The Awlaki Sanction: Who’s Next on the List?
William Norman Grigg
Recently by William Norman Grigg: 'The
Dream Is Collapsing'
connecting Anwar al-Awlaki to anti-American terrorism were entirely
suppositious, forged through unsubstantiated official assertion.
He was, at most, a clerical
propagandist who never exercised command authority. For that
matter, no evidence has been presented that he ever had an operational
role in a military force of any kind.
Awlaki – an
American-born cleric who was once courted by the Pentagon – was
accused of expressing support for armed attacks against U.S. military
personnel and government interests. It is not terrorism to employ
lethal violence against an invading and occupying army, nor is it
a crime to express support for armed self-defense – including armed
interposition against the aggressive designs of the U.S. government.
– without providing evidence – that Awlaki had an "operational"
role in planning terrorist
attacks against U.S. citizens. If evidence supporting that charge
existed, the administration had the unconditional constitutional
duty to indict Awlaki and put him on trial.
officials knew Awlaki’s location. The government of Yemen, which
is headed by a pliant thug named Ali Abdullah Saleh, is a wholly
owned subsidiary of Washington and would have eagerly cooperated
in an effort to track down and extradite Awlaki. But this would
not have validated the claim – made
by the Bush administration, and embraced by its successor –
that the President of the United States isn’t bound by the Constitution,
but rather is the Living Constitution.
As a guarantee
of individual liberty, a political constitution is about as intrinsically
valuable as a paper currency. The Constitution and Bill of Rights
are irredeemable unless they are backed by a noble metal – lead,
in the form of privately owned ammunition. Nonetheless, and for
the record, this must be said:
There is nothing
in the Constitution or laws of the United States of America that
permits a president to order the summary execution of any human
being. Only Congress can declare war. Only a jury can find someone
guilty of a crime. Only a judge can impose a death sentence. Or
such would be the case, were we still living in a constitutional
republic, rather than the militarist empire into which that republic
integrated murder apparatus that killed Awlaki and fellow
U.S. citizen Samir Khan is entirely autonomous – and increasingly
Awlaki was added
to a "kill list," and his
execution "sanctioned" by a secret legal memorandum,
on the basis of things he had said in public. Within a few years,
the machinery of mass murder will be refined to the point where
people – including U.S. citizens – may find themselves targeted
for execution on the basis of behavior "patterns" that
suggest unexpressed but impermissible thoughts.
As Thomas Engelhardt
[then-] CIA director Michael Hayden began
lobbying the White House for 'permission to carry out strikes
against houses or cars merely on the basis of behavior that matched
a "pattern of life" associated with al-Qaeda or other
groups.’ And next thing you knew, they were moving from a few attempted
targeted assassinations toward a larger air war of annihilation
against types and 'behaviors.’"
automated drones are an ideal instrument for an all-encompassing
war against dissent. "They are capable of roaming the world,"
Englehardt continues. "Someday, they will land on the decks
of aircraft carriers or, tiny as hummingbirds, drop onto a windowsill,
maybe even yours, or in their hundreds, the size of bees, swarm
to targets and, if all goes well, coordinate their actions using
the artificial intelligence version of 'hive minds.’"
to retired General Wesley Clark, the murder – or, to use his
term, "takedown" – of Anwar al-Awlaki heralds a "transformation"
of the Regime’s strategy in waging open-ended warfare. Awlaki’s
death "makes his final legacy a proof of the effectiveness
of America’s active defense against terrorists," enthuses Clark.
He goes on
to emit one of the purest specimens of totalitarian agitprop ever
United States, the journey continues: Awlaki’s death … moves us
closer to the time when we must transition, psychologically and
practically, from being a nation under threat to a nation that once
again champions its openness and welcome to the whole world."
of the presidential power to execute anybody on a whim isn’t sufficient.
It must be celebrated openly – nay, it must be extolled as a selling
point to the rest of the world: Come visit this uniquely blessed
land of killer drones and murder by executive decree!
Clark’s exhortation, and eager to display the appropriate patriotic
zeal to eradicate those who have aided and supported terrorism,
I would like to submit two nominees for the next drone-inflicted
counter-terrorist "takedown": Retired Generals Wesley
Clark and Michael Hayden.
