is so significant — the president’s extralegal actions undermine the very right from which all other rights exist. And it’s why I launched anofficial White House petition asking the president to create a “Do Not Kill” list that would at least allow Americans to protect themselves from being deprived of their lives at the hand of the president.

Following the lead of other government-administered lists like the “Do Not Call” list and the “No Fly” list, the petition’s proposal is straightforward. It reads:

The New York Times this week reports that President Obama has created an official “Kill List” that he uses to personally order the assassination of American citizens. Considering that the government already has a “Do Not Call” list and a “No Fly” list, we hereby request that the White House create a “Do Not Kill” list in which American citizens can sign up to avoid being put on the president’s “Kill List” and therefore avoid being executed without indictment, judge, jury, trial or due process of law.

Sadly, the need for the government to create a “Do Not Kill” list is no longer theoretical. As the Times (and other media) have reported, the president ordered the execution of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki without so much as charging him with a single crime, much less convicting him of one. The Times reports that in doing so, the Obama administration issued a memo claiming that the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process (i.e., a right to formal charges and a trial by a separate co-equal branch of government) can now “be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.” As if underscoring the extrajudicial nature of the actions, even the memo remains secret.

Today, this kind of execution has become the norm. According to the Times, since the al-Awlaki killing, the White House now convenes “Terror Tuesday” meetings attended by various agency officials and President Obama’s top reelection strategist, David Axelrod. These meetings are specifically focused on deciding which American citizens and foreigners will next face due-process-free assassination. The newspaper additionally reports that the administration’s official rationale is that anyone the president orders killed is, by definition, “up to no good.” As Philadelphia Daily News columnist Will Bunch notes, that’s the same word-for-word rationale George Zimmerman used to justify hunting down Trayvon Martin.

This all underscores why we need a “Do Not Kill” list — and thanks to the White House’s new petition system, there’s a chance we can make that a reality. If we get 25,000 signatures, the administration will have to consider the proposal and issue a public response to it. I hope everyone reading this will click here to sign the petition, forward it on to your friends, post it on your Twitter feed and post it on your Facebook page.

If we want the most unalienable of rights to survive, we must speak out now and force the president to at least give us one way to avoid his execution orders. - Dave Sirota

Source

SIGN THE PETITION & REBLOG!

Hey, new followers: Sign & reblog if you haven’t already!

Sign the “Please do not kill me, Obama!” Petition

In the trio of unalienable rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence, the reason “life” was listed first should be obvious: If you aren’t alive, you can’t have liberty or pursue happiness (or much of anything else, for that matter). That’s why this week’s revelationsabout President Obama personally overseeing a “Kill List” is so significant — the president’s extralegal actions undermine the very right from which all other rights exist. And it’s why I launched anofficial White House petition asking the president to create a “Do Not Kill” list that would at least allow Americans to protect themselves from being deprived of their lives at the hand of the president.

Following the lead of other government-administered lists like the “Do Not Call” list and the “No Fly” list, the petition’s proposal is straightforward. It reads:

The New York Times this week reports that President Obama has created an official “Kill List” that he uses to personally order the assassination of American citizens. Considering that the government already has a “Do Not Call” list and a “No Fly” list, we hereby request that the White House create a “Do Not Kill” list in which American citizens can sign up to avoid being put on the president’s “Kill List” and therefore avoid being executed without indictment, judge, jury, trial or due process of law.

Sadly, the need for the government to create a “Do Not Kill” list is no longer theoretical. As the Times (and other media) have reported, the president ordered the execution of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki without so much as charging him with a single crime, much less convicting him of one. The Times reports that in doing so, the Obama administration issued a memo claiming that the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process (i.e., a right to formal charges and a trial by a separate co-equal branch of government) can now “be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.” As if underscoring the extrajudicial nature of the actions, even the memo remains secret.

Today, this kind of execution has become the norm. According to the Times, since the al-Awlaki killing, the White House now convenes “Terror Tuesday” meetings attended by various agency officials and President Obama’s top reelection strategist, David Axelrod. These meetings are specifically focused on deciding which American citizens and foreigners will next face due-process-free assassination. The newspaper additionally reports that the administration’s official rationale is that anyone the president orders killed is, by definition, “up to no good.” As Philadelphia Daily News columnist Will Bunch notes, that’s the same word-for-word rationale George Zimmerman used to justify hunting down Trayvon Martin.

This all underscores why we need a “Do Not Kill” list — and thanks to the White House’s new petition system, there’s a chance we can make that a reality. If we get 25,000 signatures, the administration will have to consider the proposal and issue a public response to it. I hope everyone reading this will click here to sign the petition, forward it on to your friends, post it on your Twitter feed and post it on your Facebook page.

If we want the most unalienable of rights to survive, we must speak out now and force the president to at least give us one way to avoid his execution orders. - Dave Sirota

Source

SIGN THE PETITION & REBLOG!