Did Obama Just Assassinate A U.S. Citizen? Aulaqi Killing Raises Questions Over Presidential Powers

Few people would mourn the passing of radical U.S. cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi. However, his reported death from a U.S. air strike raises the long-standing question over President Obama’s insistence that he can unilaterally label a citizen as a terrorist and order his killing. It is one of the policies (of many) that Obama continued from his predecessor, George W. Bush, and was one of the subjects of my column yesterday in the Los Angeles Times.


As with the killing of Bin Laden, the celebration of the death of an infamous individual can obscure the question of the authority — and the limitations — of a president in ordering the killing of U.S. citizens.

Under the current policy, the President effectively promises to be careful in the selection of assassination targets. It is a decision left entirely to him and his designated subordinates. It runs contrary to constitutional guarantees protecting persons accused of crimes. The President can claim that the location of such individuals abroad is the key distinction since courts limit the application of constitutional protections and limitations outside of our border. Yet, we have already seen that the Justice Department argues that other rights can be similarly waived in the country like due process rights and the right to counsel for anyone accused being an enemy combatants. The enemy combatant policy and cases largely eradicated the domestic/foreign distinction used in the past.

Because of his high-visibility status, we were informed of al-Aulaqi’s killing. However, nothing in this policy requires a president to be informed of such assassinations and the congressional oversight committees are widely viewed as rubber stamps for intelligence operations. It is not simply a question of whether a president can order such a killing of a citizen (which Bush also previously ordered), but the circumstances under which such an order can be given. Obama put al-Aulaqi on a hit list many months ago. There is no process, however, to secure any judicial review or to satisfy any showing despite over a year of such targeting. These questions remain unanswered because the Obama Administration has been successful in blocking public interest lawsuits seeking judicial review of his assassination list.

Previously, the Administration succeeded with an almost mocking argument that al-Aulaqi’s family could not file a lawsuit seeking review of the power to assassinate because al-Aulaqi himself should appear to ask for review. Thus, after saying that it would kill al-Aulaqi on sight, the Justice Department insisted that he should walk into a clerk’s office and ask for declaratory judgment. Even if his family were to sue for wrongful death, the Administration would likely use the military and state secrets privilege to block the lawsuit. Thus, the President has the authority to not simply kill citizens but to decided whether they can sue him for the act.

Even if a president has this authority, the existence of the power to kill citizens without any check or balance runs against the grain of the constitutional system. What do you think?

Update: It appears that two U.S. born cleric may have been killed.

Source: Washington Post

Here is also Glenn Greenwald’s piece on the subject.

119 thoughts on “Did Obama Just Assassinate A U.S. Citizen? Aulaqi Killing Raises Questions Over Presidential Powers

  1. First of all, the news reports that I have seen have not confirmed that it was a US strike that killed him. However, assuming it was, I would think the family members should try to report the murder to the FBI and to the local authorities. This unconstitutional policy will only be ended by the courts doing their job. I am not holding my breath.

  2. rafflaw:

    the order came from the Chief Executive of the United States. He whacked a US citizen in cold blood. End of story.

    Who is next? You, me, Mespo? Because a president doesnt like our bumper stickers? This is really scary stuff, we have become a lawless country.

    I think the president needs to be arrested and tried for this action. And Bush and Cheney should be right there with him although they didnt order anyone executed without trial as far as I know.

  3. I think we’re beyond slippery slope here…more like a frictionless free fall from President to Emperor. Remove the idea that the assassination target is off shore and located in the US and the premise is is seen it’s true light; murder by fiat.

  4. Obama was co-opted by the national security state, and the next president will be too. The train has left the station on this one, unfortunately.

  5. Glenn Greenwald: The due-process-free assassination of U.S. citizens is now reality

    What’s most striking about this is not that the U.S. Government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar (“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”), and did so in a way that almost certainly violates core First Amendment protections (questions that will now never be decided in a court of law).

    Is there something ambiguous about “no person?”

  6. As with the killing of Bin Laden, the celebration of the death of an infamous individual can obscure the question of the authority — and the limitations — of a president in ordering the killing of U.S. citizens.”

    Yep, blood lust does not make good law.

    When the issue of due process comes up, it does not look good for a president to execute someone without there first being a trial to establish guilt or innocence.

    The king of Saudi Arabia is not our role model.

    This theme is being expanded in a mock trial in London before the British Supreme Court, to determine if polluters who are bringing ecocide, meaning billions killed, can be prosecuted for it.

