Citizenship is Revocable: The Killing of al-Awlaki

I was glad to hear that Herman Cain has revised his position on the Obama Administration’s recent killing of Al Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki. Had Cain not revised his position, he would have joined other 2012 GOP candidates, including, unfortunately, Gary Johnson, in insisting that because al-Awlaki was a U.S. citizen, he was entitled to “due process”.

As I see it, the better people who have had qualms about the killing of al-Awlaki were confusing two questions: (1) Do you think that a government following a proper procedure would have given and carried out a kill order on someone like al-Awlaki? (2) Do you think the Obama Administration followed a proper procedure? Based on the knowledge I have, I think the answer to the first question is “yes,” while the answer to the second question is “maybe.” Because the Obama Administration has not released the secret DOJ memo, or writ, that it developed to justify the killing of al-Awlaki, we do not yet know whether they followed a proper procedure.

What would such a procedure consist of? Something analogous to that used to obtain a search or arrest warrant, but obviously more involved because of what is at stake. The procedure would be designed to make objective, to the extent practicable, the fact that the proposed target has acted in such a way as to relinquish his citizenship and that he has rendered himself an enemy combatant. I agree with the official quoted in this Daily Mail article, who said, “What constitutes due process in this case is a due process in war.”

Perhaps the proper procedure would be a hearing before a special judge, or panel of judges. Maybe a grand jury of sorts would be most appropriate. What is clear, though, is that it’s nonsense to assume that whatever procedure is used must protect the target’s “fifth amendment rights — guaranteeing a fair trial for all U.S. citizens,” as the Daily Mail article implied.

Citizenship is revocable. It’s not some intrinsic status that you get to retain no matter what actions you take against your country. And whatever you think should be the minimum necessary actions to constitute a relinquishment of one’s citizenship, I would assume that acting as “‘chief of external operations’ for al Qaeda’s Yemen branch” probably qualifies. (Click here for information on the current state of the law in this regard. Thanks to a Facebook friend for posting this information on a mutual friend’s wall.)


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19 responses to “Citizenship is Revocable: The Killing of al-Awlaki

  1. With respect to Governor Johnson, while he did write that al-Awlaki was entitled to “due process” like all citizens, in all interviews whenever he was challenged if he would have ordered the killing, he said essentially yes, only insisting that he would have been a lot more “transparent” (a word he used repeatedly) . Therefore, if you too are not sure that the Obama administration followed “proper procedure” in ordering the killing, then it seems your position is very similar to Governor Johnson’s because, in the end, he did NOT object to the killing as such, but rather the way in which it was done (the legal justification).

    While it is clear that Governor Johnson seems naive or ignorant when it comes to the threat from Iran, I remain a supporter. I still maintain that his foreign policy positions while mixed to weak are not enough to wipe out all his significant advantages in domestic policy.

  2. Thanks, Gideon, for the information on Johnson’s position. That’s good to hear. As I’ve said on my podcast, of the current 2012 candidates I like both Cain and Johnson, with a slight preference for Cain at this point, based on the two candidates’ positions on foreign policy. This may change, however, after I read Cain’s book, which I will do today and tomorrow.

  3. Of course I too would be lot happier with a candidate that combines all of Johnson’s position with a Boltonesque foreign policy but we have no such candidate. Cain is definitely a lot more mixed. However, the fact that he is closely associated with the tea party is a definite plus and certainly his successful executive background in business is appealing. Looking forward to hear what you have to say on his book.

    Sadly with respect to Johnson it may simply be too early for a candidate to have the positions he has on immigration, abortion and drug legalization to to be able to gain traction in a Republican primary. His inability to rise above a 2% response is a depressing statement about the current state of the culture. It is a reminder that we cannot wish away the fact that most people still do not agree with us and a lot more educational work remains ahead of us.

    To me the most important political issue is the urgent need to reduce government spending. Johnson was definitely the best candidate for that with really only foreign policy as a real negative or weakness. Whoever the eventual nominee, they definitely need to make spending reductions the priority otherwise I will not vote for them.

