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September 30, 2011 2:55 PM The Awlaki debate

By Steve Benen

When I noted earlier that al Qaeda’s Anwar al-Awlaki had been killed overnight, my main focus was on what this means to the terrorist network, which has suffered a series of blows lately. In retrospect, I overlooked a part of the story that deserves to be debated: the legal, moral, and political propriety of the attack.

The specific issue surrounding Awlaki, as opposed to other al Qaeda figures, is that he was a U.S. citizen. He was a citizen who left the United States and became a prominent figure in a terrorist network, but a citizen nevertheless. Many have argued this morning — Glenn Greenwald, Adam Serwer, and others — that Americans are afforded certain rights, and by killing him in Yemen, the government may have acted outside of the law.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on this; I’m not. I do think it’s worthwhile, though, to note some of the questions under debate.

* Do Americans who leave the country to join terrorist networks forfeit the rights given to other Americans? Does it matter if those terrorist networks are targeting the United States? [edited slightly for clarity]

* If the Justice Department had prepared a criminal indictment against Awlaki, would the preferred route have been to pursue extradition or to try to seize him in Yemen through law enforcement?

* If Americans leave the country to fight for a foreign army, do they also give up their rights to due process? Should al Qaeda be considered a foreign army or a stateless terrorist network? Does it matter in this context?

* Media reports indicate that Awlaki was an “operational” leader of al Qaeda — instead of just being a propagandist — and has “links” to several violent plots. Are these accounts true? Would it matter if they are? (Is there a difference between killing an “operational” terrorist vs. a propagandistic one?)

* Did the 2001 AUMF declare war against al Qaeda? And if so, is there any limit to the scope of the “battlefield”? Does it matter that al Qaeda has declared war against the United States?

* If the United States is at war with al Qaeda, is there an expectation that we would execute that war differently when dealing with American members of al Qaeda?

* If the United States is at war with al Qaeda, is al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula the same thing?

There are many who can answer these questions with far more authority than I can, but I thought I’d open the floor to some discussion. It’s clearly a debate worth having.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • Grumpy on September 30, 2011 3:04 PM:

    Citizen, schmitizen. Either assassination of another human being is okay or it's not. Makes no difference what passport he holds.

  • rrk1 on September 30, 2011 3:05 PM:

    How big a step is it for the president, without any due process, to order an American citizen killed on foreign soil - in itself a major issue - to ordering an American citizen killed on American soil? Isn't that what tyrants and dictators do all the time? Have we really sunk so low that our imperial presidency now has the right, arbitrarily, to decide life and death literally?

    So, remind me, how are we different, better or exceptional?

  • SYSPROG on September 30, 2011 3:07 PM:

    I read Glenn and Kevin this morning and I disagree with both of them. I also don't think you asked the complete question. 'Do Americans who leave the country to join terrorist networks forfeit the rights given to other Americans? AND FIGHT AGAINST AMERICA'

    Aside from the treasonous aspect of this, when you join a terrorist network with known goals of conspiring against the US, you are no longer a citizen. Even if we had captured him and brought him back to the US, we would have 'legally' assassinated him by giving him the death penalty. It would have been a clusterf* politically and disrupted this country even more. I'm sorry but this is more than 'protesting' in the US.

    For FOX to be hitting the President for this is reprehensible. They do not CARE about anything in this country EXCEPT bashing the President. After all, they gave us the 'Patriot Act' which took away more of my civil rights than this act.

  • ManOutOfTime on September 30, 2011 3:09 PM:

    I look forward to a full congressional hearing on this denial of due process to an American citizen. As Atrios wisely noted this morning, the preisdent's actions can only be fully appreciated when viewed through the lens of Kenyan anti-colonialism.

  • Cal on September 30, 2011 3:10 PM:

    How about this question. If a republican president kills and American citizen in the name of fighting terrorism, would we be asking any of these questions?

  • amused on September 30, 2011 3:10 PM:

    Doesn't Glenn live in Brazil? Is he worried?

  • Josef K on September 30, 2011 3:23 PM:

    My thoughts on this are fairly straight-forward. In order of each of Steve's points:

    *No.

    *Yes.

    *No. And no, Al Qaeda should not be 'designated' a foreign army (just on practical grounds given their membership is international). And no, its not relevant to this discussion.

    *Its up to the media to either document these claims, or admit they're just scuttlebutt. Either way, its not really relevant to this discussion.

    *I'll need to see the exact text the '01 AUMF before answering. My thoughts are, however, that while it doesn't 'limit' the nominal battlefield, it doesn't recind the inherent right to due process for American citizens. And as the Al Qaeda network is an international one with no centralized leadership, it cannot "declare war" on the US.

    *I argue the US is not "at war" with the Al Qaeda network as much as its in active conflict; a critical legal and moral distinction that obligates the US to behave in a more responsible fashion than we have to date.

    *No. Full stop.

  • Josef K on September 30, 2011 3:25 PM:

    From amused at 3:10pm:

    Doesn't Glenn live in Brazil? Is he worried?

    Aren't you?

  • fostert on September 30, 2011 3:26 PM:

    The police use lethal force on a regular basis. The cops in Denver just killed a guy yesterday and there was hardly an outcry. I'd say that if there is a reasonable chance the police could get killed trying to arrest someone, then they are within their rights to use lethal force. In the case on Awlaki, I think it's safe to assume he wouldn't go down without a fight. I'd rather he die than one of our soldiers. Let's face it, Awlaki was well aware that we were after him and would use lethal force. He could have turned himself in if he wanted to stay alive. That he chose not to is indicative of the fact that he wasn't going to go down peacefully. Of course, our use of torture complicates things. Obviously, nobody is going to surrender when they know they will be tortured. My dad's best friend was in Hitler's army at the end of the war. They had a rule about combat. If you see an American, drop your rifle and surrender. If you see a Russian, fight to the death because you don't want to be captured alive.

  • dalloway on September 30, 2011 3:27 PM:

    Jihadists like Awlaki claim the whole world is their battlefield. Fair enough, then, for him to be killed on it. That being said, the lack of due process, even a trial in absentia, is disturbing. Imagine Rick Perry or Sarah Palin or Michele Bachman claiming Keith Olberman or Michael Moore is just as evil and dangerous as bin Laden and can therefore be legally murdered.