    Professor Turley filed a case, on behalf of congress members, in the U.S. Federal Court against the president for doing Libya without congressional approval.

  7. Swarthmore mom

    1, September 30, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Obama was co-opted by the national security state, and the next president will be too. The train has left the station on this one, unfortunately.

    ======================

    Swarthmore mom is right. And what’s more, American citizens are being denied due process within our borders, as I type… It’s a process that’s covert, but quite vicious. Will anyone pay attention now? I think that I already know the answer…

  8. Just one of the many reasons I won’t vote for Obama. He not only lied about what he’d do to fix the mess Bush created. He made it worse by claiming this extra-judicial and prime facie unconstitutional power.

  9. An armed gunman who has repeatedly threatened the lives of my family breaks into my house in the middle of the night and I shoot him dead. Homicide? You bet. Justified homicide? Ditto. Is the citizenship of the assailant relevant? Nope.

    The issue is — given this very unique set of circumstances — whether the continued existence of al-Aulaqi constituted a clear and present danger to the security of the United States and those whom its government is charged with protecting. That is the only legal debate. The rest is logistics.

  10. Oro Lee,

    I wonder what other “very unique set of circumstances” you’d consider as an appropriate justification for the violation of the Separation of Powers doctrine? The issue isn’t just deprivation of Due Process for the citizen targeted. It’s also the usurpation of the Judicial branch’s power by the Executive.

  11. Roco,
    I don’t doubt that the murder was ordered by Obama, I merely stated that the reports I have seen, so far, have not confirmed that. As I mentioned in the same post, if the President approved it, then it was an unconstitutional attack on a US citizen. Your meomory about Bush and Cheney’s illegal actions is selectively short.

  12. Oro Lee:

    You’re quite the classicist. From the Code of Justinian: “Rex solutus est a legibus”, or “The king is released from the laws.” As you say, the rest is logistics: Who will the king kill, imprison, or banish next, how will he do it, and why will he do it. Boehner is probably not sleeping so well tonight. All this puts us squarely in 18th Century Paris, pre-Revolution. Do you know how to curtesy?

  13. “Even if a president has this authority, the existence of the power to kill citizens without any check or balance runs against the grain of the constitutional system. What do you think?”

    I think that (1) if the President has this authority, it must be consistent with the constitutional system; (2) the President’s action is allowable under current conditions because we have a living constitution; and (3) there is a check/balance in that the President is always subject to impeachment.

  14. rafflaw:

    Apparrently his assassination was authorized by Obama in April 2010 per the article. It’s a fair assumption that the drone attack targerted him and was specifically autthorized by POTUS. In wartime, the ends justify the means, you know. Seems I heard that before somewhere but it was in the original German then, “Der Zweck heiligt die Mittel.”

  15. mahtso:

    Your mind is perfectly circular: (1) If the President has the authority it is because the President has the authority. (2) Because our Constitution is flexible, it can be flexed to any shape; (3) There is a check-balance because he can be impeached after doing the deed. Interesting interpretation of the word “check.”

  16. Nal, thanks for the link to the Executive Order. I was just thinking about “Wasn’t it made illegal for the CIA to assassinate others”?

    I wonder when they got rid of that?

    FWIW:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A63203-2001Oct27?language=printer

    CIA Weighs ‘Targeted Killing’ Missions
    Administration Believes Restraints Do Not Bar Singling Out Individual Terrorists

    By Barton Gellman
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, October 28, 2001; Page A01

    Armed with new authority from President Bush for a global campaign against al Qaeda, the Central Intelligence Agency is contemplating clandestine missions expressly aimed at killing specified individuals for the first time since the assassination scandals and consequent legal restraints of the 1970s.

    Drawing on two classified legal memoranda, one written for President Bill Clinton in 1998 and one since the attacks of Sept. 11, the Bush administration has concluded that executive orders banning assassination do not prevent the president from lawfully singling out a terrorist for death by covert action. The CIA is reluctant to accept a broad grant of authority to hunt and kill U.S. enemies at its discretion, knowledgeable sources said. But the agency is willing and believes itself able to take the lives of terrorists designated by the president.

    Clinton authorized covert lethal force against al Qaeda beginning in 1998, and The Washington Post reported last Sunday that Bush has signed a more encompassing intelligence “finding” that calls for attacks on newly identified weaknesses in Osama bin Laden’s communications, security apparatus and infrastructure.

