This morning, a CIA drone killed Anwar al-Awlaki- a U.S. born Al-Qaeda operative- in Yemen. The Times reports the strike was two years in the making, and details the past American efforts to take him out. President Obama addressed the situation midday, applauding the blow to al-Qaeda and calling Mr. Awlaki the terror organization’s “leader of external operations…in the Arabian peninsula.”
This, as Glenn Greenwald notes, is the first time the U.S. government has killed an American citizen without due-process. Greenwald, a constitutional scholar and Salon blogger, reminds us that the Obama administration never sought an indictment on Mr. Awlaki nor did it ever present evidence of his guilt. Mr. Obama served as Mr. Awlaki’s judge, jury and executioner.
This horrified civil libertarians. The ACLU quickly condemned the attack. Ron Paul called it an assault on the rule-of-law. Gary Johnson said this was an “unprecedented” action.
Many conservatives supported the decision. Victor Davis Hanson writes what many on the Right’s feel: “Our military and intelligence services are to be congratulated for taking out yet another anti-American terrorist planner.”
Conservatives view Mr. Awlaki as an enemy combatant who revoked his constitutional rights when he aided the enemy and supported insurrection against his country.
The Right also highlighted the administration’s inconsistency on counter-terrorism. Why must foreign terrorists (KSM being the most notorious) have due-process when President Obama won’t afford Mr. Awlaki those same protections? That makes no sense. Surely Attorney General Eric Holder will clear things up in the coming days.
The world is a much better place without this extremist. But this is yet another example of Americans sacrificing liberty for security. Watching a president execute a U.S.citizen without affording him due process is chilling. The State has grown increasingly powerful during the War on Terror. How far will it go to “keep us safe”?