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The due-process-free assassination of U.S. citizens is now reality

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It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki.  No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was "considering" indicting him).  Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even has any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt.  When Awlaki's father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were "state secrets" and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts.  He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner.  When Awlaki's inclusion on President Obama's hit list was confirmed, The New York Times noted that "it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing."

After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it was the U.S.).  It almost certainly was able to find and kill Awlaki with the help of its long-time close friend President Saleh, who took a little time off from murdering his own citizens to help the U.S. murder its. The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world. The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced.

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.  Many will celebrate the strong, decisive, Tough President's ability to eradicate the life of Anwar al-Awlaki -- including many who just so righteously condemned those Republican audience members as so terribly barbaric and crass for cheering Governor Perry's execution of scores of serial murderers and rapists -- criminals who were at least given a trial and appeals and the other trappings of due process before being killed.

Read the rest of this article at Salon

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For the past 10 years, I was a litigator in NYC specializing in First Amendment challenges, civil rights cases, and corporate and securities fraud matters. I am the author of the New York Times Best-Selling book, How Would A Patriot (more...)

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Hang 'em high and   r e j o i c e   ... by Ned Lud on Saturday, Oct 1, 2011 at 10:02:30 AM
The question is how to get out. I am pleased ... by Daniel Geery on Saturday, Oct 1, 2011 at 11:04:04 AM
About that Peace Prize?... by Miriam Callaghan on Saturday, Oct 1, 2011 at 5:00:02 PM
The News, mainstream and alternative is nearly hal... by Paul Repstock on Saturday, Oct 1, 2011 at 6:36:01 PM
While all of you are defending Awlaki has even one... by Rachel Contreras on Saturday, Oct 1, 2011 at 7:07:02 PM
What evidence do you have for anything you say? ... by Paul Repstock on Saturday, Oct 1, 2011 at 7:55:31 PM
Criminals who are smart turn themselves in to the... by bern on Sunday, Oct 2, 2011 at 12:00:53 PM
I totally agree.  He was a terrorist and cert... by bern on Wednesday, Oct 5, 2011 at 4:41:33 PM
When the most amount of tax dollars can be spent, ... by Steven G. Erickson on Saturday, Oct 1, 2011 at 9:05:16 PM
you said  "Choosing instead to shoot from amb... by bern on Sunday, Oct 2, 2011 at 12:08:21 PM
At least someone objects when our leaders send a k... by Don Hall on Sunday, Oct 2, 2011 at 8:46:30 PM
First, Anwar al-Awlaki was probably not a citizen.... by bern on Tuesday, Oct 4, 2011 at 1:47:56 AM
Greetings,Rachel and Bern, you certainly don't kno... by Kellis R. Solomon on Saturday, Oct 8, 2011 at 2:04:29 AM