State Dept. prepares to take over in Iraq

State Dept. prepares to take over in Iraq

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 (UPI) — The U.S. State Department will have a smaller operation than the military in Iraq but the biggest run by the department in decades, officials say.

Plans include 16,000 employees, who will have to be housed, fed and guarded, three police training centers, a small airline and hospitals, The Washington Post reported. The U.S. military is supposed to be out of Iraq by the end of the year, although the two governments are trying to negotiate an agreement for a small training force.

For the State Department, Iraq will be its largest overseas effort since the years immediately after World War II, when it was in charge of the Marshall Plan, providing economic assistance in Europe.

In testimony before Congress this week, Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides said the department has budgeted $6 billion for Iraq next year. That is far less than the $50 billion the military is currently spending annually.

Nides said the department is working hard to be ready in time, although some jobs, like housing construction, may stretch into next year.

“We’ve spent too much money and lost too many kids’ lives, not to do this thing right,” he said.


US Intends To Maintain Super-Bases After Alleged “Withdrawal” for Hunting Human Beings

[US Forces to Build $100,000,000 Special Ops Base in Northern Afghanistan]

Special ops, CIA first in, last out of Afghanistan

FILE - This file image from video released by the U.S. Defense Department and made available Oct. 20, 2001, shows U.S. special forces boarding an unidentified aircraft at an unknown location, the day Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Richard Myers, announced at the Pentagon that U.S. special forces 'attacked and destroyed targets' in Afghanistan. The Central Intelligence Agency together with U.S. special operations were the first Americans into Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11th, and will likely be the last U.S. forces to leave.
FILE – This file image from video released by the U.S. Defense Department and made available Oct. 20, 2001, shows U.S. special forces boarding an unidentified aircraft at an unknown location, the day Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Richard Myers, announced at the Pentagon that U.S. special forces “attacked and destroyed targets” in Afghanistan. The Central Intelligence Agency together with U.S. special operations were the first Americans into Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11th, and will likely be the last U.S. forces to leave. (AP Photo/DOD Pool, File)
By Kimberly DozierAP Intelligence Writer / October 8, 2011

FORT BRAGG, N.C.—They were the first Americans into Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks and will probably be the last U.S. forces to leave.

As most American troops prepare to withdraw in 2014, the CIA and military special operations forces to be left behind are girding for the next great pivot of the campaign, one that could stretch their war up to another decade.

The war’s 10th anniversary Friday recalled the beginnings of a conflict that drove the Taliban from power and lasted far longer than was imagined.

“We put the CIA guys in first,” scant weeks after the towers in New York fell, said Lt. Gen. John Mulholland, then a colonel with U.S. special operations forces, in charge of the military side of the operation. U.S. Special Forces Green Berets, together with CIA officers, helped coordinate anti-Taliban forces on the ground with U.S. firepower from the air, to topple the Taliban and close in on al-Qaida.

Recent remarks from the White House suggest the CIA and special operations forces will be hunting al-Qaida and working with local forces long after most U.S. troops have left.

When Afghan troops take the lead in 2014, “the U.S. remaining force will be basically an enduring presence force focused on counterterrorism,” said National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, in remarks in Washington in mid-September. That will be augmented by teams that will continue to train Afghan forces, added White House spokesman Tommy Vietor.

The White House insists this does not mean abandoning the strategy of counterinsurgency, in which large numbers of troops are needed to keep the population safe. It simply means replacing the surge of 33,000 U.S. troops, as it withdraws over the next year, with newly trained Afghan ones, according to senior White House Afghan war adviser Doug Lute

It also means U.S. special operators and CIA officers will be there for the next turn in the campaign. That’s the moment when Afghans will either prove themselves able to withstand a promised Taliban resurgence, or find themselves overwhelmed by seasoned Taliban fighters.

“We’re moving toward an increased special operations role,” together with U.S. intelligence, Mulholland said, “whether it’s counterterrorism-centric, or counterterrorism blended with counterinsurgency.”

As out-going head of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Mulholland has been in charge of feeding a steady stream of troops to commanders in the field. He knows they need as many special operations troops as he can produce and send. Those special operations forces under his command include U.S. Army Rangers, known for their raiding operations against militant targets, and U.S. Special Forces Green Berets, whose stock in trade is teaching local forces to fight a common enemy so the U.S. doesn’t have to.

