Last week, President Obama declassified the fact that four American citizens have been killed in U.S. drone strikes "to facilitate transparency and debate on this issue," according to his speech. The fact that he could do so without harming national security raises the question of why that information wasn't made available sooner. Better late than never, I suppose. But Americans still don't know why one of those Americans, a 16-year-old youth, was killed. What is oversight for if not finding that out? Islamist "militants" attacked a CIA compound in Benghazi and Congress is all over it. U.S. missiles kill an American citizen whose name didn't appear on Team Obama's kill list, and no one cares to establish exactly what went wrong? When is transparency important if not in cases like this?
In an essay that delved into the 16-year-old's death, Tom Junod explained why his killing is a mystery:
Abdulrahman al-Awlaki wasn't on an American kill list. Nor was he a member of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Nor was he 'an inspiration,' as his father styled himself, for those determined to draw American blood; nor had he gone 'operational,' as American authorities said his father had, in drawing up plots against Americans and American interests. He was a boy who hadn't seen his father in two years, since his father had gone into hiding. He was a boy who knew his father was on an American kill list and who snuck out of his family's home in the early morning hours of September 4, 2011, to try to find him. He was a boy who was still searching for his father when his father was killed, and who, on the night he himself was killed, was saying goodbye to the second cousin with whom he'd lived while on his search... He was a boy among boys, then; a boy among boys eating dinner by an open fire along the side of a road when an American drone came out of the sky and fired the missiles that killed them all.
As if that weren't reason enough to aggressively pursue answers, if only to prevent a wrong of this gravity from happening again, we've had two dark statements about the death from Obama insiders.