US Assassinates Saif Qaddafi and Three Qaddafi Grandsons

[Update caveat: As i mentioned in comments, there is no independent confirmation other than the Libya press release/announcement that either Saif or children truly were killed. Many on the ground in Libya are skeptical that it is a stunt. That is certainly possible; however, that is a ruse that would be exposed you would think, so it would not seem to make for a promising stunt. It is possible though.]

Fresh off the BBC wire:

A Nato air strike in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, has killed the son of the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi, a government spokesman has said.

Colonel Gaddafi himself was in the large residential villa which was hit by the strike, the spokesman added, but he was unharmed.

His son Saif al-Arab was killed, as well as three of his grandsons.

Journalists say the building was extensively damaged and one unexploded bomb remains at the site.

Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said the villa was attacked “with full power.”

NBC’s Richard Engel reports the “images look like NATO used bunker busters on compound”.

That is some “no fly zone” that is being enforced; apparently civilians, women and children (Saif Qaddafi and Qaddafi grandchildren) on the ground are considered legitimate targets. Mr. Obama and his White House have spoken out of both sides of their mouths as to whether “regime change” was their goal. Defense Secretary Gates has admitted that Libya did not pose any “actual or imminent threat” to the US. Mr. Obama has refused to characterize the Libyan intervention as a war even though it obviously is. The US is, just as obviously, the lead actor despite the faux NATO patina and gloss put on the pig.

So, is this type of action, full frontal force against the head of state and his family permitted under the UN resolution or the US guidance? Well, the operative UN provision is UNSCR 1973 . The OLC authorizing memo text is here.

Quite frankly it is hard to find any legal basis under either UN or US authorizations for the action that has been consummated today. Section 4 of UNSCR 1973 does authorize a broad range of force to ”protect civilians and civilian populated areas”; however, it is hard to see the moral, ethical or legal justification for today’s acts in that. It seems all the more tenuous coming directly on the heels of Qaddafi’s plea for a ceasefire.

As Jeremy Scahill stated,

Killing a dictator’s innocent grandchildren really showcases our moral superiority.

No kidding. But what the heck, maybe Obama can cut a few more drone killing jokes tonight at the White House Correspondents Dinner nerdprom. He seems to really like that kind of humor.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

  1. cmaukonen says:

    No, no, no you don’t understand. There was a typo when they released the resolution. What it should have read is No Flies Zone. To keep out all the pesky insects.

  2. Twain says:

    What a sad day for our country. We managed to kill 3 children and our lives just go on. Obama feels nothing.

  3. hackworth1 says:

    The West does not care to test our statements. They only care to rob us of our freedom, our wealth, which is oil, and our right to decide out future as Libyans.” – Libyan Gov. Spokesman

    From BBC linked above.

    Also: The murdered son was 29 yrs old. How old were his children?

  4. bmaz says:

    As Daveed points out, there does not yet appear to be solid confirmation yet on the grandchildren etc, and those kinds of claims have sometimes been exploited to stir emotion on the Arab street before. I have an inkling the report is accurate though.

  5. onitgoes says:

    Didn’t we already kill Kaddafi’s daughter in the way-back machine? And now the son’s blood & possibly grandkids’ blood is on MY hands. Great!

    What a wonderful world. /s

    • DWBartoo says:

      On a personal note, onitgoes, a younger cousin of mine was responsible for laying out the bombing run for that particular day. He carefully laid it out so that, as best he could determine, there would be NO casualties … at the last minute his plan was over-ridden by his superiors … with the results we now know.

      To this day, my cousin carries the weight of that death.

      I share in his anguish because he came to me for some thoughts before joining the military. He knew that I had refused to be drafted during Vietnam and asked me whether, morally, it was right to even join the military.

      I told him that I felt that the military and the nation needed as many genuine human beings as could deal with some of what they would experience in that service to the nation.

      I still feel that way, but my concerns are tempered with the understanding that “leadership” now, both military and political seem to have a “philosophy” very different to that held by officers whom I have known and respected in the past … frankly, there are no political “leaders” who have earned or had that respect for longer than I may easily remember.

      If military leaders are now political, when once, at least some, valued the truth of things … even those things leading to a “run-up” to war such as the “incident” in the Gulf of Tonkin, when certain high-ranking naval intelligence officers dared to dispute the “official” version of what had occurred … then, whatever may pass as good conscience would prevent me from encouraging any young person who asked me whether they might do humanly worthwhile things in the military, even as Bradley manning has done, to join such madness and mindless, deliberate making of mayhem.

      DW

  6. Romberry says:

    Right now I am so proud to be an American that I could just spit.

    Obama lied us into another war. (No-fly zone my arse.) Now that’s what I call change you can believe in!

  7. Xcroc says:

    A friend sent this link an hour or two ago, which may have some relevance.
    The Murder of Muammar Qaddafi Is Planned For May 2, 2011

    which includes:

    This urgent decision was taken due to a chain of failures that have ruined original plans by anti-Libyan coalition: successes of regular Libyan army, the joining of Bedouin tribes to pro-Qaddafi forces and the creation of “second front” in Benghazi. This front consists of the armed groups of civil militia, ordinary citizens who are seeking restoration of the rule of law in Benghazi. They declared that they wouldn’t stand so-called “rebels” any more in their city, who are fighting each other and expose violence on city’s population.

    The main reason for so fast-track preparations of the assassination of Libyan leader is the recent decision of Italian parliament to discuss the course of anti-Gaddafi company during a special session, which will be held on May 3, 2011. Now the matter is still handled by Silvio Berlusconi’s party. Emerging disagreements in the ruling coalition of Italy on the issue of war in Libya may lead to the decay of the Italian coalition next week. In this case Berlusconi will lose his post of Prime Minister and Italy would leave anti-Libyan coalition for some time or maybe even forever.

    Such political success of anti-war sentiments in Italy can lead to the splash of similar anti-war moods in other countries that would make impossible to reach the declared goals of the war against Gaddafi. Leaders of Great Britain, France and the USA perceive this perspective quite seriously and so the proposal to kill informal leader of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, not later than 2nd of May – before the session of Italian Parliament – was accepted. The leaders of coalition are sure that Gaddafi’s death would destroy spiritual union of Libyan forces and make them incapable to resist international aggression or at least would significantly weaken and demoralize them.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    About now Mr. Obama will be reiterating that we are not at war, that we are only acting in support of Libyan rebels, and that while regime change would be desirable, it is not our mission nor the focus of our support efforts. Gee, I could work for the White House, if my comments weren’t meant to point out that this administration’s hypocrisies have become international lies.

    As Mr. Scahill points out, killing so many non-combatants underscores our moral superiority. That observation is probably buried in an OLC memo that concluded that threatening to crush the genitals of a detainee’s son was a legal and acceptable form of terrorism interrogation. Which means that actually killing children and grandchildren, incidental to support operations and not regime change efforts, must be OK too.

  9. spanishinquisition says:

    How nice – having the UN Assassination Squad…now that’s change I can believe in! This is totally defeating the whole purpose of the UN, which was meant to stop wars from happening, not start wars and assassinations. Then again, as we’ve seen in Iraq, toppling the head of state is the start of things, not the end of things.

  10. karenjj2 says:

    As Walt Kelley’s Pogo would say, “We have met the terrorists, and they are us.”

    I an so sad and disgusted

    karen

  11. Knox says:

    The US once again is securing its image for posterity. The only difference is that, this time, the Commander-in-chief is a Nobel Peace Prize winner. What a joke. I realize that this is NATO backing up the UN, but it’s hard not to see the hand of US so-called leaders behind it.

    The same thing happened before the US caught Saddam Hussein. His sons and grandson were killed. I suppose this is a way to neuter a leader politically. Whether or not the son or grandsons in this case were going to succeed him, their deaths are likely part of an effort to make sure that he’s seen as being a leader with no heirs and, therefore, no future.

    Secretary Clinton, as someone who supported you in 2008, I’d be happy to hear you condemn this airstrike that ridiculously, counterproductively and stupidly killed civilians. But I know you won’t.

  12. Twain says:

    At one point during WW2 Churchill said “this is not the beginning of the end, it’s the end of the beginning.” I suspect that this is true of our current situation – just getting started taking over the ME.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Whatever Britain’s imperial atrocities, that elegant turn of phrase and martial radio delivery were about having survived a punishing air onslaught and the loss of virtually all England’s allies to the Nazis, but having yet survived. America’s eventual entry into the war started the turning of the tide.

      In Libya, of course, we and NATO are doing the bombing, clearly targeting civilian as well as “command and control centers”, which are legitimate targets – in a war. It does seem time for the forthright Mr. Obama to return to Congress and to address the American people about what his goals in Libya really are, what it will cost, and the outcome he hopes for.

