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Obama’s Anti-Terrorism Strategy: That’s the Chicago Way!

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Today one of the top terrorists of the al Qaeda network, American-born Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen. It’s one of several successful take-downs of top level al Qaeda terrorists that have come in the wake of the May raid on Usama bin Laden’s compound by Navy SEALs, where the man mainly responsible for the attacks of September 11th was finally killed.

It got me thinking about how, despite a reduced presence in the Middle East, we’ve managed to be doing pretty well when it came to fighting terrorists compared to how we were doing for nearly a decade. It soon became apparent that the difference could be compared to two distinct stereotypes of the silver screen: cowboys and gangsters.

Cowboys want a fight out in the open. When a cowboy was President of the United States, that’s what we got: two foreign wars fought with full military mobilization. We wanted our targets alive, to follow up with gut-wrenching instances of interrogation to lead us to more. If not that, we surrendered them to tribal codes of law televised for the whole world to see. It was how we decided to fight against the threat of terrorism for eight years. In the end, however, it proved ineffective against the enemy we were fighting against; by the end of George W. Bush’s second term the majority of top-level al Qaeda operatives and leaders remained at-large.

Gangsters choose to fight in the dark. Vicious gunfights in the middle of the street don’t do much but alienate you from the neighborhood. Casting aside the criminal activities associated with true gangsters (just like we cast aside the criminal activities of true cowboys when comparing former Presidents to them) that’s what we have in our current President Barack Obama. He comes from the land of backdoor politics, which is itself just a spin-off of the mafia mentality that’s dictated Illinois’s power structure for almost a century. This style has converted poorly when it comes to national domestic issues, but it reveals itself glaringly when it comes to the fight against terrorism.

The head honchos of al Qaeda have always been a scattered band of self-proclaimed freedom fighters hopping from hideout to hideout staying in touch on prepaid cell phones and other hard-to-trace means of communication. So instead of rolling the tanks in after these guys, the Obama “Chicago Way” has been to silently creep up on these targets with precise intelligence and careful planning. Then, in an instant, a drone missile is deployed, traveling hundreds of miles before crashing down into some hut somewhere (sparing the huts around it) and disintegrating the target before he has time to turn his head.

But in the end, the American system still fails to be properly activated when attempting to take down terrorist threats.

Under George W. Bush we did little to try and bring top terrorists to justice. We caught them, but then we chucked them into offshore jails and threw away the key. Not exactly the American way as far as the Constitution is concerned.

Under Barack Obama, we just go ahead and kill these guys. There’s no attempt to torture terrorists or bring them to trial, the only goal is absolute elimination. It’s less messy and looks better on paper and in the news. But the last time I checked, this is also not the American way. 

It’s the Chicago way.

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About bryanclark

  • Glenn Contrarian

    You’re on a battlefield. In one of the trenches on the other side is an American citizen. You can see him in your binoculars shooting at your fellow American troops. You know it’s your duty to shoot at the enemy soldiers with him, but are you going to refuse to shoot him, too? You can plainly see that he’s helping to kill your fellow troops, and you know that if you don’t kill him, he’s going to kill even more if you insist on capturing him instead. How many of your fellow troops are you going to sacrifice in capturing him, if you tell yourself you can capture him, but not kill him even as he’s trying to kill you?

    Just something to think about….

  • Igor

    The conclusion one must draw is that Obama has been much more successful waging war than Bush.

    It looks like Obama may quickly finish off what looked hopeless with Bush.

    Maybe this will end the myth of republican superiority in matters of national defense.

  • Yomi Digital

    President Obama is the best thing that ever happened to America, unfortunately some self centered politicians refuse to give him due credit for fear he is going to win 2012 election. We should all put America first before our personal ambitions.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Not exactly the American way as far as the Constitution is concerned.

    But putting a hit out on a American citizen without due process, that’s not a problem?

