The Invisible War Drones On


abdulrahman-awlaki-birth-certificate.jpg

Amy Davidson on the third American citizen killed by a drone attack:


Here is a birth certificate, for a boy who was born in Denver, Colorado, on September 13, 1995. (Via the Washington Post.) He turned sixteen a month ago, and a few days ago he died, killed when one of his country's drones hit him and a number of other people in Yemen. His name was Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. His father, Anwar al-Awlaki, who, as the birth certificate notes, was himself born in New Mexico, and was twenty-four years older than his son, was killed a couple of weeks ago, in a separate attack. 

The father was targeted for assassination. He was an American citizen, and there were no judicial proceedings against him, just, reportedly, a White House legal opinion that concluded that it would be fine to kill him anyway, because the Administration thought he was dangerous. Anwar al-Awlaki was a member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and wrote angry and ugly sermons for them. The Administration says that it had to kill him because he had become "operational," but so far it has kept the evidence for that to itself.

I strongly suspect that al-Awlaki (the son) was not directly targeted, but he's dead all the same. What's long bothered me--not just about al-Awlaki--but by our death by remote strategy, is the lack of questioning. Does it mean anything that approximately 20 percent of all people killed in drone attacks have been civilians? Should we be bothered that we've just killed a 16 year-old American boy? Are there no long-term implications for our foreign policy and our democracy for this invisible, and secret, war on terror? Is it all fine simply because Obama is more "competent?" 

As always, I refer people to Jane Mayer's reporting
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Global

From This Author

Just In