Friday, September 30, 2011

The assassination of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki

However bad a guy Anwar al-Awlaki may have been, he was an American citizen who had never been charged with a crime, much less convicted in a legal process. And he was just reportedly assassinated by the US military, possibly along with another American citizen. This is a big problem, even if everything the US government that killed Awlaki is saying about him really is true. There have been claims before than Awlaki had been killed, but this one apparently has more confirmation than the typical Awlaki-is-dead-again reports.

Here is President Obama's triumphalist announcement of having successfully assassinated an American citizen:

Again, the claims Obama is making of Awlaki's misdeeds have never produced an indictment, much less a conviction. "Only" an assassination.

This is a 09/30/2011 report from Aljazeera English:

The headline on Glenn Greenwald's commentary isn't an exaggeration: The due-process-free assassination of U.S. citizens is now reality Salon 09/30/2011. This is a seriously bad precedent, a direct violation of US law. Greenwald writes:

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. When Awlaki's father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were "state secrets" and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts. He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner. When Awlaki's inclusion on President Obama's hit list was confirmed, The New York Times noted that "it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing."
This is seriously bad stuff. There were good reasons the US got its agencies completely out of the assassination business in the 1970s. But this is the first time a US Administration has proclaimed its authority to put out a hit on US citizens solely on the authority of the Executive Branch. This is one way in which the Obama Administration has extended its claims of illegitimate Executive power beyond anything Cheney and Bush had declared.

Greenwald notes grimly, "The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced."

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