Tag Archives: extrajudicial assassintion

Can we kill our own just because they’re bad guys?

I guess we killed an important terrorist yesterday. Another clean, targeted hit. And we did it without invasion, always a good thing. Gotta tone down that invasion thing.

But there are concerns. AnWar al-Awlaki was a bad guy for sure. He was also an American citizen.

I just stumbled upon Spatial Orientation, a blog new to me and one I’ll visit again, where they’ve posted some commentary on the subject including a statement from Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson and a post from professional liberal Glenn Greenwald, two fellows who are hardly ideological bedfellows but appear to be equally fond of the Constitution.

Johnson said that while he applauds vigilance in the WoT:

. . . we cannot allow the War on Terror to diminish our steadfast adherence to the notion of due process for American citizens.  The protections under the Constitution for those accused of crimes do not just apply to people we like — they apply to everyone, including a terrorist like al-Awlaki.  It is a question of due process for American citizens.

If we allow our fervor to eliminate terrorist threats to cause us to cut corners with the Constitution and the fundamental rights of American citizens, whether it be invasions of privacy or the killing of someone born on U.S. soil, I could argue that the terrorists will have ultimately won.

Greenwald added:

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 . . . [but] 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.

Awlaki has been linked to suspects in the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas shooting spree and the attempted Christmas bombing of a passenger jet, but he has neither been charged nor tried. It appears he was targeted because he preached jihad and recruited for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Like I said, a bad guy, but we have rules that say we can’t kill citizens because they don’t like the government.

(The killing was carried out by an unmanned drone,  another conversation we should be having.)

UPDATE: Johnson just appeared on FOX News. That’s an audience who need  a challenge to cherished beliefs. He did a good job.  The video is here.