The news broke just a few days ago that using drones the American military has killed Anwar Al-Awlaki, a propagandist and recruiter for the Al Qeada terrorist network. Normally the death of a terrorist is not front page news but this terrorist was an American citizen, which is a problem. Vincent Warren, Executive Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, hits the nail on the head when he spoke to CNN Student News this weekend. He spoke about how the American government with an order from the President killed an American citizen without due process, a clear violation of the 5TH Amendment. That is a scary fact to think about.
Now this man is a terrorist, an enemy of the state and a vital member of an organization currently engaging the U.S. in active global warfare. From the time he decided to aid the enemies of the United States, giving them aid or comfort, and making war against his native land, Anwar Al-Awlaki made himself a traitor , in accordance with Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution. But even as a traitor and an enemy, during war, he is still granted the rights of an American citizen. The only exception to this would be if he actively renounced or became a naturalized as a citizen of another nation. Any evidence must be made public to support this fact. If this is not the case, the President has just murdered an American citizen, depriving them of their right to due process before being denied their life, liberty or property, as defined by the 5TH Amendment.
What makes this assassination any different that of Osama bin Laden just a few months ago? The key difference is that bin Laden is not an American citizen. While at war with a foreign entity the capture or assassination of leaders is self-defense or justified according to the rules of war. In Anwar Al-Awlaki’s case though, the person is an American citizen who protected by the U.S. and state Constitutions. While he has violated both the laws of nations, passed by the U.S. Congress and is a traitor as defined by Article III, Section 3, he is still guaranteed the rights of American citizen.
What are the implications to this event ? Any Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, moderate or others who would defend the power of the President to kill an American citizens, even if he is a traitor and enemy of the state, without due process is not a friend of the U.S. Constitution or the rule of law. To this end, Representative Ron Paul, has said that this act could be grounds for impeachment of President Obama. Article II, Section 4 outlines the acts a member of our government must commit for impeachment proceedings. It states: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Is there anyone who can prove that the actions of the President do not fall under this definition for an impeachable offense? If so, please share it with the world at large.
If Obama is not impeached by this action, another implication could be a federal court case brought by either Anwar Al-Awlaki’s surviving family or another petition against the President. The purpose being to get the courts to declare such actions as a clear violation of the dead citizen’s constitutional rights. While this may not bring him back it will give to the government an understanding that a President, or any part of the government, cannot order the death of an American citizen in clear violation of his rights.
The last major implication of this event is the scariest of all. If this action of the President can stand then every single American citizen is in danger of a President or Congress gone mad. What is to stop the Congress or the President to treat other groups of citizens as enemies of the state and order their summary execution like Anwar Al-Awlaki. Does this not scare anyone else?
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Class dismissed!