By Scotty Reid, staff writer, (blacktalkradionetwork.com), Updated 10/4/2011
President Obama rode into office on a wave of support for his “Hope & Change” message during his historic campaign. A campaign that we saw inspired heavy voter turn out within the Black community in efforts to support a modern black president. This high level of black voter participation had arguably not been seen since the historic Civil Rights Era and voter registration drives of the sixties. Unfortunately, not much change has occurred on a number of key policy issues within the Obama administration from those of his predecessor. Right now, President Obama is on blast as they say because of not only continuing some of the domestic and foreign policies of the preceding Bush/Cheney regime but if you ask civil libertarians, the Obama administration has surpassed the Bush administration in violating the civil liberties of US citizens. The Obama administration recently openly announced and carried out the assassination of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki.
While the Bush/Cheney regime was so bold and had such contempt for the US Constitution that it openly admitted it tortured U.S. citizens under code words like “enhanced interrogations”, they never publically admitted to targeting US citizens for assassination.
Many of the Bush/Cheney victims were kidnapped aboard and transferred to CIA black sites that Obama vowed he would close, or they ended up at Guantanamo Bay but to our knowledge, US citizens were never assassinated. Tortured to death yes and possibly executed while in custody, but nothing as blatant as a public assassination. The Obama administration has offered no legal authorization or justification for the assassination only that it colluded with US Justice Department lawyers in the assassination of a US citizen.
In referencing the CIA drone attack in Yemen that killed US citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, US President Barack Obama said, “This is further proof that al-Qaeda and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world.”
Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico, was officially targeted by the Obama administration although he had not been charged with any crime, so of course he was never tried and convicted of the widely circulated allegations by US media. What’s particularly striking in this case is not that a US citizen was assassinated but that the US government actually announced the decision to kill an American citizen in a press conference that generated little media buzz at the time.
Samir Khan, the other US citizen killed in the attack, is from North Carolina and had not been previously named as a target by the Obama administration or the Justice Department. The two men were travelling by convoy down a Yemeni highway when their convoy was hit by at least one CIA drone that carry up to two Hellfire missiles. Both men allegedly were a big part of Al Qaeda’s media operations used to recruit sympathizers and issue calls to jihad through the Internet.
The assassination of US citizens could have the potential to derail the Obama presidency or at least become the subject of impeachment hearings. The Republicans went after President Clinton in impeachment trials related to statements he gave under oath about an alleged affair he denied which became known as the Monica Lewinsky scandal. President Obama stands accused of violating his oath to obey and defend the US constitution. This scenario is unlikely to happen considering most members of Congress , especially the house, belong to a far right cabal which has a base that supported the Bush administration’s treatment of US citizens and that same base is likely to support Obama on this issue even if they strongly oppose him on every other.
While the Democrats made a considerable racket about these abuses and rode a wave of public anger to control both houses of Congress, little if anything was done to address previous abuses by the previous administration and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) has been quiet about the Obama directed assassination of a US citizen. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D) has been silent about it as well.
However, only one of the Republican presidential hopefuls seems to have a problem with the President targeting and killing citizens without charge or trial. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas publicly came out against the Awlaki assassination citing rights afforded to American citizens.
Ron Paul penned an op-ed piece in which he wrote, “Awlaki was a U.S. citizen. Under our Constitution, American citizens, even those living abroad, must be charged with a crime before being sentenced. As President, I would have arrested Awlaki, brought him to the U.S., tried him and pushed for the stiffest punishment allowed by law. Treason has historically been judged to be the worst of crimes, deserving of the harshest sentencing. But what I would not do as President is what Obama has done and continues to do in spectacular fashion: circumvent the rule of law.”
GOP hopeful Herman Cain was against the Awlaki assassination before he was for it.
Herman Cain, who has in the past expressed support for the so-called “War on Terrorism”, and recently said African Americans are over “this first black president thing”, was asked after a Fox News debate in May, if Awlaki should have been assassinated by the Obama administration. Cain responded, “No, because he is an American citizen”. After it became public information that the Obama administration had taken out Awlaki, right wing blog Hot Air reported that during a Tea Party convention, Herman Cain “Cain told the crowd that he fully supported Barack Obama's decision to strike Anwar al-Awlaki.”
It should not be lost on the black community that all of the extrajudicial killings and people detained at Guantanamo Bay have been non-white people. Whether the black community sees itself as a victim or target of these policies in Washington, DC or not, these type of targeted killings have a long history and have had a huge impact on black global leadership.
Alleged FBI and CIA involvement in the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, both US citizens, has been long been openly debated and written about in the black community and liberal progressive circles. Both men, leaders of the Civil Rights movements and Human Rights movement respectively, used mass media communications to blast US government policies both domestically and abroad. King was assassinated shortly after he publicly began speaking out against the Vietnam War. Malcolm X, while not really interested in the integration issues being championed by King, he too spoke out against the Vietnam War and was a global activist during a time when the CIA was widely targeting and conspiring to kill African leaders considered “leftist” or those who fought against colonialism in Africa like Patrice Lumumba.
Allegations surrounding the US government’s targeting of black political and religious leaders did not just include Dr. King and Malcolm X. As the title suggests, “The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders: U.S. Intelligence's Murderous Targeting of Tupac, MLK, Malcolm, Panthers, Hendrix, Marley, Rappers and Linked Ethnic Leftists”, shows how broadly this policy has been implemented in the past. The book is filled with documentation meticulously put together by author John Potash that show a pattern of abuses and state sanctioned murders of US citizens. The documentation according to some proves various state and local law enforcement departments along with US intelligence agencies were engaged in an illegal war against those deemed by the government and media corporations as ideological enemies of the state that at the time were mainly Black Nationalist and activists.
Fast-forward to 2011 and the United States under the helm of Barack Obama, a black president who on many occasion has publicly ranted about the civil rights abuses committed by the former regime. Barack Obama also pledged that the US would adhere to not only US laws but uphold its commitment to the Geneva Conventions treaty. This same Barack Obama is now openly engaged in a policy of assassinating US citizens. Excuses can be made for and are being made for Barack Obama when it comes to Guantanamo Bay because Republicans blocked funding to move detainees to US prisons. Those detainees would then be tried in civil courts. Yet, how can Obama argue the administration has the right to target and kill a US citizen who had not been charged with any crime?
From the death penalty to America’s so-called war on terror, there are those with such a blood lust for state sponsored killing in the name of justice that they put all our rights in jeopardy and subject us all to an Orwellian police state. The black community and especially those who continue to support the presidency of Barack Obama have some hard choices to make regarding their moral compass and the upcoming 2012 elections. They must decide whether they are fully committed to the fight against injustice and stand on principles rather than cherry picking which cases deserve their outrage. Do expect a number of black political commentators and activist to come out and support the President on this issue while at the same time hypocritically professing to support civil rights and liberties for all.