  • Some Guy on September 30, 2011 3:28 PM:

    Someone should ask Troy Davis how he feels about due process.

    oh wait...

  • Vince on September 30, 2011 3:31 PM:

    Yo, SYSPROG, there is something that we used to believe in and, I know it's an inconvenience and all in the GWOT, but it's a little thing called evidence. Were you privy to evidence that shows that Awlaki actually "fought" against America? Or do you just take the president's word for it? Would you have taken Bush's allegations on faith if he assassinated a U.S. citizen? Or is this only acceptable if the guy has a D after his name?

    The notion that the POTUS can unilaterally declare someone a member of al Qaeda (what does that even mean by the way? is there an application form? Do you get a T-shirt and/or coffee mug indicating your membership?) and have them blown to bits with a drone attack is appalling.

    Oh, and at least 3 other people were also killed in the attack. Were they guilty of terrorism? By the pathetically low standards of the GWOT I suppose simply being in the vicinity of someone who *may" be a terrorist is enough to warrant your death.

    The people defending this are pathetic.

  • ajw93 on September 30, 2011 3:32 PM:

    " If Americans leave the country to fight for a foreign army, do they also give up their rights to due process? "

    The answer is No. Just ask John Walker Lindh.

    Also, too:
    Article III, Section 3:

    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

    The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

    Also, three:
    Article VI: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    I really feel like this kind of stuff should go without saying. Instead, it doesn't go at all. Sigh.

  • Anonymous on September 30, 2011 3:33 PM:

    If this is a battlefield sitution, then killing this guy was no more murder than killing Stonewall Jackson. There is a strong argument to be made that this was, indeed, a battlefield situation.

  • ex-curm on September 30, 2011 3:36 PM:

    The ACLU argues against declaring everywhere a battlefield and this guy as a combatant. They are also worried that other countries will emulate this approach and feel authorized to go after people in the US that they consider enemies

    http://www.aclu.org/national-security/frequently-asked-questions-targeted-killing-and-ofac-lawsuit

  • Paul Siegel on September 30, 2011 3:42 PM:

    If it's OK to kill an al Qaeda member, then it's OK to kill an al Qaeda member who previously was an American.

  • Anonymous on September 30, 2011 3:51 PM:

    Do Americans who are accused by the Administration of leaving the country to join terrorist networks as identified by Frank Gaffney forfeit the rights given to other Americans? Does it matter if those terrorist networks are claimed by Fox News to be targeting the United States? [edited slightly for clarity]


    I've edited it slightly for you, for relevance. Do you still want to ask this question?

  • sue on September 30, 2011 4:01 PM:

    The ACLU argues against declaring everywhere a battlefield and this guy as a combatant. They are also worried that other countries will emulate this approach and feel authorized to go after people in the US that they consider enemies.

    What makes anyone think this doesn't already happen...

  • Gandalf on September 30, 2011 4:02 PM:

    I must say that I'm against killing another human being. I'm also not of a mind to allow someone to kill me or mine whatever designation is applied to them.
    If your not intelligent enough to see that this was an extraordinary situation than that's a shame. I have a distinct feeling that someone being wanted dead or alive as they were in the old west isn't a course that's embarked on lightly. I would venture to guess that if your next door neighbor had threatened to kill you on numerous occaisions in the past and one day you saw him leave his house with a loaded gun and head staight for you most people would do whatever is required to protect themselves. So I don't think Obama or any other leader in this country is going to be ordering state sanctioned executions in some sort of cavalier fashion as some of you seem to suggest.

  • wihntr on September 30, 2011 4:08 PM:

    As a career prosecutor I have to say that I am very troubled by this action. I would agree that if an American is literally in the trenches, fighting as part of the army of a declared enemy government and he is killed in battle, there is no legal issue. However, in my opinion the further you get from that situation, the more difficult it is to legally (setting aside for the moment the moralality of the question) justify the killing of an American citzen, whether on American soil or not. In this case we have a guy who is accused of things that, if proven, probably would constitute treason as well as any number of other crimes. But he was not on a battlefield in the sense that word is normally used. It is hard for me to see how his killing is not violative of due process rights.

    I would agree that it is definitely politically expedient to kill our (probable) enemies this way, whether they are American or not. But that is a very different issue.

    Think of it this way. If what our government just did to one of us (he was a citizen, unpleasant as that fact may be) is lawful, what is to stop me from being killed by a remote-controlled drone if I am a drug kingpin, importing huge amounts of heroin into the US? How would it make any difference if I were abroad or in my own home? I don't like agreeing with anything on Fox any more than anyone here, but this is very troubling to me.

  • Rick on September 30, 2011 4:10 PM:

    Well, let's turn this thing on its head and look at it from the theater of the absurd. Could al Qaeda justify 9/11 as a preemptive attack on enemy combatants? After all, from their point of view, we had already occupied their territory and were active propagandist terrorists in the Middle East. Perhaps there was a little excessive collateral damage...but its war.

  • amused on September 30, 2011 4:11 PM:

    Aren't you?

    Well, since I didn't join a terrorist org and didn't help plan terror acts, no, I'm not worried. The guy got what he deserved. And you guys wonder why Dems are painted as soft on terrorism.

  • stakkalee on September 30, 2011 4:12 PM:

    William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

    William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
    ***

    Seemed appropriate.

  • j on September 30, 2011 4:13 PM:

    I know this is off subject, but I just realized where Rick Perry's people got the video he made against Obama that seems to have led to anti-christ etc.
    Anyone seen the biggest propaganda pic of all time made for Hitler - it is Leni Riefenstahl's TRIUMPH OF THE WILL.
    i GUESS pERRY IS hITLER.

  • Michael on September 30, 2011 4:15 PM:

    Hear Hear , Gandalf, extra ordinary circumstances. What Obama has accomplished, once he lifted the veil of political secrecy the agencies were living under, allowed communication and action, and bring us closer to a resolution of this dirty affair.

  • Bartender on September 30, 2011 4:19 PM:

    Obama would only need to show that this citizen traitor was a clear and present danger to the US. It would be no different than the police taking out a common domestic criminal when threatened. From what I've read it seems that Obama would have no problem proving Anwar al-Awlaki, at the height of his power, was indeed a clear and present danger.