  4. Alexander Marriott

    Revoking citizenship. Who decides that and what is the procedure? Also, going through that suggests by implication that there is actually some legal problem with killing an American who abandons his country to lead a foreign terror cell–which there is not. But the main reason why the gov’t never would and never should revoke the citizenship of people like Al-Awlaki is that it would prevent our being able to try them for treason if we captured them. This is important–never in any history I’m familiar with has a country told its citizens when at war “hey, if you go overseas to join the enemy and fight your country, ok, we’ll just revoke your citizenship.” Traitors have been pardoned or formally forgiven (as after the Civil War) but we’ve never ever given them a legal escape hatch that removes the label itself. The punishment and oppribrium of treason must attach itself to the actions of Al-Awlaki and John Walker Lindh before him because a person who grows up in a country devoted to protecting his individual rights and fostering his development and capability to live a productive life unfettered by the restrictions and scorn the plagues most of the rest of the world–such a person who not only rejects it and moves away to be a part of another political community (this is usually what gets citizenship revoked–when you’ve clearly emigrated and joined another society politically/militarily) but to take up arms to destroy his country and the individual rights of his fellows–such a person needs to be held above others, above a victim of wahabi brainwashing, above a wild-eyed extremist who knows nothing of the west aside from the propaganda spread by Iran, the PA, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc., as among the worst of the worst. This isn’t some hounded financier who fled to be left alone–this is a man who fled to avoid arrest for conspiring with terrorists and to lead them in Yemen. Getting at him to arrest him and drag him back in chains for proper justice wasn’t possible in any short-term or viable scenario short of invading part of Yemen. Ultimately this is a war–not a criminal justice matter and that was the lesson on 9/11, that our enemies were waging war on us while we heaped indictments on them. Trials are for people we capture–and being captured is up to them, all he had to do was disarm and surrender himself to our embassy in Sana’a. There is no more obvious proof that you’ve declared war on your country than by physically removing yourself to a basket case country to become the propagand minister of al-qaida–and his output is online for all to see and here if it is doubted.

    Finally, if angry business ownwers armed themselves and attacked licensining and permit issuing offices and tax collectors they could be declared in a state of rebellion, and if they didn’t immediately disarm and go home, they could and would be shot (this has happened numerous times since 1789) as American citizens with full authority from the U.S. Constitution. This debate suggests that the founders found that sort of emergency power to maintain law and order acceptable and yet would have had qualms about killing a man who abandoned the country to join the armed forces of the enemy. Btw, when this actually happened–when Arnold turned coat–we did not revoke his citizenship, we held him as a traitor, pledged to treat him as such if he ever fell into our hands, and people who met him in England after the war ended and actually spoke to him and treated him as a person were condemned by their fellows when their conduct was learned of at home. I’ve read the letters of people trying to explain that they didn’t actually speak to Arnold when he was in the room to avoid having their reputations ruined at home. Its not that citizenship isn’t intrinsic, its that being a citizen does not give you a right to wage war on the united states as well as the right to demand that–no matter what you’re doing–the united states not wage war in return.

  5. Not to late to withdraw a few more citizenships in anticipation of encountering them in the targetfinder of a hellfire missile on patrol in the Waziristani hinterlands. Publishing the rogues gallery would be an okay idea just so they know their new status (or “statelessness”)

  6. Here’s how I envision the last look on Awlaki’s face

  7. Neil Roeth

    Amy, the second question you raised, “Do you think the Obama Administration followed a proper procedure?” is the crux of the issue. You ask, “What would a proper procedure consist of?” This is a legitimate question, but it is not an open question when applied to the US government, because it was answered and codified in the Constitution. That document states that a person is guaranteed due process by the US government, and must be indicted by a Grand Jury for a capital crime, except in service during times of war. It also explicitly defines what is treason, which it narrowly defines as going to war against the US or aiding its enemies, i.e., those with whom the US is at war. It is certainly not “nonsense” to do what the Constitution explicitly says rather than toss it out the window and come up with some new, ad hoc procedure involving special judges or panels of special judges. If you toss out the standard established by the Constitution, then by what or whose standard would this new procedure be judged as “proper”? What we are seeing is that the people establishing such new standards are precisely those who are interested in justifying their actions which fail to meet the inconvenient existing standards.

    There is nothing in the Constitution that specifies that the sole action of renouncing one’s citizenship is a capital crime against the US. In addition, the rights in the Constitution are not positive rights granted to US citizens by the US government, they are negative rights restricting what the US government can do to people who have natural rights. Furthermore, if people have natural rights, then that means ALL people, not just US citizens, so the restrictions on the US government apply to all people within its jurisdiction, not just US citizens. That is why the Fifth Amendment starts with “No person…” rather than “No US citizen…”. The difference between positive and negative rights is what made the US Constitution a radical document at the time and why it remains so today.

    The evidence that should have gone to a Grand Jury is whether al-Awlaki actually aided and abetted an enemy, i.e., a party that the US had declared war against, and the evidence for that is severely lacking. First and foremost, the US (i.e., Congress) has not declared war against Al Qaeda, Yemen or al-Awlaki, so even establishing Al Qaeda as an enemy in order to apply war crime or enemy combatant standards would be a nontrivial hurdle. Furthermore, the evidence that ties al-Awlaki to specific actions with Al Qaeda is sketchy at best. He was obviously a well known public figure who spoke favorably of the actions being taken by Al Qaeda, but that is not the same as actually executing those actions or providing material aid to them. There were warrants for his arrest that were retracted due to lack of evidence, and numerous failed attempts to tie him to specific actions against the US. Where did your quote about him being a “chief of external operations” come from? I’ll bet it is no more than someone’s unsubstantiated suspicion. The “evidence” I’ve seen for such labels has been pathetic. I recently read an article that said “Awlaki was linked to … the failed attempt to detonate a car bomb in New York’s Times Square in May 2010”. Elsewhere, I saw that this “link” was that the bomber was inspired by al-Awlaki video or audio recordings. That’s it. No evidence of any personal connection between the two. Al-Awlaki was a very well known speaker and lecturer, so that means very little. That’s like finding a copy of Atlas Shrugged on Bernie Madoff’s shelf and using that alone to claim that Ayn Rand was evil because she was “linked” to Ponzi schemes.