      • bluedot12 says:

        That seems reasonable. O and Nato should come clean about the objective here. But I fear they will not do so. So we have de facto war, like it or not, allegedly in defense of “rebel” civilians who were about to be slaughtered. On the other side Qaddafi and his buddies have not missed a turn to fire staight into those civilians. They all suck.

    • gigi3 says:

      It’s not just the ME. The strategy, per Paul Wolfowitz, is to take down all the client states of the former Soviet Union. Wesley Clark brought this up in one of his speeches:

      It ties into the PNAC documents that discuss “full spectrum dominance.”

      • banderson2 says:

        This is not just about the former client states of the former now defunct Soviet Union but about Russia, China and any other country that might oppose the West in the future. Think outside the box. If the Western powers (US, UK, French) can create a precedent wherein any group of activists within a government decides that government is illegitimate and they want to demonstrate and end up being shot at and then the United Nations decides to get involve and they request Nato to provide the firepower, all of a sudden you have unlimited conflicts in the name of humanitarian relief. We have already seen this in the Ivory Coast with the UN and French forces attacking Gabago even though that was beyond their mandate. All they had to do was get a few press releases stating that they had been attacked and all of a sudden they were firing missiles from helicopters at supposedly command and control facilities which just so happen to be in the palace where Gabago was staying. See Libya, Syria, Yemen and keep a eye out for the big prize, Iran.

        • gigi3 says:

          You are correct that U S action will not be limited to the former S U client states. The strategy of “full spectrum dominance” is to prevent any other country (Russia/China) or coalition of countries from gaining military dominance over the U S. It is not just the PNAC neocons either. Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard provides a rough blueprint for this strategy. He foresees the U S reigning over a “cooperative global community.”

          The downfall of the American Empire will more likely be a result of economic folly, not military folly.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            And you distinguish the economic from the military in today’s environment how?

  13. RevBev says:

    “destroy spiritual union”….is that something like we saw in Iraq when they welcomed us with flowers and candy? I think that union thing can go any number of directions…What a terrible phrase for whatever it meant.

  14. Tracerfan says:

    This appears to be a blatant violation of American law, that we do not assassinate foreign leaders.

    Behold Obama Caesar, dictator.

  15. harpie says:

    Neither the UN nor the OLC can authorize a president to go to war.

    The Cost of “Empty Words”: A Comment on the Justice Department’s Libya Opinion; Michael J. Glennon; 4/14/11

    Obama’s U.N. Authority?; Louis Fisher; The National Law Journal; Opinion; 4/18/11

    [Only the elected representatives of Congress, not the U.N., can authorize the United States to use military force against another nation]

    Constitution Requires Congress Vote on War; Mickey Edwards and David Skaggs; Roll Call; 4/18/11

    […] As we begin to sort out the implications and consequences — intended and unintended — of our military action in Libya, the nation would still be well-served by the debate that should have happened before the Tomahawk missiles were launched. Congressional leadership should schedule action on a resolution authorizing the United States role in Libya and cause Congress to fulfill, however belatedly, its responsibility under the Constitution.

  16. bmaz says:

    This was reportedly Saif’s family home; if so, it seems almost impossible to call that anything other than an illegal civilian target. Saif was not of any consequence in the government and his family home is not a “command and control facility”.

    • Romberry says:

      I can’t help but wonder what the public reaction here in the U.S. would be if some foreign power did to us what we do to them.

      The killing of these children in a civilian family home has really left me quite disgusted and angry. I’ve been in a war zone. I’ve seen the dead children. For years I had nightmares about it. If I know one thing for sure, it’s that Americans by and large have no idea about the reality of war.

      • RevBev says:

        So true….makes it easier to generate our all volunteer miliary willing to be shot at…Where’s the draft if we’re going to be at war all the time? It’s a call for equality

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Human shields, intentionally used by Qaddafi. Minimal collateral damage.

      Wheww. Been reading too many government press releases.

    • bluedot12 says:

      No, much as I despise this whole fucking thing that does not follow. The command and control center is wherever Qaddafi is. BTW, he is the fuck who has been lobbing shells into city streets and killing innocent people there. Qaddafin was likely in a bunker under the house but then I don’t know that except that he is alive. What a mess.

      • banderson2 says:

        Whether Qaddafi was in a bunker under the house is not relevant because the killing children is not a option. Although the video by Wikileaks and the Apache helicopter does seem to show the US doesn’t mind doing it.

        • bluedot12 says:

          I certainly do not know the rules of warfare but to me, the command and control structure is a fair target. If the leader uses human shields whilst hiding out in the basement, he knows the likely result. But it is painful as all war is.

          • jasmine311 says:

            What’s that supposed to mean? That they’re fair game? That they have less value? I don’t understand your point at all.

          • Hmmm says:

            1. Notwithstanding #2: “Charged” is different from “convicted”, isn’t it?
            2. Notwithstanding #1: Wrong guy.
            3. What value, let alone what part of the US Constitution, permits the capital punishment of descendants of criminals?

            Got anything more?

  17. RevBev says:

    One may say that there’s an impeachable offense…but there’s lots of precedent for it being OK, iirc.

    • liberaldem says:

      Well, killing “towelheads” who also happen to be non-Christians is always popular in this country, so knocking off a few Libyan non-combatants won’t bother anyone here, I fear.

        • bmaz says:

          No, that is a different Qaddafi son, Said al Islam, that has commanded troops; not Said al Arab, who is reportedly killed here.

        • bobschacht says:

          Ghaddafi had TWO sons named Saif. The elder, son of his first wife, was Saif al-Islam, IIRC. He’s the one who has been on TV, snarling about no mercy in Benghazi and leading a wing of Ghaddafi’s military. He is not the one who was killed. The younger, Saif al-Arab, son of his second wife, is the one who reportedly died with several of his children in the NATO (AKA US) raid.

          Initially, I made the same mistake as you did, confusing one Saif with the other.

          Bob in AZ

          • thatvisionthing says:

            The brothers Larry, Darryl and Darryl!

            Oh, would that Bob Newhart was president! He knew how to deal with insanity!

      • bluedot12 says:

        There are still a few who are opposed to killing if it can be avoided. After decades of rule and billions of dollars hidden away why can’t that aas just leave? Or declare a real truce and negotiate a way out ?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Thanks. Hadn’t seen it. Not much yet at al Jazeera on this; largely the same material as the Beeb.

    • gigi3 says:

      I keep waiting for a public moment when it becomes apparent Obama’s batteries need to be recharged. /s

  18. orionATL says:

    i thought saif was the guy trying to work things out with the euroamericans.

    oh, well.

    let’s see now

    – no-marks torture for bradley manning

    – no fair shake by the u.s. doj for gitmo detainees whose detention justifications are oneb step above fiction, if that

    – clear intention to extradite from sweden, imprison, and try, probably in a military court, wikileaks head julian assange

    – suddenly renewed urgency to use a dodgey 1914 law – espionage act – to indict assange supporters and, more importantly intimidate reporters and whistleblowers

    – use of doj prosecutorial power to get the new york times’ bill keller to eat out of obama’s hand (keller surebknows how to wag his tail)

    – dissmissal from gitmo pool of a reporter from miami herald for coverage of public info re: gitmo trials

    – precipitous firing of a dept of ag employee based on edited right-wing propaganda

    – dismissal of reporter from white house press corps for taking and broadcasting a picture of a woman criticizing MISTER o

    – presistent drone attacks in the face of widespread and growing pakistani opposition and while negotiating with paks

    – killing of an heir-apparent in libya who had negotiated with euroamericans

    -authorizing the assassination of an american muslim citizen whose speech offends

    hey world,

    are you getting the message?

    this buttercup obama guy is one baaaad-assed dude

    (who wants so badly to be re-elected he’ll do whatever it takes)

    mess with him and you might be daid

    or doin’ time in the big house.

    now,

    are you scared?

    mama don’t ‘llow no banjo pickin’ in here ……

    pick my banjo anyhow……

    • PJEvans says:

      prosecution of whistleblowers who should be protected under the laws as they stand
      not prosecuting criminals, even after they have admitted their crimes in public
      expanded powers to imprison (or just disappear) citizens for whatever reason the president-of-the-moment feels like

      • orionATL says:

        yea, indeed.

        “…under the laws as they stand..”

        that is a very important addition to this discussion.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    See the emphasis that it was NATO that did this or NATO that did that? Nary a search word that leads directly back to the US or to American policy or its military or weapons. Great digital message management, great propaganda. Shame about the collateral damage. Watch this drive.

  20. Adam503 says:

    What’s the right course of action when a nation’s leader has started slaughtering innocent people in the country he rules? I was on twitter when the reports started coming out of Libya of the slaughter going on in Benghazi.