    Bush’s directive broadens the class of potential targets beyond bin Laden and his immediate circle of operational planners, and also beyond the present boundaries of the fight in Afghanistan, officials said.But it also holds the potential to target violence more narrowly than its precedents of the past 25 years because previous findings did not permit explicit planning for the death of an individual.

  17. In wartime, the ends justify the means, you know. Seems I heard that before somewhere but it was in the original German then, “Der Zweck heiligt die Mittel.

    In blog warfare too, especially when conducted against Koch’s conservative army of sockpuppets.

  18. mahtso1, September 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    “Even if a president has this authority, the existence of the power to kill citizens without any check or balance runs against the grain of the constitutional system. What do you think?”

    I think that (1) if the President has this authority, it must be consistent with the constitutional system; (2) the President’s action is allowable under current conditions because we have a living constitution; and (3) there is a check/balance in that the President is always subject to impeachment.
    ————————————————-
    well that’s a relief….as long as we can send him to his on his merry way after doing the deed….impeachment is so…….FINAL.

    if we can know where they are enough to kill…..why can’t we just arrest the ALLEGED dirty deed doers and do a legitimate dance of justice????

    just wonderin’…………….you know…….like THE REST OF THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. “I think it’s the return of the Lettre de Cachet.” *(mespo)

    Yep … CIA style … “In the law of the ancien régime, the lettre de cachet was an expression of that exercise of justice that the king reserved to himself, independently of the law courts and their processes, just as he reserved the right to grant lettres de grâce, or pardons, to persons who had been convicted by the courts. During the French Revolution the use of lettres de cachet was abolished by the Constituent Assembly in March 1790.”

    I swear to god, mespo, there’s a once lowly CIA analyst who now enjoys a pleasant, above ground, office-with-a-view simply because he/she told his superiors shortly after the 2004 elections, “There’s this new, rather obscure senator, a former community activist from Chicago, who, according to all my analyses, could be our perfect replacement for Junior in 2008. One of our recruiters should take him to lunch.”

    I’m only half-joking.

  20. Surely this could not be the first time a President has ordered the killing of an American citizen. I’m just jaded enough to believe this sort of thing has happened before, an assassination directed by the President, or at least by one of his operatives. Can someone name suspects?

  21. Psycho:

    “If it were not Obama this man would be a live. He is a(n) (alleged) terrorist and killer — (and an American with certain guaranteed rights that no President can take away from him on a whim.)”

    There, I fixed your sentence for you.

  22. Mespo:

    what is the law behind his ability to do this? There has to be case law from way back. American citizens fighting for the enemy is not new. How was it handled in, say, the 1940’s during WWII?

  23. Roco:

    He’s got the dearth of law and deference that the courts afford to a Commander-in-Chief in war time. Typically the courts let the President act extra-constitutionally during times of war and then clean up the mess when the war is over. See In Ex Parte: Merryman, 17 F. Cas. 144 (C.C.D. Md. 1861), and its aftermath. Justice James Wayne let out the secret, “It is my opinion,” Wayne ruled, “that Congress has constitutional power to legalize and confirm executive acts, proclamations, and orders done for the public good, although they were not, when done, authorized by any existing laws.”

  24. @mespo727272 – re: Comments to Oro Lee and Psycho – Thus having only proved yourself to be an effete, intellectual snob. Dammit man, get out of the classroom, put down that book, and live in the world. I’d say, “Trash that marble bust and get a real avatar,” but I think it fits you perfectly, my friend.

    I’m amazed at how most of the responses on this article seem almost paranoid. You must think so highly of yourselves to think you’re an “enemy of the state” and “clear and present danger.” Whatever you do, don’t do it on my behalf.

    Back to the original issue. The man was a bug, and he got squashed. Like a doomed cockroach, the last bit of daylight he saw was a flash, followed by a pressure wave, and then (unknown to him as his “innards” had turned to jello) an incredible burst of heat. Got bless the bastard who’s hand was on the joystick.

    And by the way, when the others of you go after Obama (not that I mind) and Bush, go after Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, their National Security Councils, the NSA/CIA/DIA the House/Senate Intelligence Committees, the JCS, Congress as a whole “und so weiter, und so fort”. I think the good professor mischaracterized it as a “unilateral labeling,” as much analysis and many decisions were made in the process. It does come down to the President’s sole decision and within his power, and I find no fault, morally or politically, with it.

