The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.The key word is "believed." Apparently, President Obama has looked at some intelligence and decided that Anwar al-Awlaki should be exterminated. In so doing, Obama casts himself in the role of judge, jury and executioner.
I see three problems with Obama's approach here. First, intelligence isn't always what it's cracked up to be. Recall that another president took America to war on the basis of worthless CIA intelligence. The massacre captured in the WikiLeaks video was an outcome of soldiers acting on poor intelligence. Second, that's not quite how America's justice system works. You know, "innocent until proven guilty," trials, juries, that kind of stuff. Third, a decision about whether or not to take away the life of an American citizen is not part of a president's job description. On that point, we could check the Constitution, or seeking a right-wing interpretation, we could ask someone who worked for the Bush Administration:
A former senior legal official in the administration of George W. Bush said he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president.It appears as if Obama is leading his country to a dark place in the woods. A place so dark Bush and Cheney dared not go there. I cannot help but wonder who poses the greater danger to the United States as we know it: one radical Muslim American cleric or a president who would order the execution of an American citizen without trial?