The Drone Ranger: Obama’s Dirty Wars

Greg Palast writes at Vice Magazine:

About the time Barack Obama ordered the drone strike that killed Abdul-Rahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old American kid Facebooked his second-rate choice of hip-hop favorites. I say “second-rate,” because Abdul was my son’s age almost exactly, so I know the kind of crap they listen to.

Soldiers with the 25th Mechanised Brigade near the front lines in Zinjibar, Yemen. (Photo courtesy of Richard Rowley and Big Noise Films).

Soldiers with the 25th Mechanised Brigade near the front lines in Zinjibar, Yemen. (Photo courtesy of Richard Rowley and Big Noise Films).

Every Tuesday, President Obama personally checks off the names of people he wants killed.  George Bush, a bit more squeamish than Obama, never did that; but Mr. Obama felt those decisions were the president’s responsibility: he want[s] to keep his own finger on the trigger,” according to one report.  A tidy, scheduled man, the President only picks his victims once a week, now called “Terror Tuesday.”

On October 14, 2011, in Shabwah province, Yemen, Abdul, went out with his cousins and friends for a good old US-style barbecue, when Obama’s drone fired a rocket, blowing the teenager to pieces.  Or I should say “piece.”  All that was left of Abdul was a piece of skull with long curly hair that allowed his relatives to identify this hunk of his head by his US-type haircut.

Obama didn’t order the killings (Abdul’s friends and cousins died too) as a random act of crazy.  No-Drama Obama doesn’t believe in random. Abdul’s problem was that his father was Anwar al-Awlaki.  Obama killed Abdul’s dad as well.  Daddy al-Awlaki, an American imam who voted for George Bush, had gone over to the side of the bad guys, and after leaving the USA, broadcast pro-terrorism radio reports from Arabia.

We can argue until the cows come home about whether Daddy al-Awlaki was a legitimate kill target.  It is, after all,  right there in the US Constitution that the penalty for treason is death.  I suppose that, before executing him, a jury trial would have been nice. But nice was not going to happen.  So, OK, Barack, we’ll let that one go.

But what about the 16-year-old?  Obama didn’t even pretend that the kid was a terrorist, or terrorist in-the-making, nor adopting in any way his father’s crazed kill-Americans crusade.

What could justify execution of Abdul?  When asked, then-White House press spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said, “I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father

I guess he should have.

Obama’s minions tried to cover up the hit on the teenagers.  Attorney General Eric Holder informed Congress of the killings by writing that U.S. drones had blown up Anwar al-Awlaki, the crazy cleric and three other Americans who “were not specifically targeted.”

Holder’s comment makes it seem that Awlaki’s son was blown up with him—a sad case of ‘collateral damage.’

But are you ready for this?  The teenager—along with his cousin and friends—was killed two weeks after and hundreds of miles away from the site where rockets killed his father.

Dirty Wars – Official Trailer (HD) Documentary, Thriller

Obama’s Seal Team Sick

I was straightened out on the facts by Richard Rowley, America’s most courageous investigative reporter. Rowley filmed, directed and edited the brilliant, horrific and brilliantly horrific documentary Dirty Wars, previewing this week in the US.

The film centres on Rowley’s reporting partner, the indefatigable Jeremy Scahill, whom Rowley follows from the scene of a massacre at a wedding party in Afghanistan to an interview with a warlord in Mogadishu (while under sniper fire).

You might know Rowley as Ricardo, the pathologically calm cameraman portrayed in my book Vultures’ Picnic. In Iraq, Rowley covered the US Army assault on Fallujah “embedded” with the assaulted, the insurgents. That was insane. Insane but brilliant. (Our producer at the BBC warned Ricardo that he was one lucky cat, but he’d already used up seven of his nine lives.)

In Dirty Wars, Rowley and Scahill reveal that drones are just one toy in our Presidents’ murderous toy-chest. And the kill list is far larger than even a smart dude like Obama can tick off on a Tuesday. Scahill calculates that the targeted kills in Afghanistan and Pakistan now total more than 17,000!

Keep reading.

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  • Scott Preavy

    Wow. Sometimes Vice is total cotton candy horseshit, but when they’re on they are very on.

    • Ittabena

      I think in this case the correct barometer is Palast.

