Thursday, October 6, 2011

Killing Mr. Awlaki

I've been having discussions on Facebook and in person with various folks -- my son Scot in particular, and his friends, and coffeehouse friends as well-- about the matter of drone killings. The assassination of Anwar al Awlaki is the meat of the discussion.

Scot's opinion is that it is absolutely unconstitutional for the US to hunt down and summarily kill an American citizen.

Sparty's opinion is that we shouldn't be dropping death from the skies on anyone.

The conversation is open here on BIRCHES, because I would like to hear more.

I read this comment in the NEW YORK TIMES, and thought it represented somewhat my own attitude, although I think I have better reasoning than Mr. Floar has given here.

Regarding the Oct. 1 news story about the assassination of al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki “In secret memo, Justice Department sanctioned strike”:

I had been a member of the American Civil Liberties Union since the administration of the first George Bush. However, my conviction that the ACLU was dangerously wrong in contending that Mr. Awlaki’s killing violates the U.S. Constitution and international law forced me to withdraw my support.

The militant fanatics of al-Qaeda have, in effect, declared the entire planet a war zone, since they are prepared to attack us anywhere, and at any time, they can. Nor were we ever likely to be able to extradite Mr. Awlaki from Yemen, a U.S. “ally” in name only. Arresting and trying Mr. Awlaki would have been nice, but in the real world it just wasn’t going to happen.

Mr. Awlaki had declared himself our enemy. In killing him when and where it could, the United States did what was possible rather than what was preferable. The ACLU should remember that we live in a highly imperfect world.

John W. Floars, Woodbridge


scot s w said...

Either we live in a nation of laws, or we don't.

I have absolutely no doubt that the expedient and practical thing to do is to kill someone like al-Awlaki. But the idea that the executive branch can target a U.S. citizen for killing, in the absence of any legal proceeding whatsoever, is as blatant and clear-cut a violation of the Constitution as there is. However, in an era of "signing statements", torture of prisoners, and fighting 2 1/2 wars without any declarations of war, well... hey, it's just one more bit of the old Republic in the shredder.

Sparty said...

Good point, Scot. The Republic is receding into the mythical past as the U.S. increasingly exhibits the values of an Empire.

Bud said...

Do you gentlemen agree that this guy is not the first suspected outlaw who has been hunted down and killed by organizations such as the FBI, or the Marshall's Service?

Sparty said...

I am not in a position to know how many bad guys have been intentionally killed by agents of the federal government, but hunted down and killed as the result of national policy, as is increasingly the case in recent years?

Bud said...

What national "policy" would that be? Ar you referring to the "War on Terror" as a policy?

Sparty said...

There is no war on terror - there is a policy of murdering some terrorists.