Dear Dirty America


Justified Injudiciality

May 25
00:04 2013
North Dakota

Greetings, dear dirty Americans! This sort of thing has been discussed before, I know, but the War on Terror doggedly refuses to end, continuing as it does to monster the general consciousness.

In a letter addressed to Committee on the Judiciary chairman Senator Patrick Leahy, US Attorney General Eric Holder admits that the government’s drone programme has killed four American citizens. While the bulk of the letter focuses on the targeted killing of al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and that course’s legal justification and precedents, it pays but brief mention to the other three killed, who were:

  • Jude Mohammad, implicated in the Raleigh jihadi conspiracy of 2009, in which eight men (seven citizens and a naturalised Albanian) of varying ages were charged with advocating and plotting acts of terror in the US. Those convicted in the case got anywhere from several to no more than twenty years in prison, a far cry from the death penalty meted out to Mohammad. Ostensibly to visit his father, but possibly to become involved in the insurgencies of its tribal areas, he had moved to Pakistan shortly before the arrests were made. He was reportedly killed in a drone strike in Pakistan in 2011.
  • Samir Khan, certainly a vocal supporter of violent acts against the United States, but not linked as a plotter of or direct participant in them. A one-time glee club member and writer for his high school newspaper in America, shortly before graduating Khan began to embrace an extremist brand of Islam, blogging and eventually becoming an editor for al-Qaeda’s online magazine Inspire. Never specifically targeted for destruction, he was collaterally killed in al-Awlaki’s convoy while traveling in Yemen.
  • Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was Anwar’s 16 year old son, killed only weeks after his father. He was one of ten people accidentally killed in a strike meant for Egyptian al-Qaeda leader Ibrahim al-Banna. Abdulrahman had no ties to terrorism, and was said to have been on his way to a barbecue.

All three were US citizens, and despite the justifications given by Mr. Holder, were “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” contrary to rights enshrined in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. In his letter, the attorney general sluffs these aside, essentially rationalising their deaths as the result of keeping bad company.

As the president is fond of saying, make no mistake. Holder ultimately makes an unsatisfying case for the drone programme, citing emergency measures questionably adopted during the world wars as suitable precedents. Three conditions are given as necessary to target an American citizen abroad (he actually underlines in a foreign country), that the government determines “after a thorough and careful review” that the individual is an imminent threat, cannot be otherwise captured, and that the action be held to an “applicable law of war principles”.

Of the four, Anwar al-Awlaki is made the focus of this apologetic because he can be held in some degree to meet those conditions. Thus the glossing over of the others, where no thorough or careful review was given. They weren’t specifically targeted, to be sure, yet their deaths raise another question, as to the general efficacy of the use of drones as vehicles of assassination. Evidence found in leaked documentation and otherwise available online (grains-of-salt required) would suggest they are anything but dependably or discerningly used.

With its ‘signature strike‘ tactics, alleged and highly illegal ‘double-tap’ attacks targeting first responders, murky oversight, and a total lack of accountability, the drone programme is most certainly a national mistake. Rather than making America safer, Predator drones are sloppily sowing the seeds for future conflict and inflaming the underlying factors contributory to militant religious extremism.

Far from surgical, it has been a socially, morally disfiguring experience.

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Dan Rudy is living the American dream, writing for a community newspaper and developing ulcers during the tedious course of proofreading articles. In his spare time he drinks heavily, and occasionally posts things to Dear Dirty America and his page at

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