I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Citizen's Shields

The MSM has been crowing about the death of Anwar al-Awlaki since yesterday. At first glance, it's a case of 'Oh, hey, cool. Enemy militant killed from 10,000ft. I like these drones.'

Then I heard he was a US citizen.

My particularly apoplectic reaction to this is making writing hard. Where does this administration get off on depriving citizens of life, liberty, or property, emphasis on the LIFE bit, without due process of law?

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.
Where does that leave room for the targeted killing of a US citizen in a non-battlefield or defensive role? Sure, he was a treasonous pig worthy of death, but there are ways of doing that. On th
at note, let's take a closer look at that word "treason"

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Seems pretty clear cut that this man was in fact guilty of treason. However, he was never convicted as such, so from a legal perspective, an innocent citizen was murdered by the US. If this doesn't scare you, there's something very wrong with you. The full rights enumerated in the Constitution still applied to al-Awlaki, and were blatantly, openly, and terminally ignored.

To riff on my theme this week, he was Vanished, as in 1984. No trial, no arrest, just wiped from the face of the earth. It almost serves to make me question my previous post about the feasibility of a 1984esque scenario.

To add another layer of creepy to the entire situation, former Bush Administration Homeland Security advisor Frances Townsend told CNN "No one should be able to use their citizenship as a shield," as seen here.* Lady, I don't know what you think citizenship is about, but let me tell you, it's entirely about BEING a shield. Citizenship trades a set of responsibilities and adherences for the rights and privileges associated with the position. Al-Awlaki violated the responsibilities and adherences, but is still entitled to the rights and privileges until such time as a court has seen fit to remove them through proper trial.

Citizenship exists to stop tyranny. The assurances nested in it need to be inviolate without due process. A government that can take away those rights at will is out of control, dangerous, and an immediate, vitally important threat to those it claims to represent.

Right now, it seems to be restricted to people the state calls enemies. Looking at past DHS definitions and profiles, however, it's entirely probable that I could end up in the same way. I am a young, right wing reactionary activist who shoots and associates with people who are of like mind. How different am I from al-Awlaki in their eyes? It doesn't take looking far to see real world examples. Look at TJIC for example. 2nd Amendment rights stripped without due process because he exercised his 1st Amendment rights.

The media is largely ignoring the implications of this attack. Therefore, I urge you readers, get angry. Talk about this, spread news around, share this post, and don't tolerate this. Al-Awlaki needed to be tried in court, convicted of treason, and made to do the midair jig. Skipping to the end is counter to everything the Bill of Rights tried to guarantee.

*Non MSM source because CNN has no mention of it in print. I only found out about it because I happened to be near a TV when the quotation aired.


  1. "In other words, I hope you will continue the conversation Freud."

    Indeed I shall, but you beat me to the punch. I was going to point out that the Gov. ignored all the protections, FROM THE GOV., that the constitution affords. What is to stop the slide down the slippery slope? When is it OK because the POTUS and the Justice (sic) Dept. says so, to round up and execute an American? In America? Rather than "over there" in them furrin' parts?

    I know. He was scum, and deserved to die. But that is my opinion, and the Constitution is specifically set up to prevent anyone's opinion from causing loss of life, limb, or property.

    Due process, anyone?

  2. In previous wars, this man probably would have appeared on a battlefield, in uniform, gun in hand, firing at American Soldiers; wouldn't you agree?

    Has happened in the past.

    At no time did the American government have the responsibility to identify each person trying to kill American Citizens, determine their citizenship status and move to detain them rather than killing them.

    So, in Today's version of warfare perpetuated by scum like this guy.....what is the real difference?

    They chose to face America in a battle in the streets and alleys.
    They chose to fight not in uniforms and using weapons of war but in street clothes and weapons of terror.

    Wasn't that drone operating in a war zone?

    You say it was up to the court to remove his rights and privileges but really didn't he already do that by engaging in war against the country?

  3. Bob S. - Did al-Awlaqi ever fire a shot? Or was he killed for his words? I've said some things about our Gov. that I am quite sure they would object to, but fortunately I am protected by the first amendment, which allows me to say what I like. Granted his speech was a little more like yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, but my point is still that the slippery slope ends with a drone taking out some guy in Idaho that the Gov. decides is inciting fanatics.

