Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Awlaki Sanction: Who's Next on the List?

by William Norman Grigg
The links 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.

The administration 
asserted – 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.

Intelligence 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 inevitably degenerated. 

The vertically integrated murder apparatus that killed Awlaki and 
fellow U.S. citizen Samir Khan is entirely autonomous – and increasingly automated. 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 points out:

"In 2007, [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.’"
Unmanned, 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.’"
According 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 recorded:

"For the 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."

Mere acceptance 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!

Inspired by 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.
The 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.

an 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…."

Stipulating 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.
Retired 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 is listed 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.

The 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."
In 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 political change."

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.

Although the 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."

Following Saddam’s 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.

"Friendships 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" are commonplace.

Expelled from 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.

"We will 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 Convention.

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.
As 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.

Clark, Hayden, 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." 

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