  • BuzzCoastin

    The 600 series had rubber skin. We spotted them easy, but these are new. They look human… sweat, bad breath, everything. Very hard to spot. I had to wait till he moved on you before I could zero him.

    Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

  • moremisinformation

    Douglas Vanlentine is not impressed with Scahill or the documentary. He and James Corbett discuss Valentine’s critique: http://www.corbettreport.com/interview-681-douglas-valentine-on-scahills-dirty-wars/

    • Ittabena

      I personally have not seen Dirty Wars, so I am operating at a disadvantage here. However, as I listened to Mr. Valentine I did notice some things that bothered me. First of all, you are correct in saying that he was not impressed with Scahill or the documentary, but his problem stayed with periphery issues such as production values, the fact that it seemed to him to be more about Scahill than what was going on over there, the accusation that Scahill claims ignorance of JSOC – which actually has two meanings, google it – after speaking of it years earlier in print, and that Scahill doesn’t place the responsibility where it belongs; the CIA. (I did find it interesting that when I googled JSOC one of the images that came up for it was the Blackwater logo.)

      Also, in this area I couldn’t tell whether Mr. Valentine was saying that since it was the CIA doing this, behind the scenes, it was okay to murder children in a separate attack, or target 17,000 people in these attacks. Or if his point was merely that Scahill should have known that the CIA were behind it and pointed it out. o/

      What about the substance? Not once was it directly mentioned.

      It reminds me of the film put out in answer to Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 911, which of course was Fahrenhype 911. In it the filmmakers addressed two of the more minor points of the film, which must mean that the rest is poppycock. But in this case Mr. Valentine doesn’t even throw us that bone to chew on.

      Frankly it also, and more closely, reminded me of the actions of internet trolls when they ignore the main points of a topic and attack the messenger.

      Perhaps when I see this film, which I will, I will say that Doug is absolutely right. Right now my biggest suspicion is about Douglas Valentine and the drive-by he just did on the issues of the film. He accuses Scahill of controlling the news and being an opinion maker, when he seems to be a much likelier candidate based on the quality of his critique.

      • moremisinformation

        I appreciate the response…AND, you actually listened to the interview – a combination of things I don’t always get from my disinfo posts (few though they are).

        I too have not seen the Dirty Wars so I can neither corroborate nor deny Valentine’s criticism. Though I understand what you’re saying about the ‘periphery issues’, I think that actually goes to his point. Essentially, there wasn’t enough substance to criticize. The whole production is a periphery issue.

        I think Valentine felt like he was talking about the substance, or lack thereof and/or credibility of Scahill making such a doc. If he, either doesn’t know or is obscuring his knowledge of JSOC and they are a part of the story he’s telling, that’s not good for his credibility on reporting. He also points out that Scahill never actually mentions what a dirty war is or report on it’s historical significance, which is where the CIA comes in…

        • moremisinformation

          My interpretation is that Valentine thought Scahill should have not only made a much larger deal of the fact that this is, from top to bottom, a CIA action and that is the crux of the story. If that is the case, then not mentioning the CIA in a documentary about a war they’re behind, raises some serious issues on Scahill’s credibility as an accurate reporter.

          A further problem in not mentioning ‘The Company’ is that it seems all the dirty wars have been CIA (I didn’t get the impression that Valentine thought it was okay because it was CIA). If anything, I got the impression that he was alluding to there being something more nefarious behind Scahill and his lack of accountability towards the CIA.

          On that note, I concur with the critique about the alternative media-light organizations such as Democracy Now whom, the more I listen to, the more I wonder if they aren’t controlled opposition.

          Interesting note about JSOC and Blackwater as I think Scahill’s best reporting has been about Blackwater – ironically enough – or is it?

          • moremisinformation

            Oops. I must admit, I gave my two responses to you (even though one was addressed to me?) without actually clicking ‘see more’ at the bottom of your post – so I missed your last three paragraphs though, ultimately, I think they just reiterate and/or sum up the rest of your post.

            I guess ultimately I disagree with you on the notion that Valentine didn’t critique the substance, I believe, as I indicated above, he did (incidentally, that interview is the first I’ve heard of Valentine though I regularly listen to Corbett).

