Weekly Roundup 10/3/2011

Secret memo sanctioned killing of Alauqi
Peter Finn, The Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2011

Judging a Long, Deadly Reach
Scott Shane, The New York Times, Oct. 1, 2011

On Due Process and Targeting Citizens
Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare, Oct. 1, 2011

Synopsis: President Obama hailed he Sept. 30 killing of the American born radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in a CIA drone strike in Yemen as a “significant milestone” in the effort to defeat Al Qaeda and its affiliates. But the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen raises significant legal issues. Indeed, the American Civil Liberties Union charged that the killing violates both U.S. and international law. Washington Post reporter Peter Finn reports on the secret Justice Department memo authorizing the killing, while the New York Times’s Scott Shane describes the debate over its legality. On the national security law blog Warfare, Brookings Institution senior fellow Benjamin Wittes says due process does limit the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen, but he proposes a three-part test that he believes the attack on al-Awlaki satisfies.

Takeaway: The administration has so far declined to detail the legal basis for the attack on al-Awlaki, but the debate will continue.

For background, see Thomas J. Billitteri, “Drone Warfare,” CQ Researcher, Aug. 6, 2010, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2010080600.

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor


Why Wikipedia Blocks Social Media
Bianca Bosker, Huffington Post, Sept. 26, 2011

Synopsis: You won’t find a Facebook “Like” button or a “Google-plus” link on Wikipedia. Co-founder Jimmy Wales doesn’t embrace the “radical transparency” movement championed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and many other Internet gurus. What we choose to learn and explore remains our personal business, Wales argues.

Takeaway: “Things like sharing what you’re reading, that’s where Facebook bumps up against the line of what people find slightly weird and creepy,” Wales said. “If I go to read something on Wikipedia, that’s my own personal business…You should feel safe and private knowing that whatever you want to learn, you go to Wikipedia to learn it and you don’t have to worry that you’ve accidentally told Facebook you want to learn it.”

For more, see my report on “Social Networking,” Sept. 17, 2010, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2010091700; and Patrick Marshall’s Nov. 6, 2009, report on “Online Privacy” (updated Sept. 14, 2010).

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer


Super People
James Atlas, The New York Times, Oct. 2, 2011

Synopsis: Thanks largely to their parents’ affluence, an increasing number of high-achieving students have accomplishments that are simply off the charts -- from perfect test scores to Mother Theresa-equivalent volunteer work in far-off nations to multiple ability in foreign languages and musical instruments. And much, much more too depressing to think about if you are just a “normal” student, like most of us.

Takeaway: Maybe, just maybe, all that striving is counterproductive, Atlas suggests. “In the end,” he writes, “the whole idea of Super Person is kind of exhausting to contemplate…A line of Whitman’s … has stayed with me; ‘I loaf and invite my soul.’ ”

--Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor


Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on the Famine in Somalia
Mwai Kibaki, Foreign Affairs, Sept. 30, 2011

Synopsis: The economies of many African nations are growing, and many have implemented economic and political reforms to enhance openness and transparency. And despite the conflict and famine in Somalia, there exists an opportunity for the country to escape the regional mess, according to the president of Kenya.

Takeaway: Somalia must first recognize that ethnic and tribal differences are not easily bridgeable. Efforts must be made to decentralize power to the country’s different ethnicities and geographical regions. To this end, Somalia can learn lessons from the independence of nearby South Sudan.

For background see the CQ Global Researcher report “The Troubled Horn of Africa” by Jason McLure, June 2009, http://library.cqpress.com/globalresearcher/cqrglobal2009060000

--Darrell Dela Rosa, Assistant Editor