Nobel Peace Laureate Assassinates American Citizen
Good luck reconciling the inconsistencies of President Obama's war and terrorism positions.
Of all people to order the summary execution of Muslim terrorists, Barack Obama would not have been the first name to come to mind -- at least not prior to 2011. But with the bin Laden assassination under his belt, it was just a small step to summarily take out an American citizen without due process of law.
This is the same Barack Obama who campaigned on closing Gitmo (because it's a "recruiting tool" for terrorists). This is the same Obama who condemned the Bush administration's use of enhanced interrogation, calling the waterboarding of Khalid Sheik Mohammed for critical information illegal "torture." This is the same president who, but for a sharp turn in public opinion, would have released more "abused" detainee photos and "prosecuted" the Bush administration for alleged violations of human rights law.
This same Obama preached about his version of "American values," which requires extending Miranda rights on the battlefield to captured enemy combatants. Those so-called American values would have also provided civilian trials with full constitutional rights in New York City for the worst of the 9/11 terrorists. Of course, public backlash prevented the realization of those Obama values.
Incidentally, captured, non-uniformed enemy combatants are entitled to no rights under the Geneva Conventions or the U.S. Constitution. Every one of them could have been summarily executed on the battlefield.
Nonetheless, riding on his moral high horse with lifted chin, Obama extends American constitutional rights to foreign enemy combatants. Yet, inexplicably, the same Obama had no problem targeting U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki for assassination in Yemen. The question here is not whether al-Awlaki was deserving of death. The relevant question is whether Obama acted according to his own professed understanding of "the rule of law."
The unilateral power Obama is wielding makes Bush's "illegal torture" look like pat-a-cake.
The more we learn about Obama's secret death panel and the targeting of al-Awlaki, the clearer it becomes that Barack Obama is a law unto himself. Obama is sitting as Caesar, giving the thumbs-up or down.
Sure, currently, there is not much controversy over the killing of someone like al-Awlaki, but what will restrain someone like Obama in the future? Certainly, his high rhetoric on military ethics -- which, apparently applies only to George Bush -- will not. What happens when his secret panel recommends someone for targeting whose assassination might be considered a little more questionable?
We have to ask ourselves a basic question: why should the U.S. Constitution restrain Obama? The non-vetted president was shown from the beginning that the outdated presidential eligibility clause didn't apply to him. A foreign national father, an apparent adoption in Indonesia, and a bizarre veil of secrecy raised serious eligibility questions. Yet no legal hearings were required for Caesar Obama -- and if one constitutional clause is irrelevant, why not others?
Though Obama lamented back in 2001 that the Constitution is a "charter of negative liberties" (i.e., that it restrains the power of the federal government), as president he has shaken off all restraints. One example is Obama's dictatorial health care program, requiring that all Americans have health insurance...or face the power of the federal government.
Obama also unleashed the killing power of the United States military in Libya in direct violation of the War Powers Resolution. The law, which implements Congress's constitutional power to declare war, authorizes military force without Congressional approval only in cases of imminent attack on the United States. But for some reason, Obama felt that the authorization of the United Nations negated the need for the authorization of Congress. President Bush was accused of engaging in "illegal wars." We might disagree with Bush but it is not accurate to say the wars were illegal. On the contrary, Obama's leading from behind war in Libya remains illegal to the present day.
After Obama's harsh condemnation of the Bush administration and his ad nauseam preaching on "American values" and the "rule of law," we might conclude that Obama has an evil twin brother. Maybe Barry Soetoro is a separate entity who has no regard for the rule of law. Either that or Obama is the most notorious hypocrite in American history.
The United States has a longstanding policy against targeting enemies for assassination. President Gerald Ford signed an executive order in 1976 which prohibited the U.S. government from directing assassinations. President Carter in 1978 and President Reagan in 1981 reaffirmed the assassination decree with executive orders of their own. The prohibition against assassinations is one of the ways the United States is set apart from the third-world governments around the globe.
The summary killing of non-uniformed enemy combatants captured during actual combat is one thing. Targeting American citizens, even a "spiritual advisor" to al-Qaeda members, for extrajudicial execution at any given time, in any given place, is quite another.
So far, the Obama administration has produced no information to show that Anwar al-Awlaki presented an imminent threat to the United States. Unsurprisingly, the Justice Department memo justifying the targeting of al-Awlaki remains under lock and key. I'll go with finding a man on the moon over finding an imminent threat in the secret memo.
Obama's blatant disregard of his own professed understanding of the rule of law makes him an extremely dangerous man. It appears that politics alone can change his positions on matters of life and death.
Monte Kuligowski is a Virginia attorney.