  • max on September 30, 2011 4:20 PM:

    The perp was a known jihadist who had declared war on his own country, was directly implicated in several plots to kill Americans here, and is probably responsible for American deaths overseas. A federal grand jury has already heard the list of charges against him. He has been on the CIA's kill or capture list for years just like Osama bin Laden. Debating the legal niceties of his death is the most idiotic discussion imaginable. We expect our government to defend us from these kinds of people. I don't care if they are from here or from outer space. If you need proof that this is idiocy personified look at the short list rogue's gallery of those claiming to be offended: John Bolton (a former Bush Administration thug who supported torture and pushed for our ginned up war in Iraq that killed over 4,000 Americans and God knows how many Iraqis), Ron Paul (a certifiable libertarian nutcase), the ACLU (the group that led the charge to defend a radical cult's right to disrupt military funerals and inflict emotional trauma on their families), and nearly every kook on the extreme left and the extreme right.

  • Bloix on September 30, 2011 4:22 PM:

    Your questions assume that we can know things that are unknowable without a trial. You ask, "do Americans who leave the country to join terrorist networks forfeit the rights given to other Americans?" How do you know when someone leaves the country "to join a terrorist network"? Anyway, you'll never know, will you? The President is asserting the authority to kill US citizens in secret on the basis of a classified FBI memo.

    And we're not talking about someone killed on the field of battle. Al-Awlaki was living in a country that is not at war with us or any of our allies. Obviously, a US citizen who has taken up arms against US fighting men can be shot and killed on the battlefield unless he surrenders. That's not what is going on here.

    It's just extraordinary that you could even ask whether there's "a difference between killing an “operational” terrorist vs. a propagandistic one." Propaganda is constitutionally protected speech. It is not a crime, and certainly not a capital crime, to advocate the overthrow of the Government of the United States by force as an abstract principle.

    The only capital crime that could possibly apply to Al-Awlaki is treason. And the Constitution is very clear about treason: "No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

    It doesn't say, "except that the President can have the guy blown to bits on the say-so of the NSA, as long as he's outside the United States in some god-forsaken little village that no one cares about."

  • cmdicely on September 30, 2011 4:35 PM:

    Many of these questions miss the real point. The real question is how does the power of the government to execute war (either in defense against actual or imminent external attack or pursuant to a Congressional declaration of war) affect the rights granted under the Constitution (most of which, including the prohibition on deprivation of life or liberty without due process, apply to people, not citizens, so the fact that the target of an extra-judicial targetted killing is a U.S. citizen is mostly beside the point except in terms of emotional appeals.)

    There's also the important collateral question of under what circumstances the appropriate remedy for inappropriate action by the executive in such cases is through the political system (elections and/or impeachment) and under what circumstances the remedy is through the legal system.

    I think the precedent is pretty solidly established (and on firm ground) that:
    1. Declarations of war are not necessary for a state of war to exist,
    2. A declaration of war for Constitutional purposes exists when Congress authorizes use of military force, even if it does not use magic words like "declare" or "war" in the authorization (though "magic words" may be relevant to the application of statutes),
    3. Neither a state of war nor a declaration of war requires that the non-US party be a state,
    4. The fact that an enemy combatant on the battlefield in a war is a US citizen does not generally require the US government to treat them in different from any other enemy combatant.

    The important questions are around defining what is a battlefield, defending the temporal parameters of a war initiated by or declared against a non-state group, and determining, where there is some question, what the criteria (and essential processes) are for determining that someone is, in fact, an enemy combatant during a war.

  • AndThenThere'sThat on September 30, 2011 4:37 PM:

    How about this question. If a republican president kills and American citizen in the name of fighting terrorism, would we be asking any of these questions? - Cal @3:10

    That's a false question because a republican president is unlikely to ever take such action. The exception would be the "American citizen in the name of fighting terrorism" happened to be sitting on a few billion gallons of oil. George Bush couldn't be bothered to hunt for Osama Bin Laden, saying the guy wasn't even relevant. Republicans used 911 to perpetrate a war for access to cheap oil. Period. That access to the lifeblood of our way of life is, by the way, one of the principle reasons our military is 10x larger than it needs to be.

    In contrast, the Obama administration has actually bothered to target al Qaeda specifically. It will be interesting to see if Republicans use this as an impeachable offense (unlikely given all their kings of national security bravado) or if its just enough for them to feign concern in the hopes driving a further wedge between Obama and the progressive base.

    But know this, if there's not a price tag that will benefit the oligarchy attached to an action, a republican isn't going to spend the political capital, whether American lives are at stake or not.

  • John on September 30, 2011 4:38 PM:

    Americans who leave the country and joinf terrorist networks have the right to have that proven in court before the government kills them.

    It was murder. Be careful what you say and do in opposibg the Obama administration. You could be declared a terrorist and killed next.

  • deanarms on September 30, 2011 4:44 PM:

    I'm with the hawkish view on this. He was in what is characterized as the battlefield in this day and age. Might be as simple as sitting behind a laptop emailing strategic moves to some jihadi in Madrid or persuading that military doctor that going into Fort Hood guns blazing is what god wants him to do. As I see it, he's in the line of fire. No problem whatsoever with taking him out. If he was captured alive, then the rights of a citizen might kick in. I don't know the applicable protocols, but at least if he's captured he's not creating a direct threat to other citizens and civilians. I don't even think this is close.

  • jjm on September 30, 2011 4:47 PM:

    Ron Paul is weeping for this guy, but he was completely stony-hearted towards his friend and political mentor who died because he was too poor to buy health insurance.

    This does not sit well with me: libertarians hate government intervention in anyone's life, even to preserve it.

    However, I can't wait for the GOP to try to impeach Obama over this!

    That's when the DOJ can open up their investigations of war crimes by Bush, Cheney Rumsfeld and the CIA.

    Does anyone here seriously believe the GOP would risk that? Plus they would be admitting that Obama was stronger against al Quaeda than they were.

  • slappy magoo on September 30, 2011 4:50 PM:

    @Bloix, grain of salt and all that, the below is a copy-and-paste from an email I rec'd from moveamericaforward.org. My comment follows...

    "Anwar al-Awlaki was one of the top terrorists on America’s list of dangerous jihadists, he exchanged emails with Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan encouraging him to turn toward radical Islam, and after the shooting spree that killed 13 American troops, Awlaki wrote articles praising his protégé Hasan and his evil deeds, calling him a “hero”.