    You know I don’t like Obama. I’m one of last people to back him. If one is seeking real justice, this option seems the least objectionable. If somebody has to get bombed, let the people we claim are committing the crimes be the ones that get targeted.

    Don’t miss, either.

        • Adam503 says:

          I’m on the side of the people that have absolutely nothing. I’m tired of seeing bombing raid that kill every civilian within a square mile of the targeted leader, but the targeted leader never even stopped eating his dinner in the basement.

          Killing more guilty leaders and a lot less innocent civilians stuck close sounds like a better option.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I hope your children are safe, and those you care about.

            Warmaking is not a license to kill, it is a license to kill specific actors who have taken up arms against us, not their families and innocent civilians we claim we are fighting to protect. “Shit Happens” is a t-shirt slogan, not a basis for government or military policy.

            Besides, we’re not supposed to be at war, and specifically targeting a head of state is assassination, not warmaking.

            Yes, the US has claimed since Cuba and Vietnam that it’s airstrikes are capable of surgical precision. The Kennedy brothers privately laughed at the assertion; the Yemeni and Afghan civilians we’ve killed – while claiming they were all “rebels” – would agree.

            • Adam503 says:

              Nobody was paying any attention to anybody in Libya until Col. Qaddafi started slaughtering his own people. Qaddafi brought the world’s attention to himself.

              Al Jazeera broadcast Col. Quadaffi’s massacre to the world. Not Fox. The same same people who organize flotillas to Gaza screamed for help to stop the massacres in Benghazi.

              Quadaffi and some of his family started all this by mess by slaughtering 200 complete innocents and with another 1000 wounded in Benghazi.

              I’m the one that says we should only use our troops to stop war crimes, massacres, and genocide.

              Libya was committing war crimes and massacres on it’s own people. Col. Quadaffi is the one responsible for bring the world attention and putting his family in the firing line.

              • Romberry says:

                Adam503, you simply don’t know what you’re talking about. You repeat discredited propaganda as though it were utter truth. No badly how you may wish it were the truth, that does not make it so.

                • Adam503 says:

                  There’s only a couple of people on this thread who’s statements are consistant. I’m one of them

                  I’m trying to preserve the lives of innocents. Libya started executing it’s own people after protests against Quadaffi started there not long after Morocco and Egypt.

                  Col Quadaffi troops in Libya slaugtered more than 200 protesters and wounded than 1000 protesters in one day in Benghazi.

                  Col. Quadaffi ordered protesters massacered in Benghazi. Col. Quadaffi is responsible for putting his own family in danger.

                    • Adam503 says:

                      Bmax… So… you’re saying Al jazeera has been lying about their reports about grassroots protests against the government all over the middle east. All those reports of protests in Morrocco and Egypt and Libya and Bahrain and Syria. All those stories of protesters are lies. All the reports of protesters getting attacked by police and troops lies, huh?

                  • banderson2 says:

                    This entire statement is false. During the initial uprising there was a suicide bomb attack on a armory in Benghazi which killed a number of government troops. This is also how the so called peace loving activist managed to get their first batch of weapons. However, this thing was clearly pre-planned since all of a sudden they were able to get more sophisticated weapons and equipment from our great humanitarian western powers. Not to mention that there are apparently paramilitary and possibly military personnel on the ground providing logistics and spotting for our aircraft. Did anyone happen to notice how we destroyed their air force, thier navy, and now their ground forces. Yet our supposedly goal was to prevent a slaughter in Benghazi and to protect civilians. However it is obvious that we have become the airforce for the rebels and as Putin stated the rebels are now advancing on the government forces with the western powers assistance. There is also no doubt that weapons and troops are being sent into that port of Misurat from Benghazi. Where is the media who were cheerleading the rebels talking about how they were untrained and didn’t know how to shoot weapons. Surely a lot more civilians will die before this thing is over.

                  • shekissesfrogs says:

                    Adam, you’re incredulous and seem not to be able to discern between propaganda/psyops intended to get you to cheerlead, and you swallow it hook line and sinker. It seems like you haven’t been down this road before.

                    Have you heard the one about Khadahfi handing out viagra pills to facilitate the mass rape he ordered?

                    Al Jazeera’s owner, the emir of Qatar have come to an understanding with Saudia Arabia and the GCC states and Regime Change of Khadafi is in their interests. They will be handling Egyptian Oil from now on. They were good on Egypt until the made up with SA and the White House. As soon as Hillary Clinton gave them accolades it was over.
                    They are not trustworthy anymore.

                    Lebanese As-Safir newspaper quoted reliable sources as saying that journalist Ghassan bin Jeddo, Director of Al Jazeera TV in Beirut, resigned after the TV station had shifted from being a media source into an operation room for instigation.

                    “Bin Jeddo tendered his resignation several days ago,” the sources said, adding that the reason behind this step was because Al Jazeera has abandoned profession and objectively and turned into “a room for instigation and mobilization.” Still, Bin Jeddo did not confirm or deny the news on his resignation.

                    The sources underlined that one of the reasons that pushed Bin Jeddo to resign is the provocative policy of Al Jazeera which is unacceptable, particularly in light of the historical juncture the region is passing through.

                    The sources further said the action Bin Jeddo took indicates his ethical logic, criticizing how Al Jazeera shed light on what was happening in Libya, Yemen, and Syria while completely ignored the events in Bahrain despite all the bloodshed taking place.

                    Siddharth Varadarajan has some truth and if you click on his country tags you can go back to the days of Clinton. It might piss you off if you realize we’ve been played like fiddles. Bleeding heart liberals are suckers for a sad story, and play an important part in pulling this off.

                    Libya: Odyssey Dawn, a Homeric tragedy

                    Days of Bush: Yes, But Where Are the Saddam Look-Alikes?

                    Clinton fixing intelligence on Iraq: The Grief of Baghdad

                    The stories of Kosovo are not to be missed!

              • bmaz says:

                Well, to be accurate, and not that I have any portfolio for Qaddafi, but the “rebels” did start the gig by trying to take control of their sector and going after Qadaffi forces. Now, I support their efforts, but the thought that Qadaffi just up and started “slaughtering his own people” is bogus.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Lots of folks were paying attention to Libya. The Israelis; the families of those flying on the aircraft downed over Lockerbie, Scotland; human rights groups; governmental anti-terrorism advisers throughout the world.

                Mr. Qaddafi didn’t just recently start to abuse his own people. Int’l concern didn’t just begin over recently publicized pictures of deaths. They were just an embarrassment to western governments hoping to rehabilitate his reputation so they can improve their access to Libya’s oil.

                Governments see such pictures frequently, perhaps daily; they just don’t all come from Libya. Africa has been a source for many of them, from central Africa, certainly, since the Belgians paid a bounty for severed hands. They also come from the Middle East and Latin America, from Pacific islands home to copper, gold and oil. There are many places from which no pictures come, just tales of what they would record.

                • Adam503 says:

                  So, you’re saying Al Jazeera has been lying since January about their reports about grassroots protests against the government all over the middle east. All those reports of protests in Morrocco and Egypt and Libya and Bahrain and Syria. All those stories of protesters are lies. All the reports of protesters getting attacked by police and troops

                  ALL LIES, huh?

                  • earlofhuntingdon says:

                    You’re conflating too many stories in too many locations. In any case, I think AJE does a creditable job covering stories American media can’t or won’t or don’t properly cover.

                    By all means, Mr. Qaddafi’s regime made life desperately hard for his own people. In that, he’s hardly alone. Heads of state throughout Africa and the Middle East do similar things, and they are all afraid of movements like those that initiated regime change in Egypt. Several of those we are helping to resist change, with a blind eye, with money, support, weapons. So the issue is why Qaddafi and why Libya.

                    BTW, the US isn’t doing so well in promoting the interests of its lower and middle class folks either, though our circumstances are not yet remotely like those in Africa and the Middle East.

                    • Adam503 says:

                      How about maybe I’m a innocent nobody tired of seeing fellow innocent nobodies getting shit on, and would like to somebody actually GUILTY actually pay a price for crimes they’ve done.

                    • Hmmm says:

                      That is commendable. I’m sincerely puzzled that you seem not to feel sympathy for the innocents who have just been rather thoroughly shat upon in the process of achieving your goal.

                • Adam503 says:

                  So Al-Jazeera faked coverage of hundreds of thousands of people in a park in Cairo, sweating out whether the Egyptian Army was going to follow a Mubarak order to slaughter the protesters his son was screaming at him to give. Faked.

                  • earlofhuntingdon says:

                    Again, conflating too much. Break it down. Egypt is not Libya.

