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Author Topic: Anwar al-Awlaki  (Read 4027 times)

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Offline BayushiTopic starter

Anwar al-Awlaki
« on: October 11, 2011, 02:37:06 AM »
Dude was reputed to be one cold bastard. Born and educated in the US, known as the spiritual leader of the Al Qaeda network.

He's also quite dead. I'm not against him being compost now, however how be became deceased seems to be quite an issue.

Anwar al-Awlaki was an American citizen.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America reads:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Even as evil as the man may have been, he had the right to a fair trial (military tribunal in this case). When FDR first coined the term "Enemy Combatant" after the capture of the Americans sent to spy on us by Germany, the accused were first tried before military tribunals before they were executed.

Why didn't the government think that al-Awlaki was still covered by the Fifth Amendment, as cited above? Some say he renounced his citizenship. Unfortunately, one is required to at least visit an American Consulate to renounce one's citizenship. As yet, there is no such record or witness accounting of any such renouncement occurring.

My fear is that this will only open the door to more abuses of power in the name of "hunting terrorists". I don't know if there is some unknown provision in the Patriot Act or other secret intelligence law, but as it stands now, the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki was an illegal act.

Heads should be rolling over this.

Thoughts or rebuttals?

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Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2011, 07:49:07 AM »
For those not familiar with the incident, I tracked down this NYTimes article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/world/middleeast/secret-us-memo-made-legal-case-to-kill-a-citizen.html 

The list of obstacles that they had to rationalize starts about halfway down the first page.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2011, 10:12:30 AM »
 I think it's a very shaky case against trying to accord him the rights of a US citizen. He was actively helping in a war against the US, outside of the US. It would have been a good intelligence coup to capture him and all of his equipment, but I do not see much wrong with having him killed like that. Citizen or not, he WAS an enemy.

 If he'd been in the US, then yes, all the rights accordingly, but outside the borders of the US, in the role of an active combatant? No. Treat him like any other enemy. To afford him all of the rights of a US citizen in an active war is foolish since there are other former Americans that are doing the same thing. Should all of them be captured and given trials rather than killed in combat?

Quote
Even as evil as the man may have been, he had the right to a fair trial (military tribunal in this case). When FDR first coined the term "Enemy Combatant" after the capture of the Americans sent to spy on us by Germany, the accused were first tried before military tribunals before they were executed.


 Spies that were caught, if you will note, in the US. Not out on the battlefield.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2011, 01:10:27 PM »
He was not part of a Geneva Convention recognized national army or uniformed partisan militia, and we did not declare war officially with any nation. So he was in fact an American civilian. If it was the case we were at war with a nation lets say ACME and he joined their guerilla forces or standing army he would not be protected from attack as far as I know.

So I will say it likely was illegal but the fact is its a gray area at this point but since he did not pull a trigger, plant a bomb or took part in strategic operations he should not have been a target for just talking even if vile things.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2011, 02:13:57 PM »
He was not part of a Geneva Convention recognized national army or uniformed partisan militia, and we did not declare war officially with any nation. So he was in fact an American civilian. If it was the case we were at war with a nation lets say ACME and he joined their guerilla forces or standing army he would not be protected from attack as far as I know.

So I will say it likely was illegal but the fact is its a gray area at this point but since he did not pull a trigger, plant a bomb or took part in strategic operations he should not have been a target for just talking even if vile things.

 He comes under the definition of 'Terrorist' then. The fact he's a US citizen isn't relevant. Under the Geneva Convention, terrorists are NOT afforded the same protections as recognized military soldiers are.

 The fact he wasn't out shooting people is not that relevant either He was a recruiter and several terrorists we have caught have said that he was their inspiration.  He was aiding and abetting the enemy. An enemy that IS at war with the US whether you want to believe it or not.  Wars aren't just fought by nations.

 If he'd been in the Us was this had happened, then I would say you were likely right. But he wasn't. He was in Yemen and actively aiding the enemy, so that puts him squarely in the 'Enemies' list.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2011, 02:24:08 PM »
I'm a BIT leery of the need for 'licenses' to represent him in the US by his father. Seems to me that a biological relative would have a valid claim. Despite that one point.. I think the government went though proper channels.. though again, the lack of transparency in the process makes me a bit twitchy. I would assume that it would at least require a review before a closed panel of congress.

Offline meikle

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2011, 03:28:42 PM »
We kill US citizens who are threats to others all of the time without trial.  I guess we're concerned about the degree of immediacy?

