Brennan ‘Suspected’ Teenage Awlaki ‘Had Been Killed Intentionally’


One of the bombshell findings in Jeremy Scahill’s new book Dirty Wars, is revealed in a piece just published in Nation excerpted from the book. A former senior official in the Obama administration tells Scahill that John Brennan, current CIA Director and the President’s counterterrorism adviser at the time, “suspected” Abdulrahman Awlaki, the 16-year old son of Anwar al-Awlaki, had been deliberately targeted in the drone strike that killed him in Yemen in 2011.

A former senior official in the Obama administration told me that after Abdulrahman’s killing, the president was “surprised and upset and wanted an explanation.” The former official, who worked on the targeted killing program, said that according to intelligence and Special Operations officials, the target of the strike was al-Banna, the AQAP propagandist. “We had no idea the kid was there. We were told al-Banna was alone,” the former official told me. Once it became clear that the teenager had been killed, he added, military and intelligence officials asserted, “It was a mistake, a bad mistake.” However, John Brennan, at the time President Obama’s senior adviser on counterterrorism and homeland security, “suspected that the kid had been killed intentionally and ordered a review. I don’t know what happened with the review.”

After a long time of refusing to comment on the killing of Abdulrahman Awlaki, a US citizen like his father, the Obama administration’s quiet admission of the incident has always described it as a grave “mistake.” Several anonymous officials have claimed the real target was “Ibrahim al-Banna, an Egyptian citizen described as the ‘media coordinator’ for AQAP.”

If it truly was a mistake, it would also have to be an incredibly unlikely coincidence. Of the countless sites in Yemen that US intelligence officials were choosing from, they chose to hit exactly the location of the son of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen who had been killed in another targeted assassination two weeks earlier. Further, the Obama administration’s claim that it was a mistake fails to make it any less damning, because it pokes holes in the argument that the drone war and the procedures that eventually lead to strikes is an air-tight process executed with weapons that are exceedingly precise.

And if Scahill’s source is correct that Brennan suspected the hit was intentional, it is damning on a number of levels. First – the obvious – the US government at some level intentionally targeted for assassination a 16-year old citizen that was never even suspected of any crime or association with terrorism. Perhaps they believed he would avenge his father’s unwarranted murder?

But second, this account seems to depict Brennan and President Obama as unsure of the motivations behind drone strikes carried out by JSOC. That would mean the JSOC teams waging drone warfare have run totally amok, and even the Obama administration’s dangerously insufficient internal oversight processes aren’t enough to stop rogue strikes on innocent people from happening.

40 thoughts on “Brennan ‘Suspected’ Teenage Awlaki ‘Had Been Killed Intentionally’”


    1. Exactly. Change "worst' to "most reckless, violent, or unlawful," and you have the perfect aphorism for describing the motive for anything and everything that government does.

  2. No surprise. Apparently under the "law" of war, guilt by association is as a good a reason as any to kill someone. So what if he's American- he's dark skinned and has a funny name and was in Yemen, so he can't be that much of an American. That's he's just a kid is irrelevant, he should have known better.

    It's more and more clear that the shadow government and it's war/corruption machine is on auto pilot. The temporary employees, like Obama, the most incompetent AG in history, and the rest of the clowns are just there to cover up crimes and give the American people the illusion that they have some say in what happens.

    1. While I agree I blame Democrats equally or more. It's Obama and " liberals/Progressives" that are the same Commies that are the very worst. Most are murderer's, thieves,pedophiles,perverts and degenerates we have all seen before. No, Adolf was never a White Right wing guy cos he promised " Utopia" just like all Lefty do. Its's Democrats were born to oppose freeing the Slaves. Most democrats are Antisemites ,godless, punks hating everything and especially themselves. Obama wants Martial Law just like Boston to seize control. Anyone that voted for Obama is a fool cos he is coming after us All.

      1. You actually described mostly behaviors recognized in right wing super-conservative republicans, not in dems or progressives, but I don't expect a blind person like you to see anything.

        1. You're both off the mark. ALL political ideologies rest on force, whether they call themselves liberal or conservative (both false labels, BTW), left or right (ditto), or any other label. Politics is the exercise of theft and violence by other means. What the political ideology labels itself has more to do with tactics and rhetoric than fundamental substance.

      2. And the award for the most Kool-aid saturated, utterly clueless, super-gullible, head up his Republican echo chamber,…goes to… David.

        "While it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is nevertheless undeniable that practically all stupid people are conservative." John Stuart Mill

        "The reason universities are hotbeds of liberalism is that intelligence has a liberal bias." Me.

        1. And you sir, must be the the exception confirming the rule. It is true that there really are stupid conservatives. Unlike with liberals, conservatives come in variety. Liberals, on the other hand, are just average. Narcissistic, self-righteous, uncultivated, average. Not common, average. As for universities, I happen to have attended the two French that are ranked in the world top 40, and one even awarded me a master's degree in spite of professors, liberal professors, having had "états d'âmes" while reviewing my copies, on matters with no relation whatsoever with politicq being Serb was an unforgivable sin then, and since then, as far as I am concerned, liberals are idiots, because guess what, I am better at writing, better at music, better at physics, better at math, better at anything that comes to your mind than any liberal I've met, and in three different languages. I don't pretend I am especially smart, I have met really smart people, and none of them was a liberal, I pretend that liberals are especially limited people.
          Now, if you want to talk peace, we can talk peace, I don't give a f*ck about your opinions as long as you stay out of my lfe. But that's impossible for liberals, because they just don't know how to stay out of people's lives.

          1. Nicely put. I'm also not all that impressed by the alleged lefty intelligence. It's indeed average, unoriginal, fanatical and well, repetitive and tiring. Once you've heard one, you've heard them all.

