An Interesting Few Days for Al-Awlaki

Earlier today, bmaz and I asked a series of questions about the significance of Anwar al-Awlaki’s name on the list of US citizens who can be assassinated with no due process.

bmaz: So, the US can put Awlaki on a list for death by assassination, but couldn’t, and apparently still cannot, form the basis to prosecute him criminally??

ew: And cannot prosecute him having had a tap on his phones going back–at the very least–at least a year?

ew: I wonder if [the targeting of Awlaki] is what happened to the William Webster inquiry into Awlaki’s communications with Nidal Hasan?

Today, Declassifed blog’s Mark Coatney asked a related question that I had earlier raised: Why was the Administration, immediately, so chatty about the Underwear Bomber, even while it remains very close-lipped about Nidal Hasan? (The Administration–though not, apparently, Webster–was supposed to brief the Intelligence Committees on the Hasan investigation today, which I guess makes it safe to assume Dana Priest’s article came up in the briefing, if Congress didn’t already know about the assassinations of American citizens.)

Capitol Hill officials say that the Obama White House and relevant government agencies have been very cooperative in supplying congressional oversight committees with a torrent of information—both raw intelligence and law-enforcement material and results of internal administration inquiries—about alleged would-be Christmas Day underpants airplane bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. President Obama and other senior administration officials have said that in the months before Abdulmutallab boarded his flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, U.S. agencies had collected various “bits and pieces” of intelligence, which, had they been properly knitted together, might well have enabled U.S. authorities to foil Abdulmutallab’s attempted airplane bombing before he boarded his flight.

By contrast, the same officials allege that the administration has been relatively tightfisted with information, both from raw intelligence and law-enforcement files and from postmassacre investigations, on the background of the accused Fort Hood shooter. Congressional officials say they don’t know why the administration has been more reticent about Fort Hood than about the failed underpants attack, but that the contrast between how the cases have been treated up until now has been striking.

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one noticing the disparity in treatment of the two extremists.

More interesting than the confirmation that I’m not crazy in seeing the disparity, though, is the timeline revealed in several recent details on Al-Awlaki.

December 17, 2008: Nidal Hasan sends first email to al-Awlaki “asking for an edict regarding the [possibility] of a Muslim soldier killing his colleagues who serve with him in the American army”

November 5, 2009: Hasan killings in Ft. Hood

November 8, 2009: Al-Awlaki blesses Hasan’s killings

November 19, 2009: Underwear Bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s father alerts US embassy of his concerns about his son

December 4, 2009:  Abdulmutallab leaves Yemen, having met with al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula members, possibly including al-Awlaki

December 22, 2009: FBI Deputy Director John Pistole provides classified briefing to Senate Homeland Security Committee on Fort Hood

December 23 (?), 2009: Al-Awlaki does interview with al-Jazeera that is subsequently posted to many jihadi forums

December 24, 2009: Strike in Yemen mistakenly thought to have hit al-Awlaki

December 25, 2009: Abdulmutallab attempts to blow up plane outside of Detroit

December 26, 2009: Crazy Pete Hoekstra says there may have been ties between al-Awlaki and Abdulmutallab

After December 24 but before end of 2009: Al-Awlaki added to JSOC list of those to be killed or captured

December 29: Moonie Times reports that al-Awlaki blessed Abdulmutallab’s plot beforehand (based on intelligence source)

If you match this timeline with the assertion that Awlaki had some tie with Abdulmutallab and that he was placed on the assassination list(s) just after Abdulmutallab’s attempted attack, then it seems clear that, after al-Awlaki’s ties to Hasan became clear, and after the attempted attack in Detroit, the Obama Administration almost immediately placed him on the list. (Note, ABC had one of those dubious Brian Ross pieces on Monday claiming that Al-Awlaki was not yet on the assassination list, and that that was why he had not yet been taken out; that may be why Senior Administration Officials were telling Priest that he was on the list for today’s article.)

