Revisiting the al-Harithi/Derwish Assassination

I wanted to expand on this comment, because the discussion of whether Anwar al-Awlaki is on both the JSOC and CIA kill lists or not has focused new attention on the assassination, on November 3, 2002, of Abu Ali al-Harithi and Kamal Derwish.

Greg Miller mentions the assassination in his story today.

The CIA has carried out Predator attacks in Yemen since at least 2002, when a drone strike killed six suspected Al Qaeda operatives traveling in a vehicle across desert terrain.

The agency knew that one of the operatives was an American, Kamal Derwish, who was among those killed. Derwish was never on the CIA’s target list, officials said, and the strike was aimed at a senior Al Qaeda operative, Qaed Sinan Harithi, accused of orchestrating the 2000 attack on the U.S. destroyer Cole.

Dana Priest mentions the assassination in her story on escalated operations in Yemen.

In November 2002, a CIA missile strike killed six al-Qaeda operatives driving through the desert. The target was Abu Ali al-Harithi, organizer of the 2000 attack on the USS Cole. Killed with him was a U.S. citizen, Kamal Derwish, who the CIA knew was in the car.

And ABC mentions it as well.

An American citizen with suspected al Qaeda ties was killed in Nov. 2002 in Yemen in a CIA predator strike that was aimed at non-American leaders of al Qaeda. The death of the American citizen, Ahmed Hijazi of Lackawanna, NY, was justified as “collateral damage” at the time because he “was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said a former U.S. official familiar with the case.

Now, all of these articles were written by journalists with long experience in intelligence reporting, so all must know this detail. Still, I find the inclusion of it in all three stories (including Priest’s, in which the focus is on Yemen, rather than assassination) rather notable. Is it possible that all the guys leaking this story have pointed the journalists to the earlier assassination?

I ask because–for starters–I find it rather interesting that that 2002 assassination was rationalized in the name of killing al-Harithi, accused of organizing the USS Cole bombing. That strike happened not long after the US started torturing a guy–Rahim al-Nashiri–whom we’re about to try in military commission for organizing the USS Cole bombing. (And remember, al-Nashiri had been in custody in Dubai for a month by the time the US took custody.) Who was the mastermind of the Cole bombing, then? al-Harithi, who doesn’t even merit a mention in the 9/11 Commission report (though reports from when he was killed said he was among the 12 most senior al Qaeda figures), or al-Nashiri, who does, and is about to be tried for it? Note, too, that the Bush Administration did not announce it had custody of al-Nashiri until several weeks later in November.

Now compare al-Harithi, with his loosely accused role in the Cole, with Kamal Derwish, whom the US accused of recruiting a number of Lackawanna youth into al Qaeda. Not only was Derwish accused of being an ongoing threat–the standard purportedly used to put Americans on kill lists now. But he was accused of training Americans in al Qaeda. Which is not all that different than what the government is accusing al-Awlaki of now.

And note, too, that Priest and maybe Miller [ed. changed per MD’s comment] both now report that the CIA knew Derwish was in the car when they targeted (they say) al-Harithi. When Miller first reported this in 2002, he didn’t mention Derwish’s presence (nor did Pincus). When Priest broke the story of Derwish’s presence in the car, she stated it was unclear whether CIA knew he was there or not.

It was unclear whether the CIA operatives who fired the missile from hundreds of miles away knew that an American citizen was among their targets. It also was unclear whether that would have made any difference.

I guess I’m suggesting that, first of all, it would seem unnecessary to kill a guy for planning the Cole bombing if you knew you had the guy who–you say–planned the Cole bombing in custody. But that claiming a tie between him and the Cole bombing might provide the excuse to target a car carrying your real target, Derwish.

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. behindthefall says:

    claiming a tie between him and the Cole bombing might provide the excuse to target a car carrying your real target, Derwish

    I imagine some officer striding back and forth behind the guys manning the feed from the Predators (or whatever) and saying, “Kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out.” I wonder if these people think anywhere near as much as you do.

    • fatster says:

      Yep, we’ve had Murder Inc going on now for two generations, and it is so firmly embedded that I despair when I think what it’ll take to get back to relative sanity. And now we have the acknowledgement of officially-sanctioned and -conducted torture! Mind reels, heart hurts.

