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When President Bush waterboarded three members of Al Qaida after 9/11 to extract information about future Al Qaida activities, Barack Obama disagreed. Here's what Obama said about waterboarding:
"Waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I do believe that it is torture. I don’t think that’s just my opinion; that’s the opinion of many who’ve examined the topic. And that’s why I put an end to these practices. I am absolutely convinced it was the right thing to do — not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways, in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are."
While Obama may think waterboarding terrorists is wrong, he does NOT think assassinating American citizens suspected of terrorist ties is wrong. Thus far, Obama has used drone strikes to kill three Americans. One of them was a 16-year old whose only "terrorist tie" I can find is that his father was Anwar al-Awlaki. Awlaki and Samir Khan were killed by Obama in a separate drone strike from the one that killed the 16-year old, whose name was Abdulrahman.
Thus, according to Obama, it is "consistent with who we are" to kill 16-year old Americans SUSPECTED of terrorist ties, but it is not "consistent with who we are" to waterboard undisputed leaders of Al Qaida who have carried out terrorist acts that killed Americans, such as 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
Go figure. Makes no sense to me. At least after a waterboarding session, you're still alive and unharmed. After one of Obama's drone strikes without due process, you're a grease spot. Call me crazy, but Obama's expression of "who we are" seems a lot worse than waterboarding.
The Justice Department has released a 16-page memo detailing when it is acceptable for the President to assassinate American citizens without due process (there's a sentence I never thought I'd be writing). From NBC News:
"A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S."
I'm all for killing Al Qaidans, but this DOJ standard is, um, a bit overly broad. However, it does explain how a 16-year old was slaughtered just because Anwar Awlaki was his father. Lord knows we can't raise the possiblity that Obama made a mistake. When former Obama spokesman Robert GIbbs was asked about the attack killing the 16-year old, he said, "I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children..." And there you have it. It wasn't the White House's fault. It was the kid's fault for having the nerve to be the son of a terrorist sympathizer. Guilt by association. I can hardly wait for the 21st century version of the House Unamerican Activities hearings. "Have you now or ever, known, had contact with, associated with, or lived next door to a terrorist sympathizer ?" If so, you're on the drone strike hit list.
The Justice Department memo states further:
“A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination,” the white paper reads. “In the Department’s view, a lethal operation conducted against a U.S. citizen whose conduct poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States would be a legitimate act of national self-defense that would not violate the assassination ban. Similarly, the use of lethal force, consistent with the laws of war, against an individual who is a legitimate military target would be lawful and would not violate the assassination ban.”
I have no disagreement there, but we need to know precisely how that 16-year old kid fits the description above Thus far, we've heard precious few details, even though he was killed by a drone strike in Yemen many months ago, a country we are not at war with. He was killed two weeks after his father was killed by a drone strike.
What we need to know is if this 16-year old kid was murdered by Barack Obama or not. But as usual with this administration, anything that smacks of a scandal is kept as secret as possible.