That established, let’s go back to bmaz and my questions: I’m not so much interested, now, in how they justified placing him on the assassination list (though that’s obviously still a huge legal issue). Rather, I’m curious how the over a year of intercepts of Al-Awlaki’s communications played into both the lack of attention on Hasan and Abdulmutallab, as well as the quick placement of Al-Awlaki on the assassination list after the attempted Christmas bombing. After all, if Awlaki was such a threat before Hasan’s attack on November 5, why weren’t officials watching him more closely–closely enough to pick up his purported (and less well-proven) role in Abdulmutallab’s preparations? But if there wasn’t anything that damning, then how was it so easy to move Al-Awlaki to the assassination list just after the Christmas bombing attempt? Or is it simply that officials became aware of Al-Awlaki’s ties to Abdulmutallab from the latter’s testimony here in Detroit?

All of which is just an elaborate way of saying their high-falutin’ surveillance is not working. If, after the Hasan connection, they couldn’t keep track of al-Awlaki well enough to have an eye on Abdulmultallab, it’s not doing what it should be (even while our privacy is being sacrificed in the process).

And al-Awlaki, for his part, is rubbing it in. Here’s al-Jazeera’s follow-up to Al-Awlaki’s description of Hasan’s email about whether a Muslim soldier could kill his American colleagues.

Q: “So he asked you that question about a year before the operation was carried out?”

A: “Yes. And I wondered how the American security agencies, who claim to be able to read car license plate numbers from space, everywhere in the world, I wondered how [they did not reveal this].”

Which may get us back to Administration’s reluctance to give more information on Hasan (and therefore, earlier intercepts from al-Awlaki) to Congress.

Now Declassified’s Coatney makes it clear that Congress has gotten many of the intercepts. And, interestingly, al-Awlaki gives fairly detailed–and, according to Coatney’s sources–accurate–descriptions of some, but not all, of the emails Hasan sent him in his al-Jazeera interview.

People familiar with the contents of the secret NSA versions of al-Awlaki–Hasan messages say that the messages described by al-Awlaki in the Al-Jazeera interview do exist and that he describes them accurately, though in the interview he does not describe all the messages that NSA intercepted.

Which leads to al-Awlaki’s accusation that the Administration (not al-Jazeera) is burying the remainder of the emails.

In the interview, al-Awlaki accuses the U.S. government of trying to suppress his correspondence with Hasan and says he has provided Al-Jazeera with copies of the exchange of messages. To date, however, the Web site has not published any of the messages verbatim. The news organization did not reply to a NEWSWEEK e-mail requesting access to the materials, although a reporter involved in the story at one point suggested that he might be willing to share the messages in return for payment, which NEWSWEEK declined.

Like I said, al-Awlaki seems to be rubbing in the fact that US surveillance, though it picked up all these emails, did not prevent the Hasan attack. And remember, this Al-Awlaki interview was just days before the attempted strike on him in Yemen and Abdulmutallab’s attempted strike in Detroit, quite literally when Abdulmutallab was already en route.

All of which doesn’t answer my questions. But does leave me with the lurking suspicion that the Administration is tight-lipped about Hasan’s ties to al-Awlaki–even while boasting that it aims to assassinate the cleric–out of both a delayed alarm at his power and a sense of embarrassment that our great surveillance system doesn’t serve the purpose it’s supposed to.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. orionATL says:


    N. Hassan was a mental case (as so many individual terrorists/revenge-takers are).

    He could have and should have been picked up by his supervisors over several years.

    And his communications, if NSA monitored, should have been noted and, if necessary, translated – and PASSED ON to FBI/CIA.

    This didn’t happen.

    To cover bureaucratic ass, millions upon millions of Americans have had their
    Electronic communications intercepted, including conversations between husbands and wives,

    But somebody in this gov spy ring missed the relevant nadam-in- the-hay-stack.

    Could there be any more obvious evidence that telephone/Internet spying is not effective – in additional to being unconstitutional?

    #2 in the argument for the incompetence of our federal “security” efforts-

    After searching, harrassing, unshoeing, millions upon millions of Americans to no effect,

    The Searching system misses the undies bomber,

    And then, ass- covering bureaucrats that they are,

    Promptly punishes tens of thousands of
    Passengers traveling to or from the u. S.

    • lawordisorder says:

      who said anybody missed anything? the real question one should ask was there sufficiant information (or could it be interpreted in a diff. way) at the relevant decision makers in order to take the necessary steps…UHHH undewear bomber scenario right? what do you know exactly on the Dutch passenger who “arrested” him? Do note Schiphool in one off 8 with a DHS presence no? was it a slip up when they in open session mentioned Copenhagen? that in turn brings to mind 2 scenarios where your POTUS/1 queen had un invited guests no?

