Just missed getting Awlaki on 9/11?

posted at 8:45 am on September 30, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

It’s been no secret that the US has had AQAP leader Anwar al-Awlaki on its terror list for quite a long time.  In June 2010, then-CIA Director Leon Panetta insisted that the US did not have “assassination lists,” but we did have a “terrorist list” and Awlaki’s name figured prominently on it, and despite his status as an American citizen, Panetta promised that we would treat him like anyone else on the list.  First, though, we had to find him.  We came close enough in 2009 and 2010 to think that we’d finished the job, only to discover later that we had missed both times.

In this case, though, the US had Awlaki in its sights for several weeks — and apparently hoped to send an even bigger message with his death, according to Jake Tapper:

Senior administration officials say that the U.S. has been targeting Awlaki for months, though in recent weeks officials were able to pin down his location.

“They were waiting for the right opportunity to get him away from any civilians,” a senior administration official tells ABC News.

In fact, there was a flurry of activity on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

As President Obama shuttled between Shanksville, Penn., New York, NY, and the Pentagon, officials “thought they had a good opportunity to hit him,” the official says. “We waited, but it never materialized.”

It’s too bad that the opportunity didn’t arise on 9/11, which would have sent a powerful message indeed.  Awlaki’s potential involvement in the 9/11 plot was noted in the 9/11 Commission report, on pages 221, 229-230, and in footnotes on pages 517 and 523.  Awlaki might not be the only potential conspirator on the loose still left from the 9/11 plot, but he was perhaps the most significant.  Awlaki probably figured that the US might want to strike on the anniversary as well, and kept out of sight until he thought the heat was off.  Unfortunately for him, it appears he miscalculated.

The Obama administration isn’t being as coy about this as I thought they might.  One “senior administration official” told Tapper that this was “a great day for America.”  Another told Fox’s Jennifer Griffin (via Ed Henry) that it was definitely a US strike on Awlaki’s convoy that took him out, and not an attack by Yemeni forces.  I’m not sure how smart it is to broadcast that, especially considering the political trouble that the Yemeni government faces at the moment.  Discretion might be the better course.

Discretion might be better for Yemen, too.  Besieged Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh now says he won’t leave office until his political enemies are removed from their positions:

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh declared Thursday that he would not step down as long as his key rivals remain in influential positions, potentially dashing U.S. hopes for a peaceful transition of power.

Saleh also said that the United States was playing a previously unknown role in assisting Yemeni forces fighting an al-Qaeda affiliate in southern Yemen, underscoring U.S. concerns that the political vacuum here could allow Islamist militants to deepen their grip and create a haven from which to attack the United States and its allies. …

Saleh said that a political transition plan crafted by Yemen’s Persian Gulf neighbors made clear that “all elements” causing tensions in Yemen need to be removed. That meant his main rivals — Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who turned against Saleh and joined the nation’s now eight-month-old populist uprising, and the Ahmar clan, a powerful tribal family not related to the general — could not be allowed to run for elections or hold political office or a military command if he steps aside, Saleh said.

“Because if we transfer power and they are there, this will mean that we have given into a coup,” he said. “If we transfer power, and they are in their positions, and they are still decision-makers, this will be very dangerous. This will lead to civil war.”

Saleh’s defiant stance underscored the deepening animosities between him and his rivals, which could torpedo the gulf Arab initiative. Hamid al-Ahmar, the tribal family’s billionaire scion who has expressed interest in the presidency, wields enormous political power in the main opposition coalition, the Joint Meeting Parties. Mohsen, once Saleh’s confidant and strongest ally, still commands much of Yemen’s military and is revered by his soldiers.

In other words, Saleh wants to send a message to the US that they need him in place to continue our fight against AQAP.  He may well be right, but will we be satisfied with just getting Awlaki?  If so, then Saleh has more or less signed his political death warrant by revealing his (thinly veiled) connections to the US-led war against al-Qaeda in Yemen.

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In June 2010, then-CIA Director Leon Panetta insisted that the US did not have “assassination lists,” but we did have a “terrorist list” and Awlaki’s name figured prominently on it, and despite his status as an American citizen, Panetta promised that we would treat him like anyone else on the list.

In what sense was he still a citizen? When you conspire to attack your own country, then flee overseas to take up arms and offer aid & comfort to your country’s enemies, how can you be a citizen in any meaningful sense? You’ve effectively and publicly renounced your allegiance to become a traitor, and you deserve a traitor’s battlefield death.

May Anwar Al-Kablooie get exactly the everlasting punishment in the afterlife that he so richly deserves. Rot in hell, scumbag.

OhioCoastie on September 30, 2011 at 8:55 AM

I hope “he” can keep his face and mouth off the tee-vee today.

Hooray for our Military!

Key West Reader on September 30, 2011 at 8:55 AM

I hope “he” can keep his face and mouth off the tee-vee today.

Hooray for our Military!

Key West Reader on September 30, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Not a chance….

sandee on September 30, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Ed, this is obviously OT but – Union thugs to join Wall Street Protesters

http://themorningspew.com/2011/09/30/unions-to-join-wall-street-protesters/

bloggless on September 30, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Great, more terrorists were created by killing this turd.

At least that’s what lefties have been saying for over a decade now.

Bishop on September 30, 2011 at 8:59 AM

bloggless on September 30, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Following the “Occupation!” news has been my side action lately. I’m thinking the people hanging out there are starting to get a little ripe, if you get my drift.

Bishop on September 30, 2011 at 9:01 AM

I wish his creepy terrorist supporting father would go back to Yemen.