      Thanks yet once again for all you do, EW.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    How many kill lists does the US government have? Does the right hand know what the extreme right hand is doing when it puts people on whatever list it is playing with and then checks them off, as if the listmaker were J. Edgar Hoover in pants, watching films of Dillinger’s last stand.

    • MadDog says:

      How many kill lists does the US government have?…

      Each agency or organization can have their own. You should see the Library of Congress or the Small Business Administration list. WOW!

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Predator attacks are sniper attacks, with a bigger weapon. Snipers attacks substitute for knifes, pistols or bare hands because they can be done at a distance. It’s still government-sanctioned murder that the government justifies based on the threat posed by the person murdered – his or her intent, willingness, ability and capability to harm.

    Organized criminals from Sicily or Wall Street engage in that sort of thing every day and we still try them in federal courts, at least those who haven’t bought themselves immunity by “cooperating” or by just buying a Congresscritter or a campaign or even a government. Yet, Predators – the military version – are not often seen flying over Manhattan.

    At best, assassinations, like torture, seem justifiable (a proposition I would dispute), only in the context of the “ticking time bomb” scenario. We’re still waiting to hear of a single real-world example of that scenario, though we’ve been deluged with plenty of fictional dramas claiming that they routinely exist.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      I heard Madeleine Albright on book-tv today say that it is a difficult question whether it is right to kill people at a distance (said in repsonse to a q about predators, but also pointed out that the same q applied to air wars as in Kosovo), but she thought that if you killed more terrorists than you created by inadvertant killing of civilians, then what you are doing is morally OK.

      • Jesterfox says:

        If we’re going to talk about the morality of killing innocents, why not refer back to the story of Sodom and Gomorah? Lot has a discussion with God about this very subject. Lot presses God to spare the cities for the sake of the few innocents. The ratio of innocents to guilty is far greater than what God agreed to in the case that Albright oks, suggesting that she is not really talking about morality. She is approving of tactical efficiency.

    • rxbusa says:

      well, we have had 2 ticking time bomb example stories recently (Abdulmutallab and Hasan) and what we showed was that we can’t detect the ticking very well. How, with our lousy track record at sorting out real from imaginary threats, we can justify creating a kill list is beyond me.

  4. MadDog says:

    …And note, too, that Priest and Miller both now report that the CIA knew Derwish was in the car when they targeted (they say) al-Harithi…

    I would have come to this conclusion as well, but for EW’s cautionary note about sentence construction in her last post:

    …you’re going to put someone on a kill list using a passive construction?

    So having been reminded of the necessity of parsing a sentence properly, I would state that EW’s conclusion on the Greg Miller sentence is one of the alternative readings that we could arrive at.

    Miller’s phrasing:

    …The CIA has carried out Predator attacks in Yemen since at least 2002, when a drone strike killed six suspected Al Qaeda operatives traveling in a vehicle across desert terrain.

    The agency knew that one of the operatives was an American, Kamal Derwish, who was among those killed. Derwish was never on the CIA’s target list, officials said, and the strike was aimed at a senior Al Qaeda operative, Qaed Sinan Harithi, accused of orchestrating the 2000 attack on the U.S. destroyer Cole…

    A second alternate reading could be that after the November 2002 CIA Predator strike, the CIA was able to after-the-fact investigatively and forensically identify the occupants of the vehicle, and at that time, Derwish’s identify was established (pocket litter such as ID, DNA, etc).

    Lastly, I too tend to find EW’s conclusion the more probable one and the one that I agree with, but having jumped to a conclusion myself too many times in my own life, I must acknowledge the additional possibility.

    • MadDog says:

      To further buttress my “alternative reading” point, part of the reason it occurred to me was that my disconnect meter was jingling with this other Greg Miller sentence:

      …No U.S. citizen has ever been on the CIA’s target list, which mainly names Al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, according to current and former U.S. officials…

      If the CIA knew beforehand that Derwish was an occupant in the November 2002 CIA Predator strike, then this final sentence in Greg Miller’s article was really a distinction without a difference:

      …Derwish was never on the CIA’s target list, officials said, and the strike was aimed at a senior Al Qaeda operative, Qaed Sinan Harithi, accused of orchestrating the 2000 attack on the U.S. destroyer Cole.

      • emptywheel says:

        I changed my wording per you cautions.

        But I don’t think Miller’s report on whether any American has been on the CIA (as opposed to JSOC) list affects the Derwish question.

