When Robert Gibbs, former White House Press Secretary and a senior adviser to the Obama campaign, was asked why the administration killed the 16-year old son of suspected al-Qaeda member and U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki via a drone strike last year, he said it was the boy’s fault for having a father like Awlaki.
Anwar al-Awlaki was killed last year in a drone strike in Yemen ordered by the Obama administration. The killing made headlines particularly because Awlaki was an American citizen, but his constitutional rights to due process were thrown out the window in favor of simply assassinating him.
Awlaki’s 16-year old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was also a U.S. citizen and was killed in a separate drone strike in Yemen weeks after his father’s death. Abdulrahman had not been accused of being a member of al-Qaeda or of any act against the United States that could conceivably motivate a U.S. strike.
When pressed by reporters and independent journalists, Gibbs responded to questions about the Obama administration’s killing of the American boy by dismissing his life as virtually worthless and blaming his father, Anwar, for his son’s death by presidential decree.
“I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children,” Gibbs said. “I don’t think becoming an al-Qaeda terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business.”
Gibbs dodged any further questioning on the issue, but in his answer defended the killing of a 16-year old American boy “not by arguing that the kid was a threat,” writes The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf, “or that killing him was an accident, but by saying that his late father irresponsibly joined al-Qaeda terrorists.”
“Killing an American citizen without due process on that logic ought to be grounds for impeachment,” Friedersdorf adds. Antiwar
FACTS & FIGURES
The CIA and the U.S. military have used drones to target and kill those Washington describes as “suspected militants” in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya.
In May, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta described the use of American drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen as “absolutely essential to our ability to defend Americans.” The Nation
The United States is the only country that has drones in the region and it has stepped up its strikes on what it calls as al-Qaeda targets in Yemen. AFP
A report released by the United Nations in June 2010 called the drone attacks part of a “strongly asserted but ill-defined license to kill without accountability”. CNN
The United States was identified in June 2010 as the world’s No. 1 user of targeted killings — largely as a result of its dependence on unmanned drone attacks. CNN