                    Mubarak’s adult son’s actions would be reprehensible, and make him a direct political actor whose orders might constitute crimes or war crimes. It’s not at all clear such personnel were targeted in the Libyan case, or if they were, the intel was any good, meaning they may not have hit anybody they were hoping to, or whether this was all a bloody cockup.

                    This action still appears to be an illegal assassination attempt, not the legitimate conduct of war. But we’re not at war, or so the government claims, lest it be found to have violated the Constitution.

                    What’s wrong is to regularize, to normalize behavior that’s been regarded as illegal for quite some time.

                    • thatvisionthing says:

                      …lest it be found to have violated the Constitution.

                      When I was reading Zelikow’s 2009 dissent to the OLC torture memos the other day, he had an interesting take on it. I don’t know how assassination equates to torture constitutionally, but if it’s not a war, declared by Congress, maybe Zelikow’s points are relevant:

                      The OLC holds, rightly, that the United States complies with the international standard if it complies with the comparable body of constitutional prohibitions in U.S. law (the 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments). Many years earlier, I had worked in that area of the law. I believed that the OLC opinions (especially the May 30 one) presented the U.S. government with a distorted rendering of relevant U.S. law.

                      …Stated in a shorthand way, mainly for the benefit of other specialists who work these issues, my main concerns were:

                      * the case law on the “shocks the conscience” standard for interrogations would proscribe the CIA’s methods;

                      * the OLC memo basically ignored standard 8th Amendment “conditions of confinement” analysis (long incorporated into the 5th amendment as a matter of substantive due process and thus applicable to detentions like these). That case law would regard the conditions of confinement in the CIA facilities as unlawful.

                      * the use of a balancing test to measure constitutional validity (national security gain vs. harm to individuals) is lawful for some techniques, but other kinds of cruel treatment should be barred categorically under U.S. law — whatever the alleged gain.

                      The underlying absurdity of the administration’s position can be summarized this way.

                      Once you get to a substantive compliance analysis for “cruel, inhuman, and degrading” you get the position that the substantive standard is the same as it is in analogous U.S. constitutional law. So the OLC must argue, in effect, that the methods and the conditions of confinement in the CIA program could constitutionally be inflicted on American citizens in a county jail.

                      In other words, Americans in any town of this country could constitutionally be hung from the ceiling naked, sleep deprived, water-boarded, and all the rest — if the alleged national security justification was compelling. I did not believe our federal courts could reasonably be expected to agree with such a reading of the Constitution.

                      Is assassination easier on the Constitution than torture? And who has standing to contest and stop it? American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki’s own father was decided to not have standing when it was announced that his son was on Obama’s kill list.

                    • Hmmm says:

                      The law both forbids certain acts, and imposes penalties for committing them. Just because the law failed to prevent things in this case doesn’t necessarily mean the prescribed penalties will never be imposed on the actors.

                    • Hmmm says:

                      Well, I would hate to jump to a conclusion, but it’s beginning to appear that you, on the other hand, are currently expressing an essentially nihilist view that, because of its inherent tendency toward personal surrender and inaction (learned helplessness), and the extreme danger that an inert and dispirited body politic presents to a democracy, requires much more resistance — that is, a much higher standard of proof — than do most views.

                      Giving up on improvement of the country is bad even if it appears to be the only rational thing to do.

                    • reddog says:

                      I think you have an idealistic view and I have a realistic view. At this point, in our society we don’t have the power to influence our leaders. And, on a global scale, it appears that we are not alone in our helplessness. As much as we would like to believe that our views are shared by the majority, time and again that belief is proven to be wrong. Americans appear to approve of torture, government surveillance, wars for oil, political assassinations to further our interests, punishment before trial, rendition…need I go on?

                      Anyway, thanks all. When I complained about earlier comments being little more than rants, little did I know that I would be drawn into what became a very interesting discussion, to me.

                      Nite.

                    • thatvisionthing says:

                      You got a different attorney general and Supreme Court than I do?

                      Worse – than – useless.

                    • Adam503 says:

                      Wrong.

                      Self-immolations across north Africa follow suicide in Tunisia

                      After death of Muhammad Bouazizi, aggrieved citizens set themselves on fire in Egypt, Algeria and Mauritania

                      A spate of self-immolations in north Africa appears to have followed the suicide that helped bring down the Tunisian president last week.

                      An Egyptian, a Mauritanian and at least four Algerians have set themselves alight over the past five days as a means of protesting against their governments.

                      Demonstrations that brought down the Tunisian president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, followed the death of Muhammad Bouazizi, a 26-year-old vegetable seller who set himself on fire on 17 December after police seized his cart. Bouazizi died from his burns earlier this month, becoming a martyr to students and unemployed people protesting against poor living conditions.

                      All the protests all across the Middle East are direct result of one “vegetable seller’s” suicide in Tunisia.

                      A “vegetable seller” with a graduate degree who could only feed his kids selling vegetables

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

                      I heard of a professor whose best lecture was about his Port Wine Theory of the American Revolution. How if Portugal hadn’t raised such splendid grapes, made such tasty wine, sent it to England from Porto; if William Pitt the Elder hadn’t drunk so much he wouldn’t have gotten gout and missed a parliamentary vote for the Stamp Act that pissed off those Yanks and led them to drop a bit of tea in Boston Harbor….

                      It was right out of James Burke’s Connections, for want of a nail, the shoe, the horse, the rider were lost. Or for a more contemporary example, if the woman hadn’t forgotten her coat, if the taxi driver hadn’t stopped for coffee, if the shoelace hadn’t broken, if Daisy hadn’t stepped out at just that moment, if the taxi driver hadn’t dropped his cigarette, the taxi would have driven by.

                      Contingency, the sequence of events, cause and effect are a tad more complex than pebble, pond, ripple, tidal wave.

              • captjjyossarian says:

                Quadaffi and some of his family started all this by mess by slaughtering 200 complete innocents

                And how many do you wish to have us kill in return?

                How many more deaths do you think it would take to make things right?

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  “Where are all the young men?”
                  “Dead from vendettas. You can see their names on the wall.”

                  • thatvisionthing says:

                    The president I long for:

                    “All war is stupid” – JFK

                    What’s that you say? Oh, yeah. Assassinated.

                  • captjjyossarian says:

                    Yeah, even if the original media reports were entirely true, our response seems pernicious. We’re increasing the level of chaos and destruction.

    • orionATL says:

      i’m pretty much of the same opinion.

      there’s a bit too much of hand-wringing here.

      quaddadi and his family have been very, very brutal, ruthless leaders for a very, very long time.

      they have been extraordinarily dedtructive to those individuals and institutions who might have become leaders in libyan society.

      a serious issue here for me is whether the u. s. is taking the steps it has taken in iraq, afghanistan, and now libya in order to establish a benign, productive pax americana for all nations,

      or whether the I,A,L wars, in each of which national sovereignty was breeched and destoyed by the u.s.’s extraordinary military power, solely for ad hoc political or resources purposes

      are but a prelude to continued waging of war for resources and power, far into the future.

      • bmaz says:

        Ironically, this son reportedly stayed pretty clear of all that and real government involvement and was supposedly quite westernized. This was his family home in a residential neighborhood. I dunno, I got a little hand wringing on this from the evidence so far.

    • Romberry says:

      You were “on twitter when the reports started coming out of Libya of the slaughter going on in Benghazi”? That would be funny if not so sad. Maybe you should pay less attention to Twitter. There was no slaughter going on in Benghazi. It was propaganda. A myth. A lie to get us into war. Gadhafi was not in the process of massacring civilians. That tale is right up there with “Iraqi troops are throwing babies out of incubators in Kuwait.”

      Ya know what else? Even if Gadhafi had been attacking civilians in Benghazi, that does not make it a cause to go to war. Gadhafi was no threat to the US or its allies. If massacring civilians is your yardstick, why aren’t you agitating for an attack on Syria? Where were you on Darfur?

      ETA…

      As to “let the people we claim are committing the crimes be the ones that get targeted”, are you suggesting that we bomb ourselves? Or is the killing of innocents not an atrocity when we do it?

      • Adam503 says:

        No it was was not.

        I keep tabs of what the hard left Palestinian/Free Gaza groups release and watch Al-Jazeera. What’s going on in Morrocco, Egypy, Libya, Bahrain, and Syria is real. Those are real grassroots struggles for freedom going right now in the Middle East.

  21. mikesacola says:

    This is simply international gang warfare. Charles Manson would be a more sober and learned president than this trash we call Obama.

  22. bell says:

    the war started back in late march this year… the only thing was the mainstream media – corporate run – decided to not tell anyone about it… some people are figuring it out now for themselves it seems… obama is a cog in the mil………

  23. afterthought says:

    At what point would a cabal intending to establish a malign “Pax Americana” be visibly different from your “benign” one?