    Al-Awlaki moved from the United States to Yemen in 2009 and was publishing, along with the help of another Islamic radical from North Carolina by the name of Samir Khan, an al-Qaeda magazine in English, aimed at radicalizing young people and giving tips to jihadists on how to build bombs in their kitchens to kill westerners.

    Today Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan are dead, according to reports that a US drone strike was successful in taking out both the terrorists. Although reports coming in have not been entirely confirmed, the best information we currently have states that Awlaki and fellow terrorists were killed when a CIA drone fired Hellfire missiles, destroying the vehicle convoy they were traveling in."

    ________________

    I'm not going to forcefully argue one way or the other as I have mixed feelings. I'm not ambivalent, but I worry about the rule of law as much as I worry about the safety of our nation and its citizens - even the a-holes. But if this info were true, then I don't know if we're talking about a suspected terrorist and a mere propagandist. This was someone who was actively encouraging others to murder Americans, in the name of an organization that has sworn to do what it can to destroy America. There is a history and a record of his wanting bad things to happen as opposed to merely the government's word, and his willingness to encourage those bad things to happen. Heh, maybe it's still "propaganda" when we're encouraging our soldiers to kill, but it's "conspiracy to commit acts of terror" when the other guys do it.

    Like many other people, I would've "felt better" had Al-Awlaki been killed on a battlefield, instead of what seems to be in a plotted assassination. And I'm leery of any headline about an al-queda leader being killed after years of "Al Queda #2 Killed" headlines during Bush's Folly. But I wouldn't put the cause of this death in the realm of purely circumstantial evidence, either.

  • AndThenThere'sThat on September 30, 2011 4:58 PM:

    And we're not talking about someone killed on the field of battle. Al-Awlaki was living in a country that is not at war with us or any of our allies. Obviously, a US citizen who has taken up arms against US fighting men can be shot and killed on the battlefield unless he surrenders. That's not what is going on here.

    Do you think that Al-Awlaki was just sitting in his Yemen home sipping pina coladas? The guy was charged by a Yemenese judge with being a member of al Qaeda and plotting to kill foreigners. The Yemenese government had a kill or capture warrant on his head. That's what al Qaeda members do. When they're not busy plotting, training, and recruiting they're busy evading capture. In fighting terrorism, that's pretty much the definition of a battlefield.

  • SYSPROG on September 30, 2011 4:59 PM:

    You're right, Vince, I'm scum and inconsistent but I REALLY hate this guy. There has been plenty of evidence that he has conspired against the US but he had yet to be convicted. Also, he held dual citizenship. Yemeni AND US...I thought that was illegal these days. Ron Paul of course, jumped on this. I still don't care. If I had my druthers I would have hung him in the public square. I'm very emotional on this. He had ALL America had to offer and he did everything to destroy it (all the while holding on to his US citizenship for insurance). I'm getting old.

  • John B. on September 30, 2011 5:03 PM:

    Glenn Greenwald's take-down of SB today is tough but fair: "marvel at how the hardest-core White House loyalists [embedded link to SB] now celebrate this and uncritically accept the same justifying rationale used by Bush/Cheney (this is war! the President says he was a Terrorist!) without even a moment of acknowledgment of the profound inconsistency or the deeply troubling implications".

    At least half the questions SB now asks, above (after reading Greenwald himself), merely help to make Greenwald's point. I do not recall SB asking any of those questions when it came to the crimes against fellow citizens committed by Bush-Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al.

    Look, I realize SB and others begin a priori with a genetic desire to support Obama. (I share that instinct). But surely not "no matter what"?

    When reality slaps them in the face it seems to me they have a moral as well as a professional duty as a journalists to speak out and admit it when their favorite president has crossed the same constitutional line they saw so clearly when it was the bad guys doing it. (And here Obama went way beyond it.)

    Steve can always come back later when it's appropriate with whatever arguments he wants to marshal in favor of voting for Obama. The best of them may be, "Well, yes he's done a lot of grotesque unconstitutional things, but the opposition is so crazy it will do it more."

    At least that would be intellectually honest. As it is, SB is looking more and more like a paid political hack. I doubt he is that, but he isn't helping his credibility as a journalist one whit.

  • Bob M on September 30, 2011 5:13 PM:

    As a Canadian, I feel uncomfortable with the leadership here. Israel has committed extra-territorial assassinations, in Norway and Belgium at the least, and that is a bad precedent. I don't mind if countries do these things in failed states like Yemen, Sudan or Somalia, but it is a lot different in civilized societies. You have your argument against the federal government assassinating citizens on US soil. Same thing. I stop supporting these assassinations when the soil is just as good as US soil -- Canada, Europe, etc.

  • M. Alexander on September 30, 2011 5:27 PM:

    First, thank you for the conversation! I am conflicted about the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki. Forget for a moment the satisfaction of revenge or �Obama is a war criminal� meme. What is the right balance of the rule of law versus pragmatic Presidential ability to prosecute a war? Was Lincoln right to suspend Habeas Corpus and FDR wrong to detain Japanese citizens? Is this like Rashomon, Akira Kurosawa's story about points of view? Kurosawa is reported to have told his puzzled assistants, "If you read it diligently, you should be able to understand it, because it was written with the intention of being comprehensible." They said: "We believe we have read it carefully, and we still don't understand it at all." Kurosawa's explanation satisfies two of the assistants, but the third leaves looking puzzled. What he doesn't understand is that while there is an explanation of the film's four (different) eyewitness accounts of a murder, there is not a solution."

  • Cha on September 30, 2011 6:06 PM:

    @ John 4:38pm

    Can't you make your point without being stupid?

  • jJM on September 30, 2011 6:15 PM:

    Apart from his knowing two of the 9/11 hijackers, we should remind ourselves that this guy had extensive contacts with Major Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter, encouraging him to become radicalized before the killings, and praising him in writing as a hero afterwards.

    Hasan was sent to trial; I don't know the status of his prosecution (military, I believe) but part of the defense was going to be mental illness indicated by his susceptibility to Al-Awlakl.


  • MBunge on September 30, 2011 6:22 PM:

    "Glenn Greenwald's take-down of SB today"


    Greenwald on this issue is like an exhibit out of The Museum of Why People Don't Trust Liberals on National Security.

    Mike

  • TCinLA on September 30, 2011 6:28 PM:

    Glenn Greenwald can go to the chaplain and get his "Tough Shit" card punched.