        The narrative that Priest seems to suggest and Miller more weakly so is that faced with Derwish in a car in 2002, they put together a case against al-Harithi, and took Derwish as gravy. It’s the kind of massaging of the rules you’d expect people like Jose Rodriguez to do pretty happily. One of my big qusetions is whether the claims abotu al-Harithi conflict with the justification they would have had to make to use torture with al-Nashiri.

        THat is, al-Nashiri could not be in their HVD program–as he was by the date of this strike–unless they had made similar justifications about al-Nashiri as they would make to get someone on the kill list (arguably, stronger ones–it seems they usually kept more senior people alive and killed the managers just the level down). So was the hit on al-Harithi the result of intelligence collected from al-Nashiri (probably when he was still in custody of Dubai)? Or did the claims abotu al-Harithi conflict with claims that the same CTC people were makign to justify al-Nashiri’s treatment under HVD?

        • Mary says:

          It’s the kind of massaging of the rules you’d expect people like Jose Rodriguez to do pretty happily. One of my big qusetions is whether the claims abotu al-Harithi conflict with the justification they would have had to make to use torture with al-Nashiri

          I’ll go back to the Al-Farouq, al-Libi, Zubaydah example I’ve used before on this same kind of “massaging of the rules” issue. Yoo tells CIA (whose lawyers have not been investigated) that they have to be able to say that Zubaydah (and other torturees) are high level operational al-Qaeda to justify the torture. Then you get all the early torturees cross identifying each other as high level operational al-Qaeda. Zubaydah points to al-Farouq as the head of Southeast Asia al-Qaeda (not Hambali) and al-Farouq and Zubaydah point to al-Libi as a part of al-Qaedas governing council and al-libi and al-faruq point to Zubaydah as operational al-Qaeda etc.

          One thing that seems to jump out is that the result of torture (the identifications) is used for the justifications of the tortures (Zubaydah can be tortured bc we tortured al-Faruq and al-Libi into admitting he was hi level operational al-Qaeda, al-Libi can be tortured bc we tortured al-Faruq and Zubaydah into saying he was hi level operational al-Qaeda, etc.)

          These are the kinds of sticky things you can see being at issue in trials (although what happened to Siddiqui’s children hasn’t come up in her trial ) If A under torture identifies B as the mastermind, then you assassinate B based on that torture id, then what do you do about trying A for the being the mastermind later? It’s a bit of an issue with KSM too – only the man already convicted in the Pearl torture murder hasn’t been assassinated by the US (yet) in Pakistan.

          It’s why I focus on the use of “operational” in the current descriptions of awlaki. I’m not really doubting that he is, but if he is, why is the only thing anyone is pointing to still his rhetoric? It’s important for something that is being massaged that he be labelled “operational” and that is apparently part of what they are working on.

          More to the point, though, you have someone who is not only an American, but also an American who is a material witness with respect to the Ft. Hood mass murder. But instead of trying to capture him or get intel released on that mass murder – the US wants to seal the story forever with an assassination.

          • Leen says:

            “More to the point, though, you have someone who is not only an American, but also an American who is a material witness with respect to the Ft. Hood mass murder. But instead of trying to capture him or get intel released on that mass murder – the US wants to seal the story forever with an assassination”

            What are the pluses withb sealing the story forever?

            If they had captured al Awlaki what would have been the charges against him? Encouraging jihad via the internet?

        • MadDog says:

          …The narrative that Priest seems to suggest and Miller more weakly so is that faced with Derwish in a car in 2002, they put together a case against al-Harithi, and took Derwish as gravy. It’s the kind of massaging of the rules you’d expect people like Jose Rodriguez to do pretty happily…

          Agreed! Lists are so…legal…and…incriminating. Ad hoc inclusions without written documentation can be pawned off as the “fog of war”.

          …That is, al-Nashiri could not be in their HVD program–as he was by the date of this strike–unless they had made similar justifications about al-Nashiri as they would make to get someone on the kill list (arguably, stronger ones–it seems they usually kept more senior people alive and killed the managers just the level down)…

          I would also further note that no HVDs have apparently been detained (versus assassinated) since about the time that JSOC was awarded, via Presidential diktat, the lead role in prosecuting the GWOT circa 2004 (see my comment back on Dec. 11 2009 which drew from page 5 of this September 10, 2006 WaPo Dana Priest article).

