Sunday, October 2, 2011

Are We Going to Follow the Constitution or Not?

Anwar al-Awlaki is dead.  Most people will think that is a good thing.  He was a terrorist that was hell bent on doing destruction to this country and to it's citizens.  Of that there is little dispute.  The dispute comes from how he was killed.  Not the drone, but the lack of due process in the situation. 

In most cases it only the very far right and the very far left that are up in arms.  It ranges from the ACLU to Ron Paul who have spoken out against this.  Now, I have not done any research but I am sure that the likes of Cindy Sheehan is also against what happened.  I hate to be in that company regularly, but today I must join them. 

Nothing, absolutely nothing, in the constitution gives the president the right to kill an American citizen without due process.  al-Awlaki was born in this country; if I am not mistaken that makes him an American citizen, with the rights afforded to all of us. 

The Obama and Bush administrations should have started the legal process to indict him.  Neither administration bothered to do that.  The Obama administration thought about it, but it never went beyond that stage.  Why?  They had the goods on him.  There were plenty of videos of the man declaring his desire to kill Americans and commit terrorists acts against the rest of us.  There are at least incidents in this country that lead back to him; the failed Times Square bomber, the failed Christmas Day airplane bomber, and the successful Fort Hood shooter.  All of which happened under the Obama administration.  Why didn't DOJ go to court and get him declared an enemy combatant?  I would like an answer to that question.

Just consider one thing, this is one man.  The fact that he is a bad man isn't the important point.  The important point is that we, as citizens, are willingly giving up our rights as American citizens and handing the president unprecedented powers.  We are not up in arms that the American president has killed an American citizen without any due process, and we should be.

How long ago was it that as a member of the Tea Party I was called terrorist? Don't say that this doesn't matter people, it does.  The terrorists are winning if are willing to give up this much power to one person.  I say stand with the constitution and demand an answer of why this terrorist was never formally indicted.  It isn't about one man, it is about the rule of law and adherence to our founding documents. 

Here are two other sides:

My fellow blogger at Potluck Fuzzi Slippers and I are in agreement
Silverfiddle on the other hand feels it was a righteous and legal kill. 

So I am on team Fuzzi.

What say you? 

16 comments:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

"Team Fuzzi" heh. Excellent post; you've really made the point exceedingly well (am linking it to my post).

Silverfiddle said...

Nothing, absolutely nothing, in the constitution gives the president the right to kill an American citizen without due process.

You're right!

Had they indicted him and then went out and assassinated him, you're case would be pretty airtight.

But that's not what happened. They didn't indict him; they treated him like any other bearded goat molester who takes up arms against the US, and they killed him in a legitimate military action.

So the question becomes, should we indict every "American" traitor?

I'm hip to that, but then what? Does that then put these indicted traitors off-limits to legitimate military action that was authorized by congress?

Thanks for the link! And btw, "Team Fuzzi" is a pretty good place to be. Her logic is anything but fuzzy.

Just a conservative girl said...

Fiddle:
I am no lawyer so maybe this is where I am missing something. The Bush administration legally had Jose Padilla declared an enemy combatent. Why was the same not done in this case?

I don't deny the law as you stated it on your post, but what I don't understand is how President Obama got to decide that this law applied in this case without a judicial review?

The president should not get to wield that type of power. That is what I am against. Only the judicial system should be allowed to say that someone gave up their citizenship based on internationally recoginized rules of war.

That is my main dispute.

Opus #6 said...

This terrorist was about as bad as bad can get. Yet, we can't let him make us as bad. We either have a constitution or we don't. He needed to be dealt with legally. Or show that his demise was unintended and he was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. That is also possible.

Silverfiddle said...

"Or show that his demise was unintended and he was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time."

That is an important distinction, and they could have gone all shadowy and tried to pull that off, but to their credit, the Obama Administration put it all above board.

There are two categories for terrorists: Criminal or Enemy Combatant.

Both Bush and Obama have strategically placed people in one or the other category depending on what they wanted to do with them. This hodgepodge is a result of Bush never successfully building a coherent legal framework to deal with these issues. This is where I see the potential for mischief.

The bottom line in this case is that the government never treated this man as a criminal, but rather as an enemy combatant.

Even if they had, he was still a legitimate military target, even deliberately so. He put himself on the battlefield in service of Al Qaeda, an enemy congress has authorized the president to take military action against.

AQ is fighting the Yemeni government, therefore it is a battlefield.

The alternative is to call off any strike on any target where an American traitor happens to be squatting.

Just a conservative girl said...

Ok, now you have really confused me. You say that there is no coherent legal framework and then say what Obama did was legal. That is a paradox that I don't understand.

One of the biggest problems that we have is that as a country we have not done the legal work that should be done. Congress should be ashamed of themselves for not putting these laws into place. It has been ten years. We need to know what is legal and what is not. I want firm concrete constitutional rules on how to handle these things and you are admitted that we don't have them.

