Anwar al-Awlaki and the Constitution
I have been called unrealistic and “a little nuts” for suggesting that Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, should have been charged and convicted before he was assassinated on September 30, 2011, in a U.S. drone attack in Yemen. It’s hardly an unrealistic position, considering that Awlaki has been on the CIA’s hit list since April 2010. That’s 17 months the Obama Administration had to assemble and present evidence to a court in order to charge and convict Awlaki.
In any case, I would like to hear from people. Which of these four points do you disagree with, and why?
1. The Administration, in the months leading up to Awlaki’s assassination, in light of the visible evidence against Awlaki, should have received a warrant or similar order from a federal court after submitting evidence against Awlaki.
2. This new precedent of it being legally acceptable for U.S. Presidents to assassinate U.S. citizens is a danger to the general American citizenry and the Constitution itself.
3. The Obama Administration, in light of the concerns provided by some of the American public, civil liberties organizations, and members of Congress, should submit its compiled evidence against Awlaki to a federal court/judge.
4. Although contrary to the individual protection of due process guaranteed under the Constitution, assassinations of U.S. citizens carried out by the President are, at the absolute minimum, to be illegal without evidence first being submitted and approved by a federal judge/court.
I am amazed how quickly people defend the assassination of an unconvicted human being, provided a President calls him a bad guy. It is truly sickening. Don’t get me wrong, Awlaki likely deserved his fate; I am not disputing this.
The majority of Americans are happy Awlaki’s dead and don’t think for a second that maybe there’s something wrong with how this justice was served. The death of Awlaki was no doubt a popular event appreciated by most Americans. However, the Constitution and the individual rights it protects is not subject to a popularity contest.
What do you say? Is this just an annoying and uneducated attempt to uphold the Constitution? Should the President have the legal authority to assassinate U.S. citizens when deemed necessary for “national security,” even without any legal charge or conviction?
“What would Constitutional Law professor Barack Obama think of this?”