Was US Right to Kill One of Its Own Citizens?

Bloggers disagree on killing of Anwar al-Awlaki
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2011 1:20 PM CDT
Was US Right to Kill One of Its Own Citizens?
Anwar al-Awlaki speaks in a video message posted on radical websites in 2010.   (AP Photo/SITE Intelligence Group, File)

The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki has set off a spirited debate on one key point—the US just killed one of its own citizens. (In fact, it killed two.) A sampling:

  • Out of line: Glenn Greenwald at Salon is outraged. Whatever happened to due process, a right that citizen Awlaki was guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment? The killing shows "the genius of America's political culture," he writes. "It not only finds way to obliterate the most basic individual liberties designed to safeguard citizens from consummate abuses of power (such as extinguishing the lives of citizens without due process). It actually gets its citizens to stand up and clap and even celebrate the destruction of those safeguards." Full post here.

  • Justified: In his Dish blog at the Daily Beast, Andrew Sullivan says he respects Greenwald's stance but thinks it "minimizes the stakes" involved. "My own position is that we are at war, and that avowed enemies and traitors in active warfare against the US cannot suddenly invoke legal protections from a society they have decided to help destroy." Full post here.
  • Bad precedent: Kevin D. Williamson at the National Review is uneasy: "The prospect of putting American citizens on a government hit list should give us pause as conservatives: not for what this administration might do with such power, but for what an administration 50 years down the road might do with it." Full post here.
  • Justified: Blogger Marisol at Jihad Watch thinks the "due process" argument is irrelevant. Think of a shooter in a school or mall. "He is a clear and present danger to others, and the focus is on stopping him. 'Due process' happens for the most part after the perpetrator is in handcuffs. If he won't stop shooting and put down the gun, the SWAT team is not denying him 'due process' by stopping him." Full post here.
(More Anwar al-Awlaki stories.)

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