    Did anyone complain when the German-Americans who returned to Das Vaterland to fight for Hitler got their shit blown away in WW2? One well-documented event of an American soldier shooting surrendered prisoners (supposedly at that point actual POWs) who were German-American "returnees to the fatherland" was shown in the D-Day episode of "Band of Brothers." I didn't see anyone complaining about such a thing then - did I miss something?

    I hope Awlaki is currently discovering that the 72 virgins are actually 72 banshees, and they are tearing his worthless soul to pieces.

    Tough shit, traitor boy.

  • Biffa Bacon on September 30, 2011 7:17 PM:

    Today, Julian Assange was killed by a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone over the UK for his anti-American activities. In similar news, Tod Palin, Rick Perry,and the Koch Brothers were eliminated after being declared terrorists by the president, based on secret evidence provided by a toy poodle and a blow up doll dressed like Margaret Thatcher. Civilian casualties were high, but bless those who give their lives in the war on terror. All good. Now sports.
    Bedtime for democracy.

  • Josef K on September 30, 2011 7:19 PM:

    From amused a 4:11 PM:

    Well, since I didn't join a terrorist org and didn't help plan terror acts, no, I'm not worried. The guy got what he deserved. And you guys wonder why Dems are painted as soft on terrorism.

    Your evidence that al-Awlaki "got what he deserved" is...what?

    And you guys wonder why you're painted as untrustworthy sociopaths.

  • exlibra on September 30, 2011 7:19 PM:

    [...] he held dual citizenship. Yemeni AND US...I thought that was illegal these days. --SYSPROG, @4:59 PM

    I don't think it's illegal, though it's frowned upon. But it does bring up an interesting question. When I was naturalised into US, I asked -- both of the US and of the Polish officialdom -- about keeping dual citizenship. And got similar answers from both. From US: "we don't like it, we'd prefer you renounced your Polish citizenship, but we won't insist, because of the oath". From the Polish embassy: "we really don't like it, because of the oath; we'd much prefer you keep only the Polish citizenship. But we won't insist, since we like for you to keep some connection to your birth country"

    At both places, "the oath" was mentioned. And, at the swearing in ceremony, I found out what it was. Essentially, one swears allegiance to US *and* forswears all others, to whom one might have prior allegiance (kind of like marriage). That is, should Poland and US ever enter into a conflict, I'd be expected to fight on the side of US; my allegiance to it will be assumed, as per the oath. And I am forbidden to join the army of any country other than US, and that includes Poland. That's why US doesn't give a hoot about my other citizenship. And that's why Poland didn't like it.

    OK. So we now come to Awlaki. His situation is different, in that he was born in the US and is therefore a citizen, automatically. But what did he have to do, to become a citizen of Yemen? Did he, too, have to take an oath (this time to Yemen), saying he forswore all others? Or was he considered a Yemeni citizen automatically, because of his parentage? My son, on reaching 18, would have been allowed Polish citizenship, because I never renounced mine. But, he would have had to apply for it and, who knows what kinds of oaths Poland would have requested of him?

  • Josef K on September 30, 2011 7:42 PM:

    From MBunge at 6:22 PM:

    "Glenn Greenwald's take-down of SB today"

    Greenwald on this issue is like an exhibit out of The Museum of Why People Don't Trust Liberals on National Security.

    You mean "Why You Don'T Trust Liberals on National Security."

    After all, who likes having the fact they're turning into homicidal sociopaths pointed out to them? Just don't go crying for mercy when you yourself are up against the wall for imagined crimes.

  • Tom on September 30, 2011 7:55 PM:

    There may very well be an issue for Civil Libertarians to debate. But Al Qaeda is very real, their destructive power is real, and they have attacked us in every way they could already and will continue to plot and plan further attacks.

    The first rule of life is take your own side in a fight. We were attacked because our presence in the sacred Arabian home Caliphate was abhorrent to Osama bin Laden.

    How a sworn enemy of this country, living in the backward state of Yemen is somehow entitled to the full protection of our Constitution as he works to dismantle it and kill Americans, is beyond me.

    And the slippery slope argument is silly. President Obama did not go after this man lightly.

  • Josef K on September 30, 2011 8:01 PM:

    From TCinLA at 6:28 PM:

    Glenn Greenwald can go to the chaplain and get his "Tough Shit" card punched.

    Did anyone complain when the German-Americans who returned to Das Vaterland to fight for Hitler got their shit blown away in WW2? One well-documented event of an American soldier shooting surrendered prisoners (supposedly at that point actual POWs) who were German-American "returnees to the fatherland" was shown in the D-Day episode of "Band of Brothers." I didn't see anyone complaining about such a thing then - did I miss something?

    Perhaps that's because these are completely different situations?

    Germany was a poliical state that had declared war on the US, and had been actively attacking our ships and troops with a professional army and navy since at least 1942.

    In contrast, Al Qaeda is a diffuse, decentralized network of fellow travellers with neither a central leadership or established powerbase. They are little more than a criminal enterprise that dresses its actions up in religious grievances; the same could be said of groups like Operation Rescue in the US and The Temple Movement in Israel.

    If these facts do not give you pause, I cannot imagine what will (save your family being 'disappeared' one night).

  • Sparko on September 30, 2011 8:03 PM:

    Those of you who are outraged need to understand that there are "deadly force authorized" signs all over the United States where public safety necessitates immediate intervention. Here is a case where citizenship was renounced, Americans were endangered, and arrest impossible. You take that shot at an enemy in wartime. Outrage is healthy--it reveals a protected populace. Very few times is anything as clear cut as this. Greenwald needs to spend some of his outrage signing up voters.

  • Sparko on September 30, 2011 8:09 PM:

    And Josef K--that is just plain silly. Al Qaeda has killed more non-combatant American citizens than any other enemy. Diffuse? A good God Damned thing. Where they can cluster without fear, they would crap down your severed neck.

  • joel hanes on September 30, 2011 8:31 PM:


    Let's say I somehow became President.

    In my opinion, Rupert Murdoch has done more damage to the United States than al-Awlaki. Further, Murdoch is not an American citizen.

    I assume that those who think the President has acted acceptably in the case of al-Awlaki will support me when I authorize a Predator strike on Murdoch's compound.

