The USA: "a pacified public and malleable media"

Those are Glen Greenwald’s words at the end of an article which talks about the USA bombing and killing 150 people today it didn’t like in Somalia.

Does anyone care, could you they anything about it if they did?

What is the world to make of where the USA under a seemingly moderate Democratic President is going with this Skynet policy?

Yeah, we’re the worst.

Don’t know. Looks to me, doing a quick Google search, that the BBC and Guardian both ran similar stories. I haven’t looked into French, German, Spanish or other news outlets, but I’m fairly sure they have similar stories as well. Perhaps the US pacified public and malleable media have penetrated the entire world, and they are all equally pacified and malleable as well.

I saw the story…on, as indicated, several different media outlets (I generally stick to CNN and the BBC, personally). There were, of course, some additional details to the rather vertically structures, say, article you linked too. The camp had been under observation for something like a month ahead of time. They had multiple sources that they thought confirmed the data that it was an al Shabaab training camp. In the end, of course, I don’t know anymore than that, as I am not there, don’t have any first or even second hand accounts of what’s there, and have to rely on the government and the media to hopefully suss out any inconsistencies in the story. I’m fairly confident that if this was, say, a Somali pre-school full of bright eyed and bushy tailed kids graduating and preparing for a glorious life in wonderful Somalia, that this will eventually come out. Of course, if this happens it will give the government a huge black eye and it will be a huge deal that a lot of people will care about. The flip side of that is that when it doesn’t come out that way the author of your article there will simply move on, and you will buy the next artfully crafted story in the chain…he’s unlikely to come back and say ‘well, I guess the US was telling the truth and they were terrorists after all!’.

The most worstest!

I totally agree with him that completely ridiculous how little coverage stories like this get. But the same goes for appalling atrocities that Al Shabab carried out. They hardly made a blip in US media.

The fact is that hand wringing by Glenn Greenwald et al is not going do a damn thing to stop Al Shabab, the only thing that is military action like this (and African Union campaign in Somalia, which gets exactly zero major news coverage in the US).

Glenn’s former employers have a pretty good article about this, and yeah there is pretty good third party evidence that this was a perfectly valid military target, that was indeed part of one of the more evil organisations on the planet:

I’m not sure the point is whether everyone at this particular site was a terrorist. There are questions that deserve discussion that no-one is actually talking about, it seems to me.

  1. Is the label “terrorist” enough to justify summary execution by the US, even when it is accurate? Why or why not?

  2. Allowing that not all terrorists are targeting US citizens or property, allies or interests, does that change your answer to #1 vis-à-vis all terrorists?

  3. How far is the US (or anyone) justified in pre-emptive strikes against a terrorist location when we have evidence that they are intending to target or have already targeted US citizens, property, allies or interests? How good does the evidence have to be? How “close to home” does the alleged target of terrorism have to be? Should there be any checks and balances to these pre-emptive strikes at all? Or is it enough that history will be the judge?

I don’t see any of these questions getting a rational discussion anywhere in this political climate. Even the most humanist candidate for any office will be afraid of being labeled soft on terrorism for making any case against these kinds of strikes. So they happen, QED. Perhaps, in the same way that it took a Nixon to go to China, it will take a Trump to eschew pre-emptive drone strikes.

Merely the label? No, probably not, though there are checks and balances in our own system that preclude anything like a ‘summary execution’…hopefully they are actually being followed (I have to assume in an Obama administration they are, especially in the current political climate where the Republicans on the various committees are going to be very skeptical of anything Obama et al does).

Not really. Assuming they dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s wrt this al Shabaab camp, which SOUNDS like they did, then their eventual target (which would most likely have been in Somalia, though I suppose could include US targets in the area) is kind of moot. These were not good people, assuming they were in fact al Shabaab.

Justified is kind of a fluid term in this regard. The US is ‘justified’ in anything we do as long as it passes our own internal checks and balances. This doesn’t mean we are doing the right thing, or that others will see it that way. I’m fairly certain that, besides the OP and the author of the linked article, al Shabaab are probably pretty pissed at our arbitrarily deciding to wipe out one of their training camps.