  25. I think that this parallel scenario would go a long way towards getting those on the right-wing to see why this is problematic:

    Imagine that a US citizen Christian minister moves outside the US, and via the internet, leads and encourages anti-abortion activity back in the US. President Hillary Clinton declares this minister to be a terrorist because, she says, this minister’s e-mails and web postings have been encouraging the shootings of doctors and the bombing of clinics. So she orders the CIA to assassinate him…

    If something like this came to pass, the right-wing would be in hysterics. But that’s exactly what is being set up by granting the presidency this sort of un-checked power.

  26. Junctionshamus – It’s not hard to imagine the following:

    As the Tea Party movement continues, some factions get frustrated and irrational – as a result, they start engaging in vandalism, that escalates to bombing some government facilities, and finally a tiny group of nuts using the Tea Party name go and kill a few people. Leaders of this faction flee the country, but continue to propagandize on the internet from wherever they are. President Nancy Pelosi arbitrarily declares them to be dangerous terrorists and has these US citizens killed by CIA drone strikes.

    Would you be just fine with that? Just “a few bugs getting squashed”?

  27. @tomdarch – Personally (1) Hillary has a bigger set of balls than the present and previous 3 occupants of the White House, and (2) when it comes to cockroaches, Pelosi is their queen.

    Christian fundamentalists? Always a target for the Left. With one or two individual current exceptions of “Christian,” nutbags, the world is, and should be in fear of Islamofacsism, certainly more organized and a greater threat to persons of all religions, Mulsims included.

    Interesting that the Tea party is always used as an example for political extremism. If they were that extreme, they wouldn’t be the Tea Party now, would they? They’re certainly not the bogeymen the left enjoys portraying them as. And since they wouldn’t be, but would be called, say, “Moveon.org” or “PETA.org” or “Wilderness Guardians/EarthFirst!,” and did constitute a threat to US national security, I would see no problem with a marriage of convenience between DuPont and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.

    It’s Friday, let’s quit, and go find a bar. Drinks are on Professor T, ‘cuz he started it…

  28. I have mixed feelings about this. First of all, although he was man who held American citizenship, he also was known to have declared war on his native land. Second, he was overseas and not in US territory. He was in an area where he was not going to be extradited and he knew it. That narrowed the options for the US. Who would arrest him and bring him to justice–and how? Also, he needed to be stopped. There are a few practical matters like that to consider.

    I don’t think this fully passes the smell test, but at the same time I am not as concerned as some folks seem to be. Now if it had happened in–say for instance Kansas–then we have a LOT of reason to be concerned.

    It was another era, but John Dillinger and Bonnie & Clyde come to mind. When it comes to the use of deadly force and you are in a kind of nebulous partly-declared war, the rules seem to change. I have been reflecting on our own local law enforcement. Most officers go a lifetime without ever taking their sidearm out of its holster. However, our former sheriff killed three men in his long career. All involved men with shotguns at close range, but the sheriff killed them before they killed him. All those guys were citizens too and they ended up dead because they were an imminent and direct threat.

    It seems to me that given the intel they had on Anwar al-Aulaqi (the Ft. Bragg shooting and the attempted bombing), they had the imminent and direct threat package down cold.

  29. I have mixed feelings about this. First of all, although he was man who held American citizenship, he also was known to have declared war on his native land. Second, he was overseas and not in US territory. He was in an area where he was not going to be extradited and he knew it. That narrowed the options for the US. Who would arrest him and bring him to justice–and how? Also, he needed to be stopped. There are a few practical matters like that to consider.

    I went through a similar train of thought earlier this morning, but it’s complicated by our diplomatic relations with Yemen, and (while I don’t know of our current relationship with Yemen) our past cooperation on Terrorism, including joint operations to investigate the Cole. We currently train their military and give them AID. Are you certain they would not have arrested either of these two if we has an indictment against them and we had asked? (I don’t know.)

    I think the root of the problem lies in our lack of indictment and lack of any due process hearing to give al-Alaqi or his representatives a chance to defend him in any manner.

  30. So here we are again. Obama has turned out to be far less than we hoped. I have to admit, although I fall somewhere left of Obama, I almost thought his intentions were good. But if not Obama; Who?

    I’m going off to a quiet corner for a cup of coffee and a Pop-Tart while I still can.
    Won’t be long before all you’ll be able to get is a strong cup of TEA.

  31. Junctionshamus – I am thoroughly impressed with your ability to so completely and absolutely avoid the topic at hand. My hat is off to you! Enjoy your Friday evening drink with pride!

  32. @tomdarch – Apparently my Internet connection is not as clear as yours. I thought we were talking about cockroaches being given no quarter.

    What did I miss? Your assaults on Christians? Nope, got that. Your assault on the right? Nope, got that. Although disguised as what if’s, you messages were perfectly clear, and I don’t even have my beer goggles on… (yet).

    BTW – If you assumed I’m a middle-class, conservative Republican veteran, you’d be right. And if you assumed I’m a guy who’s spent the last 33 years of his life, defending the rights of the downtrodden, disenfranchised and unwashed, you’d be even more right. If Anwar al-Aulaqi had been in the US, I’d be first in line to take his case, but he and others like him didn’t commit crimes. They went to war, and sometimes in a war, shit happens, or as I’ve heard in German, “scheisse passiert.”

  33. Junction,

    I missed the part where we started declaring wars on individuals. In reality, we havent delcared war on anyone in almost 70 years. So you need a new slogan other than, it was war, shit happens.

    No this was a murder, with no evidence, no trial, no accountability, no assumption of innocence, no presentation of facts, no possibility of a legal defence or recourse.

    All hail the god-emperor. Every life on the planet is his to extinguish at his leisure.

    The only people who do not tremble in fear are those delusional enough to believe the hellfire missiles will never be pointed at them.

    Scribe,

    If the evidence was so damning, present it in a court of law and let everyone make up their own minds. Do not commit murder and expect me to just except your assurances that it was for the best.

  34. Man, this one kills me. Although I guess I don’t care what tactics they use to eliminate Alqueda, the fact that this man is an American citizen gives him the right to protection under the law as much as anyone else.
    Had he been killed in a fire-fight during a general attack, I could accept that but if they wanted to target this man, they should have taken him alive and shipped him back to stand trial for treason, terrorism, etc.
    The constitution was written to protect our citizens from their own government as someone recently pointed out. Maybe here. Anyway, I think it bears repeating.

  35. Angryman,

    Of what good are the protections written in the constitution if you are unwilling to extend them to people born outside of an arbitrary geographical boundary? The portections arent meant for AMERICANS, they are intended to apply to everyone, or else you are engaging in the very same logic that lead to this murder. He was a terrorist, therefore he has no protections. He was a pakistani, or afghan, he has no protection. You are making the exact same argument you are disagreeing with.

  36. U.S. Const. Amd. VI — No person shall be . . .deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law[.]

    Whether the killing was constitutional or not, citizenship is immaterial. The words are “no person,” not “no citizen.”

    Bin Laden had the same rights as al-Aulaqi, and al-Aulaqi had no more rights than Bin Laden.

    BTW, I think the wording of this Amendment truly can be called American exceptionalism.

  37. Thank you oro for stating that as plainly as it could have been.

    “It was not “liberals” or “conservatives” who did this. It was both parties acting with the massive support of the American public, as tyrants in the public sector licked their chops. This was a result of security-minded madness, and even now hardly anyone cares.

    Today, every single citizen, no matter how free he or she may feel in daily life, is in reality a sitting duck. You can be made to disappear. There is essentially no way you can escape once the feds sweep you into their net. There is no justice. The total states of the past used to pretend to have trial-based convictions. The total state of the present doesn’t even bother. It just puts a sack over your head and takes you away.”

    http://mises.org/daily/5693/The-Police-State-Abolishes-the-Trial

  38. Well, this presents a problem. If we extend the protection of the constitution to the whole world it would mean that rather than killing enemy soldiers in a combat situation, we would need to capture and try them all. That doesn’t seem very practical or neccesary. Should we be captuing all AlQueda members and trying them here? Should we just stay home and only respond to direct attacks? Or not at all.
    In a perfect world, their would be no war or terrorist attacks. Once a foriegn citizen has attacked Americans or engaged in terrorist acts in the name of a military group whether they represent a state or not, they have denyed Americans their rights.
    I don’t think that a declaration of war should be required to protect America from organizations like Al Queda.
    I admit to alot of confused feelings about this problem. If you think you can explain what we should be doing in lieu of killing Terrorists , please do and I hope you can help me sort out my feelings and opinions.
    I agree with extending protection to foreign peoples who are not dedicated to attacking us but whenthey use violence against us, my mind blurrs to gray and I can’t seem to settle on a answer

  39. Give it time, the President’s designee will end up being some Division Chief in a 3rd level component of a security agency no ones ever heard of signing off on the assassination of some mid-level organizer of a G20 protest living in Illinois. Or the Web-manager of the blog set up to publicise it. That’s where all totalitarian governments end up. With a perpetual war characterized by moving goalposts for success, you never run out of enemies.

  40. “If you think you can explain what we should be doing in lieu of killing Terrorists , please do and I hope you can help me sort out my feelings and opinions.”

    terror \ˈter-ər, ˈte-rər\, n.,

    1: a state of intense fear
    2a : one that inspires fear : scourge b : a frightening aspect c : a cause of anxiety : worry d : an appalling person or thing; especially : brat
    3: reign of terror
    4: violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands

    Terrorists, unless they are state sponsored, are nothing more than common criminals no different than the members of any criminal organization. They should be hunted down, arrested, tried in open court and if found guilty either imprisoned for a term up to and including life or subject to the death penalty as the law allows. If they are killed resisting arrest, that is another matter, however, these people are not soldiers. They are by in large civilian criminals and as such should be processed through our existing criminal justice system. The only reason the suspected terrorists being held in Gitmo right now aren’t on trial is Congressional interference in holding the funds hostage required to move them and hold them stateside pending trial. We have a mechanism for dealing with criminals. We should be using it instead of waging war on a noun.

  41. If we extend the protection of the constitution to the whole world it would mean that rather than killing enemy soldiers in a combat situation, we would need to capture and try them all.

    Nope. It would mean that in a combat situation, where someone’s shooting at you, you can shoot back. Once the shooting starts, it’s reasonable to stop attempting to capture.

    That’s not what happened here.

  42. From HuffPo: “A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. The administration officials refused to disclose the exact legal analysis used to authorize targeting Aulaqi, or how they considered any Fifth Amendment right to due process.”

    Dejavu all over again. Why not disclose? A crappy piece of legal fiction from a suck up lawyer like Yoo know who?

    One possibility. Apparently Yemeni authorities have been providing U.S. officials with information on Al-Queda opeatives. Was the hit legal under Yemeni law? Did Yemen ask (was bribed into asking) the US to carry out the hit? A confidential request?

  43. Junctionshamus:

    “Thus having only proved yourself to be an effete, intellectual snob. Dammit man, get out of the classroom, put down that book, and live in the world.”

    *********************

    I surely do live in the world and if people like you get their way, it won’t be worth living in. I love guys like you for whom the ends always justify the means; the law is just an obstacle to overcome as you slay your demons. I’m also quite surprised that a member of the Colorado Defense Bar needs to be reminded of the Constitutional protections available to all Americans but so be it. JT laid it out nicely for this Republican in legal clothing. I have nothing to add, except maybe that you should take the time to read those marble reliefs above your courthouse door. Once will undoubtedly say “Fiat justitia ruat caelum,” –“Let justice be done though the heavens fall.” I’ll keep the avatar for a while, thank you. It might remind you were a lawyer representing ordinary citizens once before you were a stooge for the power elite.

    I appreciate your German take on things — seems appropriate.By the way, I suggest you get your head in a book once in a while. Here’s a little scene from one that may interest you about giving your devil the beneift of the law you have solemnly sworn to uphold even as you “live in the real world.” An American deserves no protection from his government when not in the country? No trial? No due process? Guilt presumed because a flawed government’s intelligence service says he is. Do you hear what you are saying? Probbaly not–you did say you were a Republican, didn’t you:

  44. Confused Catholic:

    “Since when is killing justified?”
    *********************

    In self-defense when faced with deadly force. In defense of others in the same circumstances. When called upon by legitimate governmental authority to defend one’s country though no personal threat is made to you and yours. In stopping a felony in progress, and if Catholic history be any guide, when the faith is challenged by heresy. That last one is a little suspect.

  45. What is lost in the turmoil of emotion is the meaning of due process of law“.

    If we are talking about a capital offense, or otherwise infamous crime”

    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” (Fifth Amendment, emphasis added)

    “No person” does not seem to limit it to citizens, but there is no dispute I know of that the defendant was a US citizen. So we can conclude this refers to the defendant.

    “held to answer” … this would seem to indicate you can’t begin the process unless and until the information, allegations, and evidence is first presented to a grand jury and they return a true bill, indictment.

    “except” … if the person is in the US military the military can handle it, so no exception here.

    “nor shall any person … be deprived of life … without due process of law …” (Fifth Amendment)

    The definition of “due process of law” usually begins by asking “what process is due”.