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy
  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cindy –

    Read comment #1 and tell me what you would do in that particular situation, please.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    @4

    Right on. It’s a topic that barely gets any traction in our media, except the select few.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Glenn #1

    Has war been declared on Yemen? Why are we there? Yes, if I were Yemeni I would shoot at Americans invading my country just like as an American I would shoot at any invader threatening the U.S. Your scenario is ridiculous because it only takes into account one side.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    It takes into account the side that the president is oath-bound to protect.

    Kenn, how much did 9/11 cost us? In initial loss of commerce alone, the 9/11 attacks were estimated to have cost America $100B…and that’s not counting our war in Afghanistan and how Bush falsely used 9/11 as an excuse to invade Iraq.

    Awlaki had already been involved in three terrorist actions that occurred inside the United States…and tell me, Kenn – which is more important? Assassinating someone who was involved in training three of the 9/11 attackers and would eagerly use a WMD on US soil if he could get one? Or sticking with the ideal that the American government can’t use deadly force against an American citizen to prevent more such attacks?

    And FYI, the Yemeni government had already tried Awlaki in absentia for plotting attacks against foreigners and for being a member of al-Qaeda, and ordered him to be captured dead or alive. So that’s why you haven’t heard the Yemeni government griping a whole lot.

    It’s really funny how conservatives are suddenly getting all idealistic about the sanctity of American legal ideals now that we’ve got a Democratic president. Where were all of y’all when Cheney exposed a CIA agent in time of war? Where were all of y’all when Bush invaded Iraq on false pretenses?

    Hm?

  • Kenn Jacobine

    The president is oath bound to protect and defend the Constitution like the oath he took says.

    Where is the proof al-Awlaki was guily of anything? Are we in the business of enforcing the judicial proceedings in other countries now?

    You still don’t understand that I am not a conservative and did indeed and still do criticise Bush/Cheney for their war crimes. However, even they did not mark American citizens for assassination.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    “However, even they did not mark American citizens for assassination.”

    Riiiight.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Here is an interesting article from Reuters which appears to confirm that the USA can now kill its citizens without due legal process. This in addition to its use of the death penalty. Such fun!

  • pablo

    I never cease to be amazed at Glenn’s utter ignorance concerning law, the rule of law, and of the separation of powers.

    Given that Glenn is a reformed racist according to his own admission, I do try to give him a wide latitude concerning his other prejudicial biases. However when the so called liberal reformed Reagan republican defends the President’s claim and use of lethal force against a fellow citizen I simply cannot keep my mouth shut.

    It seems as if the thrust of Au Contrarian’s argument is that the end justifies the means. This lame argument of course could be used to rationalize and justify ANY unlawful activity by the executive branch including torture.

    I would also remind Glenn that the crime of treason is laid out in great detail in the Constitution itself, unlike any other federal crime.

    The potential political ramifications of the executive branch of our government to be able to designate by fiat an american citizen as an enemy to be killed on sight are enormous and frightening for a multitude of reasons that are obvious to anyone except a person that has shown himself to be a bigot in the past. I say this because bigotry is sewn of ignorance and tunnel vision which Glenn still has in abundance.

  • zingzing

    kenn. really. really? come on. if this is the first time an administration has let it be known that they assassinated an american… god damn, man, you know it’s been done before. i suppose a little transparency is actually a plus, right? what the fuck, kenn? either you’re an idiot or you’re blind. which one is it? you can’t be anti-gov’t and that trusting of gov’t at the same time. you just can’t. why do you lie, kenn? why!?

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Zing,
    Why all the anger? Of course I don’t trust the government and all administrations back to Grover Cleveland’s. Obama said he could assassinate Americans and then he did. Bush never said he could and to the best of my knowledge he didn’t. Do I believe he was evil enough to kill Americans? Yes. But Obama was the idiot who announced it to the world and then announced he did it. He either thinks we would all agree with him or he just doesn’t care what Americans think. You decide.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    The real problem with debate on this site and in America in general is that folks get distracted by the competition between left and right and Republicans and Democrats while the country is going down the toilet. It doesn’t really matter what happened in the previous administration anymore. What is important is the current course our country is on. Regardless of who caused the problems what we should be focused on is fixing them. Instead of personal attacks because you disagree with someone, there should be honest debate based on principles proposed.

