Oh my: U.S. follows Bin Laden killing with drone strike on Awlaki

First The One spikes the ball at Fort Campbell, then he throws deep for the end zone in Yemen. This time the pass was incomplete. Old and busted: “Obama is a Muslim.” The new hotness: “Obama is a Muslim-killing machine.”

This week is the week we settle all family business.

The attack appears to be unrelated to intelligence information taken in the raid that killed bin Laden, whose death was confirmed by al Qaeda Friday in a statement that vowed to continue attacks on Americans…

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been more forthcoming with information on Mr. Awlaki since he has faced major protests in his country, a U.S. official said. Mr. Saleh has sought to use that information in a bartering effort to gain more support from the U.S., the official added. The White House has backed an Arab proposal that would ease Mr. Saleh from office…

Yemen officials said the U.S. fired twice at Mr. Awlaki in two attacks spread over about 45 minutes. In the first, the U.S. fired three rockets at a pickup truck in which Mr. Awlaki and a Saudi national and suspected al Qaeda member were traveling outside the village of Jahwa, located some 20 miles away from the Shebwa provincial capital, according to local residents and the Yemeni security official.

Two Yemeni brothers, who were known by local residents for giving shelter to al Qaeda militants, rushed to the scene of the attack. Mr. Awlaki switched vehicles with them, leaving the two Yemenis in the pickup. A single missile from the U.S. rocket then hit the pickup truck, killing the Yemenis inside.

It was the first U.S. airstrike in Yemen since 2010 and the first U.S. drone strike since 2002; unlike the Bin Laden raid, the local government was in on this one. I’m intrigued by the idea of the Arab Spring pressuring dictators into selling out the jihadis in their midst in order to shore up U.S. support. Why they’d care about U.S. support given the limits of our regional influence these days, I’m not quite sure. But … perhaps we could arrange a similar deal with Assad? The White House issued a statement late today slamming Syria for new violence against protesters and threatening “additional steps” if they don’t stop. A week ago I would have taken that to mean more sanctions, but the way The One’s going, maybe he’s planning to have a CIA operative show up and shoot Assad in the eye while he’s getting a massage, Moe-Greene-style.

Via Tapper, here’s a little behind-the-scenes spiking o’ the ball from the White House video team showing Obama and Biden, among others, reacting after the Bin Laden raid. Skip ahead to 3:20 for the good bits. As for Awlaki, this is a useful moment to remind readers that he happens to be a U.S. citizen and yet remains under threat of assassination by the CIA and military. Obama’s motives in neutralizing Al Qaeda in Yemen are good, but whacking an American on the say-so of the president is an awful precedent to set. At the very least, they should resolve to use commandos to try to capture him instead of an indiscriminately lethal weapon like a Hellfire missile that would surely kill him. Now that Saleh is being extra-cooperative in helping us target him, we should have no problem getting a special ops team in. The only reason I can think of as to why the White House would prefer drones to troops is — well, just read Jeff Greenfield’s alternate history of the Bin Laden raid. All will become clear.