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Discussion: (23 comments)

  1. David Conklin

    And the right solution would be?

  2. Jon Murphy

    But at no time in US history has it been the case that the US government is obligated to give such a person a trial.

    Actually, that is wrong. The Constitution says the government is obligated to give traitors a trial:

    Article III, Section 3, Paragraph 1:

    “Treason against the United States shall only consist in levying war against them…No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the Testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or a confession in open court.”

    There was no open court, therefore the President violated the law. Was it treason? No. But what it is an impeachable offense.

    1. RonRonDoRon

      If a traitor is encountered on the battlefield, is it unconstitutional to shoot him?

      1. Jon Murphy

        No, provided one other person can testify to the traitor wearing enemy colors.

        1. RonRonDoRon

          So no action can be taken against a citizen traitorously waging war, unless it’s possible to capture him and put him on trial?

        2. RonRonDoRon

          The constitutional quote refers to “conviction” – convictions only happen in court. A battlefield is not a court.

          1. David Conklin

            So, while the American terrorist is trying to kill us, we’re supposed to wait tioll we can catch him and THEn try him in a court and hopefully convict?

          2. Jon Murphy

            Again, no.

            You are confusing the whole question anyway.

            Al-Awlaki was not on a battlefield. He was not in Afghanistan or Iraq. There were no US troops near him. This was not two armies meeting on a battlefield: this was a targeted assassination. The president’s justification for this assassination was that Al-Awlaki was a traitor and Mr. Schmitt’s justification is that traitors are not guaranteed trials. This is demonstrably false.

            Mr. Al-Awlaki may very well have been a traitor. I don’t know and you don’t know. All we do know is the government has said “he was. Trust us.” I am saying “do your Constitutional obligation and show us the proof.”

  3. Rev. Mike

    “… if Anwar al-Awlaki was involved in terrorist plots against the United States, then, the president not only has the constitutional discretion to defend the country by striking at al-Awlaki but, under his oath of office, he has a positive duty to do so.”

    So, by this logic, then, President Clinton was obligated to hunt down Timothy McVeigh like a dog and summarily execute him? (You’re the one who set aside the applicability of the 2001 AUMF.)

    1. David Conklin

      >So, by this logic, then, President Clinton was obligated to hunt down Timothy McVeigh like a dog and summarily execute him?

      That is not logical. One could be caught, one could not.

      Now if in trying to hunt down TM, he fights back, then the officers are entitled to shot to kill. So, by that logic, yes Clinton would have been entitled to kill him on the spot.

      1. Jon Murphy

        yes Clinton would have been entitled to kill him on the spot.

        But not with a drone strike.

        One could be caught, one could not.

        They didn’t even try to catch Al-Awlaki

        1. David Conklin

          >But not with a drone strike.

          It would be safer for the cops who would be sent to arrest him.

          >They didn’t even try to catch Al-Awlaki

          Its much easier to say things when your hiding behind your keyboard.

          1. Jon Murphy

            It would be safer for the cops who would be sent to arrest him.

            So would banning all forms of firearms, but that doesn’t make it right.

            Drone strikes? Random execution of citizens without a trial? This is police state stuff here. This is not acceptable behavior in a free and just society.

          2. David Conklin

            > its much easier to say things when your hiding behind your keyboard.

            Yemen isn’t either one of them. Its more of a no man’s land and if you’re from the “wrong” tribe, you’re not welcome!

          3. Jon Murphy

            I am not talking about Yemen. I am talking about the United States. For the President to use drones to assassinate US citizens without a trail, regardless of where they reside at any given point, is a clear violation of the Constitution and moral law.

            No government ever has the right to execute or imprison its citizens without due process.

            The only justification presented here is that Al-Awlaki was a bad guy, so therefore he deserved to be killed. Well, that is not good enough. This is not Stalinist Russia. The charges against him must be proven in open court, and if he cannot be found then you try him in absentia.

          4. David Conklin

            >I am not talking about Yemen.

            That’s where the guy was when the drone got him.

            > I am talking about the United States.

            No drone has ever killed an American on American soil without a trial.

            >The only justification presented here is that Al-Awlaki was a bad guy, so therefore he deserved to be killed.

            Worse than merely “bad.” And yet that’s exactly what happened to Cameron Todd Willingham in Texas–executed by the state for a crime that didn’t even take place and wasn’t granted a stay by the gov because he was “a bad guy.”

            >The charges against him must be proven in open court, and if he cannot be found then you try him in absentia.

            Granted and they knew exactly where he was.

          5. Jon Murphy

            That’s where the guy was when the drone got him.

            That is irrelevant. The order was given here and the Constitution protects US citizens from their government regardless of where they are in the world.

