Sunday, October 2, 2011

Awlaki's Dead. Justice Served?

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.

The Law

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.
"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."

"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."
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.
The Legitimacy Question

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

News links:
WaPo - The White House's Drone Policy
CBS - Justice Memo


Always On Watch said...

With Awlaki having renounced his American citizenship by joining a foreign force, I have to come down on the side of this having been a legal and righteous kill.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Good post, I've added the link to post. ;)

Anonymous said...

A masterpiece of logic. Well done!

Just a conservative girl said...

I don't know, I am a little on the fence on this one.

This a great deal of power to put into the hands of a president. Regardless of who that president may happen to be.

I am a little uncomfortable of the lack of due process.

I understand what you are saying, but DOJ could have indicited him easily and they choose not to. I would like the answer of why that was. His father took them to court why didn't they do it then? The time was there.

I am not saying him being gone is a bad thing, he was a bad is just I really am uncomfortable giving more and more power to the federal government.

Silverfiddle said...

Conservative Girl: I understand you are not mourning the loss of another terrorist. You're a great patriotic blogger!

It's really a binary question: Is he a criminal, or is he an enemy combatant?

We chose to treat him as an enemy combatant, because that is what he was, by his own admission and actions.

Imagine the alternative. He's in an AQ convoy, but we can't take it out because he's nominally an American? Why don't we just completely castrate ourselves?

The president does wield awesome power, by design.

Obama's actions were open and transparent, and all of this is subject to congressional review.

Republican Mother said...

I thought they killed him two years ago. Whenever they kill another AQ operative, again I think of the South Park tagline - OMG You killed Kenny!

Did they not have this guy on the terror watch list under the Able Danger Program? Why then was he eating lunch at the Pentagon after 9/11 and was a known imam to the 9/11 hijackers? Oh, yes, the pat explanation, our government is soo stupid.

Write it down, kiddos, we're going to be "next" as we terrorize the powers that be by shining the light on their shadowing doings.

Just a conservative girl said...

Sorry Fiddle, I am team Fuzzy here.

They clearly had the time to go to court and get him declared an enemy combatant and did not. Why? That is a question we should be demanding an answer to.

I don't disagree with your premise, what I disagree with is the lack of court action. There is no logical reason for it.

Speedy G said...

Logic, reason and consistency don't always apply. The maggot is dead. Good.

Fredd said...

I'm with Speedy. The guy was indeed a filthy, treacherous maggot and debating the details of his demise are pointless.

May his black soul rot in hell for eternity.

Finntann said...

It comes down to this: 8USC Chapter 12, Subchapter III, Part III, 1481

"Any person who commits or performs, or who has committed or performed, any act of expatriation under the provisions of this chapter or any other Act shall be presumed to have done so voluntarily, but such presumption may be rebutted upon a showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the act or acts committed or performed were not done voluntarily."

Judicial review (prior to the DoJ review as part of the targeting process) came through:

Al-Aulaqi v. Obama, 727 F. Supp. 2d 1 - Dist. Court, Dist. of Columbia 2010. Its a long read, but its here:

The court case pivoted around four central points. Executive Authority, the standing of the plaintiffs (Al-Awlaki's father and the ACLU), the Political Question, and Military and States Secret Privelege.

As SF seems to have covered Executive Authority, let's look at the other 3.

Standing: This comes down to the possibility of rebuttal of his apparent renunciation of citizenship and whether or not he had access to the courts. The court in this case ruled that "Plaintiff has failed to provide an adequate explanation for his son's inability to appear on his own behalf" and that there "is nothing preventing him from peacefully presenting himself at the U.S. Embassy in Yemen and expressing a desire to vindicate his constitutional rights in U.S. courts".

The court also stated that "if Anwar Al-Aulaqi were to present himself in that manner, the United States would be "prohibited from using lethal force or other violence against him in such circumstances."

This case did not take place in a vacuum an Al-Awlaki (Al-Aulaqi) had ample opportunity to rebut his loss of citizenship. In fact in one AQAP video stated personally he had no intention of turning himself into the Americans.

Political Question: The political question doctrine is essentially a function of separation of powers and "excludes from judicial review those controversies which revolve around policy choices and value determinations constitutionally committed for resolution to the halls of Congress or the confines of the Executive Branch."