          What I’m saying is that since SOCOM(JSOC) was placed in charge of the GWOT back in 2004, there have been no more HVDs (High Value Detainees), but instead there seems to be a deliberate decision to go from HVDs to HVTs (High Value Targets).

          One can somewhat understand the previous Administration’s decision to go this route. They were getting grief about Black Sites, about GITMO, about Torture, about Military Commissions, about Habeas Corpus, about damn near everything they did in the GWOT.

          So in order to circumvent all that grief, all those legal niceties required by SCOTUS, all the Congressional whinging (their view), etc., the mission changed from getting HDVs to killing HVTs.

          We’ve also discussed many times on this blog the lack of Congressional oversight with regard to DOD, and in particular JSOC, clandestine operations.

          I’m coming around to the opinion that this lack of Congressional oversight on JSOC operations is not as a result of lack of Congressional will, but instead a deliberate Congressional decision not to ask any questions.

          For some of the same reasons that the previous Administration switched from getting HDVs to killing HVTs, so too did Congresscritters deliberately close their eyes, their ears, their mouths and their noses.

          Shorter Congress: “Better off not to ask, better off not to know.”

          • MadDog says:

            And following the logic of changing from getting HVDs to killing HVTs, what does this say about the singular justification used by the Bush/Cheney supporters for enhanced interrogations torture?

            Their constant and only justification has been the necessity of preventing a ticking time bomb scenario.

            How can they now rationalize this position if they’re no longer getting HVDs to interrogate torture, but instead are just killing the HVTs?

            Does this not now totally demolish Cheney’s justification for enhanced interrogation torture?

            Does this not now totally demolish the purported intelligence “value” gained from Cheney’s enhanced interrogation torture program?

            That Anwar al-Awlaki is on a JSOC kill list, and is now or shortly may be on a CIA kill list rather than on a HDV list says much about the Repugs’ justification argument for torture, and so too for their purported intelligence “value” that was to be gained by interrogating torturing HVDs.

            It says very clearly that we would rather just kill these folks than find out what they are plotting to do.

          • emptywheel says:

            What I’m saying is that since SOCOM(JSOC) was placed in charge of the GWOT back in 2004, there have been no more HVDs (High Value Detainees), but instead there seems to be a deliberate decision to go from HVDs to HVTs (High Value Targets).

            Not entirely true. At the least there is Abu Furaj al Libi, in early 2005. And depending on when Rummy took over, a bunch of people in fall 2004. And that’s what we know of.

            That said, I agree with the general premise. In general they were HVTs until early 2002, then HVDs from 2002 (when CIA put a program together) until early 2005, and then back to HVTs.

            Plus people being rendered to third countries.

            • Rayne says:

              You know, the timing all points to 2005 being pivotal.

              I wonder if whatever got those videos destroyed also changed the policy from HVDs to HVTs.

  5. Mary says:

    What a mish mash

    So Priest, up first, reports that the CIA already (as of several months ago – i.e., once Obama took over) has 3 Americans on it’s assassination list and is contemplating adding Awlaki. She also reports that JSOC has 3 Americans on their assassinaton list, including Awlaki – who was added (“added” implying the other names were already there) late last year – a Bush leaving office present.

    So per Priest, we have CIA with no Americans targeted for assassination during the Bush/Cheney years, but “several months ago” they get a list of three and are now thinking of adding Awlaki. IOW, Obama makes the pick to use CIA to assassinate Americans. We mentioned it here back when, but remember “back when” the CIA was making noises about how, if Obama and Holder pushd on the torture investigation the CIA might not do questionable things for Obama? And the spec was about just what he was asking them to do that gave them so much power – and now we know. Kill Americans for me boys and girls – and don’t worry about mistakes.

    We also know that McChrystal got a lot of sway very early on with Obama and now we know that late last year JSOC has an American assassination list to which Awlaki was added. Once Obama and Jeh Johnson came onboard they were apparently ok-dokey with that.

    No wonder McChrystal has publically had what passes for borderline contempt for Obama. Mr. Changling was just the petulant gamer, happy to engage in assassination efforts using “his” military pawn pieces along with surges and threats against Britain etc. Presumably someone went and got some legal cover on JOSC assassinations of Americans not on a battlefield and not subject to any trial to determine if they have the right person. Nice for everyone that Dawn Johnsen wasn’t around for that. But of note – JSOC wasn’t waiting around mulling legalities, it already had Awlaki on its assassination list when Obama came onboard and the CIC and Pentagon Gen Counsel and OLC and AG apparently didn’t change any of that. And apparently there has been a decision that no one cares about the intel – you know, that intel that was so important before that we had to become a state sponsor of torture to get it – that intel is of no value. And no one is having any kind of public discussion or debate over any of this.