A foundation for special-operations-style counterinsurgency is already under way — staffed primarily by the Green Berets — with the establishment of hundreds of sites in remote Afghan villages where the U.S. troops are paired with Afghan local tribesmen trained by the Americans, Mulholland explained.

The program has been so successful in the eyes of NATO commanders that they’ve assigned other special operators like Navy SEALs to the mission, and even paired elite troops with conventional forces to stretch the numbers and cover more territory.

Senior U.S. officials have spoken of keeping a mix of 10,000 of both raiding and training special operations forces in Afghanistan, and drawing down to between 20,000 and 30,000 conventional forces to provide logistics and support. But at this point, the figures are as fuzzy as the future strategy.

Whatever happens with U.S. troops, intelligence officers know they will be a key component.

A senior U.S. official tasked with mapping out their role envisioned a possible future in which Afghan forces are able to hold Kabul and other urban areas, but the Taliban comes back in remote valleys or even whole provinces.

In that event, the official said, CIA and special operations forces would continue to hunt al-Qaida in Taliban areas the Afghan forces can’t secure. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss planning for sensitive operations.

“If the CIA built an intelligence network that could provide special operations forces with targets, we could do the job,” said Maj. Gen. Bennet S. Sacolick, who runs the U.S. Army’s Special Warfare Center and School.

The only question will be which organization is in charge, and that will depend on the Afghan government, the senior U.S. official said. If Afghan authorities are comfortable with U.S. raiders continuing to operate openly, the special operations forces can lead, the official said. If they want a more covert presence, the CIA would lead, with special operation raiders working through them.

The other branch of special operations — the Green Berets and others Mulholland mentioned who specialize in training — would continue to support the Afghans in remote locations, trying to keep the Taliban from spreading.

The notion of a pared down U.S. fighting force, consisting of a latticework of intelligence and special operators, plus the far-flung units in the field, has spurred some criticism on Capitol Hill.

“You cannot protect the United States’ safety with counterterrorism waged from afar,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s emerging threats panel. His concern is that the White House has paid too little attention to how special operations and intelligence will keep the Taliban from overwhelming Afghanistan’s remote terrain.

“I would like to know how many special operations forces they need, and how many conventional troops they propose to support them,” he said, “and a rough time line.”

The smaller special operations footprint could work, if it’s part of a larger tapestry of counterinsurgency efforts, said retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former commander of the Afghan campaign.

“I believe direct action operations are only effective when part of a holistic strategy,” McChrystal said in an interview. “That does not necessarily imply large U.S. forces or responsibility, but it must include a spectrum of efforts that addresses root causes, partners with indigenous governments and efforts, and approaches the causes as well as the symptoms on extremism and-or terrorism.”

In other words, diplomats and aid groups would have to replace the current military efforts at building Afghan government and services — and do it without a large footprint of U.S. forces to provide them security.

The smaller numbers would also put the U.S. troops left behind at greater risk, officials concede, with fewer support troops to rush to the rescue.

That’s the mission a group of elite special operators was on in August, flying into a remote valley to aid another group of U.S. raiders on the ground, when the Taliban shot down their Chinook helicopter, killing 38 U.S. and Afghan forces on board.

Asked if it could happen again, Mulholland stopped and bowed his head, taking a long pause to think back to how it started.

“From the beginning, we accepted that risk,” Mulholland said, remembering the early days when he sent load after load of special operations forces into Afghanistan, with no sure way to get them out.

He paused again. “We still do.”

Is White House Behind Google Map Censorship In Secret Contra Airstrip Controversy?

Secret Airstrip Links CIA, State Dept. to Contra Aid

March 01, 1987|DOYLE McMANUS | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — In July, 1985, as Lewis A. Tambs moved into his new job as U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, he told colleagues: “I really have only one mission: to open a southern front for the contras ,” the rebels fighting Nicaragua’s leftist government.

At the time, Congress had prohibited all U.S. material aid to the contras. But Tambs, a fiercely conservative San Diegan who worked at the National Security Council before becoming an ambassador, believed his job was to find a way to help the rebels despite the law.

Tambs’ orders to help the contras came not only from then-White House aide Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, he later told the Tower Commission investigating the Iran-contra scandal. They came, he said, from Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams and the CIA as well.

“Before I went, Ollie said, ‘When you get down there, you should open the southern front,’ ” the commission’s report quoted Tambs as saying. “In the subsequent meetings and conversations, that was confirmed by Abrams and (a CIA official). That was sort of our mission . . . . The idea was that we would encourage them to fight.”

