Obama has struck again. Not simply by raining death down on those foreigners he considers America’s enemies, but now on his own citizens and on the Constitution he is pledged to uphold. And the mainstream press, by and large, either ignore this or applaud his breaches. Dissenting voices are drowned out in the clamour to hate.
Al-Awlaki was killed by a drone missile in the Yemen yesterday. He was considered a spokesman for Al Quida and suspected of being involved with various persons who had attempted to kill Americans. Considered and suspected are as far as we can go, for now Obama has denied us all the opportunity to know the truth.
In it’s howling triumphalism what the press is forgetting is that unlike Osama Bin Laden, Al-Awlaki was born an American and had never given up his citizenship. He was therefore protected by the Constitution of the United States. A Constitution we should remember that Obama so archly shouted he respected over all others. Back in 2007 Barak said “Unlike the current President [Bush] I actually respect the constitution”. He was also taking the opportunity of that speech to remind us that he was once a Constitutional Law Professor. Ho ho ho, what a sad, sick joke.
As an American citizen Al Awlaki was covered by the 14th Amendment to the constitution where he is protected by the requirement for “due process”. Due process prohibits state and local governments from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without certain steps being taken to ensure fairness, as well as to recognize substantive and procedural rights. There are no ifs, no buts, no subsidiary clauses, no “exceptional circumstances” or “conditions” where the 14th fails to apply. Being in a state of war does not reduce the 14th amendment. In plainer language this means all citizens, in all circumstances war included, and no matter how hated, are owed a trial, in open court, before a jury and after an opportunity to give evidence and make arguments.
Even that arch trouble maker the apostle Paul was allowed a hearing as a citizen of Rome.
It might be argued that Al Awlaki had turned traitor, and joined a foreign military or had sworn allegiance to another state, ceased to be an US citizen and to have removed himself from the protection of her constitution and thus could be targeted. “With the intention of relinquishing US nationality“ being the phrase. Now that’s a huge heck of a legal hurdle for Obama to prove. Is there the slightest shred of evidence that Al Awlaki ever formally renounced American citizenship? No? Thought not.
True, a bill was introduced in the House last year by Rep. Charles Dent (R-Penn.) which would have stripped Awlaki of his citizenship on the basis that his calls for attacks against the United States constituted a voluntary relinquishment, but it never made it out of subcommittee. In any event, the Obama administration has never denied Al Awlaki’s citizenship when it targeted him for assassination.
Weasel academics have been poked forward, blinking into the daylight, to gloss this disgrace. Kenneth Anderson, an international law scholar at American University’s Washington College of Law, said the U.S. was within their rights to kill al-Awlaki. He said: ‘Where hostiles go, there is the possibility of hostilities,” Anderson said. “The U.S. has never accepted the proposition that if you leave the active battlefield, suddenly you are no longer targetable”. Yes they have!. The Geneva conventions say you have. Nuremburg says you have. As I pointed out in Osama Obama and Eichmann it was the Americans who invented the War Crimes trial. It has a long history. It was good enough for the Israelis in the sixties, the countries of the former Yugoslavia with Milosovic five years ago, and even the Hungarians this year. God knows it was good enough for America when the criminals were infinitely worse than this lot. Why is America choosing to cast its principles aside now?
Others, thankfully, are openly in disagreement. Mr Jaffer an ACLU lawyer put it as eloquently as any ‘The government’s authority to use lethal force against its own citizens should be limited to circumstances in which the threat to life is concrete, specific and imminent. It is a mistake to invest the president, any president, with the unreviewable power to kill any American whom he deems to present a threat to the country”.
Only Ron Paul, of all the 2012 candidates, has decided to be brave and stick his head above the barricades on this issue. The rest of the gutless, spine free GOP candidates slunk down hoping it will all go away, frightened of upsetting a country which had been fed lies. Ron Paul told reporters after a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, Friday. “Al-Awlaki was born here, he’s an American citizen, he was never tried or charged for any crimes,” Ron continued. “To start assassinating American citizens without charges – we should think very seriously about this”.
Of the mainstream press The New York Times’s Glen Greenwald comes forward with ”The blind casual acceptance by America that a president can assassinate people he does not like without due process. What’s most striking about this is not that the U.S. government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar (“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”), and did so in a way that almost certainly violates core First Amendment protections (questions that will now never be decided in a court of law)”. What’s most amazing is that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. government’s new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S. government.
That Obama has therefore abrogated process of law simply on his say so that they are bad people intent on bad deeds is beyond sad. A new age of McCarthyism is upon us.
And when the darkness comes for you, and you need the law as your only shield and defence where now will it be?
Copyright David Macadam 2011