FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Obama’s Fatwa

I just read Salman Rushdie’s memoir, Joseph Anton, describing his nine years in hiding from Ayatollah Khomenei’s death sentence (fatwa), imposed for his “heretical” novel Satanic Verses. The entire world deplored this murderous threat on the writer’s life.

I could not help but compare Rushdie’s dire plight with that suffered by the many civilians targeted by President Obama’s “kill list”  for their alleged “terrorist” activities. There are few differences between these two forms of murderous decree – the fatwa and the kill list. Yet the world stands largely silent about the latter.

One difference is that those people whose names are added to the Obama kill list, unlike Rushdie, rarely know their fate beforehand, since names and criteria for inclusion are top secret. But the relentless buzzing of drones overhead in places like Waziristan, threatening death at any moment, terrorizes those potential victims as surely as the fatwa terrorized Rushdie.

In one rare instance, suspected terrorist Anwar Al-Awlaqi knew his fate beforehand. Because he was a U.S. citizen, his inclusion on the kill list was approved by the National Security Council, which The New York Times then reported. His father desperately proclaimed his son’s innocence, saying: “I am now afraid of what they will do with my son. There are missiles raining down… He has to hide.” But even an ACLU lawsuit could not protect him from his fate.

A second, major difference between a rare fatwa death sentence and the Administration’s kill list was revealed in an October 23 Washington Post article by Greg Miller. He wrote that “targeted killing is now so routine that the Obama administration has spent much of the past year codifying and streamlining” an approach it considers “so bureaucratically, legally and morally sound that future administrations will follow suit.” Miller describes the institutionalization of a new “dispositional matrix,” a database of terrorism suspects “designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the ‘disposition’ of suspects,” i.e, ways to dispose of them. This killing program is not a single, rare decree but instead a repeated systematic, sanctioned program of murder.

Administration officials claim, of course, that drone assassinations and the kill list are justified by targeting militants and terrorists who pose imminent danger to the US. But these same officials concede that most of the hundreds of victims are-low level operatives, denied any semblance of due process, or else innocent bystanders, posing no threat at all.

A third difference between the fatwa against Rushdie and the kill list against suspected militants is this: Rushdie was afforded maximum protection by UK police throughout his ordeal, while targeted individuals on the Obama kill list have little or no protection from sudden death by drone attack.

Meanwhile, the perpetrators of drone attacks themselves get undue protection. In a recent instance of astonishing irony, a commander of the Hancock Air National Guard Base near Syracuse, which remotely pilots killer drones over Afghanistan, won a court order of protection against the nonviolent peace activists demonstrating outside. Apparently the largest military in the world warrants greater protection from the threat of nonviolence than the victims of its killing machine deserve from the horror it rains down from the sky.

Such irony would be a worthy subject for a Rushdie novel, now that he’s free from the terror of the fatwa. It’s up to the rest of us to determine when, and how, those unfortunates targeted by Obama’s kill list will ever be set free from their own horror.

Doug Noble is an activist with Occupy Rochester NY and Rochester Against War.

 

 

More articles by:

Doug Noble is an activist with Upstate (NY) Drone Action Coalition.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
December 05, 2019
Colin Todhunter
Don’t Look, Don’t See: Time for Honest Media Reporting on Impacts of Pesticides
Nick Pemberton
Gen Z and Free Speech
Bob Lord
The U-Turn That Made America Staggeringly Unequal
Josh White
The Most Important Election in British History
Daniel Warner
The Hillsborough Soccer Tragedy: Who is Responsible?
Dean Baker
The Big Deal in Warren’s Prescription Drug Plan
George Ochenski
Another Utility Disaster Headed Our Way
Binoy Kampmark
Spying on Assange: the Spanish Case Takes a Turn
Victor Grossman
Big Rallies and Big Differences in Germany
L. Ali Khan
A Playboy Misrules Pakistan
William J. Astore
How American Exceptionalism is Killing the Planet
Susie Day
The Mad Activist Impeaches Western Culture
Andrés Castro
Look Out for the Drift
December 04, 2019
Jefferson Morley
RIP Fred Hampton: a Black Visionary Assassinated by the FBI
Vijay Prashad
Wealthy Countries’ Approach to Climate Change Condemns Hundreds of Millions of People to Suffer
Kenneth Surin
The Tory Election “Campaign” to Date
Maria Paez Victor
Indians Shall Not Govern
Peter Lackowski
Bolivia’s Five Hundred-Year Rebellion
Dave Lindorff
Billionaire Entitlement Run Amok: the Case of Michael Bloomberg
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Is Corbyn for Christmas Just Another Stove Pipe-Dream?
Howard Lisnoff
Elizabeth Warren: Savior of a Fallen System?
Robert Fisk
The Remembrance Poppy is Becoming a Weapon Against Immigrants to Canada
Dean Baker
NAFTA was About Redistributing Wealth Upwards
Richard Greeman
French Unions and Yellow Vests Converge, Launch General Strike
Binoy Kampmark
Legitimised Surveillance: Kim Dotcom’s Case Against GCSB
Walter Clemens
Goodbye Law and Morality, Welcome Pretend Tough!
Sam Pizzigati
Football Without Billionaires? Why Not?
Anthony Giattino
Royal Forests of America
December 03, 2019
Richard Lachmann
Can the US Get Out of Its Endless Wars?
Ramzy Baroud
Israel’s Unfinished ‘Coup’
David Rosen
The Dialectics of Postmodern Sexual Identity
Robert Fisk
Reporting Syria: I Talked to Everyone, Except Assad
Patrick Cockburn
Why the Resignation of Iraq’s Prime Minister May Not Stop the Mass Uprising on the Horizon
Norman Solomon
For Corporate Media, It’s ‘Anybody But Sanders or Warren’
Bob Scofield
Uruguay Turns to the Right
Joe Emersberger
Talking About Ecuador’s Political Prisoners: an Interview With Marcela Aguiñaga
Medea Benjamin
Trump Was Right: NATO Should Be Obsolete
Nyla Ali Khan
Lesson in Diplomacy for India’s Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty
William Gudal
The Bubble Machine
Gaither Stewart
Dirty Hands
Peter Certo
End the Wars, Win the Antiwar Vote
Binoy Kampmark
The Liveris Formula: Dow’s Inclusive Capitalism
Dan Bacher
California Freezes New Fracking Permits – But All Oil Drilling Permits Still Outpace 2018
Kay Sather
Can’t Get No Satisfaction?
December 02, 2019
Rob Urie
Ukraine, the New Cold War and the Politics of Impeachment
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail