The moral and practical failure of US policy in the middle east is wrapped up in our dependence on petroleum. The reasons why we are firing missiles at camps in Yemen, sending special forces teams into Pakistan, maintaining a huge fleet in the Persian gulf and fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while we are funding our own enemies are (1) oil, (2) oil and (3) oil. President Obama keeps trying to hammer this home: we have 3% of the world’s oil reserves and use 25% of the production. We’re addicted and are forced to hold hands with dictators who repress their own people and fund a world wide network of religious extremists who hate us. So if you have moral reservations about what we do in the Middle East, and you should, then green energy, energy conservation, and breaking the political power of the oil companies are moral as well as practical imperatives. Saving the world from uncontrolled climate change is nice too.
That's why Glenn Greenwald's shoddy, fake constitutional scandal about so-called "assassination" plots is such a dangerous distraction - he tries to get us to take our eyes off the prize of energy independence. The latest in Greenwald's long series of made up constitutional and ethical transgression accusations is that Franklin Roosevelt criminally violated the rights of US citizens who enlisted in the Waffen-SS and fought alongside Nazi Germany. At least that would be the consequence if his story about President Obama's attacks on Al Qaeda Yemen had any consistency or legal basis.
Greenwald's claim is that US attacks on Al Qaeda Yemen and its commanders are unconstitutional "assassination" attempts because one of the AQ Yemen commanders is a US Citizen. During World War 2 a number of US citizens joined the Nazi army. Their membership in that army meant that the US military was free to attack them. We shot at them and dropped bombs on their camps. This was all legal. It would have been legal for us send special forces to kill them or to help partisans kill them - even in their beds, even if they were retreating. The only legal difference between US citizens who were Nazi soldiers and other Nazi soldiers is that when they were captured, we put the US citizens on trial for treason. Being a US citizen in a Nazi army didn't get anyone any protections - far from it, citizens were liable for criminal prosecution for treason and captured foreign soldiers were not. The same principle applies to this scumball Anwar al-Awlaki who Greenwald insists is the victim of a horrible rights violation. There's no dispute that al-Alwaki is a commander of an armed force that is attacking the United States. Thus, al-Alwaki is properly in the sights of the US military. The same applied to US citizens serving in the German army and to US citizens serving in the Confederate armies.
This is Greenwald, and imagine what he would have said about Gettysburg:
Yesterday, riding a wave of adulation and military-reverence, the Obama administration tried to end the life of this American citizen -- never charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime
The Lincoln Administration actually did end the lives of tens of thousands of American citizens who were never charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime. Dreadful, I know, but they had taken up arms against the United States and were therefore not protected by our judicial system. If a Union sniper had killed J.E.B. Stuart, unarmed, far from the battlefield, while he was petting a cute puppy in a field of flowers, that would have been legal and ethical. No court is required or entitled to decide targeting decisions the military takes in a war against an enemy in arms as long as those are within the rules of engagement.
George W. Bush's administration came up with a truly frightening and unconstitutional justification for their illegal treatment of Jose Padilla. Padilla is a US citizen who was detained on US soil and in custody of the US government. Bush claimed that he, Bush, could designate Padilla as an "enemy combatant" who was entitled to neither Constitutional protections or treatment under the Geneva Conventions. Greenwald says that President Obama's "assassination" policies are worse
than those of George W. Bush, but note how different Bush's claim is from the correct Constitutional approach of the Obama administration. Obama asserts that even al-Awlaki would be due his constitutional rights to a trial - if
he was in US custody. But he's not in custody, he's in arms and that's uncontested fact.
What's also a fact is that Greenwald's arguments are increasingly fact-challenged. Here's a remarkable example in which the text of the 5th amendment is just misrepresented in the most blatant way.
(and pointing out that the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution expressly guarantees that "no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law" -- and provides no exception for war -- is the sort of tedious legalism that shouldn't interfere with the excitement of drone strikes).
Actually it is the sort of tedious legalism that should get your law degree revoked because the 5th Amendment does
have an exception for war.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger;
US military personnel are subject to military law, not civilian law - and, as provided for in this amendment, they are not entitled to 5th amendment grand jury protections at all. Greenwald wants us to believe that the Constitutional authors who did not extend the 5th amendment rights to US soldiers and sailors and who placed them under a different system of law, nevertheless intended to extend those protections to hostile forces. When the 5th Amendment says "due process of law", it certainly does not imply that armed soldiers in a hostile military must be left alone until indicted or convicted, that the ordinary rules of civilian law extend to enemies in combat. Whoever gave Greenwald a law degree should be embarrassed.
Greenwald is only one of a number of people who keep trying to drag us into stupid discussions about nonsense. The brutal fact is that as long as the US is a world power and is also dependent on ME oil, no matter who is President, we will be killing people and getting our own soldiers killed to protect oil production. Those of us who care about the moral implications of US military policies need to be pushing for a rapid transition to petro-limited future, not engaging in trivializing the US constitution.