    “Due” means it is a debt owed by the federal government to every person. It is a debt the government must pay, and what must be paid is the “process”.

    What process is owed? “The [due process] clause also promises that before depriving a citizen of life, liberty or property, government must follow fair procedures. Thus, it is not always enough for the government just to act in accordance with whatever law there may happen to be. Citizens may also be entitled to have the government observe or offer fair procedures, whether or not those procedures have been provided for in the law on the basis of which it is acting. Action denying the process that is “due” would be unconstitutional.” (Cornell).

    Lets be real, this is elementary. An indictment followed by a jury trial was due, but was not paid.

    The plutocracy a.k.a. the wartocracy, to which the office of the president and congress now bow down to, in place of the supreme law of the land, the Constitution, is sending us a message.

    That message is we will kill you if we consider you to be a threat.

    This brings to mind the Star Trek episode about The Borg. Crew members were mystified when they boarded the Borg ship but were not attacked by Borg automatons. The Borg went right past them doing their duties because the Enterprise crew members were not seen as a threat since they were puny by comparison.

    Wee the people are not a threat to the masters of war. The problem is that they will become more and more paranoid until we may all be considered a threat.

  46. Does this strike anyone curiosity about the English Star Chamber….King Edward ring any bells….about the mid 17th century….Like right before…or about the time the Pilgrims came to the US….The Star Chamber court system was established….Seems…George…reestablished it….and Obama is living it….

  47. AY:

    They did. They took only written evidence against nobles (whom the judges of the law courts were said to fear), met in secret, and dispensed justice using equitable principles instead the processes of law. They eventually became an appendage for the king in persecuting his political opponents.

  48. mespo7272721, October 1, 2011 at 1:08 am

    Junctionshamus:

    “Thus having only proved yourself to be an effete, intellectual snob. Dammit man, get out of the classroom, put down that book, and live in the world.”

    *********************

    “I surely do live in the world and if people like you get their way, it won’t be worth living in.”~Mespo

    Thank you Mespo, for your insight , for your work, and for your staunch presence of mind, spirit and body.
    (one of my favorite movies btw….)

  49. Must the SWAT sniper wait for a Court Order before taking out the gunman in a bank hostage situation?

    Does the 5th amendment (or any other constitutional provision) apply to extra-judicial action against an individual beyond the reach of US civil jurisdiction and who is reasonably believed to be actively engaged in ongoing activities constituting a clear and present danger to the US?

  50. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/02/world/middleeast/yemen-notes-its-own-role-in-us-attack-on-militant.html?hp

    Yemen Notes Its Own Role in U.S. Attack on Militant
    By LAURA KASINOF

    Published: October 1, 2011

    SANA, Yemen — Yemeni officials provided more details on Saturday about their role in the tracking and killing of an American-born cleric, while a government spokesman said that the United States should show more appreciation to Yemen’s embattled president for his assistance in the case.

    A high-ranking Yemeni official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that Yemen had provided the United States with intelligence on the location of the cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by an American drone strike on Friday. The information came from “a tip that came from a recently captured Al Qaeda operative,” the official said.

    The timing of the airstrikes fueled speculation that Mr. Saleh, who has frequently portrayed himself as an essential bulwark against Al Qaeda, had handed over Mr. Awlaki to the Americans in order to reduce American pressure on him to leave.

    American officials said Friday that there was no connection between Mr. Saleh’s return and the airstrikes. They said that American and Yemeni security forces had been hunting Mr. Awlaki for nearly two years, and that fresh information about his location surfaced about three weeks ago.

    The spokesman for Yemen’s opposition coalition, Mohammed Qahtan, rejected the idea that Mr. Awlaki’s killing cast the government in a favorable light. Instead, it shows “the regime’s failure and weakness to perform its duty to arrest and try Awlaki in accordance with the Constitution,” Mr. Qahtan said. “And it’s that that forced America to go after him using their own means.”

    Although Yemen did not carry out the strike, which was launched from a secret American base in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemeni officials were quick to trumpet the results. A high-ranking Yemeni security official called The New York Times at 10:15 a.m. local time on Friday, about 20 minutes after the attack.

    The Defense Ministry broadcast the announcement an hour later, hours before American officials made any public statement. (end of excerpts)

  51. I am concerned with what we currently have running for president. On one hand we have a bunch of lunatics running on the right, which are for capitol punishment. Then we have one on the left, that looks like he is on the right but is for abortion and and killing American citizens that he disagrees with without a court hearing. Help me, I am confused.