  • Josef K on September 30, 2011 8:32 PM:

    From Sparko at 8:03 PM:

    Those of you who are outraged need to understand that there are "deadly force authorized" signs all over the United States where public safety necessitates immediate intervention. Here is a case where citizenship was renounced, Americans were endangered, and arrest impossible. You take that shot at an enemy in wartime.

    Several questions require immediate answer:

    1. when did al-Awlaki renounce his citizenship?

    2. how were Americans in immediate danger by this man?

    3. how was arrest/extraction impossible, given the Yemani government wanted him gone as well?

    4. who is the United States "at war with" in this case? How do you identify the enemy, given they don't wear uniforms, salute a single flag, and there is no central register of members anywhere?

    Outrage is healthy--it reveals a protected populace

    You mean an engaged populace. Americans are and have been many things; "protected" isn't one of them.

    Very few times is anything as clear cut as this. Greenwald needs to spend some of his outrage signing up voters.

    Greenwald is doing what he does best: make us think about the implications to stunts like this. Besides, he lives in Brazil.

    And Josef K--that is just plain silly. Al Qaeda has killed more non-combatant American citizens than any other enemy. Diffuse? A good God Damned thing. Where they can cluster without fear, they would crap down your severed neck.

    Thank you for making my point again, cutting your own argument down in the process. Get back to me when you actually identify who/what constitutes "Al Qaeda" and how you plan to identify them.

  • Josef K on September 30, 2011 9:20 PM:

    From Tom at 7:55 PM:

    There may very well be an issue for Civil Libertarians to debate. But Al Qaeda is very real, their destructive power is real, and they have attacked us in every way they could already and will continue to plot and plan further attacks.

    Do you seriously think the Al Qaeda network is capable of destroying the United States? Seriously?

    The first rule of life is take your own side in a fight. We were attacked because our presence in the sacred Arabian home Caliphate was abhorrent to Osama bin Laden.

    Your point?

    How a sworn enemy of this country, living in the backward state of Yemen is somehow entitled to the full protection of our Constitution as he works to dismantle it and kill Americans, is beyond me.

    Perhaps because he was an American citizen, the same as Rick Perry, Bill O'Reilly, (presumably) you, and myself? And, like it or not, no legal pleading against the late al-Awlaki has been made public?

    And, again, do you seriously think Al Qaeda can do truly country-destroying damage to the United States?

    And the slippery slope argument is silly. President Obama did not go after this man lightly.

    No doubt he weighed the decision. Whether he weighed the consequences equally carefully remains to be seen.

  • Bloix on September 30, 2011 9:21 PM:

    So here's what the supporters of the killing of Al-Alwaki have come up with:

    "he exchanged emails with Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan encouraging him to turn toward radical Islam"
    No crime there, certainly not a capital one. It's perfectly legal to proselytize for a radical religious faith. The Supreme Court has held that preaching race hatred and advocacy of the overthrow of the US government is protected speech. There apparently is no allegation that he told Hasan to kill anyone or helped him to do it, or even knew he intended to do it.

    "and after the shooting spree that killed 13 American troops, Awlaki wrote articles praising his prot�g� Hasan and his evil deeds, calling him a �hero�."
    And this means his a criminal?

    "Al-Awlaki moved from the United States to Yemen in 2009 and was publishing, along with the help of another Islamic radical from North Carolina by the name of Samir Khan, an al-Qaeda magazine in English, aimed at radicalizing young people and giving tips to jihadists on how to build bombs in their kitchens to kill westerners."

    He published a magazine, and therefore he deserved to be killed.

    You know, it's extraordinary how many people believe that the First Amendment means that the President can blow people up for exercising their right to free speech.

  • Doug on September 30, 2011 9:41 PM:

    Yes, had it been feasible, and safe, his capture and trial would have been preferable, but I don't know that was possible and neither does Glenn Greenwald. Knowingly committing criminal activities, evident from tapes Awlaki made, while not a confession, certainly removes doubt about his culpability in aiding and abetting in criminal activities; ie, attacks on US persons, military and civilian.
    Absent any further information, I side with the present administration. An avowed criminal was killed and until we discover that said criminal was killed while attempting to surrender, I place his death in the same category as that of John Dillinger's - something that occurred while protecting the public safety from a known criminal.
    The idea that we are at "war" with Al Qaeda is both ridiculous and dangerous. Ridiculous because "war" can only be waged between nation-states and Al Qaeda doesn't qualify. Dangerous because unscrupulous people will try to twist the "war" effort to benefit themselves. The PATRIOT Act and the rampant fear exacerbated by Republicans for partisan purposes is an excellent example of the latter.
    If possible there probably should be an investigation into exactly what happened leading up to Awlaki's death, just as there are investigations into police activities that result in the death of a suspect.
    How much of such a report could be declassified is another matter entirely...

  • Sparko on September 30, 2011 9:41 PM:

    Bloix: he didn't just inspire the man--was in direct contact with the killer in Waco. He sent the underwear bomber on his mission. And there are thousands of pieces of classified intercepts that the President was privy to that you are not. There is a time when you have to trust the folks who are appointed or elected to oversee our safety. There have been scores of attacks on Americans my entire life.

    Protect and defend. Not vacillate and despair.

    But the outraged can file a wrongful death lawsuit if they are so certain that intell sources were wrong. It must be noted that potentially dangerous and armed suspects are killed every day by law enforcement. Every day.

    The bottom line: he could have come home and faced his accusers any time. He could have surrendered to the U.S. at any time. Instead, he continued to plot terror attacks, spew hatred and religious bigotry from the protective cocoon of his terror hideout in Yemen. This attack was not even close to being controversial. This is what happens in a war. This war doesn't have national boundaries--but is a war we finally look to be winning. Not eliminating a known threat worked out well for W, huh?

  • golack on September 30, 2011 9:46 PM:

    I'm moving and finally got around to my DVD collection (yes, I still have one of those)...

    Seems I have the Bourne series...

    What a different time.

  • Sparko on September 30, 2011 9:55 PM:

    Doug: I get what you are saying about war, but it becomes semantical sophistry to try to define away these terror attacks as something "not war." Giving them cover as simply "bad actors" was not effective, and was one of Bush's greatest failures as president.

  • Crissa on September 30, 2011 11:52 PM:

    Is it any different than using police sharpshooters or the old 'dead or alive' posters? Neither of these require a court declaration.

    I dislike the use of drones in this way - how can we be sure we're targeting the right people, if we have no one on the ground?

