Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Putting A Hit On An American Citizen

From the NYT:
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday. 
This is indeed an extraordinary step, and one which should disabuse anyone of the notion that President Obama is not only continuing the attacks on the constitutional civil rights of American citizens, but escalating them.

Al-Awlaki is an American citizen. He is not an enemy combatant, and the government is not claiming the right to kill him during battle, but at any time they see him, whether he is at home with his family or out shopping.

This is a direct assault on the Constitution of the United States, and specifically the 5th Amendment thereof:
No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. 
The law is very clear on this. The US government cannot kill people for crimes they may have committed without first arresting them, trying them, and convicting them. The only exception is if they are engaged in active warfare. Al-Awlaki is most certainly not engaging in active warfare.

He has been vocal in his criticism of the United States and it's unjust war against Iraq. But this is not a crime. In fact, it is essential and protected free speech.

He has praised Ft. Hood shooter Major Nidal Hassan. But praising someone is also free speech, and the government has done nothing to show that he conspired with Hasan in any way. Furthermore, using the government's own definitions, Hasan was an enemy combatant, not a terrorist, and he directly attacked soldiers.

He has expressed support for the actions of others who have plotted attacks against the United States, but he has claimed steadfastly that he has not been involved in planning these attacks.

Al-Awlaki may or may not be guilty of plotting terror attacks. We just don't know, and the US government is claiming only that it believes this to be true. It has presented no evidence to a judge. It has presented no evidence to the American people.  But we do know that he is an American citizen. He was born in New Mexico; his father has a PhD from the University of Nebraska. He is guaranteed certain rights by the US Constitution. And now Obama plans to disregard those rights, and to murder him on sight without so much as a trial or a hearing before a federal judge to present evidence.

With this action, Obama is claiming the right to kill any American citizen anywhere, at any time, for any reason that he deems sufficient.

Film director Roman Polanksi fled the country after pleading guilty to the sexual assault of a 13 year old girl. Why not send in a sniper team to kill him? He's actually had his day in court.

Nine members of the Hutaree Christian militia were believed to be plotting to murder police officers. Why not just drop a bomb on their homes?

The fact that we can't easily arrest Al-Awlaki because he is in Yemen is not an excuse to murder him. The United States government has not even gone to the trouble of presenting evidence and getting an indictment. Is their evidence so thin that they believe they can't get an indictment? If so, how can they contemplate murdering him on the basis of this evidence?

Both the C.I.A. and the military maintain lists of terrorists linked to Al Qaeda and its affiliates who are approved for capture or killing, former officials said. But because Mr. Awlaki is an American, his inclusion on those lists had to be approved by the National Security Council, the officials said.

Who gave the National Security Council the authority to unconstitutionally target American citizens for killing? The NYT notes that "As a general principle, international law permits the use of lethal force against individuals and groups that pose an imminent threat to a country," but international law does not supersede the US Constitution.

Al Qaeda is undoubtedly winning. Their goal was never to defeat the United States on its home soil militarily; that would be impossible. Their goal was change the fundamental character of the United States, and every time we allow our government to suspend civil rights- to spy on its citizens, to torture, to murder its own citizens without any due process whatsoever-Al Qaeda wins.

And today, Obama is driving one more nail into the coffin that holds all the things that America once stood for.

1 comment:

  1. I love that they asked for “Public Defenders” (and they thought they could bring down our government), undercover FBI agent, sweet. Since their inception the Teaparty crowd (not a movement since they do have the numbers or clout) because they are haters not debaters or as others have dubbed them screamers not dreamers. The simpleton Tea baggers are the same whiners that were crying when the McCain/Bailin ticket lost. Now that their yelling and screaming failed to stop the health care debate and the bill from passing they are crying again. Lets face it the Republicans had eight years to deal with health care, immigration, climate change and financial oversight and governance and they failed. The Republicans are good at starting wars (two in eight years, with fat contracts to friends of Cheney/Bush) but not at winning wars as seen by the continuing line of body bags that keep coming home. Instead of participating in the health care debate of ideas the Republicans party turned inward to your old fashion obstructionist party. In my opinion the Republican Waterloo loss was caused by the party allowing a small portions (but very loud) of the republican party of “birthers, baggers and blowhards” to take over their party. I will admit that this fringe is very good at playing “Follow the Leader” by listening to their dullard leaders, Beck, Hedgecock, Hannity, O’Reilly, Rush, Savage, Sarah Bailin, Orly Taitz, Victoria Jackson, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the Blowhards and acting as ill programmed robots. The Teaparty crowd think they can scare, intimidate and force others to go along with them by comments like “This time we came unarmed”, let me tell you something not all ex-military join the fringe militia crazies who don’t pay taxes and run around with face paint in the parks playing commando, the majority are mature and understand that the world is more complicated and grey than the black and white that these simpleton make it out to be and that my friend is the point. The world is complicated and presidents like Hamiliton, Lincoln, and Roosevelt believe that we should use government a little to increase social mobility, now its about dancing around the claim of government is the problem. The sainted Reagan passed the biggest tax increase in American history and as a result federal employment increased, but facts are lost when mired in mysticism and superstition. Although some Republicans are trying to distant themselves from this fringe most of them, having no game plan/ vision for our country, are just going along and fanning the flames. For a party that gave us Abraham Lincoln, it is tragic that the ranks are filled with too many empty suits. But they now claim they have changed, come on, what sucker is going to believe that? All I can say to you is remember Waterloo.