      • freepatriot says:

        who said anybody missed anything? the real question one should ask was there sufficiant information (or could it be interpreted in a diff. way) at the relevant decision makers in order to take the necessary steps…UHHH undewear bomber scenario right? what do you know exactly on the Dutch passenger who “arrested” him? Do note Schiphool in one off 8 with a DHS presence no? was it a slip up when they in open session mentioned Copenhagen? that in turn brings to mind 2 scenarios where your POTUS/1 queen had un invited guests no?

        can anybody make sense of this paragraph ???

        this crap wouldn’t pass a 5th grade english class

        it’s meaningless

        palinesque even

        it’s a troll

    • BayStateLibrul says:


      How can a GSA official in New Orleans connect the dots, and yet

      our Intelligence Dept miss the Christmas Day fiasco?

      I’m usually pretty forgiving, but some head should roll (accountability).

      • lawordisorder says:

        Lets try to keep this in perspektive boys and girls if you please other wise a shitstorm is sure to come out of it

        A. AQ is anat the core of US National security issues..that is one of them anybody disagrees?

        B. when on homesoil we play by the BMAZ playbook, that means miranda and FBI…in my wiev the officers that made that call on the “underwear bomber” was spot on…Let him lawyer up who cares those FBI dudes normaly get there man anyhow

        C. on offence that means in Pakistan tribal areas, in yemen somalia and where we find them we do not alays have the luxuary of serving them a sopena, but lets let the locals do it, instead off Blackwater…but im not totally in control on that one

        D. When playing offence im a softy that means i belong to the COIN dudes who believe that a smile and a well sometimes get me further than shooting, that also means a division between TALIBAN (who takes many shapes and formes) can be under serten termes be reasoned with aka peacetreaty…remember IRA and the British did it, but when i have to use force i am in favour of letting the locals do the dirty work…one it makes the locals feel important, 2 they have “legal” juristiction, 3 the US and freinds dont get everybody else upset as we go knocking off their citizens….

        After all my main ocupation is to predict and prevent something nasty happens to the everyday citizen off the US and others.

        To my knowledge the USA was not involved in signing off any list…. I was…in a manner of speaking as the this is whole idea of information sharing but the actual target aqusition to my knowledge was done by locals
        So he pissed them off to…anyway my price in all off this was what u guys wanted in the first place to get out off all this torture and Guantanamo excuse biznes, just imagine what its like not to have the DOJ playing defence trying to hide everyting anymore…that we can have a public trial in NY and in doing so put Justice back in the main driver seat…but don’t think for one minute that this dosent come at a price…and a personal sacrifice BIGTIME…BUT hey BMAZ told me that going after the warcounsel was more or less over anyway…and if im not mistaken my answer was NEW SIT; NEW PLAN


        Cuz must of the very values i share with you guys and hold very dear i had to compromize to get us all out off this mess and get us a fresh start aka sometimes you have to brake the rules to mend them…do this make sence?

        Am i correct BMAZ?

        • Rayne says:

          You may want to try using Google Language tools to convert from Danish, if you are more at ease in that language. I think the word “view” would not have been as garbled had it gone through such a translation.

          If you do that on your comments and add that this has been translated from Danish, we may have better luck understanding you.

          Du kan prøve at bruge Google Language værktøjer til at konvertere fra dansk, hvis du er mere rolig på det pågældende sprog. Jeg tror, at ordet “se” (wiev / view?) ville ikke have været så forvansket havde været igennem en sådan oversættelse.

          Hvis du gør det på dine kommentarer og tilføje, at denne er blevet oversat fra dansk, kan vi bedre held at forstå dig.

          Er det acceptabelt og forstået?

  2. R.H. Green says:

    Do I correctly recall that after the Ft Hood shootings, it was claimed that Hassan had emailed Aklaki, but the conversations were only about grad student research? If so, I must say that’s a far cry from asking for a blessing to kill fellow soldiers.

  3. R.H. Green says:

    I understand the lack of specificity; I just wasn’t sure if I had mixed up my news stories, as I’ve done before. Nevertheless, those stories about how non-implicating his “chats with his mentor” were, now look like disinformation.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, I just dunno. It seems fairly clear that it is far more complicated than the “there is really nothing but research stuff there” line that came out early. There seems to have been discussions of what are justified killings or something like that; but what that really means is completely dependent on the totality of the context that language was included in, and we are not even close to having that. So, who knows?

