Cynical Synapse

Sat, 01 Oct 2011

Hey, Due Processers: Here’s the Smoking Underwear Bomb

remnants of underwear bomb

Almost before the smoke cleared after Friday’s Predator drone attack on US-Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, there’s been a popular uprising questioning the legality of killing the jihadist cleric. Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul blasted Obama for violating al-Awlaki’s Constitutional right to due process. With just 8% support in a recent Florida poll, Paul was joined by 1%-er Gary Johnson in crying fowl in “assassinating” al-Awlaki. Gag me with a spoon. Al-Awlaki was an enemy combatant, pure and simple. Citizenship is not part of the equation.

Since that’s clearly not sufficient for the “due processers”, consider Ibrahim al-Asiri was also killed in the Predator airstrike. Al-Asiri, then, was in the same motorcade with al-Awlaki, so there is a definite connection. And the FBI pulled al-Asiri’s fingerprint of the underwear bomb remnants. How can there be any question about al-Awlaki’s active engagement in jihad against the US, which clearly makes him an enemy combatant?

al-Asiri's cargo bomb threat

The killing of al-Awlaki, Samir Khan (also a US citizen), and al-Asiri, all members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is both lawful and justified. They were enemy combatants engaged in the fight against our way of life.

Kudos to Republican candidate Rick Perry’s praise for Pres. Obama’s commitment to hunting down terrorists. That’s a radical, and welcome, departure from Paul, Johnson, and those who thought Obama would be soft on terrorism.

After seeing the video, I hope the disconnect between Paul’s call for due process in al-Awladi’s case, but no need for same for 9/11 accused becomes apparent. And, forgive me, but every time I hear of Ron Paul, I can’t help but think of Ru Paul.


03 Oct 2011

It almost seemed too good to be true when I first heard al-Asiri was killed in the Predator strike on al-Awlaki and Khan. Alas, it seems it was more than we should hope for. Yemeni officials said AQAP bombmaker al-Asiri was not killed with al-Awlaki in Friday’s aerial targeting of the terrorist cleric’s motorcade. While there may no longer be a smoking underwear link, the fact remains al-Awlaki served AQAP and was at war with his native country.

Al-Awlaki’s value to AQAP was his knowledge of US culture and his ability at radicalizing, enabling, and recruiting to the jihadist cause homegrown extremists like MAJ Nidal Hassan and the Times Square bomber. Ironically, if he’d stayed in the US, he’d be a criminal (can you say conspiracy?), but since he moved in with AQAP in Yemen, he was an enemy combatant.



  1. I know that you and I both strongly believe in due process for a true and patriotic American citizen. But we also know that Anwar al-Awlaki was neither. If we are to accept that someone like al-Awlaki is to be given special treatment simply because they was “accidentally” born in the US, then we must also think of the future consequences. That would open up all sorts of options for terrorist leaders.

    Thanks for the great post. If you have no objections, I would like to post this one on my site.

    Comment by The Old Man — Sun, 02 Oct 2011 @ 9:05 am

    • Thanks for the feedback. You’re always welcome to repost my posts. I just ask for attribution.

      Comment by cynicalsynapse — Sun, 02 Oct 2011 @ 9:45 am

    • Who gets to decide who is a “true and patriotic” American citizen? Wait, you think it’s you, right? Did you read that in the Constitution? No? Then where?

      Since when is the right to Life – which IS in the Constitution – a “special treatment”? That’s a lot of questions to ask, so feel free to take them one at a time.

      Comment by Mark Erickson — Sun, 02 Oct 2011 @ 10:16 pm

  2. “Citizenship is not part of the equation.” The Constitution called and said you’re wrong. Care to respond?

    Al-Asiri wasn’t with al-Awlaki. Got anything else?

    Comment by Mark Erickson — Sun, 02 Oct 2011 @ 10:18 pm

    • By your reasoning, German-Americans who fought in the German military during World War II could not be lawfully shot by US troops because of their due process protection under the Constitution. Anyone materially supporting enemy forces becomes a permissible target under the Geneva Conventions and law of land warfare. Al-Awlaki’s killing was lawful because he was an enemy combatant directly tied to acts of war against the US and affiliated with AQAP.

      Citizenship is totally irrelevant. If al-Awlaki had killed someone in a street mugging and fled to Yemen, due process would apply because he would be a criminal. Likewise, if an illegal immigrant, or foreign national of any status (except diplomats) commits a crime in the US, they’re entitled to due process. The Fifth Amendment doesn’t say anything about citizenship but it does exempt “time of War or public danger”.