The courts finding was that:

"Because decision-making in the realm of military and foreign affairs is textually committed to the political branches, and because courts are functionally ill-equipped to make the types of complex policy judgments that would be required to adjudicate the merits of plaintiff's claims, the Court finds that the political question doctrine bars judicial resolution of this case."

Military and State Secrets: The state secrets privilege is premised on the recognition that "in exceptional circumstances courts must act in the interest of the country's national security to prevent disclosure of state secrets, even to the point of dismissing a case entirely."

Because of the lack of demonstrated standing on the first three issues the court chose not to rule on the last:

"Under the circumstances, and particularly given both the extraordinary nature of this case and the other clear grounds for resolving it, the Court will not reach defendants' state secrets privilege claim... because plaintiff lacks standing and his claims are non-justiciable, and because the state secrets privilege should not be invoked "more often or extensively than necessary," see Jeppesen Dataplan, 614 F.3d at 1080, this Court will not reach defendants' invocation of the state secrets privilege."

Silverfiddle said...

Conservative Girl: No apologies necessary! Good sincere people can disagree and still be blogger buddies!

You're still confusing two issues.

Ordinarily, this would be a criminal case, but congress authorized the executive branch to take military action against AQ, so it is not. It is now in the realm of warfare, not a criminal case.

You don't go to court and declare someone and enemy combatant. Someone just is by the actions they take.

Indeed, if we had indicted him, it would have muddied the waters and indeed legitimately opened the government up to a charge of execution without trial.

As I said earlier, had we assassinated him as he walked freely through the streets of London or Paris, I'd see your point.

In reality, we killed him as he was participating in on-going AQ operations against the government of Yemen, who invited us in to help them combat this threat.

Finntann said...

You know, if his name had been placed on the list in secret (which it obviously wasn't given the court case raised by his father and the ACLU), had he confined hiself to non-operational activities, and had he been shot in the back of the head while sipping coffee in a Paris cafe, you might have a point regarding assassination.

I honestly don't think any of you believe that he was not a combatant and not a legitimate military target. If you do, you are deceiving yourselves, and I would like to hear your rationale, other than him simply having been an American at one time by circumstance of birth.

Even if he had not engaged in operational activities... would you make the same argument about Tokyo Rose and Berlin Betty had they been killed in a B-29 strike during WWII?

There is a problem when a man standing in a bank, surrounded by bloody bodies and holding a smoking gun in one hand and a back of money in the other, yelling I got the money and I killed them all is "an alleged" bank robber.

Honestly, in this case, it doesn't get much more clear cut than it already is.


Silverfiddle said...

Finn: Thanks for the heavyweight info you brought to this discussion.

John Bascom said...

Would we have hesitated to bomb "Tokyo Rose" during WWII because she was an American? Anyone who joins forces with an enemy engaged in combat against the US is fair-game. It's a war issue, not a due process issue. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it...

Silverfiddle said...

John: Clear, concise and on-target! I should have hired out the writing of this post to you! What an economy of words.

Ducky's here said...

No it isn't Silverfiddle. The question is whether or not we want to give the president summary execution power over American citizens, not whether or not the guy was a dirt bag.

Let's bring back the Court of the Star Chamber? How far will you go and when is you personal opinion insufficient reason to execute?

Sometimes if we don't err on the side of principles we end up with the likes of The Patriot Act, loved by a surprising number of right wingers. The right is always sure that they will be complacent little puppets and don't get concerned because they sure ain't going to step out of line.

Anonymous said...

Time for a levity break:

An Illegal Immigrant, a Muslim, and a Socialist go into a bar.

The bartender asks: "What can I get you, Mr. President?"

Submitted by Freethinke

Anonymous said...

As for the topic at hand, I said all I have to say about it yesterday.

I'm conflicted to a certain degree.

A) I'm glad the dirty son-of-a-bitch is dead. I would have preferred it to be Adam Gedahn for whom I have a near-pathological loathing, but Al Wacky will do.

B) I'm sure, however, that Al Wacky's being rubbed out at this particular time has much more to do with Obummer's determination to win back a measure of public approval in order to remain in the White House, so he and our grotesque First Lady can continue to indulge themselves with endless luxury vacations, hugely expensive "date nights" that cause massive inconvenience to the public, and obscene shopping sprees at OUR expense during this DEPRESSION. Therefore, I see this killing as nothing more than a cynical, self-serving ploy.

