by Scott Creighton
Jeremy Scahill went on MSNBC yesterday morning and said something that I have been writing for years, that by his own admission, Barack Obama is guilty of the murder of scores of innocent people in Yemen, including but not limited to 14 women and 21 children according to the Amnesty International report on the Dec. 17th 2009 cruise missile attack authorized by the Peace Prize “winning” president himself.
Though I give him credit for that aspect of his appearance on the show, I have to remind everyone of the kinds of people who are designated “terrorists” in the first place and the real reason the Obama administration is bombing Yemen (it ain’t to protect our “freedoms” if that’s what you think) and Syria, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia.
“This is a memo that describes how we are going to take out 7 countries in 5 years starting with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and finishing off with Iran.” Gen. W. Clark 2007
“If you go to the village of Al-Majalah in Yemen, where I was, and you see the unexploded clusterbombs and you have the list and photographic evidence, as I do–the women and children that represented the vast majority of the deaths in this first strike that Obama authorized on Yemen–those people were murdered by President Obama, on his orders, because there was believed to be someone from Al Qaeda in that area. There’s only one person that’s been identified that had any connection to Al Qaeda there. And 21 women and 14 children were killed in that strike and the U.S. tried to cover it up, and say it was a Yemeni strike, and we know from the Wikileaks cables that David Petraeus conspired with the president of Yemen to lie to the world about who did that bombing. It’s murder–it’s mass murder–when you say, ‘We are going to bomb this area’ because we believe a terrorist is there, and you know that women and children are in the area. The United States has an obligation to not bomb that area if they believe that women and children are there. I’m sorry, that’s murder.” Jeremy Scahill
He was correct in coming to that conclusion, but unfortunately he still misses the point; even if they did kill one SUSPECTED terrorist (and “suspected” is the operative word there) in the lot during the Dec. 17th 2009 cruise missile strikes (which they didn’t by the way, Qaaim al-Raymi wasn’t there) the designation of that individual as a so-called “terrorist” in a nation we are not at war with is completely arbitrary and disingenuous.
“A military strike of this kind against alleged militants without an attempt to detain them is at the very least unlawful,” said Philip Luther, deputy director of AI’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. Raw story
A White House official said that Barack Obama called the 30 year dictator of Yemen right after the strike and congratulated him on the attack which, according to the same official, was carried out in order to protect a “U.S. asset” meaning a LNG pipeline owned by Ray Hunt or similar IMF/World Bank business related ventures in Yemen.
One of the targeted sites was a suspected al Qaeda training camp north of the capitol, Sanaa, and the second target was a location where officials said “an imminent attack against a U.S. asset was being planned.“…
… President Obama placed a call after the strikes to “congratulate” the President of Yemen, Ali Abdallah Salih, on his efforts against al Qaeda, according to White House officials. ABC News Dec. 18th 2009
The one aspect that is missing from the numerous discussion about “Obama the Decider” and his kill list meetings is evidence. We are morally outraged that the Obama administration claims everyone sitting around a designated “terrorist” is a terrorist themselves but we fail to remember the original terrorist is just a terrorist because Obama’s neoliberal warmongers say he is.
Take the case of Anwar Al-Aulaqi. While he was still breathing his father, Nasser al-Awlaki, found out he was on Obama’s so-called “kill list” (keep in mind that dictators all across the world which we have supported have always formulated “kill lists”, sometimes with the help of our own CIA, of people who resisted their brutal regimes) so he went to court in order to try to have him removed from the list. In fact, a governor in Yemen came forward and stated that there had been no evidence at all that Anwar was affiliated with al Qaeda but instead he was simply supportive of the people of Yemen who wished to overthrow their brutal dictator.
The Obama administration filed a motion to suppress the father’s lawsuit on the grounds that presenting evidence about Anwar’s guilt would violate the “state secrets” of a “political question”. The judge ruled with the Obama administration, and thus, they can kill U.S. citizens after having them declared a “terrorist” simply because they want to and no one has the authority to question their decision or even see the evidence on which it was based.
But what’s most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is “state secrets”: in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are “state secrets,” and thus no court may adjudicate its legality. Glenn Greenwald
Six days after killing Anwar and another U.S. citizen who was with him, the Obama administration killed Anwar’s son as well while he prepared a meal with several other young people. He was 17 years old at the time, he was designated the “terrorist” and thus the other children who died that day around him were also “terrorists” according to the Obama administration.
“To kill a teenager is just unbelievable, really, and they claim that he is an al-Qaeda militant. It’s nonsense,” said Nasser al-Awlaki, a former Yemeni agriculture minister who was Anwar al-Awlaki’s father and the boy’s grandfather, speaking in a phone interview from Sanaa on Monday. “They want to justify his killing, that’s all.” Washington Post
So as Jeremy and others question how the Obama administration keeps track of the body count, that’s fine. But let’s keep in mind just who exactly these “terrorists” really are and how they got on that secretive list in the first place. Because according to our laws and international laws, the extrajudicial killing of even those guys is still murder. And that’s to say nothing of the people who just happen to be sitting around them at the time.
Still, Jeremy needs to be given credit for getting some of the story right.