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Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2011, 03:40:43 PM »
Typically, the police go to those situations without the intent of killing the person who is the threat.  At least, if I understand what you're referring to.  In this case, there appears to have been a targeted drone strike, specifically aimed at taking out this one person.  In a court case, it's the difference between self-defense and premeditated homicide.

Offline meikle

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2011, 05:05:32 PM »
Typically, the police go to those situations without the intent of killing the person who is the threat.  At least, if I understand what you're referring to.  In this case, there appears to have been a targeted drone strike, specifically aimed at taking out this one person.  In a court case, it's the difference between self-defense and premeditated homicide.

Hence, immediacy.

The article does talk about feasibility, however (that is, whether or not it was feasible to attempt a safe extraction.)  If the answer was no, was leaving a threat free to act a preferable choice?

It's just a thought.  I'm not really trying to take a stand on the issue at all.

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Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2011, 05:37:01 PM »
Yeah - I don't know all the fact.  It would have been 'easier' if the drone strike had been directed at an area instead of a person.  Or if he'd been in the middle of boxing up some WMDs to FedEx to DC.

Offline Missy

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2011, 07:07:45 PM »
I don't really know. On one hand it seems like a super-specific case with unusual circumstances. On the other I do question why they opted to execute him outright instead of apprehend him with our guys in green (well the super-elite guys in green anyway)

Definitely something you never use as a precedent for anything ever however.


I'm actually inclined to question the Yemenese government at this point. Their commando's seem a little incompetent to me, maybe I just have a high standard.

Offline elone

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2011, 12:54:32 AM »
Maybe the should have tried him in a military court in absentia and sentenced him to death by drone.

What about the civilians that are killed by our drone strikes in Pakistan and other places in undeclared wars in sovereign countries. Should the US be held accountable for their deaths? Don't you love the term collateral damage? Maybe that is another discussion. For some reason it is okay to drop a bomb on someone, but not so okay to walk up to the same person and shoot them point blank with a rifle. Except for Bin Laden of course.

Offline BayushiTopic starter

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2011, 02:33:44 AM »
For some reason it is okay to drop a bomb on someone, but not so okay to walk up to the same person and shoot them point blank with a rifle. Except for Bin Laden of course.
Two things with Osama Bin Laden.

1) He was not an American Citizen, and as such does not gain the protection of American law.
2) He was a self-declared enemy of the United States, and claimed responsibility for the deaths of THOUSANDS of fellow citizens.

al-Awlaki, on the other hand, was an American citizen and is due all the rights of one, wherever he may have traveled. That means he's innocent until proven guilty. OBL admitted his guilt publicly, and openly declared war on the United States. He got what was coming to him.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2011, 02:52:07 PM »
One of the reasons we took the time, and pleasure, to shoot OBL in the face was the sheer amount of intel that they took from the site as well. I'm willing to bet every pad of paper, notebook, laptop, cellphone and DVD the team could get a hold of was taken with them and right now there is a massive table somewhere with a LOT of them being looked over by every manner of intel analysis, forensic accounting and every other tool at the US military's hands.

The intel you could have gotten from OBL would have been nice, but you can get a lot from the stuff he had around him. I hope they (the Intel community) go for the tender meat of any organization. The money.

Anwar al-Awlaki.. I'm still conflicted about that. He is a terrorist. By action and declaration. But citizenship shouldn't be arbitrarily discarded and I think due process MUST be followed. A tribunal ruling would have been more than enough for them.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2011, 05:09:28 PM »
  I'd say give him due process only if he'd been in the US, otherwise I see no reason to go to any special effort to have tried to capture him. I have no problem with them killing him. He was an open and -declared- enemy of the US, actively aiding our enemies. A bullet (or drone strike in this case) is much cheaper and easier than trying to capture him and haul him back for a long show trial. You know that the ACLU and other  citizen type groups would have been pressing very hard to try him in a civilian court, not a military one and he'd get all sorts of free legal aid from them to.

Offline Asuras

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2011, 09:49:45 PM »
I'm willing to give a little leeway on a few individual terrorists with regards to the Constitution.  The law is not absolute.

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Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2011, 07:14:17 AM »
I am curious as to why you bold mark a section to get your point across.  Yet miss another part, which in truth is all the legal means needed.

Quote
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America reads:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Through he may or may not have directly with physically pulled a trigger or detonated a bomb.   It is widely accessed that he was a mastermind behind more then a few terrorist plots.   

I for one am glad that we are not wasting time and focus on a carnival trail that would have surely come, if he had been taken into custody.     

