Judge, Jury, & Executioner: Should Presidents Have a License to Kill?

By:  Thomas R. Eddlem
11/30/2011
       
Judge, Jury, & Executioner: Should Presidents Have a License to Kill?

“I cannot comprehend how my teenage grandson was killed by a Hellfire missile,” a grieving grandfather complained to Time magazine, “how nothing was left of him except small pieces of flesh. Why? Is America safer now that a boy was killed?”

President Obama had authorized the drone strike that killed the 16-year-old American boy in October. He had also authorized a different drone strike in Yemen that killed the boy’s father, Anwar al-Awlaki, two weeks earlier. Anwar al-Awlaki had attached himself to the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Like his son, he was a native-born American and U.S. citizen and had never been formally charged with a crime. But Obama stressed in a press conference after the drone killing of the elder Awlaki that the father had been killed because he had taken “the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans.”

 

“I cannot comprehend how my teenage grandson was killed by a Hellfire missile,” a grieving grandfather complained to Time magazine, “how nothing was left of him except small pieces of flesh. Why? Is America safer now that a boy was killed?”

President Obama had authorized the drone strike that killed the 16-year-old American boy in October. He had also authorized a different drone strike in Yemen that killed the boy’s father, Anwar al-Awlaki, two weeks earlier. Anwar al-Awlaki had attached himself to the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Like his son, he was a native-born American and U.S. citizen and had never been formally charged with a crime. But Obama stressed in a press conference after the drone killing of the elder Awlaki that the father had been killed because he had taken “the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans.”

But that’s also precisely what Obama did to the above-described 16-year-old Denver native, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, just weeks later.

Should Presidents Be Trusted?
For two years now, the press has been reporting that the Obama administration has an assassination list of several dozen or more U.S. citizens who are subject to being killed on presidential order, without being charged with a crime or brought to trial. Anwar al-Awlaki was reportedly on that list. It’s unclear whether his son — a mere 16-year-old boy — was also on that list. The question Americans must now consider is: Should the President be trusted with the power to kill American citizens without due process? Should he be policeman, judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one?

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