But in practical terms, according to the report and accounts from other officials, Abrams, North, Tambs and the CIA went well beyond mere encouragement.

Through the private network of bank accounts and companies that they dubbed Project Democracy, North and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard V. Secord built a secret Costa Rican airstrip for the contras’ use, with communications supplied by the CIA and diplomatic aid from the State Department.

The airfield, a 6,250-foot dirt strip with barracks and service buildings near Cape Santa Elena in northwestern Costa Rica, was intended to be a key part of the contras’ military effort during 1986. But as North’s network unravels, the project has instead helped implicate the CIA and the State Department as partial accomplices in his work.

The case of the airstrip, more than any other of Oliver North’s Central American adventures, has brought the CIA and the State Department under as much scrutiny as the already tainted NSC staff.

The CIA’s station chief in Costa Rica, a man who used the pseudonym Tomas Castillo, was forced to retire after his role in helping Secord’s airdrop operations became known. Castillo reportedly told the Tower Commission that he had his superiors’ approval for his actions, but those officials are not known to have been disciplined.


The following Google Map entry was challenged by one of the site’s “experts” as an unverified site and subsequently moved and renamed as a map coordinate.

Ultimately, the secret airstrip was constructed at Santa Elena, Costa Rica, by one of Secord’s companies, Udall Corporation, and was known as “Point West.’‘ It became a matter of public focus in September 1986. When Monge’s successor, Oscar Arias, became president of Costa Rica in the spring of 1986, he was briefed about the airstrip. He was outraged and directed that it not be used for contra resupply. On September 6, 1986, in a series of late night telephone calls, Fernandez informed North and Fiers that the Costa Rican security minister planned to hold a press conference the following day and make public the Udall Corporation’s role with the Point West airstrip, alleging violations of Costa Rican laws by Udall, North, Secord, and others.53 North discussed this impending crisis in conference calls with Abrams, Tambs and Fiers. They discussed whether to tell Arias that he would never set foot in the White House and that he would never get five cents of the $80 million promised to him by the U.S. Agency for International Development if the airstrip were revealed.54

53 North Notebook, 9/6/86, AMX 001458.

54 Ibid.

After Tambs interceded with the Arias administration, the Costa Rican press conference was cancelled. Fiers acknowledged that he, Abrams and North were concerned that public revelation of the airstrip would expose the linkage of North and the White House to the contra-resupply operation.55 Two weeks later, in spite of Tambs’s intervention, on September 24, 1986, the Costa Rican public security minister held a press conference and announced the discovery of a secret airstrip in Costa Rica, which had been built and used by Udall for support to the contras.56 False guidance for the press regarding the Costa Rican airstrip was prepared by North and coordinated with Fiers and Abrams. The press guidance was consistent with a previously concocted cover story regarding the airstrip. The press guidance was intentionally misleading, denying U.S. Government knowledge of the origins and purpose of the airstrip. It was clear to Fiers that Abrams was aware of North’s connection to the airstrip.57 Following the Costa Rican announcement of the airstrip, Abrams drafted a harshly worded cable to be sent to the Costa Rican government. A cable containing Abrams’ message was stopped by Shultz aide Hill before it was sent.58

55 Fiers, FBI 302, 8/1/91, p. 6. Abrams testified that the consternation over the public revelation of the airstrip only had to do with the embarrassment of the previous Costa Rican administration. (Abrams, Select Committees Testimony, 6/2/87, p. 65.)

What follows is documentation of the Google cover-up. 

Notice the dark square areas over top of the airstrip location; that was not there when I first located the site—This was the first layer of the attempted cover-up.  The next step was to move my map marker.–

Closer aerial view shows large staging area on nearby beach.  Again, the large concrete vegetation free concrete pads gives the location away.  They never worried about Google Earth when the Costa Rican shut the illegal site down.

The end of the concrete airstrip.

Beach and staging area.

Gen. Richard Secord’s Udall Corp. should have paid the extra fee to get the old concrete demolished.

That’s what the site on Google Maps used to look like–the screenshots below are of the location now, after more creative cartography from the “experts” at Goog. Maps—-

The first shot is low magnification–


One click more and masses of strange looking clouds appear–


The more that you zoom in, the less that you see–

This is the goofy looking way that they finished the edges, where land and sea meet.  This fuzzy blue haze seems to be confined to Costa Rica and southern Nicaragua–

India and Afghanistan Running Scared Into the Arms of the Beast

“Reinforcing fears in Islamabad that New Delhi is preparing for a war that may engulf the whole region.