      • R.H. Green says:

        I know you don’t know either. I certainly don’t have an agenda here. I suppose I reacted strongly to the news that there was an implicating email from a year ago that had not made it into the news (that reached me), and this occurring after listening to the rousing SOTU that seemed to gloss over the fact that this same believer in the best of human kind is the same SOB that assigns people to kill lists without a trial, and you know, the other stuff discussed here since last January’s big speech.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, I don’t think your reaction was too strong at all. It is a critical question, and all kinds of people and pundits have made all sorts of claims about Hasan’s interaction with Awlaki and I don’t think they know any more than you and I do (heck, some of them may not have even paid that much attention). It will be interesting to see what really surfaces on that as the case plows along.

  4. orionATL says:

    I got carried away by my rhetoric.

    N. Hassan is not being discussed because it involves military incompetence (of supervisors ) and raises questions about recruitment standards.

    But more importantly,

    Because the shooting involved an arab.

    The American military made a point, after the killings at fort h,

    To protect Arab soldiers in general from social attacks.

    – the u. S. Military does not need to have to contend with
    Public reports of mistreatment of American soldiers with Arab names.

    – the u.s. Military does not want to draw attention to the punishment hassan will necessarily draw.

  5. freepatriot says:

    I been readin thru the comments in part one, and this asshat lawordisorder has to GO

    he posts continual gibberish, replys to himself to try to make hs nonesense seem reasonable, has a sock puppet he converses with, and he is trying to ingratiat himself by making smarmy condesending compliments

    me thinks we got a disinformation program at work here

    or is my troll radar on the fritz

    • Rayne says:

      I think we are seeing comments from someone who may be better at speaking English than writing it. (Lord knows I have the reverse problem in French, quelle horreur…)

      Let’s see if with coaching we can obtain better results; it may be very important to get viewpoints from outside of the U.S. on this situation.

  6. lawordisorder says:

    Anyway im no palin or fox fan if thats what you are implying….nope deff smarter than my home country i would be a conservative but thats according to European standards..witch all most pr. definition make me a democrat by US standards, or is it that you just whant to shoot the messenger, in that case go right ahead, im not a big fan of people i cant debate with anyway, but yes in some instances im the one who has to make hard decisions on who lives and who dies, but then again thats exatly what also a lot of other governing is all about but thats just me, but hey if all you whant is good spelling then i surgest we continue this in my native tongue, but that dosent make my questions any less relevant does it?

    Just my five cents worth

  7. timtimes says:

    Hardly shocking to me that some American Arabs are going to get so disgusted with the killing and torture committed against their ‘people’ that they will finally go ballistic. I’m disgusted at the lack of movement toward the prosecution of admitted war criminals (the proud Sunday talk show crowd e.g.) by the Obama admin.

    Yesterday’s Ipad launch is a perfect metaphor for the Obama administration to date. What could have been.


  8. scribe says:

    Two points:

    1. By having this assassination list, the USG reinforces the idea that the AQ types are soldiers, rather than criminals. When you’re in a war, you can kill any identified enemy any time, without due process. In WWI and WWII, there were numerous US citizens who wound up in enemy armies* and, wearing the enemy uiniform, they could be killed on sight just like any other enemy soldier. When it’s a criminal matter, OTOH, you have to observe due process.

    Reinforcing the AQ as soldier subtext is, as a matter of policy and common-sense, exactly the wrong thing to do for reasons which I think are obvious to all.

    2. Who’s to say that the USG did not deliberately ignore or downplay the Fort Hood nutjob’s emails precisely because (a) when he went off (not if), they could use that threat to flog the public opinion toward more war on terra (which is precisely what they did – remember all the calls for kicking Muslims out of the Army, among other racist/religionist crap) in the face of a war-weary public opinion and (b) if they moved on him before-hand, they would have to admit that they were tapping and reading everything he wrote, which would not go over well in court. More to the point, though, they have no interest in solving problems.

    Solving problems, like AQ, ultimately violates The Bureaucrat’s Prime Directive: Always act in such a way as to justify the continued existence (and, if possible, expansion) of your job (and budget). Perpetuating problems means perpetual budgets and jobs.