C) Ron Paul is right on PRINCIPLE in nearly everything he says. HOWEVER, any number of times in our brief history moral principles and constitutional strictures have been rudely shoved aside for the sake of EXPEDIENCY.

A) Lincoln's Civil War,

B) TR's usurpation of legal rights in simply declaring vast areas of land to be government property set aside to be used as national parks,

C) Wilson's jailing of dissenters so he could more easily deceive us into participating in World War One,

D) FDR's draconian changes to the way government operates in the New Deal -- all of these qualify as unconstitutional, illegal usurpation of power.

E) The clever tactic of selling vastly over-priced (and hopefully out-of-date) weapons to Iraqis in order to fund anti-Communist forces in Nicaragua, thus exploiting one set of dirty bastards to help defeat another, was certainly "illegal," but I've never regarded it as "immoral."

F) Bill Clinton's cynical exploitation of the White House for use as a Bar & Grill cum B&B to coddle favorites and raise millions in illegal cash from foreign nationals for his own political purposes was both illegal AND immoral, but no one cared enough to hold him accountable.

We like these kinds of vigilante activist shortcuts when we sympathize with the aims, and enjoy the results -- and vice versa --, but if we take the sternest interpretation of moral absolutes, the ends NEVER justify the means.

All I know is that if a REPUBLICAN president had ordered these assassinations, his ass would be grass, and the media would soon be ripping it up with their bevy of power mowers.

~ FreeThinke

Silverfiddle said...

@ Ducky: The question is whether or not we want to give the president summary execution power over American citizens

Please do me the courtesy of at least perusing my blog post before crapping all over it. You can't be that incapable of following an argument.

MathewK said...

I have no problem with any president taking out some america-hating terrorist. If only Obama would apologise to George Bush, Obama vilifyed him for doing far less.

I have no problem with the left attacking their boy for their stupidity either.

Anonymous said...

Here is the problem. What is to stop them from renouncing the citizenship of anyone. They could eventually say those who appose the policy of the government are enemies of the state. They already have lists of people (me included) are being watched as possible domestic terrorists.

The danger we face from our government is much greater than that of Al-Qaeda.

Another thing to remember, while he was aiding the enemy, he was not an actual combatant. If he were killed on the battle field I would have no problem, but he was a cleric not a soldier.

Silverfiddle said...

Trestin: The government did not attempt to revoke his citizenship, so I don't understand your argument.

Being a veteran, you know as well as I do that a person in a military organization (Which AQ is) can be dangerous without being on the front lines with a gun in his hands.

Finally, he was killed on the battlefield that was defined by congress when they approved us taking military action against AQ.

I understand your point, but you're stretching it to ridiculous lengths. He joined a terrorist organization that congress authorized military action against. He made himself a legitimate military target.

You and many other are employing variants of the slippery slope, and in order to have a slope, there must be more than one data point. There is no existing logical connection between this action and the legitimate concerns you and other raise.

Anonymous said...

Trestin, I spotted you as a person wise beyond your years (if that is really your picture) early on. I'm glad to see you've confirmed my judgment once again.

As i keep trying to get across in my clumsy way, whenever we succumb to the dictates of EXPEDIENCY we deny PRINCIPLE. We may resolve temporary problem to our immediate satisfaction that way, but inevitably we open the door and roll out the red carpet for a host of undesirable, unforeseen consequences that are likely to make the future even darker and drearier than the problem-laden present.

" ... whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap ..."

It's inescapable.

~ FreeThinke

Finntann said...

God sometimes you people are dense.

He repudiated his citizenship on multiple occasions and did so publically.

If he was screaming in his videos that he was an American, perhaps you'd have a point.

Instead he is urging Muslims to kill Americans.

"Do not seek any permission when it comes to the killing of the Americans. Fighting the devil doesn't need a religious edict, deliberation, prayer, or guidance. They are the party of the devil and fighting them is the personal duty of our times."

Now, do you think he was referring to himself in those videos?

He had ample opportunity to reclaim his citizenship if he so desired. In fact he specifically stated in on of his videos that he had no intention of doing so.

"If the Americans want me, let them search for me. Allah is the best protector".

Well buddy, we found you.


Silverfiddle said...

FT: Trestin is wise beyond his years, but in this instance he has failed to make a coherent argument for his point of view.