      I must concede al-Asiri apparently wasn’t with al-Awlaki. That doesn’t change the justifiability of al-Awlaki’s killing, it just takes away an additional proof of his status as an enemy combatant.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Comment by cynicalsynapse — Mon, 03 Oct 2011 @ 6:15 pm

      • Thanks for commenting on my post as well. Your site looks really good.

        No, American citizen enlisted in the German army relinquished their citizenship. It was an International Armed Conflict between states and so its an easy call. The precisely important point is that al-Awlaki was not an enemy combatant. This term applies to Armed Conflicts. Bush made up the category “unlawful enemy combatant” to so that he didn’t have to treat people he wanted to detain as criminals or POWs. UEC is a legal fiction that the Obama administration has perpetuated, something like “enemy unlawful belligerents” or something now.

        Please show me how Awlaki was directly tied to acts of war against the US. If Awlaki did commit a crime in the US and fled, there would presumably be evidence that he did it. That’s what due process means, non-secret evidence before execution.

        Comment by Mark Erickson — Mon, 03 Oct 2011 @ 9:24 pm

      • Regardless of its origins, “unlawful enemy combatant” has gained a de facto status. I see the crux of our differing views is whether al-Awlaki is or is not an enemy combatant. If he is, he’s not entitled to due process; if he’s not, due process applies.

        I believe al-Awlaki is an enemy combatant because he affiliated himself and professed common cause with a terrorist organization engaged in attacking the US and its citizens. I cited several links between terrorist acts or attempts and al-Awlaki in my Friday post.. There’s also his connection with the Times Square bomb attempt. Al-Awaki doesn’t have to be where the attacks occurred to be targeted. He’s not any different than an officer who develops battle plans or equips troops in a conventional nation-state’s military.

        Comment by cynicalsynapse — Tue, 04 Oct 2011 @ 6:04 pm

      • “Sadam had WMD” gained a de facto status as well. And in any case, the entire “unlawful enemy combatant” regime came from the AUMF-AT, so you’ll have to show how AQAP or Awlaki “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons”. Well, you can’t. So the rub out isn’t legal in domestic law.
        Then you’ll have to turn to international law to claim Awlaki is an “enemy combatant.” You didn’t tell me what acts of war AQAP or Awlaki committed against the U.S. That’s because there are none. Did we declare war on them? Silly me, we haven’t declared war in decades!
        “a terrorist organization engaged in attacking the US and its citizens” are criminals, not warriors. There is no public evidence Awlaki played an operational role in any attack he is said to have inspired. His speech is morally reprehensible, but still protected by the 1st Amendment. All we have is secret law and evidence tightly held in the Executive Branch of the USG. There is a reason the term “Star Chamber” has a negative connotation.
        “He’s not any different than an officer who develops battle plans or equips troops in a conventional nation-state’s military.” Wrong. He is not an officer, he hasn’t been shown to have developed any plans or given any orders, and AQAP is not a state.

        Comment by Mark Erickson — Tue, 04 Oct 2011 @ 10:50 pm

      • As I said, we have different perspectives on al-Awadi’s status. Beyond the examples I’ve cited—which I believe show he planned, aided, abetted, and gave orders—I don’t know what else you’d find adequate.

        Agreed, AQAP—as well as al Qaeda and the rest of its affiliates—are not states. That does not mean they’re not forces to be reckoned with. That’s what makes this asymmetrical warfare. The the Taliban, the Haqqani, and the Libyan rebels (until recently) weren’t states, either. They are armed, somewhat structured forces at odds with regimes and mounting attacks on them. To the states they’re at war with, they’re insurgents. I don’t see this any different than them being enemy combatants to the US.

        Comment by cynicalsynapse — Thu, 06 Oct 2011 @ 5:47 pm

  3. Riddle me this: Awlaki – drone shot. Adam Gadahn – he’s indicted and FBI gets the potential collar:
    “Gadahn is another American who has turned his knowledge of the language and culture into a tool of terror via propaganda on al Qaeda websites. He’s currently on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists List and has been indicted for treason and material support for al Qaeda.”

    Comment by Mark Erickson — Tue, 04 Oct 2011 @ 11:51 pm

    • I don’t know much about Adam Gadahn, but what I’ve read is he’s a propagandist. Treason and material support to terrorists are, indeed, crimes. Al-Awlaki’s fate resulted from his status as an enemy combatant, a point we disagree on. Perhaps there will be a legal action that will rule on the validity of this at some point.

      Comment by cynicalsynapse — Thu, 06 Oct 2011 @ 5:53 pm

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