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  #41  
Old 02.10.2011, 20:01
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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Look around you, pay attention to social events and whatnot, this is not just a forum. I have belonged and do belong to "just forum" forums before, I stick around here because this is not that.

Killing is wrong... killing a man who believes and inspires others to kill thousands of innocent people is a "lesser of two evils."

As he was able to inspire so many to commit violence - he was some kind of charismatic speaker

Given that, if he HAD been tried, he WOULD have been found guilty and probably put to death anyhow. He chose his path.
Upon starting to read your post my initial though was: aha, a hint towards American exceptionalism regarding foreign policy (what's good for others does not apply to us, because were "special").

On your second point - I could very well imagine that phrases such as "charismatic speaker" and "inspire to kill thousands of innocent people" would be considered to apply to senior leaders in (US) government over past decades (Kissinger in Cambodia, or more recently Obama?). It opens the discussion on absoluteness of the freedom of speech... I always thought the US was quite extreme on that (and thought that was good) but I guess it's not such an issue if the content of the speech is disliked? After all, it's difficult to prove that he inspired others to kill thousands of people... which thousands of people would that be by the way (my understanding is that Awliki didn't radicalise until after 9/11)?

Your last point is a strong argument for bringing somebody to court, rather than executing somebody (as well as another American who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time) extra-judicially.

It all reeks of "we're right, trust us, so principles which we hold others to and consider important ourselves don't matter". It's disturbing to say the least.
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Old 02.10.2011, 20:07
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

Thanks for that copy paste Castro.

Look, I don't think there's many people (incl. me) who will lose sleep over the dude no longer being able to buy a latte at Starbucks, but actions have consequences. I bet it won't be long before American's get executed somewhere without due process for crimes which may make perfect sense in the local context as perceived by people in that community. Will that also be fine and dandy?

What it brings to mind again with me is the torture discussion, where McCain actually took the high road (and he does have some credibility in this respect given his experience in Vietnam) indicating that the US should stick to its principles and not stoop to that level.
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Old 02.10.2011, 21:05
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

I've said what I'm willing to tell you - for now. You can twist it around any way you like, not in the mood to give you more fodder today. Maybe after the middle of November, I might be in a better mood to deal with political discussions then.

(October is something of a bad month for me, hopefully I'll be more able to be nice in about 6 weeks, until then, I'll try my best... )
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  #44  
Old 02.10.2011, 21:36
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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Thanks for that copy paste Castro.

Look, I don't think there's many people (incl. me) who will lose sleep over the dude no longer being able to buy a latte at Starbucks, but actions have consequences. I bet it won't be long before American's get executed somewhere without due process for crimes which may make perfect sense in the local context as perceived by people in that community. Will that also be fine and dandy?

What it brings to mind again with me is the torture discussion, where McCain actually took the high road (and he does have some credibility in this respect given his experience in Vietnam) indicating that the US should stick to its principles and not stoop to that level.
about " I bet it won't be long before American's get executed somewhere without due process for crimes"

already happening, examples over last couple of years;

2009 Feb. 9, Iraq: a suicide bomber kills four American soldiers and their Iraqi translator near a police checkpoint
.April 10, Iraq: a suicide attack kills five American soldiers and two Iraqi policemen.
June 1, Little Rock, Arkansas: Abdulhakim Muhammed, a Muslim convert from Memphis, Tennessee, is charged with shooting two soldiers outside a military recruiting center. One is killed and the other is wounded. In a January 2010 letter to the judge hearing his case, Muhammed asked to change his plea from not guilty to guilty, claimed ties to al-Qaeda, and called the shooting a jihadi attack "to fight those who wage war on Islam and Muslims."
Dec. 25: A Nigerian man on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit attempted to ignite an explosive device hidden in his underwear. The explosive device that failed to detonate was a mixture of powder and liquid that did not alert security personnel in the airport. The alleged bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, told officials later that he was directed by the terrorist group Al Qaeda. The suspect was already on the government's watch list when he attempted the bombing; his father, a respected Nigerian banker, had told the U.S. government that he was worried about his son's increased extremism.
Dec. 30, Iraq: a suicide bomber kills eight Americans civilians, seven of them CIA agents, at a base in Afghanistan. It's the deadliest attack on the agency since 9/11. The attacker is reportedly a double agent from Jordan who was acting on behalf of al-Qaeda.
2010 May 1, New York City: a car bomb is discovered in Times Square, New York City after smoke is seen coming from a vehicle. The bomb was ignited, but failed to detonate and was disarmed before it could cause any harm. Times Square was evacuated as a safety precaution. Faisal Shahzad pleads guilty to placing the bomb as well as 10 terrorism and weapons charges.
May 10, Jacksonville, Florida: a pipe bomb explodes while approximately 60 Muslims are praying in the mosque. The attack causes no injuries.
Oct. 29: two packages are found on separate cargo planes. Each package contains a bomb consisting of 300 to 400 grams (11-14 oz) of plastic explosives and a detonating mechanism. The bombs are discovered as a result of intelligence received from Saudi Arabia's security chief. The packages, bound from Yemen to the United States, are discovered at en route stop-overs, one in England and one in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
2011 Jan. 17, Spokane, Washington: a pipe bomb is discovered along the route of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial march. The bomb, a "viable device" set up to spray marchers with shrapnel and to cause multiple casualties, is defused without any injuries.