    * One from my home town comes to mind – he was born here, taken back to Germany while in diapers b/c his parents split up and mom went back to her parents, grew up there, served the whole war in the Wehrmacht on most of the fronts and rising through the ranks to be an officer, and surrendered in Italy at war’s end. After the war, b/c he was a citizen, he had to jump through some legal hoops b/c of his service in the Wehrmacht (officer status made his situation trickier), but last I heard he was still living in my home town.

    • scribe says:

      I can also see the whole timeline of how al-whatshisname got on the kill list as being an exposition of Brennan and the bureaucracy both pulling Obama further into their web and enhancing their own power.

      Down the chain, the USG knows about al-whatshisname and his communications, but it does not do anyting with it, let alone let other people know.

      The Fort Hood shootings take place and Obama gets pissed, telling his subordinates he does not want to go through this kind of embarrassment (a soldier killing other soldiers) again.

      6 weeks later, Captain Underpants does his thing.

      Brennan runs into the Oval Office (here comes the bum’s rush) and says: “We know who’s blessing this. His name is [blah, blah].” At some point (Rahm having purged the anti-torture and obey-the-law types like Greg Craig and Dawn Johnsen, such that Brennan’s pro-torture POV is the only one in the room), Obama asks: “what do you need?” Brennan: “Sign here”. Obama: “go ahead – whack him.”

      Just that fast.

      Of course, the no-assassinations EO from the Ford admin was pixie dusted out of existence long ago, during the Deadeye admin.

  9. Mary says:

    If I had to put money on an option, it would be that since A-A had been a person of interest for a long time, Hasan was left alone as part of a deliberate intel decision and operation, with the hopes that there would be driblets in the AA communications with Hasan that would be helpful. IOW, I think everything is quiet, not so much bc no one noticed Hasan as a problem as that Hasan was noticed and the decision was made to play the line out and let him run with it, bc they incorrectly evaluated how much risk he was and they had so few good humint resources that they didn’t want to give up on a source that they knew was in direct contact with AA.

    Scribe is right on the reinforcement of the “at war, soldiers” theme. In this case, too, they are going quite a bit further on the “combatant” and “material support” front. So far AA has been accused of being a spiritual advisor who encouages others to jihad – kind of a Pat Robertston calling for the assassination of Chavez. Even under an “at war” aspect, targeting the guy in the pulpit who encourages “believers” to rise up against “the enemy” is going a bit far – when the pulpiteer is located in a country with which we are not “at war” and is just preaching from there – inciting from there – it is particularly far reaching to target them for assassination in that country.

    Even there, though, if you are talking about a CIA type of operation – as illegal and sleazy as it might be to try to get someone close enough to AA for a very targeted assissination, you can understand that this is somewhere we have likely been before, unadvertised. But now we are going the next step – sending a military type strike (I don’t care who is actually authorizing the drone strike, it’s a military type strike) into a country with which we are not at war.

    Then, to top it all off, we’ve done that – big, open military strike into Yemen accompanied by a public release of the (dis)information that *we* had killed AA (along with others) all of which gets no attention when it turns out that we “ooopsed” again and killed people, just not the guy we were supposed to be killing. So where are the questions about who we did kill, their families, why THEY were authorized collateral damage, what the standards are for us to kill Muslims in countries other than Afghanistan and Iraq. We’ve now stacked up what – lots of killings in Pakistan, the Syrian “let’s leave a 6 yo boy surrounded by bodies and shoot up both his parents in front of him” operation, the Yemen “ooops, didn’t get AA, let’s just say we got bad guys though, bc after all we have this great intel and know … uh, never mind, the Somalian ops, etc. etc.

    And no one ever sits down – definitely not in any of these chit chats with Bush and Obama – and gets them to spell out what it would take for their killings of men, women and children in foreign countries to NOT be legal. When does, “because the President said so” no work when you leave the “wrong” bodies on the ground?

    • emptywheel says:

      So far AA has been accused of being a spiritual advisor who encouages others to jihad – kind of a Pat Robertston calling for the assassination of Chavez. Even under an “at war” aspect, targeting the guy in the pulpit who encourages “believers” to rise up against “the enemy” is going a bit far – when the pulpiteer is located in a country with which we are not “at war” and is just preaching from there – inciting from there – it is particularly far reaching to target them for assassination in that country.

