Obama Might Be Targeting Americans… and I’m OK With That

I am trying to work some things out in my mind, and I was hoping that I might solicit the help of a few of our thelobbyist comrades-in-arms (probably a poor idiom considering the topic at hand). Am I to assume, that police departments are not allowed (according to some) to ask for documentation pertaining to a person’s legal status in these United States; but it is imperative that our troops and commanders check the citizenship of people overseas in war-torn sections of the world before we take out a target?

The specific case I am talking about has to do with an American born- Anwar al-Awlaki. “Anwar al-Awlaki is an American citizen, born in New Mexico, and now residing in Yemen, where he repeatedly issues exhortations to murder his fellow Americans,” as reported by the Washington Independent. The Obama Administration has secret intelligence, as well as overt intelligence, tying the American to Al Qaeda operating in Yemen; he ministered to the 9/11 hijackers, was the possible inspiration for the Ft. Hood shooter, and purportedly had ties to the would-be Christmas bomber. Because of this, he has been placed on a counter-terrorism ‘hit-list.’ It is important to note, that the CIA reported that he was not placed on that list until they received intelligence that would lead them to believe that the operation al-Awlaki has been working on recently has gone from the planning stages to the operational stage.

Civil libertarians are upset over the fact that the Executive would use its power to summarily strip away an American’s citizenship and have that person, what they call, assassinated. I want to clear up, however, because killing someone who happens to be an American is not “assassination.” Every surreptitious murder of a fellow American would be assassination. It is the murder of a prominent political figure-head, generally for political purposes. Strategically killing someone who is fighting for the other side is not assassination, or does every time a Taliban or Al Qaeda soldier get killed without knowing whom killed him/her considered assassination? I think the fact that people are saying “Obama is assassinating Americans” only works to hype up the readership of periodicals (like they ever do that).

I understand the plight of the civil libertarians, I understand that they think that this action is a gross misuse of government power and that Americans cannot have their liberties stripped away.  Let us clear the record: yes, the government can take away your citizenship. There is a set of guidelines that shows what it takes for someone to loose their citizenship. Title 8, § 1481 details all of the reasons why someone might have their citizenship revoked:


A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality—

People against the policy of killing American citizens during a time of war while those citizens are operating against the United States point to the ending clause of Subsection 8:

(8) committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States, violating or conspiring to violate any of the provisions of section 2383 of title 18, or willfully performing any act in violation of section 2385 of title 18, or violating section 2384 of title 18 by engaging in a conspiracy to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, if and when he is convicted thereof by a court martial or by a court of competent jurisdiction.

However, this final statement pertains to subsection 8 alone, because the previous seven subsections discuss other reasons why the government might revoke someone’s citizenship. Some talk about if the citizen goes to a consulate office and writes a formal letter, only then can their citizenship be officially withdrawn. Considering we are talking about people who are willing to use airplanes with civilians as missiles, and place plastic explosives in their shoes to kill Americans; I just can’t say that it is reasonable for people to expect terrorists (home-grown or not) to act reasonably. Besides, a person’s citizenship can be revoked the minute they join the ranks of a foreign army or try to usurp the United States government.

When the police are in a stand off with a suspect, an American citizen or not, they are forced to abide by the rule of law and their own standard operating procedures. In times of imminent peril and danger, either to themselves or to the hostages, they use sharp shooters to take out the suspect. No Mirandizing, no obtaining a warrant to search his persons, no trial and jury of his/her peers, the executive has the prerogative to take matters into their own hands in particular situations. I think that a war might be one of those situations. This is not the first time this question has been brought up, as Andy McCarthy writes:

The president is the commander-in-chief with primacy on questions regarding the conduct of war. Even if we were to accept for argument’s sake that at issue is a legal rather than a political judgment, Supreme Court precedent (the World War II era Quirin case and the 2004 Hamdi decision) hold that American citizens who fight for the enemy in wartime may be treated as enemy combatants, just like aliens.

The problem is that we have people who are trying to legislate war. Ironic. War is chaos, it is hell, it is the state of nature according to Hobbes. But then again, it is not the state of nature, because it isn’t all against all, it’s us against them: it’s political. Part of political justice is ensuring the safety of your own before that of those who are trying to harm you, and if it is someone who was once a part of the ‘us’ crowd, it is necessary and proper for the government to take the necessary steps to keep that person from harming the whole. We can try to contain the ravages of war with laws, but there are limits to doing this, as there are limits to everything else in life. But if we tie the hands of the president during a time of war, we tie the hands of the country and ultimately make it more possible for Americans here and abroad to perish. I support what the President is doing in this case, I think that going and throwing Hellfire missiles at every target does us no good; we loose actionable intelligence and sometimes cause collateral damage. But taking out someone that could be critical in the carrying out of terrorist operations is the duty of the President and myriad organizations that have been established to keep this country safe. When they are doing that, I will gladly thank them.

I just hope people keep this in mind when the DoJ and Attorney General Holder talk about “going after” the Bush Administration for their “detaining” and “enhanced interrogation” memos. The pro-National Security Bush crowd seems to be the only crowd (aside from the civil libertarians against both Administrations) that has a consistent policy. The real problem lies in the Obama Administration’s hypocrisy.

-rj

Comments are closed.