And btw, there was no expediency in this action and no vigilantism. It was a wartime action.

And what Finn just said. By all means argue your case, but bring material facts, as Finn has done.

Dark conspiracies may fly over at Alex Jones, and they are certainly welcome here, but they won't advance your argument.

Ducky's here said...

Silvrfiddle, I followed he argument.

You maintain that this is a war issue and apparently feel that is enough to justify the presidential power.

I think we may be giving up too much. There is a real question of just how cohesive and real this threat is and you are all too ready to defer to authoritarianism. Normally something you deplore.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: Thank you for getting to the heart of the issue!

Indeed we are giving up too much, and it leads to dark conspiratorial thinking as well as "assassination" charges being hurled at presidents both Democrat and Republican.

Bush and Cheney failed to construct a cohesive legal framework to deal with terrorism, partly because of a lack of international cooperation.

I personally have no problem with us finding and killing avowed terrorist wherever they may hide, but such open-ended authorization as we have been operating under this past decade are indeed ripe for abuse.

Wow. I think we almost kinda, sorta agree on a few minor points here.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

[quote]@ Ducky: The question is whether or not we want to give the president summary execution power over American citizens

Please do me the courtesy of at least perusing my blog post before crapping all over it. You can't be that incapable of following an argument. [/quote]

Silverfiddle, Ducky is simply saying what I am saying. The way we frame the question is the fundamental disagreement. You're arguing a single incident, while I am arguing a Constitutional (and conservative) principle.

How Ducky's framed it is pretty much exactly how I frame it, too; no one is crapping on your post, dear patriot, we are simply looking at this differently. He (or maybe she?) is quite right, the ends never do justify the means, and I would add, especially when the ends are clearly outside the bounds of the Constitution.

Trestin's argument is not incoherent (the fact that you don't agree doesn't automatically invalidate another's viewpoint). He is responding to the suggestions in this thread the the terrorist was somehow not a citizen of the United States because of his allegiance to Islamofascism. That's absurd, and Trestin's point is that if this were indeed the basis of the decision (and it was not), then what's to stop this or a future president from expanding the definition of an enemy of the state, a traitor, seditious behavior, etc. It's not unknown to us exactly how this president and this administration views the loyal opposition; it's further not unknown to us that he muses about how fun it would be if he could be like a Chinese dictator and just "make things happen." Again, Trestin is looking the big picture, while many are looking at this as an isolated incident. That's how it always starts with progressives and commies. One step here, then the next. Have you studied the fall of the Weimar Republic? The individual steps Hitler took to seize totalitarian, tyrannical control of Germany? You should. Everything he did was completely "legal" and completely within the scope of the power he dad (first given him by the free people of a republic not unlike our own). This is not idle speculation; this happened.

We know that BO is using not only the Hitler but the Lenin and Stalin playbooks (I've written about the stunning similarities between BO's push to "green" the American economy and Lenin's "electrification of Russia"). In short, while I understand your viewpoint, we're talking at cross-purposes. Those us who see this as question of executive over reach that is clearly unConstitutional are not wrong; we aren't even talking about the same thing that you are. If that makes sense?

Fuzzy Slippers said...

oops, means are clearly outside the Constitution.

Silverfiddle said...

Trestin's argument is incoherent, because he deals not in facts, but in suppositions. It is a slippery slope argument.

I notice that all of you ignore my premise without even attempting to invalidate it.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

No, Silverfiddle, we've answered your premise fully. Maybe not the way you'd like, but again, you are talking about one incident, and this isn't (to us) about one incident. It's about the broader issue of due process and the Constitution and giving the power to slaughter Americans to the executive branch, specifically to one person. That is not American, that is not Constitutional, and that is not acceptable. Ever. No matter how evil the terrorist (and we all do agree this terrorist was evil).

That is the answer. Nothing you say can make that basic fact go away, so there is no need to engage in debating specifics about this one incident. Think of it this way: your kid steals some candy from the corner store. You explain to your kid that stealing is wrong and take him to the store to return the candy (or pay for it if it's already opened or eaten) and apologize to the store owner. Your kid has lots of reasons for stealing the candy, but you don't sit there and debate his sweet tooth, lack of allowance money, or peer pressure. The act itself is wrong. The circumstances don't really matter.