  52. Confused Catholic,

    “Help me, I am confused.”

    Join the club.

    It is not our fault.

    The guilt, the fault, is upon those who breach the office of trust bestowed upon them.

  53. Oro Lee 1, October 1, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Must the SWAT sniper wait for a Court Order before taking out the gunman in a bank hostage situation?
    =====================================================
    Did the defendant in this case meet your false frame, that is, did the defendant in this case get shot by a SWAT sniper because he was robbing a bank during which he took hostages?

  54. Oro:

    “Must the SWAT sniper wait for a Court Order before taking out the gunman in a bank hostage situation?”

    *******************

    Like any other official — including the Presidnet of the United States— that sniper, finger crooked about the trigger, both eyes wide open, and breath tauntly held, must follow the law whether fortified with an opinion of the court or not. That is what makes us a nation of laws, and not of men with rifles aimed at our heads.

  55. So much evidence, there’s no need to show it
    BY GLENN GREENWALD
    Salon
    SUNDAY, OCT 2, 2011 10:30 PM
    http://politics.salon.com/2011/10/03/awlaki_7/singleton/

    Excerpt:
    During the NSA eavesdropping controversy, Bush defenders insisted there was no harm from bypassing the FISA court because they were only eavesdropping on Bad Terrorists (who could possibly object to that?), which prompted this obvious, unanswerable question (one I asked here, among other places): if you really have so much evidence proving that the targets of your eavesdropping are Terrorists, then why not go show it to the court and get a warrant? After all, the more incriminating evidence you claim exists, the more (not less) reason there is to show it to a court. Similarly, during the controversy over Bush’s (and now Obama’s) detentions without due process, administration defenders insisted there was no need to charge the detainees or try them in a court because they were only imprisoning the-worst-of-the-worst, too-dangerous-to-release Terrorists (who could possibly object to that?), which prompted the same question: if there’s so much evidence proving they’re Terrorists, isn’t that even more of a reason to prove that in court?

    Now that hordes of Obama defenders are running around justifying the President’s due-process-free assassination of U.S. citizen Anwar Awlaki based on exactly the same claim and mindset — our President targeted a Very Bad Terrorist, so no due process or disclosure of evidence was needed — the same question obviously arises: if there’s so much evidence showing that Awlaki was involved in plotting Terrorist attacks on the U.S. (as opposed merely to delivering anti-U.S. sermons protected by the First Amendment), isn’t that even more of a reason to have indicted him and charged him with crimes before killing him? Please watch this amazing video of ABC News‘ Jake Tapper persistently questioning a stonewalling, imperious White House spokesman Jay Carney about this issue; remember: he’s asking the White House what evidence justified the U.S Government’s targeting of its own citizen for assassination with no due process, and the White House is telling him: we have it in secret but don’t need to show anyone (via Robert P. Murphy)

  56. raff,

    I love his daddy’s music. I even liked some of Junior’s music. But much like Ted Nugent, his running off at the mouth managed to ruin that later part for me.

  57. Raff,

    “Ron Paul is a hypocrite.”

    Because somewhere in his 40 something years of proclaiming the dangers of empire both abroad and at home, there was a time he slipped and supported extrajudicial assassinations of american citizens anywhere on the planet?

  58. That fellow was staying out of here thinking he couldn’t be caught and tried.
    I would have liked it better had he gotten caught and tried, but he was teaching violence —– the psychiatrist in the army who shot a bunch of
    folks in Texas had studied with him. Letting that “teacher” run loose was
    like letting a rabid dog run loose and if the only way to get rid of him is
    to kill him, I think it is fine.

    I am not as sure about keeping someone locked up for ever.
    Ron Paul wants to get rid of FDA etc and I don’t want my grandchildren
    to die of food poison. There’s a bunch of other stuff he wants to change that will damage us all.

    Big Mama

  59. yeah big momma. Those fools are terrorist dune coons. They deserved to die. Evil breeds evil, and that is exactly what was destroyed!

  60. seeing obama, clinton, cheney, pelosi and bush are all anti american terrorists, why don’t they order an air strike on themselves?

  61. I have a few questions.

    1. Who says Aulaqi is a U.S. Citizen. According to several other reliable sources, we have never seen his original birth certificate.

    2. Hey, in that picture, is that aluminum foil behind him — was somebody trying to steal his thoughts?

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