[If the India/Afghan security agreement and the US-India Security Cooperation Project have given India foolish ideas of relying on its new superpower (fading) buddy, in some vain glorious attempt to “solve its Pakistan problem,” it should take another look at another superpower “backed” war…Israeli invasion of Lebanon, 2006.  After responding to Bush/Cheney prodding and promises of overwhelming US support, Israel started a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, with the intention of eventually pouring across the Syrian border, under the umbrella of US air cover.  That American air support never came, because the IDF couldn’t live-up to all the hype associated with the image of “invincible” Israelis and they were unable to wipe-out the allegedly “weak” Lebanese Resistance Forces (Hezbollah).  Will the same fate await the Indian Air Force as it attempts to overwhelm Pakistani defenses in a planned “cold start” operation?  Everyone assumed that Mr. Singh had more sense than this–to get suckered into one of America’s lethal schemes, such as this. 

We all assumed that that large baby-blue turban was hiding a large brain beneath it.  Has he forgotten the image of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein, before the great Iran/Iraq double-cross?

Panic, on India’s part, just because the false narrative manufactures the lie of “American withdrawal from Afghanistan,” is as insane as it is stupid.  The leaders of both India and Afghanistan are running scared, especially after the master psyop move of Rabbani’s murder and with him, the end of Karzai’s hopes.  Being herded like sheep is NOT a sign of leadership.  You are being played like suckers, as they lead you away from any possible peaceful solution to your regional problems (largely a result of CIA handiwork) into the arms of Kali (goddess of death). 

Goddess Kali Maa

Never forget for a second, that Pakistan has always worked for America…still does.  If you have a Pakistan problem, it is primarily an “American problem.”  Pakistan has been a pain in your asses and American leaders love that.  Remember them?  You know, your new partners(SEE:  Image of the Beast )?]

Developments on eastern border alarm Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Recent developments on the eastern border have alarmed Pakistani policymakers and military officials, who are keenly observing India’s preparations for a conventional war with Pakistan in the context of Cold Start war doctrine.There has been a chain of developments, some highly significant and others seemingly trivial, all tied to the overall scheme of things, which aims at destabilising its neighbour and building a formidable war machine to strike within the Pakistani borders.First, in the context of current events, is Afghan President Karzai’s recent visit to New Delhi and the signing of a strategic accord with India at the heels of ex-President Burhanuddin Rabbani’s assassination. While one side of the equation that has been brought into the spotlight shows that the accord will pave the way for India to train the Afghan armed forces and police, the other side that remains veiled could contain clauses that may affect Pakistan’s internal and external security. According to policymakers here in Islamabad, the accord requires careful thought at all levels. The critical point to remember is that India has no role whatsoever in Afghanistan yet Indian interference and policies are at the root of many of the problems that Pakistan is facing today. “This accord is a short-sighted narrow-minded move that would harm Afghanistan, both in the short and long term,” warned a regional expert while evaluating the accord and its impact on the region.

Second, the Indian army is holding a massive two-month long winter exercise at the Pakistan border, bringing a potent strike corps, the Bhopal based 21 Corps, in the Rajasthan desert. The exercise involves battle tanks and artillery guns besides Indian Air Force assets. Intriguingly, ‘Sudarshan Chakra’ Corps will be aiming to build its capacities for “breaching the hostile army’s defences and capturing important strategic assets deep inside enemy territory.” The exercise is the third of its kind this year. The summer war game Vijayee Bhava, in the Rajasthan desert, involved the Ambala-based 2 Kharga Corps, and the Pine Prahar exercise in the plains of Punjab was staged by the Jalandhar-based 11 Vajra Corps, both held in May this year. The question is: why is India holding three massive war games in a year at the Pakistan border that aim at capturing important strategic assets deep inside the enemy territory?

Third, a key development across the border has been the deployment of Su-30 fighter aircraft near the Pakistan border. The significance of the fact that the aircraft is the most sophisticated in the region and that it has been deployed along the Pakistan border at this crucial juncture is not lost on policymakers in Islamabad.

Two other related but under-reported events have been the extension of the runway at Kargil by India and its decision to acquire six more C-130J aircraft, the latest version of the intractable workhorse, reinforcing fears in Islamabad that New Delhi is preparing for a war that may engulf the whole region.

Sources said that policymakers in Islamabad are alive to the alarming developments across the border and ready to counter the challenge through a clear, well-executed regional strategy.

