Talk of an Obama impeachment reentered the political arena this week, this time for the targeted killing of American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. Texas Congressman and GOP presidential contender Ron Paul declared that because of the President’s “flouting” of the law, impeachment is possible.
Early last Friday, al-Awlaki — who had not been charged with or convicted of any crime — was killed by a U.S. drone in a joint CIA-U.S. military operation in Yemen.
Ben Johnson of the White House Watch wrote of the assassination:
Although federal agents have sought al-Awlaki since the Clinton administration, and the Authorization for the Use of Force passed following 9/11 allows the president to kill anyone he “determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11,” al-Awlaki’s birth in the United States has many debating the proper interplay between national security and civil liberties.
According to Rep. Paul, the assassination of an American citizen, regardless of the reason, is a movement toward “tyranny.” The longtime Texas congressman added, “I put responsibility on the President because this is obviously a step in the wrong direction. We have just totally disrespected the Constitution.”
Representative Ron Paul suggested before the National Press Club October 5 that President Obama's assassination program of alleged terrorists could grow into an assassination program for journalists who disagree with the federal government.
"Can you imagine being put on a list because you're a threat?" the GOP presidential contender asked. "What's going to happen when they come to the media? What if the media becomes a threat? Or a professor becomes a threat? Someday that could well happen. This is the way it works. It's incrementalism.... It's slipping and sliding, let me tell you." Paul's remarks were a reaction to a September 30 drone strike in Yemen authorized by President Obama which targeted and killed two American citizens, one of whom — Anwar al-Awlaki — had been on a presidential assassination list for more than a year.
On the issue of the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, Herman Cain is demonstrating just how presidential he is by performing one of the most time-honored candidate contortions — the flip flop.
After the May 5 GOP presidential debate in South Carolina, Bob Powell of AboveTopSecret.com asked Cain if he would consider it legal for President Obama to issue a kill order for Awlaki. Cain responded, "In his case, no, because he's an American citizen."
Cain continued: "If he's an American citizen, which is the big difference, then he should be charged, and he should be arrested and brought to justice.”
Cain also stated in the same interview, “He [Awlaki] should be charged. And since he’s an American citizen, he should be tried in our courts.”
President Obama took office in January 2009 with grand promises of "creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government," but with the Anwar al-Awlaki killing and an administration assassination program for American citizens, the Obama administration has taken government secrecy to new depths.
U.S. citizen and alleged al Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a drone strike in Yemen September 30, but the Obama administration has decided to keep his assassination program secret. Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic magazine summarized the situation as follows:
[T]he actual legal reasoning the Department of Justice used to authorize the strike? It's secret. Classified. Information that the public isn't permitted to read, mull over, or challenge.... Obama hasn't just set a new precedent about killing Americans without due process. He has done so in a way that deliberately shields from public view the precise nature of the important precedent he has set.
President Obama touted the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen September 30, raising constitutional questions of whether the President has become judge, jury, and executioner for alleged criminals. Obama noted that Awlaki was a longtime video propagandist for al-Qaeda, and claimed that "the death of Awlaki is a major blow to al Qaeda's most active operational affiliate. Awlaki was the leader of external operations for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In that role, he took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans."
Awlaki wasn't the only American targeted in the drone strike. "The strike also killed a second U.S. citizen — Samir Khan, the co-editor of an al-Qaeda magazine — and two other unidentified al-Qaeda operatives," the Yemeni government told the Washington Post. The New American reported back in June that dozens of other American citizens are apparently on Obama's assassination list.
President Obama alleged that Awlaki "directed the failed attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009. He directed the failed attempt to blow up U.S. cargo planes in 2010." Awlaki denied directing these attacks in a February 2010 interview with Al Jazeera, though he admitted he liked the idea of attacks on U.S. military targets.
A building superintendent in New Brunswick, New Jersey, opened an apartment door and was startled to find terrorist literature strewn about on a table and a computer and surveillance equipment in the next room. He immediately called 911, and police and FBI agents rushed to the apartment, arriving in time to meet its mysterious occupants — a secret team of intelligence officers from the New York City Police Department.
“From that apartment, about an hour outside the department’s jurisdiction, the NYPD had been staging undercover operations and conducting surveillance throughout New Jersey,” the Associated Press reported. “Neither the FBI nor the local police had any idea.”
Like much of what has taken place in law enforcement in the past decade, the roving jurisdiction of the New York police is related, however tenuously, to the “global war on terror.” And though the department’s presence in New Brunswick was unknown to local police and the FBI, it was probably no surprise to the nation’s Central Intelligence Agency. The AP’s recent investigative report describes the significant but largely unreported relationship between the CIA and local law enforcement in “a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying.”
FBI agents have collared another Muslim jihadist bent on mass murder and mayhem. The accused, arrested yesterday in Framingham, Massachusetts, is 26-year-old Rezwan Ferdaus, an American citizen who graduated from Northeastern University with a physics degree. His goal, he told undercover agents whom he thought were on his side, was to kill as many “kafirs” (unbelievers) as possible by flying remote-controlled airplanes into the U.S. Capitol, then commencing a shooting spree with automatic weapons.
It was all part of Ferdaus’ Jihad against the country in which he was born but to which he did not owe allegiance by the lights of his fanatical Islamic belief.
According to the affidavit for his arrest, he planned to “commit violent ‘jihad’ against the United States, which he considers an enemy of Allah.” The affadavit continued,
Presidents Bush and Obama have created a vigorous public debate since the September 11 attacks over whether suspects in the “war on terror” are entitled to a regular criminal trial, court-martial (the regular military justice system), or a “military commission” trial, or whether they are entitled to a trial at all. A “military commission” is traditionally an executive branch (or Article II) court, created to try war criminals in a time and place where there are no criminal or ordinary military courts to try suspects. But Congress has explicitly authorized them twice since the September 11 attacks.
Bush’s and Obama’s actions since 2001 raise a number of fundamental constitutional questions: Can the President — as Bush tried to do — detain an American citizen indefinitely without trial? Can the President — as Obama claims — kill American citizens without trial? Are Bush’s and Obama’s efforts to detain foreigners indefinitely without trial constitutional? When, if ever, is a “military commission” constitutional? Can U.S. citizens be subject to a military commission? How about foreigners? Do the Bush/Obama military commissions follow the Constitution? And finally, putting aside constitutional principles, are military commissions more effective on a practical level in punishing suspected terrorists? The following are 11 constitutional principles about the trial rights of Americans and foreigners during the “war on terror.”
Authorities in the United Kingdom have arrested seven suspects in connection with a terror plot. British intelligence raided more than a dozen homes and collared six men and a woman between midnight and about 7 a.m. Monday, according to news reports. They are connected, the New York Times reported, to “Islamic militancy,” which describes yet another plot by “British citizens” who are really "Asians" or of another nationality. Typically, those words are media code for Muslims.
No Surprise: The Name Is Mohammed
Police raided five neighborhoods in Birmingham to net the half-dozen suspects, who ranged in age from 25 to 32. The woman is 22.
According to the Times:
A West Midlands police official, who requested anonymity because he was discussing an unfolding operation, said initial speculation that the arrests were linked to Irish republicanism was unfounded. The official declined to confirm the BBC report that those arrested were Islamic extremists, but said the operation was “linked to international cases as much as local.”