Sekhnet always comments that I should not write about “current events” since topical writing soon goes out of date. I take her point but I’ve also got breaking news for my sweetheart — most things soon go out of date. We are rats running on an accelerating digital treadmill, technology giving us the up-to-the second illusion that we know much more when, actually, because we are always running full tilt, and living increasingly in echo-chambers that confirm our own biases, we know much less.
How about a quick trip down non-memory lane? It’s possible that Jeremy Scahill is wrong when he says the American citizen President Obama ordered executed by missile was not charged with any crime. It’s possible that I am wrong in my memory of what Scahill wrote in Dirty Wars and other places. It’s possible that this source I am about to quote was wrong:
It’s still unclear precisely which charges Al-Awlaki would have been asked to surrender to face. A State Department spokesman referred questions about that to the Justice Department. A spokesman there said Wednesday the agency “has not commented on whether there were or were not federal charges against him at the time of his death.” source
I love a good turn of phrase as much as the next guy. Hard not to admire the DOJ spokesman’s adroit “at the time of his death” which is so much better than “at the time we turned him into chopped meat with a missile launched from a drone”. Whatever else one might say about Al-Awlaki at “the time of his death”, one true thing is that he was an American citizen. At minimum one would like to think he was charged with a capital crime before his execution was ordered by the American president. After all, we are a nation of laws, as the president who ordered Mr. Al-Alwaki’s extrajudicial execution always reminded us.
My hatred of charismatic President “We Tortured Some Folks” is well-documented. My largest single reason for it now, outside of the solidly right-wing government his well-talked, adroitly walked two terms left us with, are the precedents he left behind for his angry, unstable successor. The fucking Department of Justice will not comment on whether Mr. Al-Awlaki was charged with anything “at the time of his death”? Are you fucking shitting in my mouth?
That was a rhetorical question, of course. They are allowed to shit in my mouth, and yours, whenever they want. If I screamed too loudly, and got too much attention for my angry opinions, and was not born very, very rich, I could become a nuisance. If I became a sufficient nuisance they could make any allegations they like against me. Having made those allegations, it would be at the discretion of the current president whether or not I deserved to be killed, with or without charges against me, at the time of my death.
They could, for example, threaten me with the publication of videos of me with prostitutes. This would end my career as America’s fair-minded, moderate go-to TV imam after 9/11. I could go back to my family’s country of origin, say, Yemen, and find myself picked up, at America’s request, and detained for a year and a half, mostly in solitary confinement, as America stepped up its global war against Islamic terrorists and those suspected of supporting Islamic terror. When I got out of solitary, and took to the internet to scream against American injustice and hypocrisy, and its worldwide jihad against Muslims — well, you can see where this is going. Everywhere you look now, everywhere, you would see me referred to as Al-Qu’aeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s number two man.
Speaking of number two, wipe the side of your mouth, man, that’s disgusting.
Jeez, I’m sorry, I don’t know how this number two got on the side of my mouth.
“Must you always be so disgusting?,” asked someone, at the time of my death.