Russia and China Prevented Third World War

Russia & China Prevented Third World War

Russia & China Prevented Third World War

The decision by Russia and China, two permanent UN Security Council members, to veto the draft resolution that would have laid the groundwork for sanctions against Syria is still sparking lively discussion. Damascus welcomed the decision by Moscow and Beijing to block the UN Security Council draft resolution, emphasizing that Russia and China had sided with the people against injustice. Western politicians, for their part, sharply criticized the common stand taken by Russia and China.

The harshest criticism came from representatives of the United States. Although France, Britain, Germany and Portugal had submitted the draft resolution that Russia and China formally rejected, the most severe comments came from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It looks like she is prepared to defend to the end the supposed benefits of the “Western project” for arranging how people live in Syria.

During a visit to the Dominican Republic, she said the countries that decided to veto the resolution will have to explain their reasons to the Syrian people and all who struggle for freedom and human rights around the world. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland expressed the hope that the number of countries willing to tighten the noose around the Syrian regime would grow.

Strangling the Assad regime at any cost—a motive they do not even bother to hide—can have disastrous consequences both for the region and for the entire world. It is, in fact, a spark that could ignite a third world war.

Russia and China are preventing a big war in the Middle East for an obvious reason—if the coalition intervenes in Syrian affairs, that intervention will automatically stretch into a war between Syria and Israel. Nor would Iran remain on the sidelines; it would side with Syria. That would mean the beginning of an unpredictable and protracted military conflict.

A conflict in the Middle East, where the interests of many powers are intertwined and where there are threshold nuclear states, could escalate into a global confrontation. Those currently feeling dizzy from the success of the “Libyan scenario” need to understand that.

The draft resolution rejected by Russia and China was based on a philosophy of confrontation and did not take into account that the Middle East is a real powder keg. It was marked by a one-sided condemnatory bias against Damascus, but it did not address the Syrian opposition, which has also resorted to violence and has even started adopting terrorist methods. The Western states have actually taken matters in Syria to the point where a full-scale ethnic and religious conflict could erupt.

The Assad regime is evolving, but the West does not want to accept that. It is essentially insisting that he be removed by force. As the Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee, Konstatin Kosachev, pointed out:

“There are a number of legislative initiatives for abandoning the one-party system, holding democratic elections and allowing the media more freedom. It would be unwise to deny the opportunity to move forward in an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, fashion. That would not be in the interests of the Syrian people. That is the significance of the stand Russia and China took in the Security Council. Artificial outside pressure on political processes in Syria can only provoke new bloodshed, new unrest and new tragedies.”

A Syrian collapse due to civil war would have a disruptive impact throughout the Middle East. Russia and China have offered the Security Council their own version of the document as an alternative. It stresses that Western military intervention in the conflict between the government and opposition in Syria is a non-starter.

Prof. Sergey Luzyanin – Deputy Director of the Russian Institute of the Far Eastern Studies.

Did Russia and China Put End to the Arab Spring?

Did Russia and China Put End to the Arab Spring?


Did Russia and China Put End to the Arab Spring? On Tuesday, October 4th, Russia and China vetoed the UNSC resolution on Syria, which – if adopted – would have offered the implementation of the Libyan scenario in the country. The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, however, warned against any parallels between Libya and Syria, saying that the Libyan precedent was used ‘as an excuse’ by some countries which wanted to sell arms to Bashar Assad`s government.

U.S journalists asked Mrs. Rice whether she really believed that a similar resolution on Libya, which had resulted in NATO bombings there, did not affect the decision on Syria, with India, Brazil, and South Africa, the countries which abstained, being also interested in selling arms to Syria.

Susan Rice insisted that Libya was just ‘an excuse’, while a resolution initiated by the European countries ‘could not be opposed in any way’. But this time Russia and China did not fall under this rhetorical spell. Russia`s envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, described the resolution on Syria as too categorical and based on ‘philosophy of confrontation’.

On voting day Le Monde published an article headlined ‘The West Urges UN to Condemn Syria Repressions’, which quoted outraged French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who said that if Russia would veto the resolution, it would be a ‘change in position’ because Moscow had allegedly approved a draft resolution the day before the voting. “Mr. Juppe expects Russia to revise its decision since the text of the resolution, though not faultless, still offered a good ground for negotiating”.

