I wasn’t quick enough this morning to head this off. I knew it was coming and that it would only be a matter of time before the Left reacted to Anwar al-Awlaki’s death.
From the heart and mind of Glenn Greenwald.
It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki. 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 has any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt.
Grenwald, if nothing else, has been consistent in his displeasures and disagreement over US policy to track down and kill radicalized terrorists who happen to be US citizens. I’ve commented before on Greenwald’s assumptions. Here his Glenn’s thoughts from back in June, 2010.
I’ve written at length about the reasons why targeting American citizens for assassination who are far away from a “battlefield” is so odious and tyrannical, and I won’t repeat those arguments here. Suffice to say — and I’m asking this literally — if you’re someone who believes, or are at least willing to acquiesce to the claim, that the U.S. President has the power to target your fellow citizens for assassination without a whiff of due process, what unchecked presidential powers wouldn’t you support or acquiesce to? I’d really like to hear an answer to that.
My own thoughts to his are unchanged. On a very basic level, Greenwald’s and others who agree with him have a point. Assassinating US citizens without due process is in fact wrong. But there is nothing basic about the kind of terrorists’ threats we face daily. We do not have drones patrolling the skies of Los Angles and we are not targeting American civilians in all out military offensive. These terrorists are not simply breaking laws. They are more than just your common criminal or gangbanger. They are continuously plotting to kill as many Americans as possible. They are financed and organized by governments and terrorists organizations that stretch the globe and have plenty of resources from which to operate. That makes them threatening in such a way that due-process would actually be a hindrance in protection of the homeland.
Al-Awlaki’s ‘citizenship’ is the product of an outdated and erroneous interpretation of the 14th Amendment. He is about as much of a citizen of the US as Osama bin Laden was. If he was truly a US citizen he would live here, pay his taxes, and be a productive member of society. If individuals like al-Awlaki can be considered a US citizen with a straight face, then perhaps there is need to approach the ideas that constitute citizenship. Al-Awlaki stopped being a US citizen the moment he sat down with terrorists and collaborated with them to kill American citizens.
Killing al-Awlaki is no different than cops or the FBI killing a US citizen. It happens plenty enough. Some wacko walks into a restaurant or a mall and opens fire on innocent civilians. If he refuses to surrender or flees, the cops kill the perpetrator. In al-Awlaki’s case, he was in Yemen and never considered surrender. The US government tracked him down and removed an enemy of the American people. It’s as simple as that. I call it justice and about damn time, too.