March 16, 2012


In assassinating Anwar al-Awlaki, Obama left the Constitution behind: Memo or no memo, the administration lacks any legal principle behind the killing of the anti-American American citizen (David Dow, 3/16/12, Daily Beast)

Last week Attorney General Eric Holder seemed to confirm what many have long suspected: that the Obama Administration's Office of Legal Counsel prepared a secret memorandum authorizing the targeted killing of U.S. citizens living abroad. Until these killings began, the idea that an elected official could be judge, jury, and executioner was just an empty expression. But when Hellfire missiles from Predator drones killed American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan on September 30th, it appeared that the Obama Administration had transformed metaphor into policy.

Despite Holder's ambiguous acknowledgment of its existence, the memorandum--purportedly prepared by administration lawyers to justify these acts--remains unreleased. But even without holding the memo in my hands, I feel confident saying one thing: These killings were, and will continue to be, lawless.

For starters, we can assume the memo takes as true what the Obama Administration has said about al-Awlaki. According to the government, at least two of the 9/11 hijackers attended a Washington, D.C., area mosque where al-Awlaki was the imam and delivered incendiary sermons. Al-Awlaki presided at the funeral of the mother of Nidal Hasan, the accused Fort Hood shooter (and another worshipper at the mosque). Al-Awlaki's phone number was found in the German apartment of the supposed 20th hijacker. He has been connected to the unsuccessful effort to blow up an American airliner on Christmas Day 2009, to recent efforts to place bombs on commercial aircraft destined for the United States, and to an article that called for the murder of, among others, a cartoonist living in Seattle. these guys sound exactly like all those libertarians who complain that Lincoln was a tyrant for the manner in which he won the Civil War.

Posted by at March 16, 2012 6:19 AM

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