  4. Bob S. I make the difference at the fact that al-Awlaki was specifically targeted, not just a casualty of war in a larger context. The drone strike was specifically on him. I have significantly less problem with the death of the other American citizen killed in the strike, as he was an incidental, killed because he was part of the opposing force, as in the Americans in the German army WWII.

    In short, the difference is that we knew better, and acted anyway.

    Al-Awlaki did indeed forfeit his rights and privileges by his treasonous action, but it was still up to the judiciary to remove them. I would even have been satisfied had they held a public trial in absentia for al-Awlaki, and informed him that he would have the opportunity to testify on his own behalf at any time. He wouldn't turn up, we could safely convict him of treason, revoke his citizenship, and shove that hellfire down his throat.

    In fact, the Yemeni government did this, and had they done the dirty work themselves, I would have no problem.

    One more point. As far as I know, we are not at war with Yemen. How then was the drone operating in a war zone?

    And Freud, I still don't think it's a sign that 1984 is possible. As to what is to stop them, the american people still retain the power to remove them. What stops them from doing these things I would hope is the associated outrage. When even CNN is questioning the legitimacy of the strike, it shows that people are not ready to accept it offhand, even in cases where it seems cut and dried that the guy deserved it.

  5. Ferdinand,

    I'm pretty sure quite a few generals never fired a shot in the wars they fought either.

    What they were killed for "for his words" so to speak...."go here, kill these Americans"...."Fly Here, bomb this plant/city", right?

    How is this any different?

    Am I concerned about it yes. Do I wish that he could have been tried and convicted, mostly.

    But let's not make any mistake about this -- the battle field of terrorism is global and undefined.

    Granted his speech was a little more like yelling "fire" in a crowded theater,

    I disagree. You are relating his actions to a violation of the penal code not the acts of war they clearly were.

  6. Scribbler,

    The drone strike was specifically on him.

    Given my understanding of combat in the past, how is this really any different than a soldier aiming at an enemy?

    The soldier of the past would target a particular individual quite often, putting the cross hairs/sights directly on that person and then pull the trigger.

    So a soldier/airman/CIA operative found out where an enemy combatant was traveling, put cross hairs/sights on that individual and pulled the trigger.

    I have significantly less problem with the death of the other American citizen killed in the strike, as he was an incidental, killed because he was part of the opposing force, as in the Americans in the German army WWII.

    Now you seem to be trying to have it both ways. If there were two Americans there, do they not both enjoy the same level of protection from the Government?

    Isn't this directly equivalent of General Yamamoto's death in WWII?

    . How then was the drone operating in a war zone?

    This is something that has taken me a while to get my mind wrapped around.


    The World Trade Center Towers -- was not what happened to them an act of war? Making American soil a battlezone?

    How about the aisles of Flight 93 ? Were they not a battle field in the terrorists war?

    We still want to think of a 'battle zone' as a area of ground clearly defined by combat, lines of troops, safe areas 'behind the lines', etc.

    Vietnam showed there were no safe areas. Iraq and Afghanistan reinforce that lesson.

    Look at history of Islamic extremists bombing American embassies and bases. Look at Fort Hood.

    We no longer have the luxury of defining where the battle zone is -- we have to accept the fact that the battle is where the terrorists are.

  7. When I say that the drone strike was on him specifically, I mean he was singled out as an individual, not as an enemy combatant. Al-Awlaki was the target of an entire mission devoted to killing him. As such, Khan falls more in line with the enemy combatant role than a citizen who was targeted.

    If both men had been killed as part of a strike on someone else, or in the pitch of battle, I would have no major problem. I would look on it as a case of two men getting their due from keeping bad company. As is, there was a deliberate choice in the higher ups to deny a citizen his rights to trial. It's a fine distinction, but in my mind a very important one. One is a case of bad luck and bad judgement, one is a case of tyranny. In essence, intent matters.

    I don't see how Yamamoto is relevant to this discussion, not being a US citizen. I have seen his name crop up in discussions of the morality of killing foreign military leaders and terrorist leaders, but that's not the topic here.

