Saturday, October 1, 2011


Back in the good old nineteen fifties, we used to have Congressional hearings to ferret out the bad guys. You know, the pinko Commie traitors who advocated the violent overthrow of the United States government.

Civil libertarians screamed and hollered. Eventually, the head witch hunter, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, was debunked, censured, and faded from the scene.

I reflected on those days as I read news reports about the killing of Muslim Imam Anwar al-Awlaki.

Here’s an example of what the mainstream media were saying about it:

An American-born cleric killed in Yemen played a "significant operational role" in plotting and inspiring attacks on the United States, U.S. officials said, as they disclosed detailed intelligence to justify the killing of a U.S. citizen.

Anwar al-Awlaki was killed early Friday in a strike on his convoy carried out by a joint operation of the CIA and the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, according to counterterrorism officials. Al-Awlaki had been under observations for three weeks while they waited for the right opportunity to strike.

Another U.S. official said a second American citizen died in the airstrike that killed al-Awlaki. Two other men also perished.

The second American, Samir Khan, edited the slick Western-style Internet publication Inspire Magazine that attracted many readers.

The online magazine published seven issues offering articles on making crude bombs and how to fire AK-47 assault rifles. U.S. intelligence officials have said that Khan — who was from North Carolina — was not directly responsible for targeting Americans.

I wrote a blog three years ago called “Murdering Presidents.” It’s worth another look in light of recent events.

President Obama enjoyed a spike in public approval when Navy Seals killed Osama Ben Laden on his orders. No doubt the pollsters will note a similar boost to his popularity as a consequence of this latest Mafia style hit.

I got to wondering how the people of the United States would have felt if Awlaki had been found in a condo in Colorado rather than a convoy in Yemen. Does the government’s “kill or capture” list specify when and where to kill?

And what about companions and bystanders? Does the official hit list include anyone who might be hanging around with the targeted wrongdoer?

Anyway, who makes up the hit list and when do they do it?

I was surprised to learn that Imam Awlaki led Muslim federal workers in prayer after 9-11, and that he was invited to speak at the Pentagon about the same time, as part of the government’s outreach to Muslims.

So many contradictions.

Cop killer Troy Davis is administered a lethal injection, while hundreds pray and protest in the street. Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood terrorist who killed thirteen people in November of 2009 has yet to be brought to trial. Magazine editor Samir Kahn is killed by the CIA and nobody cares.

At the risk of being branded a constitutional curmudgeon, I have to say that a “kill or capture” list that is prepared by officials of the federal government who decline to identify themselves or speak only on condition of anonymity, scares the hell out of me.

And I am not at all comfortable with the idea that CIA assassinations are OK as long as they are authorized by the President of the United States.

Especially a first term President who is up for re-election.

In the last analysis, liberty is all about due process of law. Before we put up a poster that says, “Wanted: Dead or Alive” there ought to be at least enough evidence to issue a warrant.

Where the heck is the ACLU when their man is in the White House?


  1. Tom, oh excuse me "Your Honor"

    What have you been smoking? Or maybe it was just that you wrote your "Political Assination" BLOG and posted it at 6:57 am and because you had just goten out of bed sufficient blood was not getting to your brain restricting you from thinking clearly.

    I don't even know where to begin with the amount of mis-information and out and out distortion of "Established American Law". I know more about WAR than I do about LAW, but I suggest in the future if you are going to make such OUTRAGEOUS claims as the killing of AWLAKI was comparable to a Mafia hit you should do more research to ascertain if there nare any Americans Laws or precedent for killing the "Most Wanted Terrorist" in the world.
    In the "Associated Forces" doctrine well understood under the laws of war, the US attacked the French in North Africia even though we had not declared war against France. Additionally, the current administrations own definitin of who is an "enemy combanant" includes a specific reference to "associaed forces that are engaged in hostiilities" against the US or it's allies.
    As for the idea that Awlaki was entitled to "special consideration" on account of his US citizenship, the US Supreme Court made it's views clear in the 1942 EX PA QUIRIN case dealing with Nazi saboteurs. Suggest nyou mlook up that ruling. Your blog goes on to state "LIBERTY IS ABOUT DUE PROCESS" and you imply there was not sufficient evidence to justify killing an "enemy combatant" which is exactly what this dirt bag rag head was.
    Suggest you also look into his documented involvement with the US Army Major who killed 30 plus americfans on the Fort Hood TX military base. Or his involvement with the the uslim who nearly brought down a jetliner over Detroit or the "Times Squae" bomber".
    I can't go on. My blood preasure is to high, but clearly understan this: "The US Drone Campaign is LEGAL, the killing of AWLaki s LEGAL and it's a National Security SUCCESS!
    I anxiously await your response if you have one.
    L/CPL Murphy;USMC retired

  2. My admiration and respect for L/CPL Murphy as a representative of our military and a patriot is boundless.
    I must, however, take issue with his legal analysis.
    The Quirin case involved a number of Nazi spies who were landed on our shores by submarine in 1942.
    One of them cooperated with the FBI. The rest were captured. President Roosevelt ordered them to be tried in a military tribunal. They were and most were executed.
    The case was appealed and the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, saying,
    “Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful”
    The obvious difference between the Nazi spies and Awlaki and Kahn is that the latter were never put on trial.
    The esteemed marine knows that Awlaki was behind the Fort Hood massacre, and the Detroit and Manhattan bombing attempts. He knows because he reads the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and he watches television.
    I don’t get the papers, but I am pretty sure than neither Awlaki nor Kahn were put on trial, convicted and sentenced to death. Not even in absentia.
    I suppose that if the CIA and the military were to launch a drone and “take out” Cesar Chaves, lots of patriotic Americans would cheer.
    Absent a declaration of war by the Congress, speaking for the American people, I would question such an action, and I think many others would as well.

  3. I am wholeheartedly behind our constitution and support due process. That being said, if Awlaki was not inside US territory at the time of the attack was he under the umbrella of protection that the constitution affords us? For example I have learned in my Criminal Procedure class that protections of the fourth amendment will not exempt you from US agents searching/seizing you while outside of the border (or on the border for that matter). Anyways despite the lack of procedure involved in neutralizing Awlaki, maybe the totality of the circumstances (being at war, targeted outside border, and the threat he apparently posed)were enough to "justify". It is still frightening that powers exist to carry out the ultimate seizure of a US citizen anywhere.