    Then starting “several months” ago, per Priest, the CIA gets a list from Obama of 3 Americans (apparently one not on the JSOC list which is 3 including Awlaki) to assassinate. So does anyone wonder if Greg Craig was asked to give Obama advice on signing off on those assassination orders? Or Holder or OLC? Anyway, CIA is also, per Priest NOW thinking about adding Awlaki (which is a bit disingenuous since it would be Obama’s, not the CIA’s, decision – and a definite reason to make sure you get something back from Obama for it). ABC appears to prequel that (CIA doesn’t have Awlaki on its list yet) with its piece that WH lawyers (not Greg Craig anymore) are “mulling” the legality of assassinating Awlaki – while ignoring the attempts already made by JSOC and claimed by the US (when they thought they had him) and apparently with ABC not knowing or not mentioning that the mullers had already mulled around assassinating 3 other Americans with no big problems.

    Then you get the LAT/Miller piece.

    It goes to great pains to say that there has NEVER been (in line with what Ross put in for the CIA in his piece) any US names on the assassination list. [All of which takes me back to Panetta’s scurry over to brief Congress about an *assasination* program that supposedly had NEVER taken off – and yet even Miller’s effort to claim that Americans have not been on the list to date doesn’t really meld well with the statements after the Panetta scurry that implied *no assassinations have gotten out of planning* since Miller says that the length of the CIA assassination list “contracts as targets thousands of miles away, in places including Pakistan and Yemen, seem to spontaneously explode”

    Pakistan/Yemen – not Iraq/Afghanistan. And as EW has mentioned over and over, the al-Harithi (with his assasination in Yemen) story was already around. So it makes me kind of wonder if what caused the Panetta scramble was finding out that Obama had put Americans on the assassination list and Panetta though Congress should be told.

    So we have Priest saying – ya, CIA has Americans on its assassination list but they were only put there several months ago and ABC saying hey, putting awlaki on a CIA assassination list would be a brand new thingy and Miller saying hey, putting awlaki on the CIA assassination list would be a brand new thingy and guess what – Obama would have to be the guy who is responsible for the decision. Priest and Miller mention the previous awlaki attack by JSOC and confirm that JSOC has its own list of Americans to assassinate (but without much on the process for that list).

    For the CIA list, Miller’s sources are eager to spell out process. Attorneys are involved in the assassination planning and approvals. Principles of “necessity” are reviewed (apparently without any feedback on what happens when your *necessary* assasination kills other people and not even your target – that’s an odd stretch I’ve never seen covered by necessity) Per Miller, “new names” are run by the Pentagon Gen Counsel every month and “sometimes” Panetta. Sometimes? Really? You have a list of only 2 doz or so and its a damned assassination program operating in foreign countries and they only “sometimes” run the names by Panetta?

    Everyone granting approval, per Miller’s sources, has to put their name in ink. The National Security Council (didn’t Obama put Brennan in charge of a revamp of the NSC) oversees the assassination program and the CIA

    …generally does not need White House approval when adding names to the target list.

    The only exception, officials said, would be when the name is a U.S. citizen’s.

    IOW, if a US citizen’s name is on the list or not on the list – it’s Obama’s responsiblity and his name should be there somewhere. So how hard is it to be conducting a torture investigation when you and your DOJ are authorizing and running an assassination (including of Americans not in Iraq or Afghanistan) program?

    And on the one hand, all that is necessary to get on the list is to be a “continuing threat” and yet a source says with some confidence that Gadan isn’t on the list and that

    Espousing violence or providing financial support to Al Qaeda would not meet the threshold, officials said. But providing training to would-be terrorists or helping them get to Al Qaeda camps probably would.

    That sounds like something from some kind of legal analysis that was provided imo.

    Another source very carefully claims that Awlaki has moved from being a recruiter to an operational player (again, imo, sounds like someone trying to check off a requirement from a memo), but no one really every offers up WHY the decision has been made that he is “operational” as opposed to recruiting/inspirational.