  • clavos

    The real problem with debate on this site and in America in general is that folks get distracted by the competition between left and right and Republicans and Democrats while the country is going down the toilet. It doesn’t really matter what happened in the previous administration anymore. What is important is the current course our country is on.

    Quoted for Truth…

  • zingzing

    and nobody has a sense of humor.

    “Bush never said he could and to the best of my knowledge he didn’t.”

    so? what does that matter? man tortured people but said he didn’t.

    “But Obama was the idiot who announced it to the world and then announced he did it.”

    so you’d rather he do it in secret or what?

    “He either thinks we would all agree with him or he just doesn’t care what Americans think.”

    are those really the only two options? or do you think he didn’t struggle with the same exact shit america is struggling with now? come on, kenn. the real problem with debate on this site is the absolute black or white nonsense that people write on it. you expect anyone to really take your poorly thought out junk seriously? please.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Well, it was the Bush administration that set the precedent for terrorists to be handled not as criminals, but as enemy combatants. They also had no hesitation in declaring American citizens to be enemy combatants.

    While I personally disagree with this, believing that to do so legitimizes terrorists as warriors rather than the fantasizing idiots they are, it is odd that the Right only now suddenly has a vocal problem with it.

    I am aware that people like Kenn and Dave disapproved of many of the previous administration’s actions, but what we actually heard from them on the subject amounted to little more than a paternally wagged finger and a muttered “tsk, tsk”.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    You are defending Obama’s actions by arguing that Bush did the same thing. By your admission, both are war criminals . I can live with that.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Dr,

    You have a short memory. I criticized Bush as much as Obama and if Romney or Perry become president I will be right there with you criticizing them for the same things.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn (and pablo) –

    Where’s the proof that Awlaki was guilty of anything?

    If any of you will go back and look at the link showing that he was either involved with or connected to each of the following:

    – Fort Hood shooter
    – Christmas Day “Underwear Bomber”
    – Sharif Mobley
    – Times Square bomber
    – Stabbing of British former minister Stephen Timms
    – Seattle Weekly cartoonist death threat
    – British passenger plane plot
    – Cargo planes bomb plot

    So all of you who are horrified at the prospect of an American citizen being killed by our government, I want EACH of you to tell me what you would have done in Obama’s place, given the following factors:

    1 – Awlaki was known by his videos and by his own writing to have been involved with the terrorist actions above.

    2 – Awlaki assisted in the training of three of the 9/11 hijackers.

    3 – Awlaki wanted to commit more attacks against the U.S. and had obviously shown the means and motive and was only searching for the opportunity to do it.

    4 – The Yemeni judicial system had already tried him in absentia and called for his capture dead or alive.

    5 – If you sent in ground troops (as we did to get bin Laden), that would not only likely result in the deaths of more of our troops, but would also be yet another example of America sending troops into a sovereign nation.

    So you’re the president – what do you do? Make the DECISION, guys – do you kill him ASAP? Do you send in ground troops (again)? Or do you just patiently wait for him to leave Yemen again…given that he might never do so, but simply remain there to train terrorists and assist in their planning to attack America?

    What do you DO? Hm? Answer the hard questions, guys –

  • Kenn Jacobine

    We knew where he was and we could have sent troops in, like we allegedly did to get bin laden, to capture al-Awlaki. He was traveling alone on a desolate road. Given our technology and troop training it would have been a piece of cake. Then he could have been put on trial to answer for his crimes.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    @ #21: I accept that you did, Kenn. I shouldn’t have lumped you in with the likes of Dave, who claims he did but lacks digital evidence to back himself up.