That is a problem.

Silverfiddle said...

Yes. We have two competing legal views.

This current debate is a rehash of what we went through with foreign enemy combatants. "Warfare" won out over calling them criminals, which is how we legally get by with killing terrorist where they stand instead of indicting them and dragging them into a US court.

The only difference is now we are dealing with a US citizen.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

[quote]The only difference is now we are dealing with a US citizen. [/quote]

And that is quite a difference. And the entire point.

Just a conservative girl said...

Ok, I think the problem is that you are incorrectly assuming that Fuzzy and I are saying that they can never be killed on the battlefield. I shouldn't speak for Fuzzy, but for myself that is not what I am saying.

What I want is a legal procedure to be put in place so that we can legally target a us citizen who has joined a terrorist organization. Such as Adam whatsishisface from CA. Has he been stripped of his US citizenship? If not, why not? The time to do that is now. Actually the time to do that was years ago. Again, the video tape evidence is clear. He has an enemy of the state. Bring in front of a judge and get his citizenship revoked. This way the law that you state is covered in a legal way. There is no reason that these two men have not been legally classified as enemy's of the state in a war like atomsphere. The time has clearly been there to do it.

The decision should not be made in the oval office. I don't care who is president.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Mike Pence and I would say exactly the same thing if he did it. Too much power for one person.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

No, you're right, JACG. This is why McCain and Leiberman tried to pass that bill last year to strip Americans of their citizenship http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2010/05/joe-lieberman-introduces-bill.html

That was never passed (thank God). I don't think it even came up for a vote. The bottom line is that no American president has, nor should s/he have, the power to unilaterally impose death warrants on American citizens. I don't really know what Silverfiddle is talking about; even Congress, bound by the 5th Amendment, cannot approve a death warrant on an American citizen. That's just fact. All the twisting around the Patriot Act doesn't change that. Indeed, the fact that the DOJ and WH refuse to release their death warrant selection criteria (on the grounds of state secrets) is very very telling. This is not right, and no amount of convoluted intellectual gymnastics makes it so.

(sorry for the tone, I'm losing my patience with this; as far as I'm concerned, this has become a fruitless--and annoying--discussion, filled with inaccuracies, a "terrorist exception clause" that doesn't exist, and other assorted inanities).

Silverfiddle said...

The law I keep referring to is Public Law 107-40, not the patriot act.

It authorizes warfare, not legal action, so subpoenas and other law enforcement instruments do not apply. So there is no "terrorist exception clause."

You can go look at it yourself here:

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ40/content-detail.html

I think the disagreement revolves around semantics. You call the legal determination a "death warrant."

I call it a routine legal review that all such military operations must go through.

The fact that this one involved an American citizen who joined an organization congress authorized military action against (Public Law 107-40), makes it unique.

I do agree with you that the White House needs to release everything surrounding this. If it cannot because of classification issues, then it needs to be reviewed by the appropriate committees in congress.

I also agree with you that there needs to specific legislation on how to deal with such situations in the future, because this won't be the last time something like this comes up.

I'm not trying to make people lose their patience, I'm trying to get you to see the Law of Armed Conflict side of this, even if you don't agree with it.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

You're kidding, right, Silverfiddle? For two days you've been telling me that I don't understand, that I'm confused, suggesting that I'm less intelligent than you, and and you've hinted that I'm soft on terrorism. You've been condescending and dismissive (and yes, I've responded in kind). You've accused me of employing faulty logic, of using supposition and not "facts on the ground." You've been snippy and argumentative, when I was just trying to have a discussion. So yeah, after all that, I started losing my patience with it all. I've said multiple times that I want to just agree to disagree and move on, but you just keep going. It's annoying. I don't need you to get me to see something that I already understand quite well. I hold a different viewpoint; that doesn't mean that I don't understand yours. Though I must say it's crystal clear that you do not understand mine.

In the interest of remaining friendly in the blogosphere, I'm going to say--yet again--that I think it best to let this go and agree to disagree. I hope this time you will accept that.

Silverfiddle said...

OK. I'll call it quits. And this did it:

You're kidding, right, Silverfiddle? For two days you've been telling me [...] suggesting that I'm less intelligent than you, and and you've hinted that I'm soft on terrorism. You've been condescending and dismissive (and yes, I've responded in kind). You've accused me of employing faulty logic, of using supposition and not "facts on the ground." You've been snippy and argumentative, when I was just trying to have a discussion.

I'll just close by saying you've completely misunderstood me. In no way do I deprecate your intelligence and I most certainly do not think any of you are soft on terrorism.

hometown guy said...

Team Fuzzy (not surprisingly i'm sure).

Just a conservative girl said...

No guy, not surprising. See we agree on something for a change!!!

Rational Nation USA said...

Great post!

While I understand the points Silverfiddle makes in the final analysis I guess I'm on 'Team Fuzzi" as well.

Wes Messamore has a good analysis of the situation as well... over at LCR.

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