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  #45  
Old 02.10.2011, 21:51
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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I had a huge problem with the topic long before Obama; Long before the targets got famous enough that we know their name: The last decade has seen the development of an entirely new branch of the service: "UAV"s. Now the best soldiers are the nerdy gamer types that can be put into some containers in Nevada and control a robot as if it was a computer game. These robots have laser guided missiles and high res cameras. They don't kill an anonymous "enemy soldier" anymore - they identify him first and then decide if you should kill him. That's wrong in so many ways that I don't know where to start. It changes the rules of war forever. In WW2 many allies discussed weather it would be ok to assassinate Hitler - it was common sense that assassinations were wrong, but how bad would it be if it was against the prime evil? By now are targeted assassinations of lower ranking commanders apparently completely normal.

I find it ethically completely wrong and don't buy the story that they could not arrest Bin Laden for a second.
Must admit I do not follow the logic of "In WW2 many allies discussed wether it would be ok to assassinate Hitler".
The argument goes that it is OK to drop bombs on, for example, London or Hamburg & kill thousands of innocent people but it is not OK to drop a bomb on somebody whose name you know?
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Old 02.10.2011, 21:52
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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2010 May 1, New York City: a car bomb is discovered in Times Square, New York City after smoke is seen coming from a vehicle. The bomb was ignited, but failed to detonate and was disarmed before it could cause any harm. Times Square was evacuated as a safety precaution. Faisal Shahzad pleads guilty to placing the bomb as well as 10 terrorism and weapons charges.
Nobody's debating that terrorism exists in this thread (i think). But let's take one example out. The guy was arrested, put in front of a jury (independent of the executive/legislative branch), convicted and punished accordingly.

Yet it's OK to have a government sanctioned execution of somebody who is convicted of nothing, who is arguably only guilty of having and voicing an opinion (this "thousands of people died" due to his rhetoric is plain nonsense)? Why didn't the US not just kill the person mentioned above as well (just skipping the trial)? Why not do this across the board for murderers... after all we know they're bad guys, we're stronger than them, etc.?

It all smells of fascism. All the more reason why discussion is a good thing.

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Old 02.10.2011, 21:55
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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Must admit I do not follow the logic of "In WW2 many allies discussed wether it would be ok to assassinate Hitler".
The argument goes that it is OK to drop bombs on, for example, London or Hamburg & kill thousands of innocent people but it is not OK to drop a bomb on somebody whose name you know?
Not a very original argument I will throw on the table now, but during WW2... the US actually was at war. Congress had formally declared war. This is not the case now.
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Old 02.10.2011, 22:02
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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Not a very original argument I will throw on the table now, but during WW2... the US actually was at war. Congress had formally declared war. This is not the case now.
The terrorists you mention have declared war; read their statements. It is the case now.
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Old 02.10.2011, 22:14
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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Nobody's debating that terrorism exists in this thread (i think). But let's take one example out. The guy was arrested, put in front of a jury (independent of the executive/legislative branch), convicted and punished accordingly.

Yet it's OK to have a government sanctioned execution of somebody who is convicted of nothing, who is arguably only guilty of having and voicing an opinion (this "thousands of people died" due to his rhetoric is plain nonsense)? Why didn't the US not just kill the person mentioned above as well (just skipping the trial)? Why not do this across the board for murderers... after all we know they're bad guys, we're stronger than them, etc.?

It all smells of fascism. All the more reason why discussion is a good thing.
About „Nobody’s debating that terrorism exists in this thread "

True but nearly all these terrorist groups are supported & funded by various governments.

Consequently it is logical to assume that these governments are involved & even drive their target selection & ordering killing of Americans.