    The notion of Warzone is one that probably deserves its own post, but I'll put a few points down here. The WTC and aisles of Flight 93 are not, in my mind, battlefields, or warzones. Technically speaking, we're not even fighting a war right now, and haven't since WWII, which is its owl kettle of fish. Defining a warzone as any place some variety of conflict is happening just leads to the word meaning anything and everything. There was no active conflict involving the US in Yemen until we fired that missile. To take the notion to the extreme, that means that anywhere can be a warzone as soon as we make it one, meaning your living room could be fair game next.

    Saying the battlefield is where the terrorists are is dependent on knowing what and who terrorists are. I'm probably on someone's list somewhere because of this blog. You may be for your own writings. Does this mean then that the internet is a battlefield? in this post, I told people to get angry, does that make me a terrorist, or inciting unrest?

    In the end, that's what all this is about. I don't care that al-Awlaki is dead. I care that our government crossed some major lines, because a few other lines have become a little blurred. Enemy force, Combatant, War, and Terrorist are all somewhat confused in our current conflict. This instance itself seems pretty cut and dried reasonable, but it sets a highly uncomfortable precedent.

  8. Scribbler,

    First and foremost I think the definition of a battlefield or warzone is the root of the issue.

    We have generations of set piece battles that fixed the concept of a battlefield our minds.

    Terrorism changes that.

    Completely. Fort Hood was not a battlefield until Hassan opened Fire. Neither was the World Trade Center or Flight 93.

    We have to accept that terrorist will strike where they can. Should I, a civilian, have to try to make a citizen's arrest if I see a suicide bomber about to detonate his vest or should I try to shoot him?

    Yamamoto is very applicable -- did he pull the trigger at any time in WW2? Or was it just his words that made him an enemy?

    He was targeted not on a defined battlefield but in an aircraft in the air.
    If it is acceptable to kill an enemy combatant over the ocean -- why is it not acceptable to kill an enemy combatant on the road?

    It does not matter if we are at war with Yemen or not. We weren't at war with England and we killed German pilots over its skies.

    Is it possible that we had intelligence that al-Awlaki was on his way to plan another attack?

    It is possible that we had intelligence that he was on his way to get material support or training for another attack?

    So -- what actions of terrorist are combat?
    That is the tricky part isn't it. We wouldn't bat an eyelash if had a rifle or bomb on him -- but a laptop to give instructions....well?

    That is why I mentioned Yamamoto....consider the parellels -- didn't al-Awlaki declare war on us?

  9. Blogger keeps munching up my comments, so I shall try again:

    "That is why I mentioned Yamamoto....consider the parellels (sic-ed.) -- didn't al-Awlaki declare war on us?"

    Well, yes, he did, as did Japan. However, Yamamoto was not, had never been, and would never be a citizen of the USA. This scumbag (who, do not get me wrong, really desperately needed to have his nose picked by a Hellfire) was killed, without due process, by his OWN government. And his government just happens to be yours and mine as well. Which does bother me.

    When the end justifies the means, and the end is defined by our government, and the protections afforded TO CITIZENS are ignored, I think the slippery slope needs a bit of sand thrown on it.

    That's all. Had I to run into him myself, I'd have no qualms at all about making sure he gained a little weight, 165 grains of JHP at a time. (I know .45ACP is Gods Own Caliber, but I LIKE the .40!)

  10. To me it all boils down to a citizen deprived of life without due process. Yes he deserved it, yes I would do it myself (with a .45, dangitall. JMB PBUH) but I don't like government doing it wrong. There are any number of ways they could have put together a workaround for his rights, but they didn't. When the precedent boils down to US citizen purposefully and deliberately denied due process, none of us are safe.

  11. Let me ask as simple question to put it into perspective:

    Should "due process" trump every other concern or responsibility of the government?

  12. With the exception of stopping immediate threats, yes. Government in the social contract exists to preserve the rights of citizens. The only reason to violate due process is when there is no choice to prevent immediate threat.


Please comment, but please be respectful. I reserve the right to delete any comment at any time for any reason, but I don't anticipate having to do that. Let's try to have real discussions?