    I kind of sort of like Romney. Of the candidates with any realistic chance, he’s the only one with any detectable decency, dignity, professionalism and integrity. He’s a palatable alternative to Obama, and those are in short supply.

    @ #23: We would have had to get clearance from the Yemeni government to use their airspace and put boots on the ground, which would have been unlikely to give us enough time to get to him before he disappeared back into the woodwork.

    Perhaps we should have waited for a better opportunity, although by all accounts this was a pretty damn good one. But if American lives were at stake I’m not sure I, in the President’s shoes, would have wanted it on my conscience that we’d had al-Awlaki where we wanted him and let him go.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    “It doesn’t really matter what happened in the previous administration anymore.”

    Yeah, why bother learning from the mistakes that were made and who were responsible

  • clavos

    I kind of sort of like Romney. Of the candidates with any realistic chance, he’s the only one with any detectable decency, dignity, professionalism and integrity.

    Doc,

    I agree with you re Romney, but I don’t think he’s the only GOP candidate with those qualities; what about Cain?

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Romney has integrity? He changes his opinions to maximize his appeal. Or do you think it’s a simple coincidence he’s no longer as liberal as he was when he was running for governor of MASS?

  • zingzing

    kenn, #23: do you think obama, if he could have, wouldn’t have done it that way? or do you think he wanted to kill the guy, which is a bad move politics-wise, and detrimental to his reelection campaign, and alienating his base?

    you can compare this to the osama raid, but the circumstances certainly aren’t 100% the same. yemen is not pakistan.

    if it had been feasible to capture him, i’m sure obama would have liked to. but something’s telling me that the administration has access to info that you don’t, and there may just be a reason why it had to be done the way it was.

    do i agree with it? not really. but, once again, i’m not claiming i know everything. you seem to even know obama’s secret motivations. that they’re unexplainable except as pure stupidity or pure evil doesn’t seem to bother you.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    At least you had the guts to try to answer that question – albeit naively when it comes to military operations. Neither Dave nor Arch nor pablo even tried when asked the same question.

    It’s simple to have a Predator drone on station for hours on end…but to keep a SEAL team on station – with the capability to send them off at a moment’s notice – is not so simple. You’d require a carrier or amphib (cruisers and destroyers aren’t always equipped to handle the helo the SEAL team would use) to be cruising on station just off the coast of Yemen for an unknown stretch of time – weeks? Months? You get the picture. Hideously expensive, bad for the ship and for the crew.

    And even though there is always a helo ready to go within five minutes, it’s not practical to have two SEAL teams on five-minute standby, one awake and ready to go, the other asleep or training, when they are in such high demand elsewhere in the world…and not just in the Middle East.

    But even if you did all that, then there’s the flight time that is required to catch a moving target that – in the hour or so the helo might take to get there – will in all likelihood found its way to a not-so-desolate spot like a town, a city, or worst of all, a training camp where the SEALS would be exposed not only to significant enemy fire, but possibly surface-to-air missiles too.

    Get the picture? It’s a matter NOT of firepower or combat capability, but of LOGISTICS. Not for nothing does the old saying go, “amateurs talk firepower, but professionals talk logistics”. This is NOT like the strike that got bin Laden, because bin Laden was NOT a moving target. Even though Awlaki might have been at THAT time on a desolate road, we would have to be planning for where he would be when the helo actually gets there an hour or more later…and that throws all kinds of unpleasant variables in the mix.

    So…given all this – which is almost certainly much the same lesson the JCS gave Obama when they briefed him on their capabilities – do you still maintain that Obama made a terribly wrong decision? And if so, what should YOU have done in his place?

  • Igor

    #16 Kenn:

    ¨It doesn’t really matter what happened in the previous administration anymore.¨

    You´re just trying to hide the failures of the rightist policies of the Bush era.

    Of course it matters! We learned that the belligerence of Bush was unfruitful and expensive. It was certainly not worth all the lying and deception that was undertaken. All that lying was predicated upon the hope that ultimate success would make deceit OK. It didn´t work, and it won´t work in the future.