Silverfiddle said...

You too, Fuzzy, employ the slipper slope.

I understand your argument, but is is based upon supposition, not the facts on the ground.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

This is a silly and short-sighted thing to say, Silverfiddle. What facts do you need to support the methodology of progressives and commies? What facts do you need that this administration thinks (and has said) that the "real" threat to national security is white Christians who call themselves "patriots" and who may support a single-issue such as being pro-life or supporting states' rights (the 10th Amendment)? What facts do you need to know that DHS has released memos on the danger of "rightwing extremism"? I don't need facts on the ground to draw logical conclusions based on the recent actions and words of this administration and a century of progressive creep.

That's my last word on this topic here. We will have to agree to disagree.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

One more last last word:

You are confusing my concerns with my argument. My argument is based solely in the Constitution. My concerns are that by allowing this constitutional violation we are opening ourselves up to an ever more tyrannical government (the exact thing the founding fathers sought to prevent by NOT putting such power in the hands of the head of state).

There is a difference between my argument and my concerns. You are employing a logical fallacy by focusing not on the substance of the argument but on the slippery slope concern (which you see as a logical fallacy, but is actually not).

The one and only question is: does the Constitution rest in the president the power to write and carry out death warrants on American citizens without due process?

Most Rev. Gregori said...

Silver, although I am happy that Awlaki has been taken out, I still have mixed feelings about the way it was done. We could very well be headed down a very slippery slope.

The way our government is headed, what is there now that could stop Obama or any future president, from declaring any American citizen they want a terrorist, even within our own borders, and then ordering the CIA or any law enforcement agency to take that person out, no warrant,
no trial, nothing just a declaration by the president. We must be very careful what we ask for because we just might get it.

Silverfiddle said...

Fuzzy et al. Again, I understand and share your concerns, but you bring no facts to support your argument.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

The Constitution. Read it. ;)

Silverfiddle said...

The congressional sanction vitiates any constitutional concern. Indeed, out government had followed the constitution, and now everyone complains about the result.

Fine. Demand then that that congress retract the permission it gave the executive branch to prosecute the war on terror. And do not cry when we must refrain from attack because an "American" is squatting in the mud fort infested with America haters.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

LOL, now you're just being silly. Are you really trying to argue that Congress gave the president the power to sign death warrants on American citizens?

And even if that were true--and we both know it's not, that, too, would be unconstitutional. Just like ObamaCare is being contested on constitutional grounds.

Ducky's here said...

Why don't you two get a room?

Finntann said...

I suppose by your reasoning we should have been arresting and trying confederates in the civil war?

I suppose also, you've never heard of the Whisky Rebellion.

Your argument against military action against al qaeda is specious.

You fail to make a distinction between execution and death by military action which is a recognized legal distinction.

If you kill a man in battle, well that's war. If you kill a man after the battle is over, and he does not have the means to resist, that's murder.

Al Awlaki by all definitions is an unlawful combatant:

"Someone who is engaged in hostilities against the United States or its allies -- or who materially supports hostilities against the United States or its allies -- without being a member of a regular armed force of another country."

He also maintained the means to resist, and was quite proud of it.
He was killed in a military strike against an organization that congress has authorized military action against.

If he were in custody and executed, your argument would have more merit.

Always On Watch said...

Duck may somewhat agree with you in this thread, but over at my site, he said the following yesterday in reference to Roseanne Barr's comment about beheading bankers:

Here I thought we should just pull them out of their cars and beat them with tire irons.

Either gets their attention.

Just an FYI.

Silverfiddle said...

Finn's post states what I am trying to say.

Yes. Congress did approve military action against AQ. Awlaki joined that organization and thus became a legitimate target.

I am arguing this specific case because I am sticking to the facts.

You mention the constitution, but you do not make the connection between it and this military action.

Had this man been a loudmouth dissenter on the streets of London and we assassinated him, I would understand your point, but that's not what happened.

He joined a military organization that we, by law, are at war with, by congressional authorization as spelled out in the constitution.

Now, please answer my question about the brigade of American traitors. Can we engage them or not?

Is a traitorous American ever a valid military target?

Fuzzy Slippers said...

I've tried to explain this so many times, and I just can't seem to state it clearly enough. I'm honestly not sure if you're being deliberately obtuse or if it's just my failure to communicate effectively.