          2. Speaking of the liberal bias in univerisities, back during my student days in Paris, I had two "incidents" with lefty professors that I think illustrate perfectly the lefty process of thought.
            In one, I had to do presentation on the subject of information technology, law, and cibil liberties.It had to be accompanied by an essay. The presentation went well, it ended in a lively discussion with colleague students. And I was rather satisfied, my essay, I expected a good grade. After reviewing it, my professor told me:
            "It is very well written. Actually, it is so well written that I am certain that it is a plagiarism. I cannot prove it, but I am certain it. I cannot write like that, and I'm a university professor. I cannot give you a bad grade, but I cannot give you the grade it deserves, because I am sure you cheated". The irony, is that when I re-read myself, I realised that the essay, though nicely composed, had many flaws that went unnoticed.

          3. In the second, after an exam in compilation of programming languages, I was unsatisfied with the grade I was given so went to contest it. We reviewed my copy together with the professor, and I saw that he had completely dismissed an exercise that was correct, I asked him why he did that. He answered that my demonstration was correct, that the result obtained was correct, that he could not find any concrete error in what I had done, but that he didn't like my reasoning. He did it differently and he preferred his own reasoning. So he had "états d'âme".

          4. If political correctness weren't such an important criteria in the recruitment process at French universities, neither of them would have ever become a university professor. But lefties behave very much like members of a sect.
            That is why they are so enamored with Obama. The guy has vacuum instead of a soul, but he's good at rhetorics, he knows how to flatter the lefty ego, so they love him, and they'll love him in spite of any horror he'll commit.
            Don't count on lefties for peace.

  3. Up to now the Administration has admitted to nothing, and in fact in answer to a reporter's question, Robert Gibbs was unrepentant and said the boy "should have had a more responsible father".
    As for Brennan, he has lied in public many times in asserting that innocents are never killed, and that anyone killed in the vicinity of approved targets, must also have been a terrorist.
    There's no need to cut anyone in the Administration any slack on this issue. If they cared they'd admit to the mistake and change the policy.

  4. An interesting question arises: what if a review showed that JSOC actually deliberately murdered this child- or a few thousand children, for that matter. What if a number of individual JSOC employees were using these drones to kill dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people, indiscriminately, and it turned out they did not have authority or orders to do so? Would there be charges?

    How could there be a criminal case without exposing the whole secret operation?

    The whole secret apparatus is permanently immune from any kind of prosecution. If the review found no wrongdoing, we would not hear about it; even less would we hear about it if it uncovered murder.

    1. Why would there ever be any charges? Only "losers" face war crimes trials, and as sole superpower, the US will never lose, even when conditions make winning impossible. Both major US parties are entirely comfortable with the existing practices, and the mass of citizens believess in the inherent patriotic goodness of any action undertaken by the US military. Medals and promotopms are more likely than trials.

  5. And Obama was so "upset" that he made a "nervous" joke about droning other teenagers at a party. He rightly idetified them as WMDs, acronym for Weapons of Mind Destruction, working for the industry of Weapons of Mass Debilitation.

  6. these people are very very sick espeically obumer and his clowns,they are worst than hitler ever could be,it looks like the USA is on a murderous rampage and will kill babies also and maybe already have,becarefull people in the USA,obumer is going to kill your kids and everyone else just for thinking.the sky will be full of drones,obumer must be watching terminator and is trying to build (SKYNET)NEXT TIME YOU VOTE VOTE RIGHT FOR Ron Paul,the man that would have given you and the world peace,and jobs for americans,made in america,food on the table not guns or drones ,you can have a family with out the sky full of drones to kill your kids so do the right thing and vote for Ron Paul and man for the people by the people

    1. Worse than Hitler? You fanatics are the worst thing on this planet. The drone technology was developed first and used first in the Dubya years. It came from there. I find that Ron Paul followers are as "out there" as he is. Nuff said.

  7. John, the Obama administration obviously murdered Abdulrahman Awlaki to send a message to other potential terrorists: If we suspect you of terrorism, we will kill you and your children. This evil policy explains the intentional bombing of funerals after a drone strike when relatives of the deceased visit their loved ones: If we suspect you of terrorism, we will kill you and your loved ones.

  8. I think he was killed on purpose though the action may not necessarily have come from the top. Sometimes operators on the ground think they can get away with something like this… and they are right. Nothing is ever done to punish them, and the cover-up always follows suit.

    1. If he was killed on purpose, then the action necessarily was approved from the top. Chain of command and command responsibility stuff. Or chaos. Unapproved initiatives like that are sanctioned even in dictatorships, and even if they were meant to please the dictator.
      Everybody in the US governement seems to have temporarily switched into "I have to cover my a**" mode, eagerly awaiting Hollywood to come to their rescue.

  9. In response to jeff_davis. And you sir, must be the exception confirming the rule. There are indeed stupid conservatives, but you liberals are… average. Not common, average. Narcissistic, self-righteous, uncultivated, and average. I have attended two universities allegedly ranked in the world top 40. One even conceded me a masters degree in spite of professors, liberal professors,who had “états d’âmes” while reviewing my copies, even though the matter hadn’t anything to do whatsoever with politics. Beware of the surprise you will be granted when instead of meeting our Creator, you meet the ruler of your delusions.

  10. You're both off the mark. ALL political ideologies rest on force, whether they call themselves liberal or conservative (both false labels, BTW), left or right (ditto), or any other label. Politics is the exercise of theft and violence by other means. What the political ideology labels itself has more to do with tactics and rhetoric than fundamental substance.

  11. And Obama was so "upset" that he made a "nervous" joke about droning other teenagers at a party. He rightly idetified them as WMDs, acronym for Weapons of Mind Destruction, working for the industry of Weapons of Mass Debilitation.

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