            Worse than merely “bad.” And yet that’s exactly what happened to Cameron Todd Willingham in Texas–executed by the state for a crime that didn’t even take place and wasn’t granted a stay by the gov because he was “a bad guy.”

            After he was convicted in open court.

            Let justice be done! This “President as judge, jury, and executioner” argument is unsupported by any moral argument. This is the stuff of tyrants. The 5th and 6th Amendments, as well as Article III, Section 3, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution all gaurentee Mr. Al-Awlaki the right to a speedy, public trial, and to not be deprived of his rights without due process. By denying him these rights for no reason other than “he’s a bad guy and we’re too lazy to go after him” is barbaric.

            This is the difference between those who love freedom and those who just love the idea of it. Those who love freedom defend the rights of all people. Those who love the idea of freedom only defend the rights of those who agree with them.

          6. David Conklin

            >After he was convicted in open court.

            When no crime took place. Kinda makes a mockery of “Let justice be done!”, eh?

            >This “President as judge, jury, and executioner” argument is unsupported by any moral argument.

            Save the crocodile tears/fake outrage. We both know that if McCain had won the election and gotten him, it would be “Mission Accomplished!”

            >This is the difference between those who love freedom and those who just love the idea of it. Those who love freedom defend the rights of all people. Those who love the idea of freedom only defend the rights of those who agree with them.

            As if I don’t.

            (KJV) Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

            Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

            Revelation 22:15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

          7. David Conklin

            >By denying him these rights for no reason other than “he’s a bad guy and we’re too lazy to go after him” is barbaric.

            Who said anything about being lazy? Do you have any idea of how difficult it would have been to aprehend him? What would have been really barbaric would be to knowingly sacrifice the lives of who knows how many brave young men just to satisfy somone’s fake moral outrage.

          8. Jon Murphy

            When no crime took place.

            At least he got his day in court. Did the system fail? Yes, but at least it was given a chance. That is far more than what can be said about Al-Awlaki.

            Save the crocodile tears/fake outrage. We both know that if McCain had won the election and gotten him, it would be “Mission Accomplished!”

            Read what I said earlier: No government ever has the right to execute or imprison its citizens without due process.

            As if I don’t.

            Your actions here clearly show you do not. You refuse to support Mr. Al-Awlaki’s right to trial. Supporting freedom means supporting it forever and always, not just when it is easy.

            Who said anything about being lazy?

            You did. You said we knew precisely where he was (which is true). But you said it is better to use drone strikes than to try to apprehend criminals. This is not equilivent to using drones on a battlefield. This is equilivent, however, to using a missile to kill and American citizen who, in the eyes of the law, had done thing wrong (as he was not convicted). If there is evidence out there to suggest otherwise, why hide it?

            Every US citizen has the right to due process and a trial by jury. Period, end of story.

          9. David Conklin

            > You refuse to support Mr. Al-Awlaki’s right to trial.

            Hmmm, failed Reading 101, did we? What part of this exchange did you conveniently forget:

            YOU: The charges against him must be proven in open court, and if he cannot be found then you try him in absentia.

            ME: Granted and they knew exactly where he was.

            > But you said it is better to use drone strikes than to try to apprehend criminals.

            I never said anything of the sort. Why lie?

          10. Jon Murphy

            Hmmm, failed Reading 101, did we? What part of this exchange did you conveniently forget…

            None of it. Just the fact that you are oddly insistent that the president did the right thing.

            I never said [drone strikes are better]

            In your comment on Jan 4, 9:47 AM, you said that it would be safer to use a drone strike to kill McVeigh than send cops to arrest him.

            You then go on to say how difficult it would be to send someone to go capture Al-Awlaki, and that it would be barbaric to do so (your comment on Jan 4, 1:44 PM).

            Those two comments taken together says to me that you prefer drone strikes to arrest. If I have misunderstood you, then I apologize.

  4. Rev. Mike

    David, I think that the problem is that when we look at someone like Anwar al-Awlaki, people can easily say, yeah, dirty rotten traitor, he had it coming, but lawyers being lawyers, invariably it’s not the thing itself but the precedent that’s set that is problematic. What will be the next expansion of presidential power this will be used to justify?

    You speak of the difficulties associated with pursuing al-Awlaki in Yemen, and yes, there are substantial. However, we generally have the cooperation of the Yemeni government in these matters; in Pakistan, we did not, at least not consistently and entirely, but we still took the risk necessary to go after Bin Laden. We (NATO) enabled the capture of Gaddafi by dropping Hellfire missiles and 500 pound JDAMs onto his convoy, followed up by ground pursuit. Could we not have pursued a similar approach with al-Awlaki?

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