    If I were to do evil, I would cloak it in “good” for as long as possible, so as not to arouse a reaction.

    • orionATL says:

      you point out explicitly the mystery we ordinary americans – who pay continuously, in blood and treasure, for these wars – face.

      a good guess, which your comment clearly implies, is they would look exactly the same.

      there seem to be increasingly two americas this last decade:

      – those in power, who do what they f…..g well please;

      and the rest of us who pay for their decisions.

      on reflection, i would add to my comment above,

      we pay and have been paying in spades, in fewer jobs and in a creeping-ever-lower standard-of-living,

      as well as in the money and lives i mentioned at the beginning.

  24. banderson2 says:

    I am a retired military veteran and I can tell you from many years of military experience that even though NATO is in charge of this operation, it is the United States who is calling the shots. American forces are by law not allowed to be commanded by a foreign government and these so called unique capabilities that we are bringing to the table are these very powerful bunker buster missiles that hit that house. I hope the President gives back that Nobel Peace Prize.

    • thatvisionthing says:

      I hope the President gives back that Nobel Peace Prize.

      I hope the Nobel Committee TAKES it back.

      You know, when they gave him the prize I thought their effort deserved the prize, because they were using everything in their power to avert war, shaming him away from choosing more war. It didn’t work but they tried. Taking the prize back now — God I wish! I can see it.

      • shekissesfrogs says:

        What does the Nobel Peace Prize mean after they offered it to Henry Kissinger?

        Lê Đức Thọ and Henry Kissinger were jointly awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in negotiating the Paris Peace Accords. However, Thọ declined to accept the award, stating that there was still no peace in his country.

        Kissinger tried to give it back after the embarrassment Le provided him, but they won’t take them back.

        It’s an Orwellian Joke now. We could take up a donation and give him a bloody hands adjunct award.

        • thatvisionthing says:

          I can dream, can’t I. It’s a FABULOUS dream. Consequences. Something about “the decent opinion of mankind” thrown back in his American face. Oh, yeah, we said that. It meant something once.

          • reddog says:

            At least we THOUGHT it meant something. Convince me that we weren’t victims of our own propaganda.

  25. bluedot12 says:

    shit what a turn of events. I recall arguing here that we should not get involved but there were so many saying we had to prevent slaughter. It was the only moral thing to do and now we or Nato (same thing I suppose) killed some kids. Fuck.

      • croyal says:

        You have the wrong son. The one that is being reported killed in this attack is this son:

        https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Saif_al-Arab_al-Gaddafi

        Yeah, I know–those Ay-rab names all look a like. Wiki says he was born in 1982. He wasn’t even 30. Yeah, he’s old enough to being a willing participant, but if he’s the father of those 3 grandchildren, those kids can’t be very old at all. The one I assume you’re thinking about, Saif Al-Islam, is 35, not “almost 40” and if those are his kids instead, they’d still be pretty young, all under 20.

  26. xargaw says:

    As horrific as this is, and I do believe it is horrific, there is something I simply don’t understand. If my country was in a state of violence such as Lybia and I had Quadaffis wealth, my family would have been somewhere else a long time ago, way way out of danger.

  27. Adam503 says:

    In response to croyal’s post #65

    No, I DO NOT! READ!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saif_al-Islam_Muammar_al-Gaddafi

    Saif al-Islam Muammar al-Gaddafi (born June 25, 1972) Arabic: سيف الإسلام معمر القذافي‎, translated as “Sword of Islam, Muammar of the Gaddafa”), is a Libyan engineer and politician. He is the second son of Muammar Gaddafi, leader of Libya, and his second wife Safia Farkash.

    Saif al-Islam Muammar al-Gaddafi
    سيف الإسلام معمر القذافي
    Born June 25, 1972 (age 38)
    Tripoli, Libya
    Birth name Saif al-Islam Muammar al-Gaddafi
    Nationality Libyan
    Alma mater Al Fateh University (B.Eng)
    IMADEC University (MBA)
    London School of Economics (PhD)[1]
    Occupation (GDF) Founder & President
    Profession Engineer, Politician
    Religion Islam
    Website GDF

    In 1994, Saif al-Islam graduated with a BSc in Engineering Science from Tripoli’s Al Fateh University, earned an MBA from Vienna’s IMADEC University in 2000.

    His paintings made up the bulk of the international Libyan art exhibit, “The Desert Is Not Silent” (2002–2005),[2] a show which was supported by a host of international corporations with direct ties to the Gaddafi regime.[3]

    In 2008, he was awarded a PhD from London School of Economics, for a thesis entitled “The role of civil society in the democratisation of global governance institutions: from ‘soft power’ to collective decision-making?”[4][5] Examined by Meghnad Desai(LSE) and Anthony McGrew (University of Southampton), among the LSE academics acknowledged in the thesis as directly assisting with it were Nancy Cartwright, David Held and Alex Voorhoever. Professor Joseph Nye of Harvard University is also thanked for having read portions of the manuscript and providing advice and direction.[6][7] In a later investigation by Channel 4 News, they found that 6% of the 93,000-word thesis was copied from other sources.[8]

    He was an architect[citation needed] with his own architectural agency in Tripoli—the National Engineering Service and Supplies Company.

    Saif was the president of the Libyan National Association for Drugs and Narcotics Control (DNAG). In 1997, he founded the official charity, the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations, which has intervened in various hostage situations involving Islamic militants and the crisis of the HIV trial in Libya and the resulting European Union-Libyan rapprochement. Saif also performs public relations and diplomatic roles on behalf of his father. He has been mentioned as a possible successor, though he has denied this.[9]

    Speaking in Sabha on August 20, 2008, Saif said that he would no longer involve himself in state affairs. He noted that he had previously “intervene[d] due to the absence of institutions”, but said that he would no longer do so. He dismissed any potential suggestion that this decision was due to disagreement with his father, saying that they were on good terms. He also called for political reforms within the context of the Jamahiriya system and rejected the notion that he could succeed his father, saying that “this is not a farm to inherit”.[10]
    [edit] International diplomacy

    On December 10, 2004, shortly before a trip by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin to Tripoli, Saif requested in an interview with The Globe and Mail a formal apology from the Canadian government, for joining U.S.-led sanctions against Libya after the Lockerbie bombing, and for denying him a student visa to study in Canada in 1997. His request was met with incredulity in Canada, and the Canadian government announced that no apology would be forthcoming.

    Saif introduced the Isratine proposal to permanently resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a secular, federalist, republican one-state solution.[11] The first ever opinion poll survey to be undertaken in both Pakistani and Indian-controlled Kashmir, conducted by King’s College, London, and the polling organisation IPSOS-MORI, was also Saif’s brainchild,[12] having arisen out of discussions he had with British academic Robert Bradnock, the author of the 2010 Chatham House report on the survey.[13]

    Interviewed by French newspaper Le Figaro on December 7, 2007, Saif said that the seven Libyans convicted for the Pan Am Flight 103 and the UTA Flight 772 bombings “are innocent”. When asked if Libya would therefore seek reimbursement of the compensation paid to the families of the victims ($2.33 billion), Saif replied: “I don’t know.”[14]

    Saif was involved in negotiating compensation from Libya’s former colonial power, Italy, and on 30 August 2008 a Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation Agreement was signed in Benghazi by his father and Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.[15] He is also negotiating with the United States in order to conclude a comprehensive agreement making any further payments for American victims of terror attacks that have been blamed on Libya — such as the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing, the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and the 1989 UTA Flight 772 bombing — conditional upon U.S. payment of compensation for the 40 Libyans killed and 220 injured in the 1986 United States bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi. On August 14, 2008, the U.S.-Libya Comprehensive Claims Settlement Agreement was signed in Tripoli. Former British Ambassador to Libya Oliver Miles described the agreement as “a bold step, with political cost for both parties” and wrote an article in the online edition of The Guardian querying whether the agreement is likely to work.[16]

    In an August 2008 BBC TV interview, Saif Gaddafi said that Libya had admitted responsibility (but not admitted “guilt”) for the Lockerbie bombing simply to get trade sanctions removed. He further admitted that Libya was being “hypocritical” and was “playing on words”, but Libya had no other choice on the matter. According to Saif, a letter admitting “responsibility” was the only way to end the economic sanctions imposed on Libya. When asked about the compensation that Libya was paying to the victims’ families, he again repeated that Libya was doing so because it had no other choice. He went on to describe the families of the Lockerbie victims as “trading with the blood of their sons and daughters” and being very “greedy”: “They were asking for more money and more money and more money”.[17]
    [edit] Nicolas Sarkozy

    In 2007, Saif Gaddifi met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Tripoli, with whom it is alleged he helped broker an arms deal, including missiles”.[18][19][20]

    • TarheelDem says:

      The problem is that it wasn’t Saif al Islam but Saif al Arab who was reported by Libyan State TV as having been killed. It is not clear exactly what Saif al Arab’s role in the current attacks on civilians is. It is clear that Saif al Islam has become the public face of the family to certain audiences outside Libya. And all of Gaddafi’s sons have some command responsibilities for government security forces.

