Sunday, October 30, 2011

American Born Killers

Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was killed September 30, 2011, on direct orders of President Obama

"President Barack Hussein Obama should be impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from office by the Senate because he used the power of the Federal Government to murder a United States citizen." Powerful words, and one might think that they were the concoction of a right wing nut job or a Republican Presidential candidate, although, as Mark Twain once famously said, but I repeat myself. No, those words weren't spoken by anyone at all, so far as I know. although Congressman Ron Paul hinted at it several weeks ago. But the accusation against President Obama is unquestionably true, assuming that we still have a viable Constitution of the United States.

The Fifth Amendment states, in part: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury..." It also states that "nor shall any person be ... deprived of life... without due process of law."

Sometime in 2010, President Obama ordered the targeted assassination of a United States citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki. On September 30, 2011, acting on President Obama's direct order, members of the United States military killed him. Mr. al-Awlaki was not killed on a battlefield. He wasn't collateral damage or a casualty of war. His specific death was ordered and it was carried out. However, Mr. al-Awlaki was never indicted by a grand jury. He was never formally accused of any crime in any United States court. Mr. al-Awlaki was never arrested. He was never given a trial. At the time of his killing he was not engaged in a military attack on any United States citizen or property, and so far as news reports are concerned, he had never engaged in any act of violence towards any citizen of the United States.

This country did not erupt in outrage after he was killed. The United States Code defines Murder as " the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. " There is no law higher than the Constitution in the United States, and there is one clear requirement before a particular human being may be killed by deliberate government action: a presentment or indictment by a Grand Jury, followed by "due process of law."

This isn't an "after the fact" kind of argument. In 2010 Al-Awlaki's father filed a lawsuit in a United States Federal Court in Washington, D. C. to stop the unlawful killing of his son- but lost:

"What the government is doing is imposing the death penalty without trial," said Jameel Jaffer, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, which along with the Center for Constitutional Rights took al-Awlaki's case."

The government lawyer's position in response to the lawsuit was strange, to say the least:

"Administration officials have confirmed to The Associated Press that al-Awlaki is on a capture or kill list, although Justice Department attorney Douglas Letter said in court that he would neither confirm nor deny it. But Letter said if al-Awlaki turns himself over to authorities, he's in no danger of the United States using lethal force against him."

Strange because Mr. al-Awlaki was never formally charged with a crime- no arrest warrant had issued for him. Why would a person who is not charged with a crime but who suspects with good cause that he will be held indefinitely without formal charges or a trial turn himself in? And to whom did Mr. Letter expect Mr. al-Awlaki turn himself in- who were the unspecified "authorities" Mr. Letter referenced? The FBI couldn't have arrested him without a warrant. Did Mr. Letter expect Mr. al-Awlaki to drive to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia or hire a boat and sail to the gates of Guantanamo, Cuba?

The Supreme Court has defined Due Process over the last century and a half to include the right of the accused to written notice of the charges leveled against him or her, the right to counsel to assist in his or her defense, the right to confront the witnesses against him or her, the right to secure the attendance of witnesses on his or her behalf, the right to trial by jury where incarceration or death is a possible punishment, the right to an impartial finder of fact, the right to be heard in one's own defense, and the right to equal protection of the law- meaning that we can't create one set of rules for one person or one category of persons. None of those rights are afforded to the human beings who have been detained in Guantanamo for years, and none were afforded to Mr. al-Alwaki before he was murdered on orders of the President of the United States.

There is no question that the killing of a United States citizen by orders of an American President is murder. There is also no question that this would arise to the level of a "high crime" within the definition of impeachable offenses listed in Article II of the Constitution. The only question is why there is no one in Congress other than the inimitable Ron Paul- no one on the left or the right, Democrat or Republican, all of whom swore an oath to uphold and defend that document-- who is willing to speak the truth and initiate impeachment proceedings of the President. And Congressman Paul said only that he is willing to "consider" it.

You will note that I have not mentioned what conduct of Anwar al-Awlaki so offended a President of the United States that his killing was ordered and carried out. I haven't said what religious or ethnic group defined him, or what his political views were. I haven't mentioned those things because under our Constitution, in our Republic "with Liberty and Justice for All," it just doesn't matter.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:45 PM  
Blogger Rielle said...

Really? Seriously??

11:31 PM  
Blogger James Finkelstein (Ga.) said...

Yes, seriously. For more on it, go to this video:

10:38 PM  

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