An upcoming Senate confirmation vote on President Obama’s nomination for the 1st U.S. Court of Appeals has reopened the discussion about the Obama administration’s use of drone attacks. According to Fox News, the Obama administration is preparing to publicly reveal a memo explaining its legal justification for using drones to kill American citizens overseas.
The decision comes as the Senate is to vote this week on advancing President Obama’s nomination of the memo’s author, Harvard professor and former Justice Department official David Barron, to sit on the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.
Are drone strikes on Americans right or wrong? I think there are two key factors to consider, but first a bit of background.
Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida leader born in the United States, was killed after being targeted by a drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. Some legal scholars and human rights activists complained that it was illegal for the U.S. to kill American citizens away from the battlefield without a trial.
The drone strike that killed al-Awlaki also killed another U.S. citizen, Samir Khan, an al-Qaida propagandist. Al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, was killed the following month in another drone attack.
The American Civil Liberties Union and two reporters for The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Scott Shane, filed a Freedom of Information Act suit to demand the documents explaining the legal justification be made public. In January 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon ruled that she had no authority to order the documents disclosed, although she chided the Obama administration for refusing to release them.
Well, I have an opinion about al-Awlaki’s case as well, and I’m quite certain what I’m about to say will bring forth a firestorm of comments — so be it.
Anwar al-Awlaki made himself an enemy of our State and in so doing, by fleeing to a foreign land to embrace our enemies, he abdicated his rights as an American citizen and became the enemy — as well as Samir Khan.
Nidal Hasan was a traitor who took up arms against his country, while in uniform, and killed Americans – since he was here in America, he was given a trial and has received a proper sentencing.
But are we supposed to believe that when Americans turn traitorous, take up arms against their country, and flee to the side of the enemy, they should be sought after with a warrant for their arrest? So who do we send to knock on the door in some foreign land – most likely in bad guy Islamist territory — to read a person their rights, and ask them to come back to the US and face trial?
John Walker Lindh was captured during an assault, discovered to be an American citizen, faced trial and was properly sentenced — that I concur with.
However, if these Islamists, who are home grown, believe they can disavow their allegiance to America, take up arms with the enemy, flee this country and put forth their vile propaganda and support to kill Americans AND are above reproach — then we lose.
I am against the Commander-in-Chief using drones like he’s playing some video game and “getting good at killing people.” Targeted strikes are wrong when they are directed from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, as did a previous liberal progressive, President Lyndon Johnson, who approved bombing targets during the Vietnam War from the Oval Office.
But when you take up arms against America and support the murder of your fellow countrymen from the land of our enemy, you are no different than the enemy. And sorry to say, if you are the child of someone such as Anwar al-Awlaki who can make a reasoned choice, you should choose America, not the treasonous way of your father. In that case, a drone strike is right.