  28. workingclass says:

    Well, if this report is true, Obama murdered Qaddafi’s grandchildren and son and presumably unnamed others. I find it amusing that some folks immediately want to know if this is legal.

    Obama is a liar, a torturer, a murderer and a traitor to the constitution. And he is running unopposed for his Party’s nomination for reelection. Are you in?

  29. orionATL says:

    scratch comment #47 re: saif al-islam quaddifi.

    the purported quaddafi son killed was:

    saif al-arab quadfifi.

    if those reports are true,

    you can scratch him too.

  30. TarheelDem says:

    The Guardian’s final sentence in its coverage:

    There was no independent confirmation of the incident.

    The Libya Information Ministry’s spokesman’s claim:

    The Libyan leader was in the building at the time of the strike, but was unharmed. Several of Gaddafi’s friends and relatives were wounded.

    Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said: “This was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country.”

    “The attack resulted in the martyrdom of brother Saif al-Arab Gaddafi and three of the leader’s grandchildren,” he said.

    “The leader with his wife was there in the house with other friends and relatives. The leader himself is in good health – he wasn’t harmed. [Muammar Gaddafi’s] wife is also in good health.”

    There are several points to make:

    It is not inconceivable that command and control operational planning occur by the family meeting well away from official military buildings.

    Those who know Gaddafi (and are now in the opposition) say that his practice in 1986 and his reported practice now is to move around among various apartments in residential neighborhoods instead of depending on a bunker.

    There is no independent evidence yet what building NATO attacked nor is there evidence that a drone was used.

    Citizens in Benghazi set of fireworks and celebrated even as opposition spokesmen cast doubt on the report.

    Gaddafi loves to feed the story of being a survivor as a part of his mythology as a great leader. Some opposition figures are skeptical of the part of the story that Muammar himself and Muammar’s wife were at the house.

    If commenters here can’t distinguish between Saif al Islam and Saif al Arab, and if drones were involved, and if they were targeted at an identified individual, it is not inconceivable that drone pilots in Nevada wouldn’t know the difference between the Saifs either.

    There is more to this story than has come out yet.

  31. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    i understand and do not oppose the sentiment of your comment.

    war and violent social change, which is what is going on here,

    violate our standards for normal human empathy –

    should i pull the trigger and kill that young man a quarter mile away whom i do not know and who has done me no wrong?

  32. dylanh says:

    Yeah, not an assassination. That word is thrown around so much, it’s not often that it’s ever used correctly. Dan White shooting Harvey Milk was an assassination. John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.

    You do a huge disservice and insult all the victims of assassination who promoted democracy, equality and human rights by labeling the military targeting of Gaddhafi as an ‘assassination.’ Skip the yellow journalism, next time.

    • Hmmm says:

      Really?

      World English Dictionary

      assassinate (əˈsæsɪˌneɪt)

      — vb
      1. to murder (a person, esp a public or political figure), usually by a surprise attack

      The only sentence Ayn Rand ever wrote that I agree with is “Words have meaning.” Without question, and without aggrandizing Gaddhafi the Elder in any way, this word means what was attempted.

      • TarheelDem says:

        War is about assassination. And war is about surprise.

        The legal issues are: (1) Was the individual know to be a combatant or a civilian (yes, his children clearly were civilians)? (2) Was the site connected to the command and control of orders to troops throughout the country who have been killing civilians indiscriminately? (3) How was the decision to target that particular geographical location made and by whom?

        The moral issue is that there are no moral justifications for murder, even for the head of state of a sovereign country. And all wars involve two or more head of state. And the moral issue is the question, who has the responsibility to protect civilians from their own governments gone amok. No one, not even the confirmed pacifist, comes out with clean hands in a situation like the one in Libya. To call the moral issue a Hobson’s choice does not do justice to the pain of deciding either way. Even the obvious rational solution–reduce the number of deaths and work to end the killing quickly–is deeply unsatisfactory.

        • Hmmm says:

          1. Well, it ain’t a proper war either, now is it?

          2. Sorry, your ‘moral issue’ framing confuses my very simple mind. Is this in re. the targeting of Pops G., of Bad Son G., and/or of Perhaps Less Bad Son G.? Or is it about the collateral damage of Perhaps Less Bad Son G., and/or of the Grandkids G.?

    • bmaz says:

      Uh, no. Assassination is precisely and specifically the accurate term under international law such as the Geneva Protocols, Hague Annexes, UN Conventions, not to mention Executive Order 12333 in the US. So you can skip the lecture on “disservice” and “yellow journalism” thank you very much.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The phrase “not bloody likely” comes to mind.

      The use of drones and precision guided weaponry are explicitly, if not solely, weapons of assassination. That their killing range is larger than a sniper’s bullet is a feature, not a bug. Their use avoids putting “boots on the ground”, at least close enough to use a sniper rifle, which for a .50 caliber is about a mile. They also penetrate walls and some bunkers, of necessity killing many within. We use them more often in Yemen and Pakistan, where having a foreign government kill people creates something of a legal and public relations quandary.

      • dylanh says:

        Killing a leader in a military operation is not an assassination. Simple as that. Assassinations are _non-military_ murder motivated by ideology, usually political. Unless you guys suddenly want to argue that Libyan intervention is (a) non-military and (b) not a ‘war,’ let’s not warp the actual meaning of assassination so that you can have sensationalized blog titles.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          You would rather be simplistic, and redefine what we’re really doing as, “Nothing to see here, move along”. Not buying any of those today, thanks.

          I think it’s Mr. Obama who would resolutely argue to Congress and the Supreme Court there is no “war” and that “we” are not in it. NATO is attempting to enforce a “no fly zone” and support armed rebels opposing a defunct head of state.

          Words do matter, as do definitions and rules of law, and those pesky little things like “authorizations” and legislative approvals to declare – meaning engage in acts of – war. So, yes, I mean assassination.

        • bmaz says:

          As I explained to you once already above, assassination is EXACTLY what it is under the precepts of decades, and to some extent century, long international law. Get off you fraudulent rhetorical high horse. And, yes, legally you bet your ass I am going to argue it is not a war. We have not authorized war, nor has the UN sanctioned it. It is what is known as an international police action. While it has the outward appearances of a war, legally it is not a war. Go study history and the law before you wander in here and make repeated wrong and false assertions of material law and historical fact please.

        • thatvisionthing says:

          They didn’t kill a military leader. They killed his son and grandsons. What we have come to know as Collateral Murder, we do it so much.

          Now Obama is Commander in Chief. If someone we were at war with dropped a bomb on the White House and killed Michelle and the two daughters, you’re saying that’s fair and fine? Legal and tight? I mean I get that it goes with what goes round comes round, but I didn’t think American presidents made new rules that included their own assassination and that of their family members.

  33. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This was an assassination attempt on a head of state, explicit regime change, presumably in an attempt to defeat the Qaddafi government by taking out its head. It is an elemental act of war that has nothing whatever to do with “supporting” the rebels or enforcing a “no fly” zone.

    Those are fig leaves that public criticism should persuade the Obama administration to discard, as if they were the ill-fitting bedsheets a prudish John Ashcroft ironically draped over the naked statues of justice at the Department of Justice.

    We use missiles these days instead of .50 caliber, 7.62mm or 5.8mm sniper rifles. “Naturally”, meaning inherent in our voluntary new choice of weapons, there will be greater deaths of non-targets – civilians – than before. Like the Japanese govt. at Fukushima, we’ll just redefine what’s an acceptable level of risk to avoid liability or criticism.

    Not very many here would support Mr. Qaddafi or his regime, or those at the top of its command, but there are laws of war for reason. The principal one is so that we do not become as much of a horror as our enemy. That’s one more lesson we seem unwilling to learn from history.

    We have myriad other options. We’ve discarded a lot of them owing to the political and military limits we’ve placed on our involvement. That’s a choice, not a necessity, and more people will needlessly die because of it – on both sides in this rebellion.

    • TarheelDem says:

      Are you arguing that the US would rather see Muammar Gaddafi dead (and considered by some a martyr) than to have him face the International Criminal Court? And other NATO countries support this?

      There is something strange about the disclaimers that the journalists who were taken to the site are putting on their reports.

      So far the sole source of information about the incident (and most likely that is changing as I write this; the fast pace of events often prove me wrong) is Moussa Ibrahim, the spokesman to the Western press of the Gaddafi government and Libyan State TV.

