The Obama administration’s unprecedented acknowledgement that four Americans were killed in U.S. drone strikes overseas—including one whose death was not previously reported—“raises more questions than it answers,” Jeremy Schaill, national security correspondent for The Nation and author of the new book “Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield,” told “Democracy Now!” on Thursday.
“In Eric Holder’s letter,” Scahill stated, “he talks about how Anwar Awlaki was actively involved in imminent plots against the United States, that he had directed the so-called underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a U.S. airplane over the city of Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. And what’s interesting is that all of these allegations are made by Eric Holder, but no actual evidence has ever been presented against Awlaki to indicate that he played the role that Eric Holder is asserting. His trial was basically just litigated through leaks in the press. He was never indicted on any of these charges. And Holder, in fact, in his letter, says that we have all of this evidence, but it’s too dangerous to be made public. And so, there’s really a continuation of a posthumous trial of Anwar Awlaki through leaks and now through this letter from Eric Holder.”
Of the other Americans who were killed, the details of the death of Jude Mohammad, who had been indicted, have not been released. The U.S. government had failed to secure an indictment of Samir Khan, a Pakistani-American from North Carolina who was killed alongside al-Awlaki. His family had been told there were no criminal charges against him.
Finally, Holder used a vague phrase to explain the killing of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of al-Awlaki. Abdulrahman was “not specifically targeted,” he said.
Scahill commented: “You know, what does that phrase mean? It’s almost like an Orwellian statement, ‘not specifically targeted.’ Well, it could mean that these individuals were killed in the signature strikes that you mentioned, which is a sort of form of pre-crime, where the U.S. determines that any military-aged males in a targeted area are in fact terrorists, and their deaths will be registered as having killed terrorists or militants. So, it’s possible that the other Americans that were killed were killed in these so-called signature strikes.
“But in the case of this 16-year-old boy, it’s almost impossible to believe that it’s a coincidence that two weeks after his father is killed, he just happens to be killed in a U.S. drone strike. And there were leaks at the time from U.S. officials telling journalists that, oh, he actually was 21 years old, he was at an al-Qaida meeting. But they’ve never been able to identify who they killed in that strike. And the Obama administration has never publicly taken on the fact that they killed one of their own citizens who was a teenage boy. There are no answers to that question. So, I think that there has to be a far more intense scrutiny of the statements of the attorney general and also what we understand the president is going to say later.”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.