Have you read Ron Paul's piece on this? Maybe you'll find that more clear:

If you still don't understand what we're saying, I have to give up. I obviously am not getting through (or you're just being funny, I'm not really sure at this point).

Silverfiddle said...

I am not being purposefully obtuse.

There are two distinct way to look at this: a terrorist is a combatant, or a terrorist is a criminal.

I take the first view. You and Ron Paul and other take the second.

The US government, by its deliberate actions, also took the first view and treated him as such.

I expand on this over at your blog.

Silverfiddle said...

AOW: I'm well aware of the Duckmeister's tactics, which is why it amazes me any time we agree on something.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

No, again, you miss the point. This isn't about terrorism at all to me, at least not as you're thinking of it. It's about granting the president the power to declare anyone a terrorist, at his whim, and ordering their death without trial or due process. I've no idea why you're veering, rather too close, toward suggesting that I'm soft on terror.

For some reason you just can't seem to see past your own viewpoint or beyond this one terrorist. Again, I'm not arguing whether or not he was a terrorist, of course he was, and if he'd been picked up in the field and brought back and given a military tribunal, then executed, I'd be fine with it. That. is. not. the. point. This is about the president grabbing the power to call ANYONE a terrorist and have an American citizen killed without due process. The president does not have that power, or he didn't until now.

You keep talking like the Patriot Act gave this power to order the execution of American citizens without due process. It does not; that would require a Constitutional AMENDMENT. That is why they were talking about a bill to strip an "enemy combatant" of their citizenship--a move I also think is too much power for US to relinquish. I could give a rat's ass about terrorists (actual terrorists). I care about us, as American citizens, about our rights, our freedoms, and our Constitution. It's not hard to understand, so I'm not sure why you don't get it.

Silverfiddle said...

I'm not referring to the patriot act. I am referring to the congressional act that authorizes the president to prosecute a war against terrorists:

The president did not declare this man a terrorist. Awlaki declared himself a terrorist, in word and deed.

I am in no way even hinting that you or others who make a similar case are "soft on terror." I debate with candor and good will, as Bill Bennett would say.

I simply believe that once someone states their allegiance to an organization that the US is at war with, that person becomes a legitimate military target. The only alternative is to carve out a special exemption for them. There is no such exemption in the federal law I cite.

Now, if he had set himself up in a hate-preaching mosque in London, different story and I would agree with you. But that's not what happened.

IF you ignore the fact that this man declared himself an enemy of the United States and joined AQ...

IF you ignore the fact that by an act of congress we are at war with AQ...

IF you ignore the fact that he was on a battlefield (AQ is operating against Yemen in Yemen, and that country is at war with them)...

... Then the constitutional concerns you cite are operative. We all agree the president can't order American citizens assassinated, but that is not what happened in this case. It was a congressionally-authorized military action against known and self-avowed AQ operatives.

Ron Paul makes a patently false statement:

"The precedent set by the killing of Awlaki establishes the frightening legal premise that any suspected enemy of the United States - even if they are a citizen - can be taken out on the President's say-so alone."

Read more:

He studiously ignores the additional factors I cite above, making it sound as though we can send hit squads into a library and kill tea partiers researching the constitution.

It is a ridiculous, tendentious claim made upon a slippery slope. No such precedent was set. The precedent we set was that if an American citizen joins an organization we are at war with, he can be killed in military action.

Finntann said...

War is not a function of the justice department!

Barring the ability to arrest and try him your answer is what? Let him continue?

By your logic if a brigade of Al Qaeda invades from Canada we can kill the 975 non-citizens but must arrest the 25 citizens that are fighting with them?

The constitution itself recognizes the separate and distict powers of Justice and Defense. Your inability to do so is baffling.

Anonymous said...


Having [finally!] read all the posts, I have been persuaded that SilverFiddle's position stands on firm legal ground.

SF said:

I simply believe that once someone states their allegiance to an organization that the US is at war with, that person becomes a legitimate military target.

Yes, of course -- on the face of it -- but don't you feel the timing is a bit suspect? Not that that in any way affects the legal proprieties of the case.

I have learned over six or seven decades to trust my perceptions and sense of intuition, and they tell me this action was based not so much on law or any need and sincere desire to serve the interests of the USA in the fight against Islamic Terrorism, but rather to help this now-unpopular president regain some of his former standing in the polls.

