After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it was the U.S.). It almost certainly was able to find and kill Anwar al-Awlaki with the help of its long-time close friend President Saleh, who took a little time off from murdering his own citizens to help the U.S. murder its. The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world. The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced.
What’s most striking about this is not that the U.S. Government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar (“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”), and did so in a way that almost certainly violates core First Amendment protections (questions that will now never be decided in a court of law). What’s most amazing is that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. Government’s new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S. Government. Many will celebrate the strong, decisive, Tough President’s ability to eradicate the life of Anwar al-Awlaki - including many who just so righteously condemned those Republican audience members as so terribly barbaric and crass for cheering Governor Perry’s execution of scores of serial murderers and rapists - criminals who were at least given a trial and appeals and the other trappings of due process before being killed.
This. Every single word of this. I condemn this fully. Don’t give me any of this “But he was a terrorist!” bullshit. So was Timothy McVeigh. We had boxes upon boxes of evidence against McVeigh. He killed Americans on American soil. And he still received a full trial and appeals under the law.
And what about “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh? He was an American citizen, captured as an enemy combatant who admitted to fighting alongside the Taliban and aiding Al-Qaeda. He was given a plea deal, partially to avoid the controversy of his confession being suppressed in court due to it being obtained “under duress”. However, he was granted the right to a trial, after being indicted, and was given the right to accept or reject a plea deal.
The Obama administration was considering indicting Anwar al-Awlaki. I suppose assassination was the easier route. Note he was “believed” to have shifted his focus from “encouraging attacks” to “directly participating” - but it’s not like any of that evidence will ever be presented in a court of law.
I condemn the Obama administration’s actions. If you condemn the actions of the Bush administration in regards to warrantless wire-tapping and other violations of due process and civil rights, then you must condemn the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki. It doesn’t matter that he may have been guilty of everything he was suspected of and more. He was an American citizen, deserving of due process before being deprived of his liberty, and there isn’t a deprivation of liberty more permanent than assassination.