On Point: CIA Predator versus ACLU Subpoena: Warfare and Lawfare in the War on Terror


by Austin Bay
November 9, 2010

Last April, President Barack Obama placed al-Qaida terroristand unabashed American traitor Anwar al-Awlaki on the CIA's "capture orkill" list. Obama's authorization means Awlaki can be killed by U.S.security agencies, with the likely bullet a laser-guided Hellfire missile firedby a CIA Predator as it flies over Awlaki's hideout somewhere in Yemen.

The president determined Awlaki poses a clear and presentdanger to America. Awlaki is a skilled terrorist motivator and recruiter, amalignantly gifted fanatic who dupes susceptible minds with vicious propagandathen turns his brainwashed minions into mass murderers. For example, FaisalShahzad, the Times Square terrorist, told police Awlaki inspired him to launchan attack.

Awlaki, however, doesn't just talk the talk, he walks it.U.S. intelligence says he has played a key operational role in planning severalattacks. He helped orchestrate the attempted Christmas Day terror attack on aDetroit-bound airliner. He spiritually advised Ft. Hood terrorist and fellowtraitor Nidal Hasan. Spiritual adviser in this case is a euphemism foroperational handler.

Awlaki was born in New Mexico, so by birthright he is a U.S.citizen. He certainly despises the U.S. Constitution and particularly disdainsfree speech. In July, Awlaki demanded the death of Seattle-based cartoonistMolly Norris. Norris had promoted the "Everyone Draw Mohammed Day"project as a public demonstration of free expression. Norris is now in hiding.She fears assassination.

You would think American civil libertarians would treatNorris as a heroine. You would expect civil libertarians to commend thepresident for taking action to protect her life. She is, after all, an artistsilenced by death threats issued by a savage killer espousing a rigid,tyrannical ideology.

Scotch those thoughts and expectations. The American CivilLiberties Union (ACLU) defends Awlaki. In a case filed on behalf of Awlaki'sfather, the ACLU questions the president's right to sanction a Predator attackon an American citizen. The fact Awlaki is voluntarily engaged in hostilitiesagainst the U.S. under the aegis of an enemy power gives the ACLU little pause.One hyperbolic ACLU lawyer claims Obama is "imposing the death penaltywithout trial."

The claim is sophistry masquerading as sophistication. Ifall the world were a courtroom, where the decisive weapons are precedent,persuasive arguments and subpoenas, the ACLU might have a case -- if Awlaki'sfather has legal standing, which is doubtful. Earth, however, is populated bypeople who have profound disagreements over values that undergird the mostbasic laws. The civilized are willing to negotiate those disagreements.Barbarians like Awlaki are different. They will murder Molly Norrises en masseto impose their will. The barbarians are outlaws.

Which is why we give the president authority to decide tokill them when they try to kill us, since they are beyond the reach of law.

ACLU grandstanders may have objectives beyond Awlaki. Theirsneaky little case ultimately challenges the president's authority to fight anywar, but particularly the Global War on Terror. Its Oct. 8 court filing fixateson Predators and U.S. targeting methodology. It appears the ACLU doesn't caremuch for either. Essentially, ACLU lawyers are asserting the right to overseeand overrule real-time battlefield decisions made by U.S. security agencies.

Al-Qaida banked on this kind of lawfare waged by legalisticpettifoggers to blunt U.S. counter-terror capabilities. In 2001, al-Qaidaplotted a war without borders, one designed to frustrate nation-states thatrecognized political boundaries. Laws al-Qaida flouted would thwart America'scounterattack. Al-Qaida would fight and win in the gray zone while lawfarelitigators tied down American power with legalistic knots.

Predator, however, surprised al-Qaida. Its deadly shadowhaunts the nowheres al-Qaida thought were sanctuaries.

Keep the Predator circling over Awlaki. The ACLU case shouldbe dismissed with extreme prejudice. 

To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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