“The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama,” an article by Tom Junod to be published in the August issue of Esquire magazine, examines the Obama administration’s use of predator drones as well as their policies surrounding the “War on Terror” and due process of enemy combatants.
What has come to now be known as the administration’s “Kill List” raises questions about the United State’s targeted killing of Al Qaeda operatives. Junod asserts that the over 2,000 people have been killed by predator drones since Obama took office have made the Obama presidency the most “lethal” in American history. The body count certainly isn’t has high as wars past, but the article contends that the overall cost of these policies may far exceed the residual cost of previous U.S. conflicts.
The crux of the article surrounds the killing of two Americans. One, Anwar al-Awlaki, was a known enemy combatant who at one time worked as a chaplain at George Washington University. Awlaki publically condemned the 9/11 attacks, but later the FBI would discover that one of the 9/11 hijackers had a relationship with Awlaki and had followed him from California to Virginia.
In the following years, Awlaki would emerge as a threat to the United States. He later developed a relationship with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the man who in 2009 boarded Northwest flight 253 headed for the U.S. with a bomb made by an Al Qaeda bomb maker sewn into his underwear. Army psychiatrist, Major Nidal Hasan, who shot forty-three Americans at Fort Hood, killing thirteen, was also an associate of Awkali.
Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, Anwar’s 16-year-old son, also a American citizen, on the other hand had no reported or disclosed ties to terrorism. He would die on October 14, 2011 by drone attack, as his father did in Yemen along with six or seven other young men and his 17-year-old cousin.
Years before predator drones killed Anwar and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki controversy over due process and illegal detainment rose from the increasing number of combatants held at Guantanamo Bay. After years of detainment, six hundred combatants would be released from Guantanamo and would never be charged.
The Obama administration is in a difficult position; while managing inherited wars they had to develop new tactics. New technology and predator drones seemed to be a fail safe answer to combating global terrorism. No costly wars, and targeted killing would reduce civilian casualties. This new technology gave way to a war that is waged by targeting enemies one by one, but in its inception brings the U.S. dangerously close to what some would simply call assassinations.
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