Blake on September 30, 2011 at 9:01 AM

Rest in pieces, Homer, or whatever your American name was.

Scott P on September 30, 2011 at 9:04 AM

I’m sure Scooter will got on the tube to take credit for this today. 11/6/12 is approaching rapidly.

kingsjester on September 30, 2011 at 9:07 AM

The True Believer lefties over at FDL are certainly not happy about this, they’re ready to start tagging behind PBHO and yelling “MURDERER!” at every opportunity.

This is scotch drizzled over triple bacon pizza delicious.

Bishop on September 30, 2011 at 9:08 AM

Following the “Occupation!” news has been my side action lately. I’m thinking the people hanging out there are starting to get a little ripe, if you get my drift.

Bishop on September 30, 2011 at 9:01 AM

Yes, and look what happened when on police officer tried to help with that problem.I have studied the video and believe I may have figured out what actually happened, but it was a tragedy all the same.

http://themorningspew.com/2011/09/29/wall-street-pepper-spray-the-video/

bloggless on September 30, 2011 at 9:08 AM

I’m sure Scooter will got on the tube to take credit for this today. 11/6/12 is approaching rapidly.

kingsjester on September 30, 2011 at 9:07 AM

Glad to see he’s gone, but you’re right. We’re probably going to have to suffer hearing Obama patting himself on the back for this.

sandee on September 30, 2011 at 9:09 AM

Hey Awlaalkalaiki say hi to the Virgins.

Hope you like smoke and fire and warmer than Central Florida humidity.

Enjoy.

PappyD61 on September 30, 2011 at 9:12 AM

The Constitution and history has been clear, once you make war on your country you can be killed on the battlefield.

jp on September 30, 2011 at 9:13 AM

the far-left and paulnuts will make a stink about this, ignorantly

jp on September 30, 2011 at 9:14 AM

Glad to hear it came from drones … no covert personell to parade around, endanger.
Rest in pieces, scumbag.

pambi on September 30, 2011 at 9:15 AM

I just heard on MSNBC a commentator saying that Obama was creating more jihadis and provoking hatred of the U.S. in the Middle East!!!!…………..

…..uh, no I guess I didn’t.

PappyD61 on September 30, 2011 at 9:15 AM

The Constitution and history has been clear, once you make war on your country you can be killed on the battlefield.

jp on September 30, 2011 at 9:13 AM

But was that the “battlefield?” Obama has informed us that we are not at “war” its a kinetic military action.

sandee on September 30, 2011 at 9:15 AM

Next, that other smug, fat American expatriot who’s the American voice of Al Qaeda. I forget his name.

Paul-Cincy on September 30, 2011 at 9:16 AM

As President Obama shuttled between Shanksville, Penn., New York, NY, and the Pentagon, officials “thought they had a good opportunity to hit him,” the official says. “We waited, but it never materialized.”

So… Obama wanted to kill him on 9-11 for a photo op?

faraway on September 30, 2011 at 9:19 AM

Paul-Cincy on September 30, 2011 at 9:16 AM

Adam Gadahan! Yep, he needs to go.

Cindy Munford on September 30, 2011 at 9:24 AM

What a mess! As I read the Wapo article that Ed’s linked here, it is not clear that if Saleh steps down immediately, that there won’t be a vacuum of potential enemies taking charge of the country.

And Ed says: “In other words, Saleh wants to send a message to the US that they need him in place to continue our fight against AQAP. He may well be right, but will we be satisfied with just getting Awlaki? If so, then Saleh has more or less signed his political death warrant by revealing his (thinly veiled) connections to the US-led war against al-Qaeda in Yemen.”

Could it be more than just a “political death warrant”? Or has Saleh also put a set of cross-hairs on his forehead for all of his enemies to see with this transparent admission?

Like I said, what a mess.

Rovin on September 30, 2011 at 9:41 AM

Wow! 2nd American, Samir Khan, from North Carolina killed with Alwaki!

Connie on September 30, 2011 at 10:08 AM

Discretion might be the better course.

Discretion? From an administration DESPERATE for any “accomplishment”?

GarandFan on September 30, 2011 at 10:19 AM

In what sense was he still a citizen? When you conspire to attack your own country, then flee overseas to take up arms and offer aid & comfort to your country’s enemies, how can you be a citizen in any meaningful sense? You’ve effectively and publicly renounced your allegiance to become a traitor, and you deserve a traitor’s battlefield death.

May Anwar Al-Kablooie get exactly the everlasting punishment in the afterlife that he so richly deserves. Rot in hell, scumbag.

OhioCoastie on September 30, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Excuse me, but I wasnt aware that this American citizen had some form of due process whether civil or tribunal, in person or in abscentia that evidence was brought forward on, and that he was convicted against.“All” American citizens are guaranteed this right. What court authorized his death sentence? What law grants authority to the President of the united States of America the right of life or death over evy U.S. citizen at his choosing?

paulsur on September 30, 2011 at 10:54 AM

paulsur on September 30, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Geez you’re stupid.

Vince on September 30, 2011 at 11:36 AM

An unlawful combatant is an unlawful combatant, citizen or not. You can haggle over all the political niceties all you like, but the straight fact is, the world is a better place without Anwar al-Awlaki in it.

RebeccaH on September 30, 2011 at 11:41 AM

That’s OK… he has assumed room temperature… what’s left of him…

Khun Joe on September 30, 2011 at 12:12 PM

For the love of all that is Holy, keep Obama off the TV! Everytime he speaks, even with the good news we have assassinated two US citizens without due process, the market tanks.

borntoraisehogs on September 30, 2011 at 2:39 PM