            I think it is important to raise the question of Scahill’s celebrity, if his reporting isn’t sound. If readers just buy into his rhetoric simply because he’s Jeremy Scahill and not because his reporting is substantive enough (I’m not saying this, only throwing out the possibility), that is indeed a valid critique.

            Long-winded, yes.

          • Ittabena

            Well, you have to trust someone, and I trust Palast who wrote the article. To tell you the truth I have never heard of Scahill or Valentine before this story landed in my email from Palast’s office.

            I understand what he is saying about Scahill and the PTB wanting to handle us from both ends, and if he were talking about Alex Jones I would have to agree wholeheartedly. But as far as Scahill and Valentine go I will have to have a minute on that one.

            And that brings up another point as well. Once you descend to this depth of the rabbit hole and begin to see the absolute predictability of controlled opposition as a tool things become much trickier. Suddenly you start to wonder who you can trust. Sometimes all you are left with is your intuition, but you look for more.

            When I was a Jonesie, I was into it big time. My intuition always told me something was wrong, but I would sit on it, ignore it, force it to be quiet, but in the back of my mind… To be honest? Valentine didn’t like Scahill or his documentary? Well my intuition wasn’t raving mad about Valentine, or what he had to say. But we’ll get back to that in a minute.

            As I have been looking around to see who I can trust, I have made a small list. Palast is one of them. His reporting on Big Oil, voting fraud, and vulture funds as well as the
            Bolivarian movement in South America has given him a lot of credibility
            with me. During the height of the 9/11 conspiracy feeding frenzy which seems to have started to dwindle now, Palast was silent. It wasn’t until later, in one of his books, that he brought it up. He explained that he was a reporter and his editor insisted that he always be able to prove what he says before he says it. This seemed reasonable to me..

            Without seeing the film and having only the story by Palast to go by, it sounds as though they are laying the blame in the White House. We all know that the CIA, FBI, Justice,
            NSA and the IRS have all been willing in the past to do the Presidents shady dealings for him, whether they were allowed to by law or not. So isn’t Mr. Valentine missing the point here? Is he upset because the blame wasn’t traced through the CIA; that middlemen weren’t given their due?

            Is anyone surprised that the CIA is involved? Or are more people surprised that the President is actually dealing out post dated death certificates each Tuesday morning? From my point of view it is immaterial who the messenger boy/contract agent is, the boss is the bigger story.

            I think most of us, here at least, already knew the CIA was involved. That is almost a given since we are in the Mid East where the Oil and the Opium are. If he wants to question the mans credibility fine, but he should come up with something a little better than that. And don’t you think it was pretty easy to sit on the phone and criticize someone who actually ducked a few live rounds?

            Mr. Valentine seems to be nit-picking, trying to deflect the punch and sounds just a little like he might be the actual controlled opposition agent here. One of their oldest tricks is to accuse the opposition of what they are actually trying to do. Of course this is mostly guess work on my part in this early stage of my acquaintance with Valentine, but it is one more thing as well; my intuition.

            However, I will say it again. I may watch this movie and agree completely with Valentine, but that remains to be seen. Right now my impression is that he is not altogether trustworthy.

            Long winded. Me? Yes. You? We both are, but I think I am worse.

          • moremisinformation

            ‘So isn’t Mr. Valentine missing the point here? Is he upset

            because the blame wasn’t traced through the CIA; that middlemen weren’t given their due?’

            ‘From my point of view it is immaterial who the messenger boy/contract agent is, the boss is the bigger story.’

            I agree, the boss is the bigger story and I suppose that is where we are at odds. I think that Valentine is saying, and I would tend to agree, that this, as I said, is a CIA program from top to bottom. They are in charge. Obama’s singnature is just for legitimacy.

            It’s no accident that John Brennan was named CIA head – after all, he’s the architect of the drone program. So the critique, is that Scahill and/or Palast (whom I like, as well) missed the point.

  • jnana

    and yet, who suffers for this bloodshed created by the gov’t? Obama? Other officials who are even remotely responsible? Of course not. American citizens who are only guilty of delusional ignorance. Granted, all of us know deep down and we all got blood on our hands.
    Now, if Obama or his family or loved ones would receive blowback for his pushing the button do you think he’d push the button?