    I don't see this as a constitutional issue. The guy was among active armed rebels, vocally supporting terrorists personally. That US agents can shoot at such a target doesn't seem to be up for debate.

    No one debates the right of police to shoot innocent people by mistake - my father was killed, shot three times in the back by a police officer he never saw.

    If we want to debate this, we need to first accept we already do this all the time.

  • Josef K on October 01, 2011 12:03 AM:

    From Crissa at 11:52 PM:

    Is it any different than using police sharpshooters or the old 'dead or alive' posters? Neither of these require a court declaration.

    Fundamentally no, its no different, although I would argue use of police sharpshooters and wanted posters does usually involve sanction from the justice system.

    I dislike the use of drones in this way - how can we be sure we're targeting the right people, if we have no one on the ground?

    We can't, which is a rather large (but not THE largest) concern in this.

    I don't see this as a constitutional issue. The guy was among active armed rebels, vocally supporting terrorists personally. That US agents can shoot at such a target doesn't seem to be up for debate.

    'Active armed rebels' against whom and for what cause? 'Vocally supporting terrorists' how and when and in what context?

    And yes, its very much open to debate as to if and when US agents (for which agency operating under what section of US Code) can legitimately shoot at such a target.

    No one debates the right of police to shoot innocent people by mistake - my father was killed, shot three times in the back by a police officer he never saw.

    Whether or not the police are 'right' (or at least justified) in their use of lethal force in a given situation is a subject of neverending debate. That they employ it is the only constant, but that doesn't automatically sanction it.

    If we want to debate this, we need to first accept we already do this all the time.

    It has been acknowledged and accepted, as has the reality that our government has engaged in maneuvers such as this since the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Accepting that it happens doesn't automatically lead to accepting it should happen.

    That is what the current debate is about.

  • Josef K on October 01, 2011 12:21 AM:

    From Sparko at 9:55 PM:

    Doug: I get what you are saying about war, but it becomes semantical sophistry to try to define away these terror attacks as something "not war." Giving them cover as simply "bad actors" was not effective, and was one of Bush's greatest failures as president.

    Then lets try this one:

    "Terror attacks" is a tactic conducted by non-state actors. "War" is a legal state of affairs conducted by state actors.

    Al Qaeda is not a country or government, nor pretends to be one. It can only attack those it dislikes, and the US is high on that list (with the unlamented Hussein regime in Baghdad and the House of Saud also high on that list). These attacks fall far, far, far short of the kind of destructive power Hitler or Stalin could have mustered at their apogee.

    You're correct President Bush failed miserably against it, both practically and politically, but not because he mis-identified the sort of individuals involved. I fear President Obama is heading in the same direction, especially with this latest strike.

    How long before such a strike is aimed at American citizens here in the States? I can think of half a dozen such targets off the top of my head, all of them as 'legitimate' as al-Awlaki was (using the Administration's own formulations). Admittedly, many are professed Christians, but that's not an excuse is it?

  • Neo on October 01, 2011 12:46 AM:

    It's really amazing that nobody got it.
    This is what you get when you decide that the most important priority is the closing of the prison at Gitmo. It follows that you really don't want any "high value" prisoners entering the facility (and Congress has already forbid them being transferred to the US), so the only reasonable alternative is to gun them out, without mercy.
    Shoot, Eric Holder was out in just the last couple of weeks reemphasizing that Gitmo will close. It's almost as though they were saying "merciless deaths ahead."

  • HMDK on October 01, 2011 1:01 AM:

    Yeah, Neo.
    There's only to options:
    Either kill someone or throw 'em in Gitmo.
    There is no other possibility at all.
    What's that? Actual trials within the rule of law?
    PSSSHAAWWW... that's being "weak on terror"!.
    It seems that to a lot of people the ends always justify the means, and that actual principles are a weakness.
    I don't get it. I especially don't get it when it comes from people who castigated Bush for the same thing. As well they should. But now they want a double standard because the guy in the seat of power is on their team. And I'm especially blown away by the morons who basically say that stuff like the right to privacy and due process isn't important because they themselves haven't got anything to hide/haven't done anything wrong. As if it matters. When the rule of law breaks down that bad, it won't MATTER wether you did anything wrong. It'll only matter what the people out for you says.

  • Crissa on October 01, 2011 2:15 AM:

    Active armed rebels - against the Yemeni government. Rebels who say they are financed and allied with Al Qaeda, who said they perpetrated the events on 2001/9/11. I've never seen evidence that they did these things - but then again, they've never denied it, either.

    I don't care about Awlaki. He was killed with far more foreknowledge than my father. My father never had a warrant out. He never had a court (supposedly a Yemeni court ordered a warrant on him, as well) day nor did he hear the officer yell 'stop' but he died all the same.

    Why are we having this discussion when we don't enforce against our own police? This isn't extraordinary. Obama isn't doing something new or special.

  • HMDK on October 01, 2011 3:05 AM:

    Yes, Crissa.
    Stooping to the level of those we fight is a GREAT way to go. Actually BECOMING what the enemy propaganda already SAYS you are, is a great way of proving them wrong... eh.. oh, wait. Actually having a backbone means fighting for your ideals, not dismissing them as "weaknesses" because you'd rather return slaughter with genocide. What use is it, really, to defend democracy and the rule of law when some are so eager to throw it away, anyway. No one is asking anyone to feel any particular sympathy for people who are most likely scum.
    We are asking you, for your own sake, not to throw away the very things that make you different from them. But, sure, go ahead, Gaze into that abyss all you want.

  • Robert Waldmann on October 01, 2011 4:03 AM:

    I really have to click over to Greenwald, but I can't imagine his argument. The Constitution does give US citizens some special rights, but the right not to be killed without a trial isn't one of them. The fifth amendment makes no distinction between citizens and non citizens. Either it bans war entirely (which is arguable) or it allows making war on US citizens who make war on the USA or join the enemy.

    I am used to Republicans claiming that due process rights are the rights of US citizens. But Greenwald cares about what is actually written in the constitution which makes them rights of all people.

    If Greenwald is outraged by Obama, what must he think of Lincoln who had lots and lots of US citizens killed
    without trial.

    The problem with the AUMF is that it is too vague and broad and doesn't limit time and place as declarations of war must. I think the reason Obama's order to try to kill Awlaki is unacceptable is that it includes a phrase along the lines of "far from the theater of combat."