    We learned that the heavily pro-business environment, with de-regulation and handouts to business DID NOT WORK! They just made things worse.

    We need to understand these lessons: the rightist foreign and domestic policies were a failure and will not work in the future.

    We learned that we must resist every temptation to invade other countries and every program to attempt economic improvement by making concessions to business and subsidizing business. It doesn´t work.

    Even now the reactionary voices of the right are crying for more of the same failed policies that got us into this economic disaster that has cost millions of Americans their homes, their jobs and what ever little scraps of wealth they had managed to save.

    Don´t fall for it! Don´t listen to voices that say ¨aw heck; forget how we screwed up before, let´s try those things again¨.

  • clavos

    Even now the reactionary voices of the right are crying for more of the same failed policies that got us into this economic disaster that has cost millions of Americans their homes, their jobs and what ever little scraps of wealth they had managed to save.

    Horseshit

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Yes, Clavos, Reaganomics – which is what is STILL the predominant force in America’s economy – has been SO successful, hasn’t it?

  • pablo

    Glenn Re 22 and 29

    Anwar al-Awlaki:

    If any of you will go back and look at the link showing that he was either involved with or connected to each of the following:

    – Fort Hood shooter
    – Christmas Day “Underwear Bomber”
    – Sharif Mobley
    – Times Square bomber
    – Stabbing of British former minister Stephen Timms
    – Seattle Weekly cartoonist death threat
    – British passenger plane plot
    – Cargo planes bomb plot
    – DINED AT THE PENTAGON MONTHS AFTER 9/11

    The reason that I did not respond to your hypothetical question Glenn is because I already did. It is simply a rehash of the end justifies the means, which I already addressed in my previous post.

    That is, if a so called greater good can be accomplished from an immoral and/or unlawful act it is justifiable. This alone is one of the primary reasons that I find your politics so repulsive and ignorant.

  • pablo

    I would also point out that the Obama administration’s refusal to release publicly the legal rationalization for targeting citizen enemies of the state for assassination a new low in executive power.

    The mere fact that his administration claims the legal basis for murder is a state secret is astounding on its face.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Igor,

    You are joking right? Obama hasn’t invaded sovereign countries? Obama hasn’t been big business’ best friend? Obama as never been deceitful. Come on dude. The establishment leaders the American people elect whether they be Republcan or Democrat, leftist or rightist are all a bunch or crooks and war criminals. Most Americans can’t argue issues honestly because y’all are distracted by the left/right, Repub/Demo paradigm. In other words you are sheeple, brainwashed to believe what the media tells you. So if you are registered Democrat, the bad guys are Republicans who want to hang blacks from trees, starve babies, and kill women. If you are a Republican then the bad folks are Democrats who are socialists and godless.

    From where I stand, both Republicans and Democrats have destroyed the country. Democrats pass social welfare legislation and Republicans fund it. Republicans start wars and Democrats fight them. Both sides defend the Federal Reserve system. Both sides support the so-called “Patriot Act” Now they are both murdering American citizens without due process of law and all we can talk about is how George Bush did the same thing?

  • Igor

    35-Kenn: I think you meant to address someone else. I don´t support Obama policies, generally. In particular, I don´t try to excuse the current administration with a ¨You Too!¨ charge against the Bush Administration.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Igor,

    Fair enough-but it seemed like you were implying that Obama has not done the same criminal and I might add impeachable offenses that Bush committed.

  • Igor

    ¨…seemed like you were implying…¨

    Pretty weak.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    No its not weak, you were indicting the previous administration of wrongs as if we have moved beyond them with Obama and we haven’t. That is the impression you gave.

  • Igor

    ¨…seemed like …¨ a pretty weak introduction, followed by ¨you were implying…¨ a limp-wristed conclusion.

    You need some remedial syllogism classes.