As noted above,
there is no evidence that Anwar al-Awlaki ever actively collaborated
in armed violence by Jihadists. Wesley Clark, however, was the commanding
general during the NATO’s 78-day terror bombing of Serbia. Hundreds
of civilians were murdered in that act of international terrorism,
which resulted in the installation of a criminal syndicate called
the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)
as the government of that Serbian province.
KLA has a remarkable pedigree: It is descended on one side from
the notorious WWII-era Skanderbeg militia organized by the Nazi
SS; the other half of its heritage is Stalinist. It received material
and technical assistance from the CIA, and financial aid from Osama
bin Laden – who were partners in supporting
jihadist elements during the wars of Balkan secession.
As CIA director
under George W. Bush, Michael Hayden was deeply involved in recruiting,
arming, and supporting a large number of unreconstructed Jihadist,
among them an enchanting Somali warlord named Indha Adde, who now
refers to himself as Gen. Yusuf Mohammad Siad.
on-the-scene account, Jeremy Scahill of The Nation observes
that Siad has "pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda" and "openly
admits to having sheltered some of the most notorious Al Qaeda figures—including
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 1998 bombings
of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania…."
that the term "al-Qaeda" is, in effect, shorthand for
"any group of Muslims Washington has not succeeded in bribing
yet," the critical point here is that Siad openly admits
doing the kinds of things Awlaki was accused of doing. Hayden
and Clark, on the other hand, have committed crimes well beyond
Awlaki’s capacity: As heads of military and intelligence bureaucracies,
they offered material aid and support to terrorists. In fact, they
– and a number of other veterans of the military-intelligence establishment
– continue to do so in retirement.
Generals Clark and Hayden are among the
War Party luminaries who are on the payroll of the Iranian Mujahadeen-e-Khalq
(MEK), or the so-called "People’s Mujahadeen," which
as a terrorist group by the State Department. Clark and Hayden,
along with former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Hugh Shelton
and Peter Pace, former NATO commander James L. Jones, former FBI
Director Louis Freeh, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former
UN ambassador John Bolton, former 9-11 Commission co-chairman Lee
Hamilton, Rudolph Giuliani, Michele
Bachmann, and several
other prominent members of the Permanent War Lobby have
been hired by the MEK to lobby the StateDepartment to remove the
group from its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
MEK was created in 1965 as part of a Soviet-sponsored international
terrorist network that waged wars of "national liberation" throughout
the developing world. Human
Rights Watch, which describes the MEK as an "urban guerrilla
group," points out that the group's ideology is a Muslim variation
on "liberation theology."
his July 7 testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Ray Takeyh, who is (of all things) a Senior Fellow at the Council
on Foreign Relations, pointed out that the MEK "sought to …
amalgamate Islam and Marxism. Islam was supposed to provide the
values while Marxism offered a pathway for organizing the society
and defeating the forces of capitalism, imperialism, and feudalism….
[F]rom Lenin they embraced the importance of a vanguard party committed
to mass mobilization, and from Third World revolutionaries they
took the primacy of guerilla warfare as indispensable agents of
In 1970, 13
members of the MEK received training (most likely under Soviet supervision)
at PLO camps
in Jordan and Lebanon. Upon their return, the PLO-trained MEK cadres
shared their newly acquired skills with their comrades, and the
group embarked on a wave of attacks and bombings intended to bring
down the Shah. During one rampage, MEK terrorists killed several
U.S. military personnel – including Colonel Lewis Hawkins, the Deputy
Chief of Military Mission in Tehran.
group suffered some attrition in its conflict with the SAVAK, the
Shah’s hideous secret police, it survived long enough to participate
in Khomeini revolution. MEK cadres were involved in the seizure
of American hostages in October 1979. But the MEK’s ambitions and
ideology made it a poor fit for Khomeini regime, so the group was
purged from the ruling coalition in 1981 and much of its leadership
was driven into exile in Iraq. There it was, in Takeyh’s words,
used "as Saddam’s Praetorian Guard."
U.S. supported invasion of Iran, the MEK began a hit-and-run guerrilla
war against the Iranian regime in the hope of triggering a popular
uprising. When that proved unsuccessful, the group set up a political
front group called the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI)
in Paris. In 1985, notes Human Rights Watch, the MEK's "leadership
was transformed when Masoud Rajavi announced his marriage to Maryam
Uzdanlu.... The husband and wife team became co-leaders" of the
MEK and announced an "ideological revolution."
