The Case of Anwar al-Awlaki

The news is in, Anwar al-Awlaki is dead! Hurray! Go America! That’s how this news is being reported by a great number of sources with few giving much consideration to the fact that the President ordered a hit on a United States citizen without granting that citizen’s constitutionally guaranteed right to face his accusers. Thankfully there are some dissenter left on Capitol Hill who are willing to point out this face:

Paul, known for his fierce libertarian views, said the death of the New Mexico native-turned-terrorist-preacher was akin to “assassination” during a campaign stop in New Hampshire.

“I don’t think it’s a good way to deal with our problems,” the Texas Congressman said. “If the American people accept this blindly and casually that we now have an accepted practice of the President assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys, I think it’s sad.”

I fully agree with Dr. Paul on this. Anwar al-Awalki may have been a terrible person but he was still a citizen of the United States of America, which means he should have enjoyed the so-called rights ascribed by the Constitution. Namely al-Awalki’s Sixth Amendment guarantee to a trial by jury and right to face his accuser were violated:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

The United States is supposedly a landed where rule of law reigns supreme. Instead our government sees fit to throw out laws when those rules become inconvenient to them. Would arresting somebody and trying him for crimes be a pain in the ass? “No problem!” our politicians say, “Just send a missile at him from an unmanned drone!”

People in this country should be truly frightening by this turn of events. When you give the government an inch they always take a lightyear. Sure they’re using the excuse that al-Awalki was a terrorist this time but what’s to stop the government from expanding on this? We’re currently fighting a war on drugs so should the President have the power to order hits on drug deals who are citizens of the United States? Considering the fact that the federal government has been using clauses in the PATRIOT Act to fight the war on drugs what I’m suggesting wouldn’t be too great of a leap. From there why not allow the President to order hits on drug users?

The blind approval of the assassination of al-Awalki is a slippery slope indeed. We, as American people, need to decide if our country is indeed a land where all are equal under the law or if our country is run by a ruling class who can exempt themselves from the law whenever they so choose. Should our politicians have to abide by the Constitution at all times or only pay it lip service when it’s politically expedient? We can’t have it both ways.