If I am right, that makes the eradication of al Aulaqi nothing more than a cynical political ploy. I do realize, however, that that does nothing to weaken SF's argument from a legal perspective. For the record I felt and still feel the same about Bill Clinton's sudden intense interest and military involvement in the internal affairs of Kosovo-Serbia-Croatia. Timing is of paramount importance in the way we evaluate manmade events.

SF also said: Now, if he had set himself up in a hate-preaching mosque in London, different story and I would agree with you.

Here oddly enough I want to disagree. [I admitted to being conflicted, didn't I?]


~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...


If it were up to me, I would declare the vehement public expression of seditious opinions that encourage the violent overthrow of the principles on which we were founded -- and the formation of organizations that hold such opinions -- a treasonous offense punishable not so much by death as by imprisonment and ultimate deportation.

Shocking to think like today, but, admittedly I'm a throwback to previous generations who held simpler, less legalistic views. For instance I still regard the rounding up of the Nisei after Pearl Harbor as a sane, logical thing to have done. If I'd been in Dubya's shoes on 911, I'd have initiated a similar action against every Muslim in the USA on 9/12/01. Discrimination against the most likely suspects may be unkind and unfair, but it's eminently practical in matters of this kind.

The recent, much-vaunted declaration that virtually everyone in the world must be given all the rights and privileges of a US citizen when targeted for activity injurious to the interests of the USA or any of her citizens [i.e. "Mirandizing" enemy soldiers on the battlefield before you dare retaliate against their attacks, etc.] is absurd, impracticable and subjects our troops to greater potential harm than they deserve. In short our Rules of Engagement are stupid, self-defeating and downright evil. They should be summarily invalidated.

~ FreeThinke


Anonymous said...


As I freely admitted above, I am conflicted on the al Auluqi issue -- not because of ignorance of the "legalities" involved, but because I have grave doubts that interpretations of the Constitution and the Law that favor the use of dictatorial power -- except in the most extreme emergencies -- are likely to have deadly long-range ramifications when placed in the hands of fiends and fools -- as they so often are given the present state of the electorate.

I cited several historic instances above when various presidents voided the Constitution and assumed dictatorial powers not properly granted to them. All of them got away with it -- probably because they had no scruples about jailing or otherwise stifling opposition.

Some -- like Lincoln and TR -- have been lauded as great heroes. FDR, who turned us into a quasi-Socialist "People's Republik" overnight, is regarded by far too many today as "one of our greatest presidents," if not the greatest president, we have ever had.

We can castigate Ron Paul for being technically inaccurate all we like, but he raises an issue that is, I think, far more important than the narrow specifics of this particular case, which is not very important in and of itself. Dr. Paul dares to question and condemn much that has come to be accepted policy as undesirable, fundamentally immoral, and contrary to the best interests of American citizens as free, independent individuals. For that I applaud him.

In my own defense I don't believe I have made any reference whatsoever to "dark conspiracy theories" in regard to the al Alauqi case. As Freethinke I may post many words, but most of them are well-considered statements of opinion based on much reading and a lifetime of observing human nature particularly as it effects human interaction in many spheres and world politics in particular.

[NOTE: Whenever I refer to the New World Order, or the longstanding plot to destroy US sovereignty and replace it with One World Government, which will be socialistic and dictatorial in nature, I accompany it with a direct quotation from one or two of the many VIPS -- men who have or have had high positions of tremendous power and influence -- who have been directly involved in these machinations and whose remarks are so unequivocal it would be impossible for anyone but a lawyers to misinterpret their meaning. If that is not "evidence," I can't imagine what would be.]

The problem we need to consider is not whether something is LEGAL or not, but whether it is MORAL. As most of us should know by now, except in rare instances, legislation is created mostly by knaves, fools and selfish monsters of one kind or another. We need always to keep that in mind.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

The argument you made was that by his actions he no longer qualified as a citizen and was therefore not accorded due process. I simply pointed out that if the government can use this logic against a thug like him, they can use it against anyone down the road.

As for him being a threat, perhaps, but he was a cleric. If we target radical clerics, why should we expect any enemy to not target our chaplains?

The bottom line is what is the risk reward? What we gain is a dead dirt-bag who was a minor player in the grand scheme. What we risk is giving the executive power to order execution of citizens without due process. They had plenty of time to have him legally declared an enemy combatant, but we did not.