Finally if we are in a declared war against terrorists and most notable  Al-Qaeda.   So in protecting the freedoms of Americans.   The line I highlighted should apply.   

Offline Sure

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2011, 09:48:12 AM »
The line you highlighted refers to martial law, and would only apply if he was in the military. Or at least that's how it's been repeatedly interpreted in the US legal tradition.

Legally he definitely had a right to due process, but the fact that the Constitution gets violated is old hat.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2011, 10:06:14 AM »
 Is the Constitution valid outside of the US? Legally, as far as I know, it only affects citizens and people within the borders of the US. Outside of that it's just a piece of paper. And technically, Anwar al-Awlaki was an openly declared enemy of the US. Should we have attempted to capture him or kill him? Or not tried to kill him at all and just  focused on capturing so we could give him a trial lie some believes he deserves?

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2011, 10:13:40 AM »
I would rather he be treated and tried as a citizen than declared kill able outright.  That is a dangerously slippery slope we née d to avoid. Some measure of due process should have been done.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2011, 10:19:40 AM »
 So an admitted terrorist in another nation should be captured rather than killed because  of his due rights? I'm sorry, but I don't think he deserved any due rights. He was an open and [/i] admitted[/o] enemy of the US, sin a war against the US. As a terrorist. He deserved nothing but what he got. Death. A US citizen or not, death is all he deserved. Not a show trial.

If they had caught him on US soil, that changed things, but he wasn't on US soil, so the citizen aspect is null and void as far as I am concerned.

Offline Sure

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2011, 11:36:29 AM »
Is the Constitution valid outside of the US? Legally, as far as I know, it only affects citizens and people within the borders of the US. Outside of that it's just a piece of paper. And technically, Anwar al-Awlaki was an openly declared enemy of the US. Should we have attempted to capture him or kill him? Or not tried to kill him at all and just  focused on capturing so we could give him a trial lie some believes he deserves?

Yes. The Constitution does not stop applying to how US officials must deal with US citizens outside the US. Reid v Covert (354 U.S.) explicitly says the Bill of Rights applies to citizens abroad, which means it's been the standard since 1957. Further, US v Tiede (86 F.R.D. 227) holds that non-citizens abroad are protected by the Constitution, however, that is not a Supreme Court case.

I'm not talking about 'should'. I'm talking about legalities. And in the legal sense this was illegal, whether it was moral or otherwise.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2011, 11:50:18 AM »
So an admitted terrorist in another nation should be captured rather than killed because  of his due rights? I'm sorry, but I don't think he deserved any due rights. He was an open and [/i] admitted[/o] enemy of the US, sin a war against the US. As a terrorist. He deserved nothing but what he got. Death. A US citizen or not, death is all he deserved. Not a show trial.

If they had caught him on US soil, that changed things, but he wasn't on US soil, so the citizen aspect is null and void as far as I am concerned.

That is not what I said. I said DUE process had to be followed. You can be tried in Absentia.  Just declaring someone worthy of death out of hand isn't due process.

Offline Caela

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #23 on: October 21, 2011, 01:57:11 PM »
So an admitted terrorist in another nation should be captured rather than killed because  of his due rights? I'm sorry, but I don't think he deserved any due rights. He was an open and [/i] admitted[/o] enemy of the US, sin a war against the US. As a terrorist. He deserved nothing but what he got. Death. A US citizen or not, death is all he deserved. Not a show trial.

If they had caught him on US soil, that changed things, but he wasn't on US soil, so the citizen aspect is null and void as far as I am concerned.

Morally, I agree with you and have no problem with the man being dead.

Legally, they screwed up. You don't stop being a citizen just because you're not on US soil. Callie is right, they could have tried him in absentia, declared him a traitor to the US and then killed him and had much more solid legal ground to stand on than they do right now.

Offline Sure

Re: Anwar al-Awlaki
« Reply #24 on: October 21, 2011, 02:41:43 PM »
Morally, I agree with you and have no problem with the man being dead.

Legally, they screwed up. You don't stop being a citizen just because you're not on US soil. Callie is right, they could have tried him in absentia, declared him a traitor to the US and then killed him and had much more solid legal ground to stand on than they do right now.

In Absentia trials are illegal for anything worse than a misdemeanor, and even for misdemeanors it's shaky. The only situations in which a defendant does not have to be present is if he voluntarily leaves during the trial (and even then, he has to be present for the next stage of the trial) or if he is so disruptive of the trial proceedings the judge throws him out. On top of that, capital trials are sometimes taken to be excepted even from these rules.