Most recent example was "US top military official said Thursday that Pakistan’s spy agency played a direct role in supporting the insurgents who carried out the deadly attack on the American Embassy in Kabul last week."

Logical Conclusion is that Americans are already being executed without judicial process by foreign governments

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Old 03.10.2011, 11:36
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

The only part that bugs me is all the hair pulling by wet Americans who think they are somehow special. Good on whoever pulled the trigger in this one.
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Old 03.10.2011, 12:08
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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Must admit I do not follow the logic of "In WW2 many allies discussed wether it would be ok to assassinate Hitler".
The argument goes that it is OK to drop bombs on, for example, London or Hamburg & kill thousands of innocent people but it is not OK to drop a bomb on somebody whose name you know?
Well, no. Bombing civilans were war crimes back then as they are today. Yes, on both sides. (And please nobody bring up the "it was a strategy" argument again - killing innocent refugees, women and children is not an acceptable strategy.)

The principle of war since the middle ages was quite simple - a soldier wears a uniform to identify which side he is on. A war has to be declared before you start killing each other, otherwise it is a murder - a crime. Within a declared war, you kill the guys wearing the enemy uniform. Because the uniform shows that they are representing the enemy and willing to fight.

In the last decade have pretty much all wars turned "uneven": there are no more two armies fighting each other. One side usually happens to be the US armed forces and the other one a bunch of militias using improvised explosives, terror and guerilla tactics. Since they do not wear uniforms, have a clear command line or an organization towards which one could actually declare a war (or negotiate peace for a change...) - the US doesn't know how to deal with them. As they are not regular soldiers do the many rights a POW enjoy according to international laws not really apply to them. So they are in some sort of grey area - they should be trialed as criminals in the countries they carried out their attacks - but usually is there no reliable justice system. So the US decided to treat them in worse ways, flying them out to some hidden and frankly most probably illegal jails around the globe - the most famous being guantanamo. By torturing a small number of enemies did they only achieve to alienate Millions of people with the US and radicalize many more young muslims. I'd be lying if I wouldn't say that this is true for me as well: I was 100% pro-American during the Clinton period and up to 9/11. But the reactions America showed since then - especially Bush's decision to attack countries on the basis of obvious lies has damaged the image a lot. If you want the moral high ground, you cannot torture people or bomb countries anyway you like just because you technically can... I had high hopes in Obama to fix a lot of things that went wrong in the last decade, from Guantanamo to "darker than grey" black-ops, which he wasn't able to live up to at all.

Back on the UAVs - there have always been targeted assassinations throughout history. It was usually something carried out by the secret service, not the military (the name "assassin" comes from those secret specialists...). The new thing is to have the technology ready to carry out these assassinations on a large and "industrialized" way - you don't really need a lot of secret intel anymore - you fly those machines around and let the computers on the ground identify the folks you're looking for. Sounds like scinece fiction, but the ability of the modern high resolution cameras these things have are truly fascinating - if they weren't used for targeted killings. For me they are just another example that you should not abandon ethical basics just because technology gives you the ability to do so. For me it is quite simple: Putting cameras on UAVs spying on the enemy - totally ok. Identifying them and deciding to kill them without any arrest, trial, posibiliity to defend themselves at court: A complete disregard of some of the most important basics of Western society:
- the division of power: No president should have the right to send people to death (the exception being a formal "state of emergeny"..).
- a formal justice system: While I am against the death penalty overall, is the most basic principle that only a judge can make a verdict
- the suspected criminal has to have a right to defend himself. We have today no clue what the Awlaki guy actually did...

In short: The current practice to throw laser guided bombs from remote controlled aircrafts on suspects is closer to "Judge Dredd" than to the society I want to live in.
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Old 03.10.2011, 12:20
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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In the last decade have pretty much all wars turned "uneven"
"In the last decade"?



Back on topic: The assassination of people identified as being important to the enemy's war effort is always preferential to bombing the crap out of enlisted soldiers and civilians.