  34. reddog says:

    I usually find the folks on the site thoughtful and analytical, but certainly not on this topic. Seriously, you-all are knee-jerking this incident, whatever it was. No reports have been forthcoming about who actually bombed this house and I’m seeing hyperventilation about Predator drones and bunker busters. The two are mutually exclusive because Predators lack the capacity to lift them (bunker busters are HEAVY because they have to be in order to penetrate). And, the U.S. isn’t the only NATO country with bunker busting and precision guided bombs, plus the French probably have penetrating ordnance, too. The anti-Ghadaffi alliance very likely considers him to be a legitimate target, even if you (we) don’t and the UN and the Hague have proven that they will not challenge the decisions of the superpowers. No amount of tantrum throwing is going to change this in the slightest. And you can rant about Obama but McCain is on record as supporting even more intervention, so just be thankful that he’s not the President.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Dare I say strawman? The specific technology of death is not really the issue here, is it?

      NATO, the attacker, characterizes this as a “precision strike”, a phrase those paying attention have heard for decades. It doesn’t specify the weaponry, though some of its characteristics will be obvious as soon as pictures are available.

      Whether this was a bunker busting missile or a smaller, armor piercing HE round dropped by a drone or a very high flying manned aircraft, the issue is the targeted assassination of a head of state, generally regarded as a violation of the laws of war, which we fudge by claiming that we target “command and control centers.”

      Nor does the nationality of the pilot or remote pilot seem relevant. “NATO” is US led and in many areas US-supplied. Its principal decisions are subject to a de facto US veto. This was a US-determined style of attack and most likely a specific attack agreed to by US authorities.

      • reddog says:

        And like I said, you can question the action and even rant about it but you are powerless to stop it and very likely everyone on this site is in the minority. That adds up to childish, futile rage, and nothing more. If you really want to attempt to do something about it, become a Quaker.

    • bmaz says:

      Uh, NATO has admitted to the action, it has confirmed a warplane did the deed not a drone and there was one unexploded ordnance found at the scene. Oh, and you do understand, do you not, that an American general leads NATO and that NATO does not do anything without specific direction from the US. And one more thing the other active participants in the Libya action were reporting being out of ordnance, or low on it, a week or so ago.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        “I’m out of ammo” also has political utility as an excuse to cut costs, to cut involvement or to not be the guy whose weapon takes out a head of state. What goes around, comes around and all that.

      • reddog says:

        Do you actually believe that the U.S. is micromanaging the Libya action to the point of choosing individual targets?
        O.K., I’ll throw down a likely scenario. Ghadaffi is certifiable and actually believes that he has a great military mind. Because of that, he is actively directing his forces, but in order to do that he must have communications. NATO interception is very sophisticated, and any transmission location can be determined and if any properly-armed aircraft is overhead it can be vectored to that location and its ordnance delivered with a high degree of accuracy. Ghadaffi is “command and control” and NATO thinks that his “elimination” and the elimination of his close advisors will cause the Libyan government to collapse. That is the goal, and they intend to accomplish it.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The US is certainly actively managing classes of targets, kinds of weapons systems being used, and high-profile strikes. It will also be the source of much intel, certainly satellite intel, used to do that.

          An attempt to take out a head of state is the sort of target that generally qualifies as high-profile. So, yea, the US absofuckinglutely knew about and OK’d this strike, even if it didn’t execute it.

          • reddog says:

            All the intel, whether it is JSTARS, AWACS, satellite, etc (and yes, those are U.S. systems) is fed in real-time to the operations headquarters where it pops up on a screen and a group of officers has a look at it and immediately gives a “go or no-go” to strike. The whole thing, when the intelligence is signals communications is done in a few minutes. These are autonomous decisions made at the command level. Basically, the English Capt. says to the Belgian Major, “Looks like a valid target”. The Belgian says to the U.S. Colonel, “I think we should hit it”, and the U.S. Colonel says to his superior that, “It looks good to me”. The superior says, “Do it”, and a signal goes from the command center to an U.S. AWACS and then the target coordinates pop up on the screen of a French Rafael. That really is how it’s done.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Somehow, I suspect that planning and executing an attack on a head of state using US intel and/or weapons would require either a standing “Go” order or explicit prior US approval. No ground commander, let alone a captain who wants to make major, would assassinate a head of state without an order from the top brass. They, in turn, would want it from their political heads. See, Paths of Glory.

              Politics and collective responsibility being what they are, every NATO actor would want such a decision portrayed as unanimous, whether that’s true or not. Best way to avoid a knife in the back is to make sure every conspirator has a hand on its hilt.

              • reddog says:

                I’ve never said that the commanders weren’t told to NOT target Ghadaffi. Just the opposite. England, France, the U.S., and likely others, want him gone, and it makes no difference how he goes.

                • thatvisionthing says:

                  Sure it matters. Didn’t we swear off assassination of a country’s leaders because we didn’t want our country’s leader to be assassinated? I think that’s the reason I heard we gave. I don’t know, it was a long time ago.

                  What goes round comes round. Justice has an arc. Everything we do to them, we do to ourselves. We are so screwed.

                  • Hmmm says:

                    I find it heartening that the answers to the questions “Is it legal?” and “Is it wise?” so frequently align. Not always, and there are certainly some bad laws out there, but they do very often agree.

                  • Adam503 says:

                    I don’t think too highly of the leaders of the Western World right now. I think letting those leaders of the world beat each other senseless, and leave us innocent nobodies alone sounds like a great idea right now.

              • banderson2 says:

                You are 100 percent correct. Any order to directly assassinate a foreign leader would have to be pre-approved by the Presidents of the U.S. if it was done by U.S. troops.

        • bmaz says:

          But that “goal” has little, if any, legality under a broad spectrum of international law and is not consistent with the stated US basis for involvement or obtaining the UN resolution.

          • reddog says:

            Legality means nothing to NATO, or to the non-NATO French for that matter. Once military action commenced the rules went out the window. There is no one to enforce the rules because NATO has become the enforcer. Catch-22, and read the chapter about the whorehouse.

            • Hmmm says:

              Yes. The point of many commenters here is that that illegality is a major problem and a source of both illegitimacy and of numerous likely future negative consequences. What (please pardon my difficulty parsing your comments) is your point about the illegality of the operation?

              • reddog says:

                NATO is the most powerful military force on the face of the earth. At least in the short run, NATO will do what it wants. By the time the (slow-moving) political forces decide that NATO has exceeded its authority NATO will have probably accomplished its goal (removal of Ghadaffi). Once military action is approved there is no power on earth strong enough to change the short-term outcome. After-the-fact complaints are useless and control of their governments by citizens must be exercised before the military action is commenced. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee that happening, but I do see a lot of tilting at windmills.

                  • earlofhuntingdon says:

                    Pretty much. Order those six beers and peanuts, pay with the hundred dollar bills, tell the barman to keep the change, and make sure you have your towel ready.

                    • Hmmm says:

                      Even if that were true, which frankly I doubt since there is a US political dimension in addition to international political dimensions to all of this, it’s still our responsibility as citizens to pay attention, understand, and form opinions.

                    • thatvisionthing says:

                      This quote gives me hope…

                      For a good quote, I shall paraphrase Thomas Jefferson:

                      “If I were required to give up all rights save one, I would choose freedom of speech, because with that I can regain all the others.”

                      So keep speaking.

                      On the other hand, as far as I know, no one has been able to source that to Jefferson.

  35. Romberry says:

    Re the update on the skeptics, I have to say that I’m skeptical of the skeptcism. NATO is not denying there was a strike, but they are using all kinds of qualifiers and weasel words to make it appear that this was something other than an assassination attempt. The 4:40 am press release from NATO that was posted by Al Jazeera says:

    NATO continued its precision strikes against Qadhafi regime military installations in Tripoli overnight, including striking a known command and control building in the Bab al-Azizya neighbourhood shortly after 1800 GMT Saturday evening.”All NATO’s targets are military in nature and have been clearly linked to the Qadhafi regime’s systematic attacks on the Libyan population and populated areas. We do not target individuals,” said Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, Commander of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.

    “The strike was part of NATO’s coherent strategy to disrupt and destroy the command and control of those forces which have been attacking civilians.

    “I am aware of unconfirmed media reports that some of Qadhafi’s family members may have been killed,” Lieutenant-General Bouchard said. “We regret all loss of life, especially the innocent civilians being harmed as a result of the ongoing conflict. NATO is fulfilling its UN mandate to stop and prevent attacks against civilians with precision and care – unlike Qadhafi’s forces, which are causing so much suffering.”

