By Anonymous (not verified) on January 03, 2013

The Obama administration, having killed a 16-year-old American boy, refuses to explain why in court.

The boy, Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, was born in Denver and lived there until he was 7, when his family moved to Yemen.

Like many American kids, he had a Facebook page and a love of the Simpsons. No one ever accused him of any wrongdoing.

Yet on Oct. 14, 2011, a U.S. drone missile killed him and his teenage cousin while they were eating dinner at an open-air restaurant.

On Dec. 14, 2012, the Justice Department asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit in which Abdulrahman’s grandfather, Nasser Al-Aulaqi, is asking for an official explanation about why the boy died.

Until now, only unofficial explanations have been offered.

One anonymous government official told the media Abdulrahman’s death was a mistake.

Indefensibly, former White House press secretary and Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said this October, “You should have a far more responsible father” if you don’t want to be killed. (Abdulrahman’s father, Anwar Al-Aulaqi, was suspected by the United States of terrorism and was killed by a drone two weeks before his son.)

But surely no one would suggest that children are fair game simply because their parents are suspected of wrongdoing.

And if the government made a mistake, it should explain why.

In court, government officials provided no explanation at all. Their response boiled down to an assertion that the government has the authority to kill Americans without having to account to any court for its actions.

But the U.S. Constitution requires due process when life is at stake. The government cannot be permitted to deprive an American child of his life without any judicial review, even after the fact.

More broadly, thousands of people have been killed by U.S. drones in a program that began in 2002 and has expanded dramatically under the Obama administration.

Part of the problem with the targeted killing program is the government’s vague and shifting legal standards.

The program has gone from targeting specific individuals on so-called kill lists to targeting groups of unidentified individuals who fit a secret profile. According to administration officials, the government even classifies any male who appears to be of military age as a “militant” when it tallies a strike’s casualties.

In the face of the government’s official silence about the death of his grandson, Nasser Al-Aulaqi went to court to seek answers. At issue in the lawsuit, which was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, is the government’s obligation to account for its actions in killing Abdulrahman, his father and another U.S. citizen, Samir Khan.

If this case is dismissed, as the government asks, a grieving grandfather will be left without any explanation or accountability for the death of his 16-year-old grandson.

And Americans will be left with a government that insists it has the unilateral and unreviewable power to kill people, including Americans, that it deems to present a threat to the nation’s security — even when, like Abdulrahman, they present no such threat.

That would be a terrifying precedent to set.

Hina Shamsi is the director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project and Vincent Warren is the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. The two groups have worked together on this lawsuit. Shamsi and Warren can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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