    Since the Panetta scurry there’s been the feel of rolling disclosures at work. I think the earlier intentional killing of a US citizen in connection with the al-Harithi assassination gets mentioned bc it raises a lot of issues. At least an American “directly” targeted gets some kind of review, but Americans killed as collateral damage to other assassinations have nothing. So what if, for example, you wanted to target a woman who was a non-US citizen, but who has US citizen children. Can you take out her children as collateral damage with no worries? What about an American aid worker who happens to be in the wrong place? Maybe a US missionary family? Oh sure, we wouldn’t target a US missionary family, but it’s ok to take them out as collateral damage with respect to other assassination programs? What about a journalist pain in the butt? What if they happen to be in an area where al-Qaeda has operated and oh golly, we “thought” we had an al-Qaeda operative there -oops, our mistake, but that collateral damage dead journo was just in the “wrong” place (where they can get facts) at the wrong time. After all, if they are really in the wrong place – near a suspected training camp for example – the CIA doesn’t need to have any intel that an assassination target will be there to go ahead and – – – assassinate anyone who is there, in whatever country.

    Is anyone in Congress giving a rats ass about what is going on? It sounds so nifty – oh, we’ll just use our nifty intel and nifty tech stuff and “take out” the bad guys and it’ll be so nifty, but there’s a reason we don’t bomb LA neighborhoods where gang members are hanging out. There’s a reason we have trials for that matter. Was al-Harithi the Cole Mastermind? Or was he assassinated as a result of the Cole Mastermind being tortured and coughing up a different name to escape torture or to give cover for an assassination of an American in Yemen? Was al-Libi on the assassination list? Questions that will never get asked bc Congress isn’t doing its job and The Changling is enamored of his ability to blow people up when his day job gets tough and unrewarding.

    So far we know there’s basically no process for JSOC assassination and no process in CIA assassination for Americans killed as collateral damage. And only Miller mentions that the CIA has made some pretty bad mistakes (the way he puts it in, I wonder if the “other” el-Masri was on the assassination list and since the mistake el-Masri wasn’t an American, if that purported “joking” conversation about just killing him off wasn’t so *joking*). But imagine how well the “detention” issue takes care of itself when you can just assassinate your toture victims – and if they aren’t Americans you don’t need to even bother the President and you only sometimes have to mention it to the CIA director.

    Miller makes sure that even while he mentions CIA mistakes, he doesn’t flat out say they kill innocent people when they make mistakes.

    The program is not foolproof, as drone strikes often kill multiple people even when the intended target escapes.

    They kill multiple people and not the intended target – but without ever saying that those multiple people may have not been al-Qaeda at all.

    And Obama can’t figure out why things aren’t going well. You know, he had a really good meeting with the GOPers that should have shown him something. On almost all of that, he came off really well bc he could and did tell the truth – it makes for pretty damn effective communication. But he’s wrapped himself in a torture and lies and war crimes and Constitutional mantle for HIS (and it’s his now) GWOT and he wonders why it doesn’t go well. He’s ready to engage in assassination of Americans, but not to tell the truth about a bipolar chef sold into depraved human experimentation at GITMO – bc he won’t stand up and be the US President who admits to US war crimes adopted as policy out of the WH. But everyone knows it and he’s asking the world to operate in his fantasy as his “plan” to win his GWOT.

    He’s living in his Gamer fantasyland.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      Both Mary and Marcy, you folks are the best. Great article and great comment (could be its own article).

      I’ve said it somewhere, but assassination is the third rail of American politics. It’s existence gets leaked, there’s a story here and there, but a peek under the veil and there is a horrible degradation of all culture and civilization into a gangster-like rule of hellish murder. One cannot predict with any accuracy, but no society can exist with such great crimes for long. It was, for instance, the crimes of Stalinism that brought about its destruction in the USSR and East European countries, that corroded the moral fiber of the peoples, and in the end, those governments imploded. (See the wonderful movie, The Lives of Others.)

      The same will happen here. It’s only a matter of time. The question then will become what will replace it.

  6. emptywheel says:

    Mary

    Two initial points.

    The order of the articles is ABC, then Priest, then LAT.

    The scenario laid out by Priest says nothing about what happened in the 2008 to 2009 transition. The only thing she says is that JSOC added Al-Awlaki to its list in late 2009 (after the Hasan Ft Hood killings and–she implies–in the immediate aftermath of both the attempted killing of Awlaki and others on December 24, 2009 and the aftermath of the Christmas underwear bombing attempt.