      Pretty amazing, huh? That one cleric whose communication we’ve got under surveillance counts as an assassination target?

      • Mary says:

        Yeah – almost as amazing and no one in Congress ever paying any attention to what happened to al-Libi after the war started and he recanted and we had him back from Egyptian torture. How do you just lose a guy like that when Congress is supposedly having all kinds of investigations into what went wrong in the war run up.

        I am amazing and I guess they hope hypnotic to boot.

        Going OT here –

        Reuters story on Siddiqui trial with info that she may testify today (Thurs) and touching on all the things that are not getting any press about her disappearance and children.

        And Chilicot is getting the runaround on docs and making Brown look bad

        In an apparent breach of the Inquiry terms, Sir John Chilcot, head of the probe, expressed his “frustration” that he was unable to refer to key documents while questioning Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General, about why he gave the “green light” for war.

        The lack of transparency over crucial documents emerged as Lord Goldsmith was explaining how he had changed his mind about the legality of the war in the months leading up to the invasion

        Goldsmith indicated that, in addition to a classified letter he can’t discuss “… crucial factors in winning him over had been conversations with Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, and senior members of United States President George Bush’s administration”(apparently including, if not limited to, Condi Rice “and Senior White House lawyers.”
        Kind of puts the freedom fries in a new light, hearing that Britain was told the French were not going to challenge the legality of the Bush vanity war.

        Apparently Goldsmith was swayed by the argument Addington used on the US Goldsmith later– all these people are relying on your opinion to give them their out from being war criminals, so you owe it to them to pony up.

        Cute how Straw, who sold the war of aggression, is now the Justice Secretary – the “Western World” has lost all sense of irony.

  10. Mary says:

    so put Justice back in the main driver seat

    They’ve always been there, just as corrupt-in-the-pocket, prosecutors. No one lept itno the torture program without Justice being in the driver’s seat and signing off on the torture, murder, sexual depravity, child abuse, etc. Even Bush and Cheney decided they had to have Justice in the driver’s seat and giving the ok-s.

    The problem has been the corruption of DOJ, without allocution and consequence.

  11. JohnLopresti says:

    Re Ft Hood. There was a prior venue where the accused practiced, as well. It must be a difficult milieu for the professionals who serve as psychiatrists in that part of the military. I would expect a tedious, meticulous, and politically adroit series of reports to emerge; just, slowly, over time. I have worked closely with some civilian psychiatry institution professionals; my initial impression of the first reports about the accused from FtHood was that his superiors had a reasonable amount of forebearance. But it is a lot more complicated than that, both with respect to psychiatry ethics and congressional budget processes.

  12. Mary says:

    I know it is partly bc I’m bitter about what a crappy President Obama has been to date (and yes, I agree he was handed a mess – but a mess that he should have known was going to be a mess before he started campaigning and certainly as he was into it – with his advisors and if he had a brain in his head) – but here’s my take on the WaPo piece on Yemen:

    Obama is ineffective and not getting anything done on the domestic front bc of his own bad decisions and strategies and so he responds by using his missionless, rudderless, leadershipless, amoral and unfettered by military law “role” as CIC to blow people up – thereby giving him an “oh, yeah” outlet.

    Pretty much the nerdy gamer who resorts to the videos when real life is going badly, except that he leaves real people, really dead, and with real world consequences that he can distance himself from in the short run but that will bite us all in the long run. And it’s encouraged by his inner circle and the US media and Congress – the parents handing off a gameboy and games to their child who can’t cope with reality bc they don’t want to cope with it either.

    Probably not an apt analogy, but the one that sticks with me.

  13. Mary says:

    More OT, but very related

    US Troops Shoot and Kill Cleric, Father of 10

    U.S. soldiers shot and killed an Afghan cleric as he drove Thursday with his young son near an American base on the eastern edge of Kabul, underscoring the dangers facing civilians despite NATO efforts to minimize casualties.

    It wasn’t exactly clear from the article what those NATO efforts are that are seeking to minimize casualties of people driving their cars with their young children next to them. He leaves behind two wives, 10 children. NATO “said Yunus’ family would be compensated in accordance with local customs”