The Cleric in question is Anwar al-Awlaki and he is in Yemen. He is also a US Citizen.
Let us be clear about this. The decision is attributed to the Central Intelligence Agency, but it had the approval of the National Security Council.♠ The lede:
The Obama administration’s decision to authorize the killing by the Central Intelligence Agency of a terrorism suspect who is an American citizen has set off a debate over the legal and political limits of drone missile strikes, a mainstay of the campaign against terrorism.So, you step beyond the reach of US law enforcement and you become a target for assassination?
Let's look at a hypothetical. Let us take the case of Dr Hatfield, who the FBI (yes, those guys who protected Whitey Bulger for so long and maybe longer) was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt had not only planned but had actually launched a terror attack against Americans (anthrax,) but, they did not think they could nail him within our judicial system. Should they have waited until Dr Hatfield went on vacation to Jamaica and had the CIA get rid of him?
I know that the protections of the US Constitution do not hold for non-US Citizens beyond the three-mile limit,♥ but shouldn't it hold for US citizens overseas? Sure, it is war and if he were on a battlefield it would be reasonable to go after him, but he is in Yemen, spreading propaganda (albeit powerful propaganda).
We are trying folks who are our enemies in civilian courts, rather than by military tribunals, but yet those not within the area of the battle—Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Pakistan. Perhaps we are going to make Yemen part of the battle zone. If so, please tell us.
Some days you just wish George W Bush was still the President. Then we might find the proper amount of outrage along the coasts of this great nation over this kind of abuse of the Constitution. My wife is outraged over this. I am outraged over this.
Regards — Cliff
♠ The Chairman of the National Security Council (NSC) is the President of the United States.
♥ But, I disagree with that view, what with my Neo-Con view that the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution are universal in their language and their affirmations of who we are as human beings.