A proposed draft resolution condemned ‘the continuation of serious and regular human rights violations in Syria’ and demanded an immediate halt of violence. The resolution promised ‘measures’ in case the Syrian regime would not have improved the situation within 30 days. As critics of NATO bombings in Libya, the European ministers stressed that they had no intentions to undertake similar actions in Syria, Le Monde said. However, this did not make Russia, China, as well as non-permanent UN member states -India and South Africa – change their attitude.

And it has turned to be for the better, indeed. Despite efforts made by some world leaders to smooth over controversy surrounding the previous UN resolutions, which led to a catastrophe in Libya, the repetition of this scenario in Syria is at least postponed, though the country, as well as other vulnerable countries of the region, should better not relax before time.

The same article in Le Monde mentions Turkey`s Prime Minister, who “betrayed his friend” (Bashar Assad). “There is another thing highlighting a changing Turkish position towards Syria – the fact that Turkey gave shelter to a fugitive Syrian Colonel, founder of ‘The Free Syrian Army’ opposition army group, uniting over 7,000 refugees”, says the paper.

In the meantime, supported by London and Paris, Turkey has been busy training militants and opposition figures supposed to topple the Syrian regime and establish a transitional council like the one in Libya… On October 2d, a meeting to discuss the creation of the Syrian national council took place in Istanbul, which was confirmed by a certain Burkhan Galiun, who represented the Paris-based Center for Contemporary Oriental Studies. During a press-conference in Istanbul, Mr. Galiun said that a ‘historical’ national council was ‘working to unite the Syrian society in the name of revolution, in order to topple the regime, including its leader”. The council, mainly represented by immigrants, united various opposition groups, including the so-called ‘coordination committees’, as well as by liberals, members of the long-banned in Syria Muslim Brotherhood Islamist party, and also by Kurds and Assyrians. According to Mr. Galiun, only these people can defend the right of Syrians to freedom. The agenda of the transitional council is being composed in London by the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (OSDH). It is also there where pictures of ‘horror’ in Syria are made to stir up hatred towards Assad`s regime. As this fugitive Syrian said, a NATO-trained Free Syrian Army should pave the way to the ‘permanent revolution’. Meanwhile, Russia`s and China`s veto has cooled the ardor of these ‘free armies’.

The French envoy to the UN, Gerard Araud, said the veto showed “disdain for the legitimate interests that have been fought for in Syria” since the protests in the country began. Well, knowing the tragedy and cynicism of the so-called ‘strive for freedom’, I hope that the French diplomat was not mistaken.

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation

Obama Team Used “Lawyer-Speak” To Get Around US and International Laws Against State Murder

NYT: Secret Memo Justified Killing of U.S.-born Awlaqi

by Naharnet Newsdesk

President Barack Obama’s administration crafted a legal document in secret ahead of the assassination of U.S.-born al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaqi, which permitted the killing of an American citizen without trial, a report said Saturday.

The secret memorandum was written in 2010 to justify the action despite a legal framework that prevents the White House ordering assassinations, the U.S. federal law against murder, and protections for U.S. citizens contained in the Bill of Rights, said the New York Times, citing sources familiar with the memo.

The 50-page document, completed in June last year, said the killing could only be lawful if it was not feasible for him to be captured alive.

Awlaqi was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in late September, in a raid hailed by Obama as a “major blow” to the al-Qaida network.

The killing did not only have to be justified over U.S. laws, but also certain areas of the international laws of war.

The memo, however, according to the Times, was crafted specifically for Awlaqi, so does not set a precedent for killing any American that authorities suspect of posing a terrorist threat.

The legal memo alleged Awlaqi was involved in the war between al-Qaida and the United States, and that he was in particular a significant threat — though the document, said the Times, did not itself assess the evidence against him.

The White House had previously declined to answer the tough questions surrounding the killing, as rights groups and legal observers raised eyebrows over the rights of New Mexico-born Awlaqi as an American citizen.

Civil rights groups cried foul with some arguing it would be illegal for the U.S. military to kill an American citizen on the battlefield, following no attempt to indict him.

U.S. intelligence officials believed Awlaqi was linked to a U.S. army major charged with shooting dead 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas, and to a Nigerian student accused of trying to blow up a U.S. airliner on December 25, 2009.

He was also believed to be the leader of external operations of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen and had taken the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans.

The legal document was crafted with the involvement of all top departments in the Obama administration, the Times said, including White House liaising with legal counsels at the Pentagon, State Department, and National Security Council, along with other U.S. intelligence agencies.