    Frankly, I’m amazed at that statement. And as a veteran of the US armed forces myself, I also find myself amazed that I now look upon the statements of NATO and of the United States government much as I once looked upon the statements of the USSR has reported by Pravda. No credibility. I now routinely assume that we are being lied to, and that our government and its allies will go to great lengths to disseminate self-serving propaganda regardless of its relationship (or, more accurately, lack of relationship) to the truth.

    • bmaz says:

      My inclination is the same as yours. I just thought it a fair point to acknowledge the identities of victims is not confirmed yet.

  36. Hmmm says:

    Maybe there’s a perfectly innocent explanation for the whole thing. For example, the G. clan could have been hosting a Pakistani wedding.

  37. shekissesfrogs says:

    Putin will go apoplectic over this, but Russia’s statements and reactions aren’t really making the news.

    The action on Libya has cost the west cooperation on Syria, and Putin is increasingly accusing the west of using humanitarian protections as a cover for the desire for oil.

    From the official gov. outlet:RIANOVOSTI
    27/04/2011

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin continued on Wednesday to criticize NATO military operations in Libya, saying that he was “dumb-founded” over how easy decisions are made to use force against countries.

    When asked by a Swedish journalist, Putin, who is currently on a visit in Stockholm, said “this happens despite human rights and humanity concerns which the civilized world is believed to advocate,” apparently referring to reports about NATO planes bombing civilian objects in Libya.

    “Don’t you think that there is a serious controversy between words and practice of international relations?” he said, adding that this “misbalance” should be eliminated.
    Russia, one of the UN Security Council’s permanent members, did not use its veto right to block a UN resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, preferring to abstain.

    On Tuesday, speaking during a news conference in Copenhagen, Putin made several strong statements criticizing NATO’s operation in Libya, saying that the North African state was being illegally destroyed by “so-called civilized society.”
    The premier said the Western coalition had gone beyond the UN mandate when it dropped guided bombs on embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s compound in central Tripoli last week.

    “What kind of no-fly zone is this if they are striking palaces every night?” Putin said. “What do they need to bomb palaces for? To drive out the mice?” He also suggested that Libya’s waste oil resources could be “the main object of interest to those operating there.”

    Angry over Libya, Russia takes hard stance on ally Syria

    On Wednesday, Moscow clashed with the West at the United Nations over Syria’s deadly crackdown on opposition protests, with Russia and China blocking a proposed Security Council statement condemning the Syria violence.

    The position stands in contrast to its more cooperative stance last month when President Dmitry Medvedev ordered Russia to abstain from the UN Security Council resolution on Libya that essentially authorised military action.

    Medvedev, who seeks better ties with Washington, risked worsening his relationship with his senior partner in the ruling tandem Vladimir Putin, who is known for his uncompromising position on the use of force in crises.

    But now the Kremlin feels cheated by the West, accusing it of exceeding the UN mandate and getting entangled in a military operation in Libya.

    And if the West expects Russia’s cooperation on Syria, Kremlin goodwill will be in short supply, analysts said.

    “Russia has seen what happened in Libya. It would be logical to assume that Russia’s stance on Syria would be more clear-cut that that on Libya,” said Alexander Filonik, head of the Arab Studies Center at the Institute of Oriental Studies.

    “There is concern that events in Syria could develop according to the Libyan scenario,” he told AFP.

    Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Institute of the Middle East, struck a similar note. “Russia’s position on Libya was simple — run around this minefield yourself. On Syria it will be even simpler,” he told AFP.

    “The logic calls for Russia to say ‘no’.” […]
    Putin last month famously called the UN resolution on Libya a “medieval call to crusade” and this week again slammed the West over its action in Africa.

    “Are we going to bomb and carry out rocket attacks everywhere? What, was there a trial?” he said.

    I haven’t found a reaction for today, but I wish we a had a Pooty-Poot. He puts Bankster thieves in jail too.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Regardless of the truth of the matter, such attacks will be used as propaganda by actors, such as Russia and China, competing for access not just to Libya’s resources, but to developing country resources generally.

      That’s only one reason obviously illegal acts are the same as scoring an own goal, meaning kicking the the ball into your goal as if you were playing for the other team. That does seem to be Mr. Obama’s special gift.

    • captjjyossarian says:

      Yup, Putin’s statements on Libya seem pretty consistent with his 2007 statements at the Munich Security Conference(youtube). Putin’s policy may be designed for the benefit of Russia but IMO, the entire world would benefit if we made such an effort.

      • shekissesfrogs says:

        Thanks, it’s so depressing that we have this as example of our leadership class. He’s impressive, and it’s no surprise he has such a personality cult following. He’s not all PR and hopey Rorschach reflections.

  38. reddog says:

    “The action on Libya has cost the west cooperation on Syria, and Putin is increasingly accusing the west of using humanitarian protections as a cover for the desire for oil.”

    Well, DUH. Lucky for Assad that he doesn’t have large oil reserves.

    • shekissesfrogs says:

      File that under known unknowns, but we don’t know if BP knows. It was only a month or two ago that we saw Cheney’s Iraqi Oil field maps, the ones he and Blair were using to decide how to divide it up months before invasion..

      They do have gas fields that they were seeking help from Russia to develop.

  39. orionATL says:

    i woke up thinking about this matter.

    legal and moral (and good judgment) issues about assassination aside, there are aspects of the nato bombing of q’s son’s house i don’t like.

    1. this may have been a “psychological” killing by which i mean nato may have been targeting q’s son specifically, rather than his father, in order to frighten other family members including, certainly, the big cheese. if q had been in that house he would at least have been injured by the pressure wave or flying debris.

    military leaders will always use all and any weapons and tactics they can get away with but i find killing a person to warn others, if that is what was intended with the of killing q’s son and grandsons, more like the actions of the mafia or mexican drugthugs than honorable military leaders.

    2.targeting a home with a plane bombing is no different morally or practically from targeting a home or vehicle with drone weaponry.
    the result is that sometimes you kill whom you intended and sometimes you kill those you should not have killed – civilians.

    american military and civilian leaders have become far too callous about this unintended and ineffective killing for which they use the bloodless euphemism “collateral damage”.

    3. killing non-military or non-combatants generates anger that can last for decades. our leaders too have their families. we may end up needing a secret service and a federal protective service larger than our armed forces. is the game really worth the candle?

    4. the information about who is where which leads to a jet fighter or drone attack is often wrong, but we act anyway without regard for who might be unfairly killed – what the hell; give it a shot; we’re at war!

    5. we seem always to be looking for the magical solution, the quick fix, the knockout punch for our wars.

    funny how we never find it, but keep on trying and killing.

    • captjjyossarian says:

      military leaders will always …

      That has me wondering, is the direct targeting of a hostile head of state(plus extended relatives) something that needs the Presidents signature?

      I’m wondering which leader made the call on this attack.

  40. Romberry says:

    For Adam503, from The Boston Globe in an op-ed from April 14th:

    False pretense for war in Libya?

    EVIDENCE IS now in that President Barack Obama grossly exaggerated the humanitarian threat to justify military action in Libya. The president claimed that intervention was necessary to prevent a “bloodbath’’ in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city and last rebel stronghold.

    But Human Rights Watch has released data on Misurata, the next-biggest city in Libya and scene of protracted fighting, revealing that Moammar Khadafy is not deliberately massacring civilians but rather narrowly targeting the armed rebels who fight against his government.

    Misurata’s population is roughly 400,000. In nearly two months of war, only 257 people — including combatants — have died there. Of the 949 wounded, only 22 — less than 3 percent — are women. If Khadafy were indiscriminately targeting civilians, women would comprise about half the casualties.

    [snip]

    Libya’s air force, prior to imposition of a UN-authorized no-fly zone, targeted rebel positions, not civilian concentrations. Despite ubiquitous cellphones equipped with cameras and video, there is no graphic evidence of deliberate massacre. Images abound of victims killed or wounded in crossfire — each one a tragedy — but that is urban warfare, not genocide.

    Nor did Khadafy ever threaten civilian massacre in Benghazi, as Obama alleged. The “no mercy’’ warning, of March 17, targeted rebels only, as reported by The New York Times, which noted that Libya’s leader promised amnesty for those “who throw their weapons away.’’ Khadafy even offered the rebels an escape route and open border to Egypt, to avoid a fight “to the bitter end.’’

    If bloodbath was unlikely, how did this notion propel US intervention? The actual prospect in Benghazi was the final defeat of the rebels. To avoid this fate, they desperately concocted an impending genocide to rally international support for “humanitarian’’ intervention that would save their rebellion…

    (Much more at the link.)

  41. MadDog says:

    Breaking!!!

    President Obama will make a statement tonight as early as 10:30 EDT. The topic has not been announced but the subject matter is National Security.