Whether that's done by the Milk Tray man or some spotty youth in a box in Nevada is neither here nor there for the filthy, exhausted kid who just wants the war to end so he can go home.
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  #53  
Old 03.10.2011, 12:32
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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Back on topic: The assassination of people identified as being important to the enemy's war effort is always preferential to bombing the crap out of enlisted soldiers and civilians.
That's the point, and to my knowledge every such mission and it's target has been thoroughly evaluated, necessity ranked and approved at a high level, no cowboy stuff.
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Old 03.10.2011, 13:07
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

Treverus, you will have to look to the UN for that. The UN was set up for such ideals, however has evolved into a ponderous, relatively ineffective body, partially populated by the very people it should be confronting. As foot-dragging as it was, the recent handling of Libya might be moving in the right direction, however do not expect it to deal with the fast moving strategic and tactical needs on the ground dealing with terrorism. Unfortunately it will likely take some deeply shocking event(s), which 9/11 should have been, to shake the world into some soul searching and see things as they really are and start effectively dealing with it.
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Old 03.10.2011, 13:39
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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Treverus, you will have to look to the UN for that. The UN was set up for such ideals, however has evolved into a ponderous, relatively ineffective body, partially populated by the very people it should be confronting.
I did when I was younger. I stopped when I saw a guy called Collin Powell - one of the more reasonable Americans back then - presented some cartoon drawings of "mobile Iraqi WMD labs". The UN is not weak because some idiots like Achma-whateveryouspellit can use it as a platform to spread hate. The UN is weak because the real powers in this world WANT it to be weak. Kofi Annan was a real leader the world would listen to. That's something the Bush administration really did not need, so they made sure that some lame duck got the job the next time. Ban Ki-Moon did his job so well, that even the internal UN audit unit openly critizised his work by saying that under his leadership the general secretariat is "drifting into irrelevance". That's nothing diplomats normal say. What's the result? He got re-elected for another five years this June.

I love the idea of the UN, but given it's current state it is simply hopeless. If I was German chancellor, I would go so far to quit the membership if they did not fix some of the key issues like the cold war era security council. Maybe hitting them on their finances would the fat cats finally force to do something.
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Old 03.10.2011, 13:46
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

...guess you are going to have to wait for Dag Hammarskjöld's reincarnation.
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Old 03.10.2011, 13:46
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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"In the last decade"?
The Spanish civil war was an exception of the era - by now it is the norm.

I do not agree that assassinations have always been the weapon of choice. Especially not on the level it happens now: Killing Bin Laden in this way as the world's number one terrorist is one thing, but killing every Al-Quaeda commander SUSPECT in this way is new. Killing your own countrymen in this way is also a first for a US president.

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That's the point, and to my knowledge every such mission and it's target has been thoroughly evaluated, necessity ranked and approved at a high level, no cowboy stuff.
I sure hope so. The point is that in a democracy the people have the power. One of the achievements of modern democracies are systems to control that leaders don't misuser their power. The most basic one is that a leader cannot decide over the death of a citizen - only appointed judges can do so. There is a word for a situation where the one person who makes the laws is also executing them - fascism.
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Old 03.10.2011, 13:50
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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...guess you are going to have to wait for Dag Hammarskjöld's reincarnation.
Yeah, he was so good that his plane exploded under till today unexplained circumstances.
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Old 03.10.2011, 13:51
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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The Spanish civil war was an exception of the era - by now it is the norm.
Along with the annihilation of the Armenians, the colonial wars in India and Africa, the conquest of the Americas...

Yup, the fair fight has been a European principle of warfare for centuries...
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Old 03.10.2011, 14:07
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Re: Question for US expats on extra-judicial killings

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Along with the annihilation of the Armenians, the colonial wars in India and Africa, the conquest of the Americas...

Yup, the fair fight has been a European principle of warfare for centuries...
I am not saying that the world was a better place - and I am not saying that a war which is played by the rules is a nice thing to have either. But even the unfair colonial wars were far simpler than the "conflicts" we have today - the winner gets the land, end of story. My nations army is currently in Kosovo and Afghanistan and I dare hope that we don't take any of those lands. Eastern Germany is already enough of a burden.

The key point here is that there is a new weapon that allows targeted attack on a unprecedented scale. Not as targeted as one might wish as it still is bombs and rockets, not a bullet, but you don't need to carpet bomb anymore. There is no question if this weapon should be used in a war - taking out say Lybian troops without killing their "human shields" is a mighty fine thing. The point is that the current conflicts aren't even wars by normal standards - so when is it ok to use these new weapons and when not? I think that unless there are some VERY good reasons, the criminals should be arrested and trialed.

Bin Laden wasn't killed by a UAV bombing, he was shot by a commando. The commando could just as well arrest him. Why didn't they do it? My personal feeling is that the US leaders did not want to give him the opportunity to tell some droll stories from his youth on "How the CIA made me what I am today". It could have become mighty embarrassing. That's why I also think they will never catch Ghaddafi alive - he will die during his arrest. How convenient. Is this ethical? Not so sure...

Trusting our leaders that they'll do the right thing is naive at best. That's what history really teaches us.
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