Saturday, October 1, 2011

Death without due process

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. -- 5th Amendment
The United States has killed two of its own. On Friday, under orders from President Obama, a US military airstrike resulted in the death of Ayman al-Zawahri, an American-born cleric who had become a vocal critic of US policy. Killed alongside Mr. al-Zawahri was Samir Khan.

In July, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said al-Awlaki was a priority target alongside Ayman al-Zawahri, bin Laden's successor as the terror network's leader.
The Yemeni-American had been in the U.S. crosshairs since his killing was approved by President Barack Obama in April 2010 — making him the first American placed on the CIA "kill or capture" list. At least twice, airstrikes were called in on locations in Yemen where al-Awlaki was suspected of being, but he wasn't harmed.

Mr. al-Zawahri and Mr. Khan weren't arrested for anything. They weren't charged with anything. They were never indicted. They were never tried before a jury of his peers. They were never convicted of any crime against the United States.

There was no due process of law. Mr. al-Zawahri and Mr. Khan, were deprived of their most basic rights because they dared to voice criticism of US policy in the Middle East.

President Bush (the Younger) created a shitstorm when he ordered suspected terrorists and their supporters to be held indefinitely in prison. People were also up in arms (at least those who knew what was going on) about the expanded powers given to the government to spy on its own citizens. But neither of those policies holds a candle to ordering the death of American citizens without affording them due process of law.

As flawed as the Troy Davis situation may have been, at least he was afforded his day in court. That's more than Mr. al-Zawahri and Mr. Khan were given. If los federales had the goods on Mr. al-Zawahri and Mr. Khan, why not obtain an indictment? Why not seek to extradite them? Why not put them on trial? If their deeds were serious enough to warrant death - then let's see the evidence. What are you afraid of, President Obama?

Is it because their "crimes" involved being vocal critics of your foreign policy? Is it because of the words they spoke and wrote?

Thus far President Obama has caught flak for the state of the economy on his watch. Now it's time he catches it for ordering the deaths of two American citizens and depriving them of their constitutional rights. When President Obama was sworn into office, he took an oath to defend the US Constitution.

President Obama, you just violated that oath. You were not only part of a conspiracy to deprive two American citizens of their constitutional protections - you were the man in charge of the conspiracy. In depriving them of their constitutional rights, you also conspired to murder the two men.

See also:

"Ron Paul calls US killing of American-born al-Qaida cleric in Yemen an 'assassination.'" Washington Post (Sept. 30, 2011)

"Obama praises al-Awlaki killing," Time (Sept. 30, 2011)

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