All of the
group's members were required to undertake an individual "ideological
revolution" by engaging in Maoist-style "self-criticism" sessions.
Adherents were expected to listen raptly "to radio messages and
explanations provided by [their] commanders" in order to "gain a
deep insight into the greatness of our new leadership, meaning the
leadership of Masoud and Maryam.... To believe in them as well as
to show ideological and revolutionary obedience to them."
By 1987, the
MEK had acquired "all the main attributes of a cult," writes Iranian
scholar Ervand Abrahamian, with Masoud Rajavi claiming the titles
Rahbar (leader) and Imam-i hal (the Present Imam), and the forerunner
to the impending second advent of the Mahdi. In 1994, the House
Foreign Relations Committee described the group as a violent, Marxist-influenced
cult. The Committee Chairman at the time was Congressman Lee Hamilton
(D-Indiana), who is now on the group’s payroll.
and all emotional relationships are forbidden" to those recruited
into the MEK, writes Elizabeth Rubin of the New York Times
magazine, who has spent time at the group’s headquarters at Camp
Ashraf, 40 miles north of Baghdad. "From the time they
are toddlers, boys and girls are not allowed to speak to each other.
Each day at Camp Ashraf you had to report your dreams and thoughts."
Maoist "struggle sessions" and severe punishment for "deviationism"
France in 1986, Masoud Rajavi was welcomed in Baghdad, where he
and his followers built a "National
Liberation Army" that joined the Iran-Iraq war on Saddam's side.
The MEK's plan was to recruit a huge army of suicide commandos whose
sacrifice would inspire the "liberation" of Iran.
not be fighting alone; we will have the people on our side,"
proclaimed Rajavi. "They are tired of this regime, and ...
they have every incentive to get rid of it forever. We will only
have to act as their shields, protecting them from being easy targets
for the [revolutionary] guards. Wherever we go there will be masses
of citizens joining us, and the prisoners we liberate from jails
will help us lead them towards victory. It will be like an avalanche,
growing as it progresses."
When the war
ended in 1988 without victory for Iraq or the "National Liberation
Army," the MEK leadership imposed yet another "ideological revolution"
on its followers, this one including compelled mass divorces and
widespread torture of those suspected of espionage or ideological
deviation. Following the first Gulf War, the MEK collaborated in
Saddam's crackdown on Shi'ites and Kurds.
In its campaign
to build support for the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration
mentioned MEK camps in Iraq as evidence of Saddam’s support for
international terrorism. Following the invasion, U.S. forces disarmed
MEK fighters who operated several camps within 60 miles of the Iranian
border. Rather than treating them as terrorists, the Bush administration
designated the MEK fighters as "protected" persons under the Geneva
In fact, the
Bush administration was so intent on sheltering the MEK – which,
recall had killed Americans and taken part in the seizure of American
hostages – that it rebuffed an offer from Iran to exchange MEK leaders
for al-Qaeda suspects being held in Tehran. In exchange for protection,
the MEK began to produce a series of lurid – and entirely fabricated
– "intelligence" reports regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
The MEK has
no support among reform-minded Iranians; in fact, the group is immensely
useful to the incumbent regime as a way of discrediting its opposition,
which in official propaganda is depicted as allies of the bizarre
Islamo-Leninist cult. The current Iranian government is awful; if
it were to seize power, the MEK – which is the Persian equivalent
of the Khmer Rouge – would be dramatically worse.
the redoubtable Glenn Greenwald has observed, the retired U.S.
officials who have become paid propagandists for the MEK are providing
material support for an international terrorist organization. Staten
Island resident Javed Iqbal, who operated a cable TV company, was
recently convicted of that charge and sentenced to 69 months in
federal prison for the supposed offense of carrying programs
produced by a television network owned by Hezbollah. And of course,
Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan were summarily executed without trial
for allegedly rendering the same service to al-Qaeda.
and the MEK's other American courtesans are members of the American
nomenklatura, which means that they are on the "who" side
of Lenin's "who does what to whom" formula. The murder of Anwar
al-Awlaki was intended as an object lesson to those of us on the
other side of that dichotomy, demonstrating what can and will be
done to anyone who is identified by the Regime as what the Soviets
used to call a "socially dangerous person."
Norman Grigg [send him mail]
publishes the Pro
Libertate blog and hosts the Pro
Libertate radio program.
© 2011 William Norman Grigg
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