    She also implies both JSOC and CIA had a list that included Americans before Awlaki was on it (it’s possible though unlikely that CIA’s AMericans all got added this year).

    • Mary says:

      The order of the articles is ABC, then Priest, then LAT

      I got that

      The scenario laid out by Priest says nothing about what happened in the 2008 to 2009 transition.

      That I screwed up – not used to this being 2010 yet and typing too fast while reading too. I was reading the addition of awlaki to an existing JSCO list last last year as being 2008, not 2009. So she doesn’t say when the JSOC list of Americans for assasination started (could be anytime) just that Awlaki was “added” in late 2009 (NOT the 2008 that I was thinking – so Obama added him to the JSOC list and who generated the already existing names on the JSOC list when Awlaki was added is up for grabs)

      She also implies both JSOC and CIA had a list that included Americans before Awlaki was on it (it’s possible though unlikely that CIA’s AMericans all got added this year).

      I think that’s where I went too on JSOC – that when she said, “The JSOC list includes three Americans, including Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year” the use of the word “added” implies that the list was already in existence, but I think that since she uses the phrase “several months ago” in connection with the CIA list that would not be consistent with it being possible that the CIA’s Americans all got added this year.

      As of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official said that Aulaqi’s name has now been added

      I completely screwed up the JSOC timing as going back to 2008, but I think the rest is pretty accurate. As of several months ago has to date the CIA list to 2009 when the article is Jan 2010 doesn’t it? Of course, Miller is saying that there is no such list and the Priest prequel ABC piece seems to say the same – that this would be a big extension – for a US citizen to be put on an assasination list

      And part of the story being floated on JSOC seems to be that it was a “joint” JSOC/Yemeni effort, all of which fuzzes over the assassination issue even more – if you are asking a foreign gov to take out an American and providing logistics or more – where does that fall? Is it different if you are encouraging their intel to kill an American or if you are encouraging their military to kill an American?

      I gotta go do other things and it’s probably just as well. I’m not in a calm place these days to start with – too many everyday problems – so I’m just in a venting, rambling place these days. Not productive for much of anything.

  7. Leen says:

    ot
    Mary/Ew/all

    Have you seen Jeremy Scahill’s report on the father who is going after Blackwater for killing his son? Over at Dem Now (unable to link)
    EXCLUSIVE…Blackwater’s Youngest Victim: Father of 9 Year-Old Killed in Nisour Square Gives Most Detailed Account of Massacre to Date

    Heart wrenching. Do you think there is anything we could do to support his quest for justice?

    this was just put up over at the thread at Seminal that I posted about this tragedy
    stonepig January 31st, 2010 at 12:01 pm 20Attys Dickinson and Maurey are the attys for this case and they are at this website with contact info. I say we do what we can.

    http://www.lewis-roberts.com/Attorneys/Gary-V-Mauney.shtml

  8. bobschacht says:

    I left this comment on the old OPR thread, where it belongs in the discussion there, but since that thread may be dead, please excuse the cross-comment here. This is still a good place for a few quotes from the late great Howard Zinn, from Roy J. Eidelson, President, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, from recent years that seem especially important today for FDL.

    ********************

    “The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth.

    Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. That age-old lesson – that everything we do matters – is the meaning of the people’s struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think, when we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress. We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom, or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back.”

    ********************

    “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

    What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

    And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
    ********************

    Bob in AZ

  9. ThingsComeUndone says:

    I guess I’m suggesting that, first of all, it would seem unnecessary to kill a guy for planning the Cole bombing if you knew you had the guy who–you say–planned the Cole bombing in custody. But that claiming a tie between him and the Cole bombing might provide the excuse to target a car carrying your real target, Derwish.

    Why go after Derwish what did he know?

    • eCAHNomics says:

      From an earlier post, he seems to have been some one who could have described exactly what & why the Lackawana Six did what they did. Don’t know enough about it to be more precise.

      • ThingsComeUndone says:

        who could have described exactly what & why the Lackawana Six did what they did.

        Interesting why would the CIA find that threatening unless of course the CIA lied about something?

