Late last week the Times published a highly problematic article detailing the circumstances leading up to Anwar Al-Aulaqi’s targeted assassination by the US government in 2011. The ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights criticized the piece for being “the latest in a series of one-sided, selective disclosures that prevent meaningful public debate and legal or even political accountability for the government’s killing program, including its use against citizens.”
Government officials have made serious allegations against Anwar al-Aulaqi, but allegations are not evidence, and the whole point of the Constitution’s due process clause is that a court must distinguish between the two. If the government has evidence that Al-Aulaqi posed an imminent threat at the time it killed him, it should present that evidence to a court. Officials now also anonymously assert that Samir Khan’s killing was unintended and that the killing of 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Aulaqi was a mistake, even though in court filings the Obama administration refuses to acknowledge any role in those killings. In court filings made just last week, the government in essence argued, wrongly, that it has the authority to kill these three Americans without ever having to justify its actions under the Constitution in any courtroom.
Scott Shane, one of the authors, has appeared on Democracy Now! today to debate Jesselyn Raddack about the contents of his recent article.
Criticizing the authors for towing the official government line, Raddack opined
And while Scott [Shane] just talked about how the article is committed to transparency and neutrality, the article actually picks up a storyline only recently floated by the government, that Awlaki was operational rather than a mere propagandist. That storyline, that narrative from the government, only came out after the white paper was released. Yet, The New York Times works hard to make the case that he had somehow evolved from being a propagandist to being operational. And that’s important because the operational factor is what makes him eligible for a drone strike.
Who’s the real propagandist here?