Silverfiddle said...

Trestin. The citizenship point from Finntann's research was an aside, which I probably should have clarified.

The Obama administration made it clear that citizenship status was not operative in their decision-making. His status as a AQ member was.

To your point, no precedent was set to declare someone a non-citizen and then kill them.

Were he a simple cleric, I could see your point, but he was also a self-avowed recruiter and tactical planner, making him a legitimate target under Geneva Convention rules, which I'm not clear on whether we are following on not in instances like this.

Finally, because this was a legitimate act of war, authorized by congress, due process does not apply.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

[quote]Finally, because this was a legitimate act of war, authorized by congress, due process does not apply. [/quote]

Nonsense. When was the last time Congress officially declared war? This was NOT a legitimate "act of war" anymore than it was authorized by Congress (hint: if it were, do you think Paul and Kucinich would be complaining AFTER the fact? Come on!). No where in the Patriot Act, nor in the additions added last time around, is the president authorized to order the death of an American citizen.

It's not there. This was not a legitimate act; it was a bold, brash power-grab, but BO knew that his Obots wouldn't say anything (too loudly) and that the right would back up this unconstitutional addition to the president's power because it had to do with terrorism. Everyone is so predictable, this WH is just lapping it up, and we're all tyranny-bound. Sad.

Silverfiddle said...

I refer you, again, to the public law that authorizes military action against AQ:

Your argument, if valid, declares all action against AQ illegal. Is that your position?

Your argument rests upon the negation of "terrorists and enemy combatants," and instead treating them as criminals. I understand that. But you do realize you are then declaring illegal all military and non-law enforcement actions, right?

If that is not your understanding, you need to read Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinch (a fine presidential ticket) a little closer, because that is exactly their point.

I understand your point of view and your concerns that it may set a precedent. I really do.

However, those who disagree with me apparently cannot make a similarly dispassionate evaluation of what my side is saying.

Anonymous said...

'Tis easier to be despised, rejected and deplored
Than earnestly participate and then wind up ignored.

Shave and Haircut, Bay Rum!

~ FT

Anonymous said...

It's a pity we can't be more pithy, I know,
But prolixity, sometimes, can put on a good show.

By patiently wading through all the dense prose,
An idea might found that with true brightness glows.

I am not serious -- just having fun.
And now I am finished, over and done.


~ FT

Anonymous said...

This the last I will say on this issue. Do you really feel comfortable with the executive having this kind of power?

We have to go back again to what defines a terrorist? Myself and everyone coming back from the war are on a terror watch list. When you combine this with the ability to go after people for pre-crimes we have a huge problem. We have heavy Marxist elements in places of high power. These people want a revolution, and when Marxist have revolutions they use thing like this to kill people like you and me.

What is the reward, what is the risk? Is it worth it?

Silverfiddle said...

I'm one of those dangerous returning vets as well, Trestin.

We have a legal mess, but Ron Paul is grossly exaggerating when he says this sets the precedent that a president can declare anyone an enemy and have them assassinated.

To answer your question directly: No. IF the same circumstances apply.

Awlaki walked like an enemy combatant, talked like an enemy combatant, and was operating on a battlefield when we greased him.

The precedent set is that if you join up with an enemy we are at war with, you are a military target.

I've mentioned Public Law 107-40, and no one who disagrees with me will touch it.

I've answered questions, expored other arguments presented to me and even acknowledged that they have legal merit. I've asked other questions, but my worthy interlocutors on the other side just keep saying the same thing.

Just a conservative girl said...

Awlaki walked like an enemy combatant, talked like an enemy combatant, and was operating on a battlefield when we greased him.

Then we should have him legally declared as such. That is the only point that many are trying to make. Why didn't they do this? The time was there. Has it been done with Adam Gadan? If not, why not?

Why are you against getting this people declared an enemy combatant in a court? This is what I don't understand. A small and select group of people shouldn't have this type of power.

Silverfiddle said...

You are mixing apples and oranges.

I understand you want to treat this as a legal matter, and I am not opposed to that.

We don't declare someone an enemy combatant through a legal procedure. It is a determination made based upon the person's action.

Via legal action, we declare someone a criminal suspect, not an enemy combatant. They did not do that in this case. They simply determined he was an enemy combatant.