Recently the United States was able to kill a high priority target in the war on terror. This was accomplished with an unmanned drone aircraft.
The name of the terrorist was Anwar al-Awlaqi . This man was an influential cleric, who was instrumental in recruiting others into attacking the U.S..
Of course the first thing we think is that the U.S. is safer with this man out of the game.
Only one problem. He was a U.S. citizen. There is no doubt that we are safer in the sense that there is one less terrorist in the world. One that was actively recruiting others. But have we put our Liberty at risk.
I have heard that this man did not deserve due process under the Constitution because he was a terrorist. But this did not change his status as a citizen.
I am concerned that people who normally argue to uphold the Constitution are now arguing that this man did not warrant a trial.
Clearly he could have been charged with treason as stated in the Constitution. I am not sure what those who say it was okay for the President and the CIA to label this man an enemy and then have him summarily killed. In my view this sets a very dangerous precedent. If we believe that this kill was justified and legal, then what is to stop any president from labeling any citizen, an enemy of the state?
I do not like the idea of arguing to protect a terrorist. But I am bound by my love of the Constitution to protect it. This act is an affront to the Founders. Conservatives should be appalled.
Now let us ask this question. If Anwar al-Awlaqi was a terrorist and a citizen, and the fact that his being a terrorist somehow supersedes his citizenship. And so he was no longer deserving of a trial before being sentenced to death. And he was not afforded the protection of the court system and the appeals process.
Why then was Timothy McVeigh? McVeigh’s act of terrorism killed 168 people and wounded 800 others. Both those who sympathized and condemned McVeigh’s act, considered it an act of war. McVeigh was hoping to inspire a revolt against what he saw as a tyrannical federal government. Even so, he was arrested, he was given a trial with legal council, he made use of the appeals process until he chose to stop his own appeals. And then he was executed. McVeigh’s accomplice Terry Nichols also received a trial and was sentenced to life without parole, which he is still serving. Michael Fortier another conspirator who turned states evidence was released in 2006 after serving just ten years.
So I ask those who believe we did the right thing by killing Anwar al-Awlaqi without a trial, even though he was a citizen. Should we have shot McVeigh on sight? Or should he have been found hanging from the bars in his jail cell? Couldn’t we have saved the nation the time and money if we had simply blown up McVeigh’s home with a guided missile?
After all McVeigh and his conspirators were terrorist in any definition of the word. Should that fact have negated their citizenship? And if not, why?
This is not about whether Anwar al-Awlaqi was or was not a terrorist, he was. It’s not about whether he deserved to die for his crimes against this nation. In my view he did. This is about the honor and integrity of our system of government. If McVeigh as a citizen terrorist was entitled to due process, then I need someone to explain to me how this is different. One has to ask the question, was McVeigh afforded due process because he was a white Christian, and Anwar al-Awlaqi deserved to die because he was a Muslim?
If this has become the criteria, then Liberty has died with Anwar al-Awlaqi . If so, then we as a nation have allowed our emotions to outweigh our understanding of Liberty.
As I listen to my fellow citizens and my fellow conservatives expressing their joy at the killing of Anwar al-Awlaqi , I am reminded of the statement by the fictional character Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) in “Star Wars III: The Revenge of the Sith” as she watched Emperor Palpatine tell a cheering Senate that he had taken all power away from them to form a Galactic Empire.