As for what level of evidence, we have ROE for this sort of thing that have to be followed. In this case, from what I read, we observed the camp for weeks or even a month using various means. I’m pretty sure that this information was shown to various high level officials, debated in various high level meetings, and various high level hands were wrung before someone, presumably Obama, made the call to do the strike. If the info turns out to be wrong or not including everything then it’s going to ultimately come back on him (and I’m sure he’s going to hammer whoever fucked up with the info in turn). Not sure how we could do it differently and actually DO anything.

I think all that should be discussed, but I don’t see this case as an example of these kind of “targeted killing” missions. This is about as cut and dried as it gets in terms of military action, and no president, democrat or republican, would have had a problem with it.

One of the vilest military organisations in the world, that has attacked Americans and massacred and many many others (but you know only dark skinned foreigners so their deaths did not make much a splash stateside), has an active military base in a war zone(presumably in a pretty remote area if the eye witnesses are camel herders). This is not some kind of worrying gray area for military action.

We’re not talking about some nebulous “terrorists” here, we’re talking about a specific paramilitary organization, Al-Shabaab. So questions 1 and 2 don’t really apply. As far as question 3, that’s impossible to answer in the abstract. It depends on the actual situation. Obviously I’m not privy to the intelligence behind this raid–and neither are you or the OP or pompous sermonizer Glenn Greenwald–but Al-Shabaab are pretty horrible, on the level of Boko Haram. They are behind the attacks on the Westgate mall and Garissa university. (On a personal note, an acquaintance of mine was at Westgate and barely escaped with her life). Furthermore, they were apparently planning to launch an attack against African Union forces, to whom the US has pledged its support. So, yeah, I think in this case the air strikes were justified.

Not that this matters to** Up The Junction**, who isn’t interested in discussion but only wants to remind us how much he hates Americans.

Greenwald raises a good point: how do we really know the killed were terrorists? Sure, al-Shabaab said they were members of their terrorist group, but you can’t trust what al-Shabaab says. They’re a bunch of untrustworthy terrorists.

This is pretty disingenuous as, again, this is an attack by the military of one country on a active military base in another country. When in the entire history of human conflict has such an attack been subject to a criminal trial?

In Greenwald’s article, which the OP linked to, this is addressed directly. The United States is not officially at war with Somalia or in Somalia. Thus, under traditional understanding of the concept, the President would not have legal authority to launch airstrikes there.

There is a legal cover in the original authorization of force from 2001, which lets the military go after Al Queda and organizations tied to them. But this open-ended way of granting authority for any amount of bombing, anywhere, at any time, as long as the government claims they’re killing “militants” with some connection to Al Queda, certainly seems like it should be of concern to those who fear American military expansionism and overreach.

Which is my problem with it. I want the government to kick ISIL’s teeth in, but I want it to be all above board. And even if you don’t care if President Obama has the power to bomb whoever he likes, wherever he likes, you should care that whatever powers we allow President Obama to have, President Trump will also have.


It looks and feels from afar as if the people of the US have been hoaxed into a wartime mentality, with the help of mainstram media.

How on earth can you not seriously question the killing of 150 people in your name, given there is no public access to the decision making process …

Any other mature country, governments would fall over this.

I was about to do something about it, but then I decided to go on with my life.

That seems to be pretty much a national condition. How did it come to that?

You want what, exactly? A public vote on every military action?

Ain’t happening.


It didn’t “come to that”; it’s has always been like that.

It seems reasonably clear that this was a bunch of terrorists who wanted to kill Americans and/or anyone else who does not conform to their nasty and hateful ideology. So the US killed them. What’s the downside?

I don’t see the need to run this kind of quasi-military operation like a criminal arrest, and I don’t see any particular injustice that needs to be addressed. They have been, and are continuing, to try to kill us, so we killed them. That’s how it works, when it works.