Guy W. Farmer: The killing of anwar al-Awlaki
For the Nevada Appeal
I commend President Obama, the CIA and the Defense Department’s Joint Special Operations Command for organizing and carrying out the drone attack that killed al-Qaida terrorist mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki and several of his bloodthirsty associates in Yemen earlier this month. As we used to say in Australia, Good on ’em.
By contrast, the ACLU, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and others are questioning the legality and morality of the operation that killed U.S.-born al-Awlaki on grounds that his constitutional rights were violated. I think that argument is total nonsense, and I’ll tell you why.
President Obama alienated the far left fringe of his own party by authorizing the assassination of the despicable al-Awlaki, who joined al-Qaida and dedicated himself to killing as many of his fellow Americans as possible. Ms. Maddow and her followers argue that it was illegal to kill the terrorist cleric without first reading him his Miranda rights and charging him in a U.S. court of law. Apparently, Maddow Democrats believe Obama should have sent in CIA operatives to read al-Awlaki his rights before launching the hellfire missiles that killed him. That’s just plain crazy.
“Can the U.S. government choose an American citizen to be executed without charging them with anything … (and) without giving them a chance to defend themselves?” Ms. Maddow asked.
My answer is a decisive “Yes” because if I were to advocate the forcible overthrow of our government and the killing of Americans, I would expect the Feds to come after me without asking a bunch of silly questions.
My friend and fellow columnist Ty Cobb, a Republican who blogs about defense and national security issues, recently wrote a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of the legal and moral issues involved in the al-Awlaki assassination.
“The (drone) strike reinforces President Obama’s image as a relentless hunter of AQ terrorists and signifies another step in the shifting manner in which the U.S. is conducting the War on Terror,” Cobb wrote, pointing out that al-Awlaki had contact with two of the 9/11 highjackers while he was preaching hate at a San Diego area mosque in the 1990s.
“The nature of al-Awlaki’s death raised important legal and moral issues about the evidence against him and whether he was given the ‘due process’ of law that all American citizens enjoy,” Cobb continued. “It seems to me that the administration is on firm ground” because of his involvement in a plot to blow up U.S. airliners and because he had been fighting alongside the enemy in an armed conflict against our country. In other words, once you declare war on the United States, you’ve earned the right to be targeted by our special forces.
Cobb and I reject those who contend that this assassination was an “extrajudicial execution” that violated international law which, by the way, authorizes the killing of enemy combatants. At the same time, however, the Obama administration must choose its targets carefully in order to protect the rights of law-abiding American citizens.
• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, was a U.S. Foreign Service officer for nearly 30 years.