Saturday, October 8, 2011

Obama quickly screws up what he got right

I had congratulated Obama on the wise decision to kill American-born Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Anwar al-Awlaki and his American henchman Samir Khan by drone strike.  Then his State Department goes and does this:
An official from the U.S. State Department has called the Charlotte family of al-Qaida propagandist Samir Khan to offer the government's condolences on his death in a U.S. drone attack last week in Yemen, according to a family spokesman.
"They were very apologetic (for not calling the family sooner) and offered condolences," Jibril Hough said about the Thursday call from the State Department to Khan's father, Zafar.
The phone call came a day after the family released a statement through Hough that condemned the "assassination" of their 25-year-old son - a U.S. citizen - and said they were "appalled" that they had not heard from the U.S. government to discuss their son's remains or answer questions about why Khan was not afforded due process.
On Friday, State Department spokesman Harry Edwards confirmed to the Observer that the call had been made, but said "privacy issues" kept him from offering details.
Hough said the Thursday conversation lasted a few minutes. "It wasn't just 'I'm sorry' and hang-up," said Hough, who added that the phone call included no discussion of the status or condition of Khan's remains.
Khan was killed along with cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki. Also a U.S. citizen, Al-Awlaki was a leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and appeared to be the main target of the drone attack.

Hough said Khan's father reaction to the call was "kind of positive and optimistic. The (family) statement appears to have gotten their attention."
But, Hough added, the family would still like answers to the civil liberties-related questions. "The discussion doesn't stop with a phone call, though the contact was a step in the right direction," he said.
Khan authored a radical blog while he lived in Charlotte - one his father, Hough and others unsuccessfully tried to convince him to abandon. Then, in 2009, Khan moved to Yemen to produce al-Qaida's "Inspire," an English-language online magazine. In one early edition, Khan said he was "proud to be a traitor to America." And one of his article was entitled "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom."
Keep some thoughts in your mind for what Khan's parents are going through.  Whatever the evil Khan was committing, they did not want their son to die.  This must be hell for them.

I can only hope that assuaging the grief of the family is the State Department's motivation here, because on so many other levels this act is offensive.

AllahPundit's analysis:

Khan wasn’t just pals with Awlaki, caught in the crossfire of a drone strike. He was allegedly the editor of Al Qaeda’s magazine “Inspire,” which contained articles on bomb-building and Khan’s own musings on how he’s “proud to be a traitor.” The Jawa Report guys tracked him from the time he was a keyboard commando in North Carolina, fantasizing about jihad, until he actually followed through and decamped for the Middle East, ending up by Anwar al-Awlaki’s side. The fact that the State Department is now apologizing for the fact that collateral damage in the Awlaki strike happened to be an American citizen who ranked as one of Al Qaeda’s chief English-language propagandists tells you two important things. One: They’re very nervous, as they should be, about public reaction to the news of Americans being targeted, no matter how filthy and treacherous they were. There’s simply no way to spin a headline like this. Two: They’re being careful to draw a distinction between people like Awlaki, whom the White House suspected of operational planning, and Khan, who appears to have been exclusively a propagandist. That was a distinction that got lost in the aftermath of the drone strike, I think. Some people thought Awlaki was targeted only because he was an especially effective jihadi messenger, churning out English-language sermons about the kaffir to recruit western Muslims into terrorism. Not so. Obama’s first public comments about Awlaki’s killing took care to describe him as AQAP’s “external operations” chief to emphasize that he was doing more than just talking. If they’re targeting people only for their rhetoric, no matter how toxic that might be, it puts them on even thinner ice with civil libertarians given the very high bar for dangerous speech under the First Amendment. I assume that’s what the call to Khan’s family is about: If he did nothing more than talk, even though he was obviously in cahoots with the guy running AQAP’s external operations, then they’ve got to pretend that they’re sorry. Even though, almost certainly, they’re not sorry.
The Jawa Report, whose editor had been threatened by Khan:

I'm not sure if I should be laughing at this or getting really, really pissed off.
On the one hand, we pay the State Department to lie. And, if saying you're sorry for killing a terrorist isn't a lie, then I don't know what is!
On the other hand, what if Obama and Clinton's State Department really were sorry they killed the al Qaeda propagandist and self-styled proud traitor?
If that's the America we live in, then it's time to pack it in and call it quits. I hear France is nice this time of year, and at least they are right up front about their disdain for America.
Rusty specifically disagrees with Allah on one point:
The argument he is making, I think, isn't that Khan didn't deserve to die -- he did -- but that the Obama administration is pandering to the base which has taken to calling the killings of Awlaki and Kahn "the assassination of American citizens by the President."