    The constitution was sacrificed for diplomacy. In fact, Yemen is a theater of USA vs Al Qaeda conflict. But saying so would embarrass the Yemeni dictator (who was comfortably in power and an ally way back when Obama signed the order). We have to fight our enemies, but we don't have to pretend that the government of Yemen controlled Yemen. To avoid an open rejection of the idea of Yemeni sovereignty, Obama rejected the sovereignty of all countries but the USA and any spatial limit at all on his authority to have people killed.

    The late Awlaki's US citizenship is irrelevant. Non citizens can't be killed without due process, except in war (if, indeed, the 5th amendment didn't repeal all the stuff about the Senate declaring war etc).

  • cat48 on October 01, 2011 7:42 AM:

    If I had any misgivings, the fact that he was rolling with AQAP's Chief Bombmaker,Ibrahim al Asiri, who was also killed; gave me new clarity. The Xmas panty bomber admitted he met with these two to get his prepared panty bomb. And the AP breaks this:

    Asiri allegedly built the bomb that his brother Abdullah used in a failed attempt to assassinate Saudi Arabia's counterterrorism chief, Prince Muhammad bin Nayif, in August last year. A few months later, he reportedly created the bomb used by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to try and blow up a Northwest Airlines flight last Christmas as it was descending over southern Ontario to Detroit. He was also behind the parcel bombs that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula dispatched to Chicago on the eve of last month's election in an effort to blow up UPS and Fed Ex planes. (Thanks to a tip from Saudi intelligence the bombs were intercepted in Dubai and England, and Yemen has since shot back at international criticism that it wasn't doing enough to apprehend al Qaeda suspects within its borders.)

  • Procopius on October 01, 2011 9:18 AM:

    I get so discouraged about this. The "American citizen" thing is a red herring, it's irrelevant. The Fifth Amendment reads, "No person..." It doesn't say "No citizen..." Yeah, yeah, I know the courts have ruled that citizens are somehow different, but the Constitution says what it says. The real question here is, "Is this a country of laws or not?" And the answer is clearly, "not." We have always had problems. Wealthy people, influential people, people with connections, have always been granted advantages, but at least we used to pretend everybody was equally subject to the laws. Since 2001 we no longer even make a pretence. The laws only apply to people who are not rich, not influential, not well connected, and not government officials. Or bankers, come to think of it. Bush/Cheney/Addington were just awesome in their towering contempt for the law, and Obama has continued and extended all of their policies except publicly acknowledging torture as official policy. For all we know it still IS policy, but if so the secret is better kept.

    I know it won't be, but this should be grounds for impeachment.

  • Procopius on October 01, 2011 9:36 AM:

    wihntr said: "If what our government just did to one of us (he was a citizen, unpleasant as that fact may be) is lawful, what is to stop me from being killed by a remote-controlled drone if I am a drug kingpin, importing huge amounts of heroin into the US?" The real question is not if you ARE a drug kingpin, the question is, "What if some unknown clerk in a government office designates me as a drug kingpin." Anonymous "government officials" have claimed that the process of designating somebody for assassination is a very careful process, but there are supposedly 500,000 names on the no-fly list. Nobody will explain how they get put there or how wrong names can be taken off. Obama and his minions may be careful, but why should I believe the next Republican President will be as careful?

  • kabossh on October 01, 2011 6:36 PM:

    Your questions, answered:

    * Do Americans who leave the country to join terrorist networks forfeit the rights given to other Americans? Does it matter if those terrorist networks are targeting the United States? --A: These are good questions to ask, *after* proving that said Americans have actually joined said networks.

    * If the Justice Department had prepared a criminal indictment against Awlaki, would the preferred route have been to pursue extradition or to try to seize him in Yemen through law enforcement? --A: That would be a good question to ask, *before* illegally murdering a U.S. citizen.

    * If Americans leave the country to fight for a foreign army, do they also give up their rights to due process? Should al Qaeda be considered a foreign army or a stateless terrorist network? Does it matter in this context? --A: The Supreme Court and other case law unequivocally states "no." You can only strip an American citizen of rights *through* due process, and the burden of proof remains on the government. The government doesn't (legally) get to kill someone because it thinks, maybe, he might be guilty of something that might maybe be bad, and certainly not without proving so in a legally constituted trial of such a claim.

    * Media reports indicate that Awlaki was an �operational� leader of al Qaeda � instead of just being a propagandist � and has �links� to several violent plots. Are these accounts true? Would it matter if they are? (Is there a difference between killing an �operational� terrorist vs. a propagandistic one?) --A: Media reports do not constitute proof in the American judicial system. Proof in the legal sense is arrived at via a trial. Answer 2: Yes, it matters-- case law, including Supreme Court precedent, clearly establishes that "propaganda" is legal, protected, political speech, and cannot be punished by government *at all*, much less by death.

    * Did the 2001 AUMF declare war against al Qaeda? And if so, is there any limit to the scope of the �battlefield�? Does it matter that al Qaeda has declared war against the United States? --A: If there is no such limit, be very, very afraid.

    * If the United States is at war with al Qaeda, is there an expectation that we would execute that war differently when dealing with American members of al Qaeda? --A: A good question to ask, *after* proving that said American is actually a member of al Qaeda, *and* that said American is not merely engaged in legal, protected, political speech.

    * If the United States is at war with al Qaeda, is al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula the same thing? --A: No, it didn't exist at the time of the AUMF, and shares little more than a name.

  • pbcrabshaw on October 02, 2011 10:29 AM:

    My first question is are we at war with al Qaeda? I don't know, but if so, killing Awlaki is not the murder of a U.S. citizen, but is the killing of an enemy who regardless of citizenship has threatened the U.S. If we are at war with al Qaeda is the entire world the battlefield? I don't know, but fighting terrorists is different from fighting as we knew it in previous wars. Terrorists do not have a country, there are no borders delineated, so perhaps the entire world is the battlefield. Last question; does it serve U.S interest to kill opponents in this manner. Given that al Qaeda has repeatedly attacked us and has stated that they will do so again, possibly with something as deadly as a dirty bomb, then yes the best interest of the U. S. is served by killing people like Awlaki. In my opinion, when I add it all up I have no problem with what the President has ordered. For you hypocrites on the right, another opinion that I have is that you would be all for it as well if Bush or Perry were in charge.

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