  10. ThingsComeUndone says:

    The agency knew that one of the operatives was an American, Kamal Derwish,

    How does an American get anywhere near a top al Quieda guy? Do you know the crap I get when hispanics find out I don’t speak Spanish? Kamal might have looked and spoken the language but if he said he was American well foreigners terrorist foreigners would assume he was CIA. He would never get near the top guys.
    Unless he had a cover story and maybe said he was Canadian. In other words he could have been one of our own spies in deep cover who knew something.
    Or lets put this another way what are the odds a White Man from the burbs has of joining the Latin Kings street gang in Chicago and moving up the ranks to hang with the Kings top leaders?
    Now multiple those odds

    • Rayne says:

      There two other potential scenarios which come to mind:

      – Derwish might have a double- or triple-agent, like the one which blew himself up along with the CIA station in Khost;

      – Derwish might have known things which were too sensitive to remain in the wild — like those suicides in the classified area of Gitmo who were alleged by some to have been offed because they knew methods and sources related to key renditions. He may not have been a firm target but a bonus cleaning.

      • ThingsComeUndone says:

        Hmm ok the first scenario agreed its possible. The second the CIA don’t kill its own unless he was going to talk or maybe he wasn’t CIA just subcontractor a loose end.
        Still 3 different reporters got leaked this story someone wanted this story out there so al-Harithi had friends in the agency.

        • Rayne says:

          You know the other part of this situation which is extremely consistent?

          CIA Predator strike or CIA missile attack.

          Which seems really out of sync compared to the MO utilized as the invisible policy transitioned from HVDs to HVTs — the hits were performed not by CIA but by JSOC.

          Was the al-Harith/Derwish a policy-changing event? Is this when the assassination teams for CIA and JSOC were developed, but CIA put on hold (perhaps as a placeholder/dummy op) while JSOC moved forward?

          (I note that eleven days after the hit job, CIA modified two directives related to compartmentalized access programs.)

          [edit: ODNI was created in 2005, btw, with repercussions still being felt.]

    • Nell says:

      @ThingsComeUndone: related to your question about Derwish. He didn’t grow up in the U.S., but acquired citizenship while living here.

      Kamal Derwish, aka Ahmed Hijazi, was a Yemeni citizen who “held U.S. citizenship and was also a citizen of an unidentified Middle Eastern country, a senior administration official confirmed. He was not born in the United States, but resided here for an unknown period of time, the official said.” [Dana Priest story Nov. 8 2002]

      An AP story Nov. 9 2002:

      A Yemeni-American killed in a CIA airstrike in Yemen has links to alleged members of the al Qaeda cell in suburban Buffalo, N.Y., that was raided by U.S. authorities in September, a U.S. government official said Friday. … Hijazi’s precise links to the Buffalo cell were not made clear. Yemeni officials believe Hijazi was a pseudonym, and his real name was not known.

      Two alleged members of the Buffalo cell, leader Kamal Derwish and Jaber Elbaneh, were at large in Yemen, according to U.S. officials. Officials would not say whether Hijazi was one of these two. Six more alleged members of the cell, all Americans of Yemeni descent, were arrested just days after the Sept. 11 anniversary.

      At some point later “officials” did confirm that Hijazi was Derwish.

      Given Priest’s initial reporting of the story of a U.S. citizen killed in a targeted attack, I’d expect her to have made the connection with the more recent assassinations story on her own. The other two lend weight to the idea that sources are bringing up the Derwish connection.

  11. ocean1 says:

    Murder Inc, USA…we say not in our name, but do the pols and the CIA care and the world doesn’t care either. It’s no wonder we are sinking economically (and in other aspects too of course). Thanks for the post.

  12. orionATL says:

    Ot

    Ew-

    The issues being discussed here are far more consequential,

    But

    I have a question about the toyota failure-to-heed or inclination to cover-up.

    My question involves cultures.

    Was toyota’s obliviouness/unresponsiveness limited to toyota north America with the p.r. Guided by American p.r. Types/lawyers,

    Or was Japanese business culture also involved?

  13. brantl says:

    Why can’t more than one person have contributed to the planning of an attack? Did they say sole planner, in either case?

  14. fatster says:

    Blackwater continues, at our expense: “After Blackwater contractors were accused of shooting 17 civilians in Iraq, the State Department announced it would stop doing business with the company, but ABC News has found that several other agencies, including the CIA and the Pentagon, continue to employ the controversial company, under a myriad of names, often via secret, classified contracts.”