I don’t think this is what the Obamatrons had in mind. And I’m not sure which is more appalling. The news that Barack Obama has just decided to start killing American citizens without granting them the benefit of an arrest, a trial, or a conviction, or the fact that writers at National Review are actually supporting his dictate:
The Obama administration has authorized operations to capture or kill a U.S.-born Muslim cleric based in Yemen, who is described by a key lawmaker as Americas’s top terrorist threat, officials said on Tuesday. The decision to add Anwar al-Awlaki, of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, to the target list followed a National Security Council review prompted by his status as a U.S. citizen.
Officials said Awlaki directly threatened the United States. “Awlaki is a proven threat,” said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He’s being targeted.”
Rep. Jane Harman, chairwoman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, described Awlaki as “probably the person, the terrorist, who would be terrorist No. 1 in terms of threat against us. He is very much in the sights of the Yemenis, with us helping them,” said Harman, who recently visited Yemen to meet with U.S. and Yemeni officials. She told Reuters that Awlaki’s U.S. citizenship made going after him “certainly complicated.”
To his credit, Kevin D. Williamson is among the sane “conservatives” left at NRO:
I hate to play the squish, but am I the only one who is just a little bit queasy over the fact that the president of the United States is authorizing the assassination of American citizens? Andy writes that this is “obviously the right call.” I might be persuaded that this is, in fact, the right call. But obviously? No hesitation there? It seems to me that the fact of U.S. citizenship ought to be a bright line on the political map.
Surely there has to be some operational constraint on the executive when it comes to the killing of U.S. citizens. It is not impossible to imagine a president who, for instance, sincerely believes that Andy McCarthy is undermining the Justice Department’s ability to prosecute the war on terror on the legal front. A government that can kill its citizens can shut them up, no? I ask this not as a legal question, but as a moral and political question: How is it that a government that can assassinate Citizen Awlaki is unable to censor Citizen McCarthy, or drop him in an oubliette? Practically every journalist of any consequence in Washington has illegally handled a piece of classified information. Can the president have them assassinated in the name of national security? Under the Awlaki standard, why not?
Odious as Awlaki is, this seems to me to be setting an awful and reckless precedent. Consider how “interstate commerce” has been redefined over time to cover that which is neither interstate nor commerce, for the sake of political expediency. It is easy to imagine “national security” being treated the same way, particularly in an open-ended conflict against a loosely defined enemy.
No, this is not the right call. This is madness. And it is another step in the descent to open and unmitigated evil. There is no other way to describe it. The sickening thing is that without the ludicrous decision to grant citizenship to so many third worlders possessing zero loyalty to the nation, there would be no excuse for legally painting federal crosshairs on each and every U.S. citizen. This isn’t merely a direct assault on the Constitution, it is far more impeachment-worthy than anything Bill Clinton ever did.
If Citizen Awlaki is deemed worthy of government assassination today, you can be assured that other American citizens will deemed “a proven threat” in the future.