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Obama Logic: Civil Trials For Foreign Terrorist Leaders, Assassination For American Citizens

Today’s New York Times bring news that President Obama has given the go-ahead to mark an American citizen turned terrorist for death by CIA hit squad:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.

Mr. Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and spent years in the United States as an imam, is in hiding in Yemen. He has been the focus of intense scrutiny since he was linked to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., in November, and then to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25.

American counterterrorism officials say Mr. Awlaki is an operative of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the affiliate of the terror network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They say they believe that he has become a recruiter for the terrorist network, feeding prospects into plots aimed at the United States and at Americans abroad, the officials said.

It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing, officials said. A former senior legal official in the administration of George W. Bush said he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president.

This is where the logic behind Obama’s anti-terrorism strategy becomes completely inexplicable. We are going to try the architect of the 9/11 attacks in a civilian court instead of a military tribunal so that we can show the world that we stand up for law and order. However, we are also going to assassinate, without trial or legal representation, an American citizen.

Can someone please explain that to me, because I don’t get it.

Meanwhile, while most of the righty blogosphere appears to be cheering Obama on this decision, one lone voice at The Corner sees the danger implicit in this order:

I hate to play the squish, but am I the only one who is just a little bit queasy over the fact that the president of the United States is authorizing the assassination of American citizens? Andy writes that this is “obviously the right call.” I might be persuaded that this is, in fact, the right call. But obviously? No hesitation there? It seems to me that the fact of U.S. citizenship ought to be a bright line on the political map.

Surely there has to be some operational constraint on the executive when it comes to the killing of U.S. citizens. It is not impossible to imagine a president who, for instance, sincerely believes that Andy McCarthy is undermining the Justice Department’s ability to prosecute the war on terror on the legal front. A government that can kill its citizens can shut them up, no? I ask this not as a legal question, but as a moral and political question: How is it that a government that can assassinate Citizen Awlaki is unable to censor Citizen McCarthy, or drop him in an oubliette? Practically every journalist of any consequence in Washington has illegally handled a piece of classified information. Can the president have them assassinated in the name of national security? Under the Awlaki standard, why not?

Odious as Awlaki is, this seems to me to be setting an awful and reckless precedent.

Gee do ya think ?

Something about this just isn’t right.

H/T: The Crossed Pond

4 Responses to “Obama Logic: Civil Trials For Foreign Terrorist Leaders, Assassination For American Citizens”

  1. ZZMike says:

    “… American citizen …” Maybe that’s the reason it’s OK.

    My thought is that he’s a traitor. Not just a traitor under the Constitution (anybody remember that one?), but actively engaging in war against his home country.

    He should be in the top 10 of the “terminate with extreme prejudice” list. Even more so BECAUSE he’s a citizen. We executed the Rosenbergs for less than that.

    Civil trials for captured combatants are another really bad idea.

    On the other hand, Obama promised the world that we wouldn’t retaliate with nukes. Thanks, C-in-C, for letting our enemies know our plans.

    “…an awful and reckless precedent.”

    Rather, an awful and reckless President.

  2. He has not been convicted of treason

  3. James Young says:

    My thoughts exactly. Using the word “logic” when discussing any policy of this Administration is, however, uncalled for, Doug.

  4. tfr says:

    Oh my gawd. This is just scary. And the fact that anyone would back him up in this decision is scarier. If there was ever a time to invoke the “march towards Nazi Germany” argument, this is it.

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