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Monday, October 10, 2011

Killing Anwar al-Awlaki

The modern American version of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the murderer Anwar al-Awlaki died in a drone attack in Yemen.  This attack on a nominally American Citizen has aroused some discussion, as related here.  The input is from the Instapundit, who notes this comment from Bush Administration lawyer John Yoo, who had gathered a lot of opprobrium for his approach to national security legal issues:
We should be thankful that Obama officials have quietly put aside the arguments they made during the Bush years that any terrorist outside the Afghani battlefield was a criminal suspect who deserved his day in federal court. By my lights, I would rather the Obama folks be hypocrites in favor of protecting the national security than principled fools (which they are free to be in the faculty lounges both before and after their time in government).
Actually, few things are totally black or white in the area of terrorism as a method of war.  But, I can appreciate, and sympathize with, Mr Yoo's view.

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff


Craig H said...

"Nominally American" recalls Orwell's "some animals are more equal than others", and seems more than somewhat offensive to our ideals. As for your preference for Realpolitik when it comes to criminals bent on doing us harm, I should hope you and yours never find yourselves on the wrong end of a politically-motivated assassination.

I hardly consider it being a "principled fool" to insist on due process for citizens. Our country was founded on such and more, and I choose not to believe the soldiers fighting and dying then and since deserve the brickbat you'd throw at them for their and our ideals. Battlefields are important distinctions by which we separate murder from legal taking of life. To make the entire world a legal killing ground is to create a very, very frightening place. Or, put another way, just because they are sociopaths is no reason for us to copy their behavior.

C R Krieger said...

I am not that far from Kad Barma on the need to respect human rights and the need to follow the Bill of Rights, although I think a previous SCOTUS said the Bill of Rights stops at the Six Mile Limit.

Anwar al-Alwaki had alienated himself from us by going to fight for an enemy of the United States, thus becoming a soldier for that side.  Would it be right to make a distinction between him an Osama bin Laden?  I think that is worth debating.

The other question has to do with whether it would have been reasonable to attempt to arrest Anwar al-Alwaki.  Aside from the issue of asking a sovereign nation to allow us to put people on the ground to do the job, there is the question of how many people it would take to do the job.  Should it just be FBI or ATF that does the job, or should it be the Armed Services, who would then turn the miscreant over to a Federal law enforcement agency?  Would the FBI or ATF get support from DoD?

If Anwar al-Awlaki had set foot on US soil the rule should have been to arrest him.  Then the question is, do we try him or just put him in a POW Camp until the end of hostilities.

Regards  —  Cliff

Craig H said...

I'm sobered by the existence of Dubya's "Patriot Act" whereby normally "foreign" practices of communication interception, asset takings, etc. are allowed to seep onto US soil. I see the slippery slope, and I'm appalled that assassination is now at the bottom of it for all of us, unless we choose to act now to stop it, or, at the very absolute least, more clearly define and describe it, and when it should be allowed. Right now, the POTUS gets to take out whomever he chooses, and that HAS to be wrong, ESPECIALLY when it's an American citizen involved. That six-mile canard is a weak dodge for the larger responsibility our government must bear to protect ALL citizens, and not just the ones its chief executive happens to like more than others. Enough of us travel on our passports to be vulnerable, and not enough noise is being made about this.

As for your questions of sovereignty and arrest, it's a difficult thing to realize and accept that those who mean to do us harm can hide behind national boundaries. Can you imagine our outrage if foreign drones took out anyone on our soil regardless of citizenship? Do we anyhow think that the rules don't apply to us just because it's inconvenient?

We are either for a better way, or we are no better than the sociopaths we fear. What do we gain to kill them all, and become them ourselves in the process?

Franklin's words are the right ones: those would would trade liberty for security deserve neither and will lose both.

Anonymous said...

While the finger points almost continuously at Bush for the current state of affairs via The Patriot Act, it is worth mentioning that Obama issued a "secret memo" "authorizing" the current assassination. Thus, I would suggest, there is something much more pernicious in government than simple party proclivities.

We have a Federal government that has essentially become unbalanced in more ways than one. To be certain, it no longer is a servant of "We the People," becoming so only by sheer coincidence of mutually compatible desires. The Congress long ago abdicated its Constitutional role in favor of petty political power politics, fiddling with each others agenda while the nation smolders. The Presidency has drifted frighteningly toward becoming a "democratic" monarchy. The SCOTUS has become an entrenched philosophical battlefield that routinely ignores life as it is in favor of delivering ethereal legal pronouncements that most often only make the matters before them worse.

The REAL blame has been....and IS today....what has been euphemistically called The Silent Majority. Americans have been too preoccupied by God's little acre to notice or even care what goes on in DC. We feel that our only role in the matter is to elect someone, and once completing the task, go back to grazing in our own private little field of clover.

And in behaving thus, we HAVE traded our freedom for the imaginary security of our own little piece of pasture.