John Brennan Boasts that an Obama Decision Killed Anwar al-Awlaki

Okay, I don’t know for a fact that the Senior Administration Official Jake Tapper rather irresponsibly gave anonymity to is John Brennan. After all, Ben Rhodes loves to boast anonymously too.

But given the Administration’s past caution about describing Obama’s role in the Awlaki assassination, I find it interesting that John Brennan this SAO is now claiming credit, in Obama’s name, for Awlaki’s killing, too.

The president emphasized the internationality of the NATO effort, and that’s part of what a senior White House official tells ABC News is the way Obama looks at foreign policy.

“What we’re demonstrating is you can move to a more targeted use of US force and be more successful in achieving our objectives,” a Senior White House official tells ABC News. This means a “smaller footprint, a more targeted use of force. It means less of a cost to taxpayers and troops, and also clearly results in our ability to take care of our interests.”

“With al Qaeda, we’re going after them in a very targeted way,” the Senior White House official says. “With Libya, we identified the unique capabilities the US has to go after Gadhafi,” and then NATO took the lead. The US role from that point on was to be the “glue” of the operation “keeping the coalition together,” providing “targeting, intelligence, refueling, and command and control.”

“Bin laden, Awlaki, Gadhafi have all met their demise in some fashion because of decisions the president made” utilizing this foreign policy view, the senior administration official said. [my emphasis]

Not surprisingly, John Brennan this SAO didn’t boast about the internationality of our effort in Somalia, where al-Shabaab made a grisly display of the bodies of 70 Burundian soldiers serving in AMISOM yesterday; al-Shabaab said they had ambushed the soldiers. John Brennan this SAO only boasts about the victories, you see. Nor did John Brennan this SAO claim credit for killing an American teenager the other day. We’re still pretending that was an accident.

But for the record, John Brennan this SAO can no longer control himself. He’s gonna claim credit not just for Osama bin Laden and Qaddafi–even claim credit for providing the command and control in what was purportedly a kinetic action–but also boast that Obama’s orders resulted in the death of an American citizen.

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.

7 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    I’m still shaking my head that this anonymous SAO believes that they are “more successful in achieving our objectives” unless their objectives are so incredibly minimal that killing one or two mosquitoes individually with $68,000 “use once” sledge hammers while their actions breeds hordes of more mosquitoes constitutes success.

    A rather simplistic and almost childish concept of success.

  2. rugger9 says:

    What this kind of thing will do is to provide the court with a reason to dig. Now if Awlaki goes into a GOP ideologue-run court [a decently high probability given GOP policies over the years], they just might be talking to a judge that will reveal the details in order to hang Obama’s re-election chances in the trials, the legal one and for public opinion.

    Brinkema’s handling of the Sterling case may provide a clue on this, and the fact that “accidental” death is being prompted for the kids’ death by missile is clearly bogus. Who is being held accountable in any way for this? Not even the drone operator.

  3. Strangely Enough says:

    Part of the “why won’t the GOP love Obama for killing people they claim to hate” meme.

    This celebratory Triumph of Death is vile.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I think this is Mr. Obama playing his Rudy Giuliani tough-guy card: “I’m tough on crime so vote for me.” Ha, ha. Due process-free killings may make him feel tough, but only because he is ensconced behind near-impenetrable glass, concrete, steel, and virtual walls, and is protected by ground to air-missiles, special forces trained anti-sniper snipers, hundreds of Ivy League-trained staff and Secret Service personnel, the latter sworn to die for him as if they were the Praetorian Guard, along with hundreds of DC police and thousands of federal troops standing by on a moment’s notice.

    Mr. Obama may feel impregnable, or be worried that he is not and thus happy to have such overwhelming force protecting him. But that does not make him proof against fools or foolish policies. He should rethink what used to be a hackneyed motto, but which the last dozen years of Beltway scheming has resurrected: Kipling’s “If”, about keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs, and being able to look at those two imposters, triumph and disaster, and treat them just the same. If the president has forgotten his literature, he can have an aide look up the motto above the entrance to Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

  5. lysias says:

    Maybe Brennan or whoever is saying that Obama made the decision to give this secret NSC committee the authority to put people on a hit list. And then didn’t scrutinize what they were doing. Plausible deniability, after all.

    Although why that would be better than Obama himself deciding to put people on the list I can’t say I understand.

  6. Bob Schacht says:

    John Brennan is a pretty good guess. The whole logic sounds so much like a BushCo rationalization, with its glorification of swashbuckling. In fact, doesn’t this sound a bit like a modernized update of the Texas Rangers? But not Paladin, of Have Gun Will Travel, because he was more nuanced, which is a Bad Word in Republican circles. What it amounts to is that Obama is succeeding what BushCo ineptly tried to do. In fact, this almost looks like an implementation of what Rumsfeld initially wanted to do.

    Bob in AZ

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