Earlier today, bmaz and I asked a series of questions about the significance of Anwar al-Awlaki’s name on the list of US citizens who can be assassinated with no due process.
bmaz: So, the US can put Awlaki on a list for death by assassination, but couldn’t, and apparently still cannot, form the basis to prosecute him criminally??
ew: And cannot prosecute him having had a tap on his phones going back–at the very least–at least a year?
Today, Declassifed blog’s Mark Coatney asked a related question that I had earlier raised: Why was the Administration, immediately, so chatty about the Underwear Bomber, even while it remains very close-lipped about Nidal Hasan? (The Administration–though not, apparently, Webster–was supposed to brief the Intelligence Committees on the Hasan investigation today, which I guess makes it safe to assume Dana Priest’s article came up in the briefing, if Congress didn’t already know about the assassinations of American citizens.)
Capitol Hill officials say that the Obama White House and relevant government agencies have been very cooperative in supplying congressional oversight committees with a torrent of information—both raw intelligence and law-enforcement material and results of internal administration inquiries—about alleged would-be Christmas Day underpants airplane bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. President Obama and other senior administration officials have said that in the months before Abdulmutallab boarded his flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, U.S. agencies had collected various “bits and pieces” of intelligence, which, had they been properly knitted together, might well have enabled U.S. authorities to foil Abdulmutallab’s attempted airplane bombing before he boarded his flight.
By contrast, the same officials allege that the administration has been relatively tightfisted with information, both from raw intelligence and law-enforcement files and from postmassacre investigations, on the background of the accused Fort Hood shooter. Congressional officials say they don’t know why the administration has been more reticent about Fort Hood than about the failed underpants attack, but that the contrast between how the cases have been treated up until now has been striking.
I’m glad I wasn’t the only one noticing the disparity in treatment of the two extremists.
More interesting than the confirmation that I’m not crazy in seeing the disparity, though, is the timeline revealed in several recent details on Al-Awlaki.
December 17, 2008: Nidal Hasan sends first email to al-Awlaki “asking for an edict regarding the [possibility] of a Muslim soldier killing his colleagues who serve with him in the American army”
November 5, 2009: Hasan killings in Ft. Hood
November 8, 2009: Al-Awlaki blesses Hasan’s killings
November 19, 2009: Underwear Bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s father alerts US embassy of his concerns about his son
December 4, 2009: Abdulmutallab leaves Yemen, having met with al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula members, possibly including al-Awlaki
December 22, 2009: FBI Deputy Director John Pistole provides classified briefing to Senate Homeland Security Committee on Fort Hood
December 23 (?), 2009: Al-Awlaki does interview with al-Jazeera that is subsequently posted to many jihadi forums
December 24, 2009: Strike in Yemen mistakenly thought to have hit al-Awlaki
December 25, 2009: Abdulmutallab attempts to blow up plane outside of Detroit
December 26, 2009: Crazy Pete Hoekstra says there may have been ties between al-Awlaki and Abdulmutallab
After December 24 but before end of 2009: Al-Awlaki added to JSOC list of those to be killed or captured
December 29: Moonie Times reports that al-Awlaki blessed Abdulmutallab’s plot beforehand (based on intelligence source)
If you match this timeline with the assertion that Awlaki had some tie with Abdulmutallab and that he was placed on the assassination list(s) just after Abdulmutallab’s attempted attack, then it seems clear that, after al-Awlaki’s ties to Hasan became clear, and after the attempted attack in Detroit, the Obama Administration almost immediately placed him on the list. Read more