Liberals are up in arms over the Al-Awlaki killing. And so are many conservatives...
I posted a quick link on this topic yesterday supporting the president, and ended up getting a lot of pushback. Even Fuzzy Slippers disagreed with me, and that doesn't happen too often.
The discussion got so good here at Western Hero that I requested a cease fire on the topic and decided to do an entire post on it today. You can read yesterday's comment thread here.
Uber liberal Glenn Greenwald sums up the case against Obama, leveling the charge of Due-Process-Free Assassination:
No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was “considering” indicting him). Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even had any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt.This controversy involves two questions. One of law, and one of motives and legitimacy. Let's look at the legal issue first, since it is the more important of the two.
Which is operative? The fact that he is an enemy combatant? or the fact that he is an American criminal suspect? That's what this comes down to. And it's clear that the US considered him a combatant, not a criminal suspect, since as Greenwald says, no charges were filed against him.
The editors at National Review make a compelling case in Obama's favor. Awlaki was a self-described enemy of the United States who joined Al Qaeda (AQ). The United States took him out in a military action authorized by congress. No subpoenas and no charges required:
The conduct of warfare, including targeting decisions, is inherently an executive function. In this instance, moreover, executive war powers are bolstered by a sweeping congressional authorization of military force that contains no limitations based on citizenship or geography. We don’t ask the courts to evaluate every strike we make against Taliban or al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan or Iraq, nor do we inquire about their citizenship. (NRO - Al-Awlaki's Just Demise)Were it otherwise, all AQ would have to do is station an American traitor at every outpost and on every convoy to legally thwart our drone strike program.
Awlaki Renounced his Citizenship
Finntan did his usual yeoman research and provides the following results (Finn's words are italicized):
Loss of nationality, also known as expatriation, means the loss of citizenship status properly acquired, whether by birth in the United States, through birth abroad to U.S. citizen parents, or by naturalization. As a result of several constitutional decisions, §349(a) of the current Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") provides that U.S. nationality is lost only when the U.S. citizen does one of the specified acts described in INA §349, voluntarily and with the intent to give up that nationality.The Legitimacy Question
"taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof after having attained the age of eighteen years."I think Al-Awlaki personally made his position quite clear. He hasn't been an American citizen for years and it doesn't take a court or judge to formally renounce your citizenship. It can occur automatically based on your words, writings, or actions.
"entering, or serving in, the armed forces of a foreign state if (A) such armed forces are engaged in hostilities against the United States, or (B) such persons serves as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer;"
"performs an act made potentially expatriating by statute accompanied by conduct which is so inconsistent with retention of U.S. citizenship that it compels a conclusion that the individual intended to relinquish U.S. citizenship."
"committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States, violating or conspiring to violate any of the provisions of section 2383 of Title 18, or willfully performing any act in violation of section 2385 of Title 18, or violating section 2384 of Title 18 by engaging in a conspiracy to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, if and when he is convicted thereof by a court martial or by a court of competent jurisdiction."
Many Right Blogistanis are questioning the president's motives, and I understand that based upon his past actions. However, this was a deliberate action with diligent legal review and it was carried out transparently, as befits a democracy. We can examine the unclassified information, and our lawmakers can review it all.
The only difference here is that the Justice Department also reviewed the plans because of the anticipated uproar over killing an "American."
That Justice Department review was just the last step in a standard review process that is routinely performed daily for all kinds of military and CIA strikes. Discrediting the whole operation just because a tainted Justice Department was involved is committing a fallacy known as Circumstantial Ad Hominem, where one asserts that because an entity is wrong on some issues, it is wrong on all issues. That's just not logical. Would two plus two no longer equal four because Adolph Hitler had once gotten that simple math problem correct?
The Case is Clear: It was a righteous shoot
This was not an extra-judicial assassination carried out at presidential whim, and it sets no legal precedent that would allow a president to order American citizens killed at will.
Awlaki rejected his country of birth and renounced his citizenship, throwing his allegiance and aid to an enemy of America that congress has authorized the president to prosecute military action against. President Obama transparently and with due legal diligence authorized a military strike against a military target. Regardless of citizenship status, Awlaki made his bead, and now he's dead.
God Bless America
Please visit the links below for other viewpoints:
Just a Conservative Girl - Are we going to follow the constitution?
WMR - Obama: Warrior or Assassin
Left Coast Rebel - Terrorist Assumes Room Temperature
WaPo - The White House's Drone Policy
CBS - Justice Memo