What I want to point out to readers who may not know the background on Khan is that what he published was not just fiery rhetoric in support of al Qaeda. No, he published actual bomb making instructions. Khan's bomb making instructions were followed by Naser Abdo, who was arrested before he could detonate the bomb near Fort Hood.

So, even under our rather broadly protective post-Brandenburg 1st Amendment jurisprudence what Khan was advocating would not be protected since his publications did actually incite people to violence -- which was exactly his point.
For crissake, this was a guy who advocated killing American civilians in malls and nightclubs!
If this is the base that Obama's State Department is pandering to -- one that cannot a traitor from ordinary citizens -- then God help us.

Awlaki and Khan were agents on a foreign battlefield fighting against the United States.  And civil libertarians wanted to capture them?

The scenario I used last time to explain the theory behind the attack was, what if Admiral Yamamoto had been an American citizen? Could we still have intercepted his plane over Bougainville? Or would we have had to capture him instead, which under the theory espoused by those opposed to killing Awlaki and Khan meant we could not have fired at him at all for the duration of the war in the Pacific.

How about another scenario: what if Joseph Goebbels had been an American citizen? Would we have been prevented from bombing the Reich Chancellery -- or even all of Berlin -- in World War II because we needed to capture Goebbels to satisfy unreasonable civil libertarians?

You see how ridiculous their argument becomes? That's how you lose a war.

Far-fetched? Nope. Remember, there was a US citizen in Hitler's SS:
Nikolaus Schiffer was born to Romanian parents in Philadelphia in 1919.
But soon afterwards, he was taken back to Romania and joined the national army in 1941.
He later served in the German Waffen SS - an elite branch of Adolf Hitler's army.
US court records showed that as part of his duties, he worked in four concentration camps including Sachsenhausen in Germany and Majdanek in Poland.
In the original deportation order in 1997, a US immigration judge said Mr Schiffer had "personally testified to his participation in a death march from Hersbruck to Auschwitz on which weakened prisoners were shot or left to die when they could not continue".
During Mr Schiffer's time at the four camps, atrocities were committed against thousands of civilians including inhumane treatment, subjection to slave labour, abuse, torture and mass murder, US legal papers said.
He returned to the US in 1953, gaining citizenship in 1958.
It's a curious article the BBC has on his deporation, full of omissions and mistakes.  Under the 14th Amendment, Schiffer had become a US citizen upon his birth in Philadelphia in 1919.  Why he had to get it again in 1958 is not explained in the story, but it is in the court case:
 1. Nikolaus Schiffer was born in the United States and, as a result, acquired United States citizenship.
 2. Nikolaus Schiffer knew at least from the time that he was a teenager that he was a United States citizen. He also knew that as a United States citizen he was exempt from Romanian service.
 3. Nikolaus Schiffer voluntarily joined the Romanian army and he did so with the specific intent to relinquish the United States citizenship he acquired at birth.
 4. Nikolaus Schiffer voluntarily relinquished his United States citizenship pursuant to 8 U.S.C.
 ? 1481(a)(3). (Note: We believe that Schiffer's voluntary service in the Waffen -SS alone also would have been sufficient to relinquish the United States citizenship he acquired at birth).
Second, as a general rule, the Waffen SS ("Armed SS") fought in combat at he front lines and did not guard the concentration camps.  That was the job of the Allgemeine SS ("General SS").  So I'm not sure where the Waffen SS reference comes from.

But if we was in the actual Waffen SS in a division fighting against US troops, think about how that could have screwed up our combat efforts in World War II.  If Hitler had put Schiffer in the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitler Jugend, which helped keep US and British troops penned in Normandy, we wouldn't have been able to shoot at the division and would have been stuck in the hedgerows.  What if Shiffer had been in either the 9th SS Hohenstaufen or 10th SS Frundsberg panzer divisions at Nijmegen and Arnhem? Or, worst of all, Kampfgruppe Peiper during the Battle of the Bulge?

The court case does have a solution for this idiocy.  With points 3 and 4 above.  For Awlaki and Khan, the law should should treat them as follows:

 1. Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan voluntarily joined al Qaida and did so with the specific intent to relinquish their United States citizenship.
 2. Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan thus voluntarily relinquished their United States citizenship pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(3).
 3.  Anwar al-Awlaki's and Samir Khan's voluntary service in Al Qaida alone is sufficient to relinquish their United States citizenship.

Sounds simple enough.  So why isn't Obama doing it?

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