“Engaged in combat” could mean being an associate of an associate of a terrorist
Paul Joseph Watson
March 8, 2013
Although it was heralded as a clear signal that the Obama administration has been forced to acknowledge that it cannot drone strike Americans on U.S. soil, Eric Holder’s response to Rand Paul only serves to re-affirm the government’s existing position.
Responding to the Kentucky Senator’s near 13 hour filibuster, Attorney General Holder sent a letter to Paul’s office which stated, “It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: `Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?’ The answer to that question is no.”
The key to this is the phrase “engaged in combat.” What does the administration consider to represent an act of “combat.”
In the case of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, killed by a targeted drone strike in 2011, being “engaged in combat” amounted to little more than creating propaganda videos in support of terrorists. Awlaki never committed an act of violent terrorism, he was merely accused of communicating with terrorists and giving lectures in support of Al-Qaeda. Awlaki’s guilt was never proven in court because he was never afforded a trial.
Given that the Department of Defense now considers the act of protest to be a form of “low-level terrorism,” how far removed is criticizing U.S. foreign policy and hegemonic domination from the views which Awlaki was summarily executed for advocating?
The federal government has defined a laundry list of banal behaviors and political activities as potential terrorism, from paying for a cup of coffee with cash to buying storable food in bulk. The definition of a potential terrorist – and remember the government only has to accuse someone of being a terrorist as a pre-cursor to killing them with a drone strike – has been watered down to such an extent that the Department of Homeland Security now considers Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority,” and “reverent of individual liberty” as potential terrorists.
Awlaki’s son, 16-year-old Abdel al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was killed by a drone strike a few weeks after his father’s death as he traveled to a family barbeque in Yemen. Abdel’s act of “combat” against the United States amounted to little more than sharing the surname of his father. The U.S. government later erroneously claimed that Abdel’ was a “military-age male” in his 20′s in an attempt to justify his execution.
“What Holder is saying, in substantive terms, is that the President does have the supposed authority to use a drone to kill an American who is engaged in “combat,” whether here or abroad,” writes William Grigg.
“Combat” can consist of expressing support for Muslims mounting armed resistance against U.S. military aggression, which was the supposed crime committed by Anwar al-Awlaki, or sharing the surname and DNA of a known enemy of the state, which was the offense committed by Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdel. Under the rules of engagement used by the Obama Regime in Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan, any “military-age” male found within a targeted “kill zone” is likewise designated a “combatant,” albeit usually after the fact. This is a murderous application of the “Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy,” and it will be used when — not if — Obama or a successor starts conducting domestic drone-killing operations.”
Furthermore, as the Washington Post reported yesterday, the Obama administration is now preparing to extend the legal basis for its drone strikes to target people who have no direct connection to actual terrorists.
“Officials said legal advisers at the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies are now weighing whether the law can be stretched to cover what one former official called “associates of associates,” reports the Post.
This could mean that Americans who unknowingly communicate with somebody who communicates with somebody else the government accuses of being a terrorist could become a target for a drone strike.
The report quotes a “person who participated in the administration’s deliberations on the issue,” who warns that expanding the definition would be “a major interpretive leap” that could eliminate the need for a link between the targeted organization and core al-Qaeda.”
“You can’t end the war if you keep adding people to the enemy who are not actually part of the original enemy,” the individual added.
This again underscores how the term “engaged in combat,” used by Holder in his response to Rand Paul, has been broadened to such a degree that it could feasibly apply to huge numbers of Americans who have absolutely no connection to terrorism whatsoever.