    In my view, the biggest problem is that the proper procedure for the President to follow was pretty clear, and it was ignored. It is a significant step from the rule of law to the rule of men, where the law as spelled out in the Constitution is now ignored by the Obama administration so they can do whatever they want, and they divert attention away from their illegal actions by attempting to focus everyone on what a Really Scary Bad Guy al-Awlaki was.

    • Neil, a few points. The plausibility of your remarks depends, primarily on your contention that: “First and foremost, the US (i.e., Congress) has not declared war against Al Qaeda, Yemen or al-Awlaki, so even establishing Al Qaeda as an enemy in order to apply war crime or enemy combatant standards would be a nontrivial hurdle.” Without this being true, this whole matter fits into the war powers of Congress and the President, and Al-Awlaki is a perfectly legitimate target of that war by his own self-identification with that enemy (not to mention being identified by captured terrorists as such). Upon the premise that war, not being declared, doesn’t exist and thus Al-Awlaki, as an American citizen is essentially a fugitive from the law on the lamb you then transfer the context to that of the Constitution’s guarantees and definitions relating to due process of criminal procedure and the legal definition of treason–which again implies an arrest and trial: “That document states that a person is guaranteed due process by the US government, and must be indicted by a Grand Jury for a capital crime, except in service during times of war. It also explicitly defines what is treason, which it narrowly defines as going to war against the US or aiding its enemies, i.e., those with whom the US is at war. It is certainly not “nonsense” to do what the Constitution explicitly says rather than toss it out the window and come up with some new, ad hoc procedure involving special judges or panels of special judges.”

      First, the war question. Declaring war–which puts the United States in a state of indefinite and total belligerance with a foreign power–is a power of Congress, which also means that powers that put the United States in a state of limited war (say a state of reprisals, a naval war, or a war footing short of war) reside in Congress as well. This has been the understanding of the clause and the practise of the United States from the very beginning–declarations of war were not sought nor needed in most of the wars with the Barbary Pirates (who were essentially privateers of the Barbary Regencies), nor the naval war with France in 1798-1799. Congress passed a use of force joint resolution on September 12, 2001 creating a state of war against everyone tied to the attacks of September 11 and those who aided and/or sponsored them. Even with that, Bush gave the Taliban an escape hatch from the war by simply turning over Bin Laden, which they refused. So, the mere fact that a war hasn’t been declared–principally because of the lack (at least as far as politicians are concerned) of a traditional state enemy to declare war on–actually does nothing to negate the state of war currently in place against Al-Qaida and it’s satellites and state sponsors. This is important, because the courts have ackowledged this on numerous occasions–i.e. the fact that a war isn’t declared does not negate a war situation short of declared war. This had a real meaning once when there was a real possibility that the country could be invaded when Congress wasn’t in session–the President was empowered to repel such invasions without a declaration of war. That power wasn’t spelled out by the way in any detail at all, leaving the President a tremendously vague reservoir of power to deal with a clear crisis.

      Again, citizenship does not entitle one to take up with the enemies of the republic and then, ex post facto, try to claim some manner of due diligence on the rest of our part’s in respecting due process rights if they refuse to surrender themselves. Al-Awlaki was not unaware of his status with the U.S. Government, this is why he fled the country. If he actually wanted to force the government to prove a case in court against him, all he had to do was surrender himself to the American Embassy in Sana’a or to the Yemeni gov’t–both of which sought his arrest. The Yemeni gov’t also authorized the use of drone strikes in Yemen against Al-Qaida operative, which they considered Al-Awlaki to be.

      Amy, I assume you’re looking at Charlie Savage’s article of this absurd Justice Department memo? I say absurd, not because the Justice Department shouldn’t be tasked to provide legal opinions–even in cases I clearly consider to be painfully obvious–but because of this: “That apparently constrained the attack when it finally came. Details about Mr. Awlaki’s location surfaced about a month ago, American officials have said, but his hunters delayed the strike until he left a village and was on a road away from populated areas.” This concern for collateral damage literally could quite possibly have let him get away!!

      • Neil Roeth

        Alexander, the key statement in that resolution is this: “That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.” That was very specific in authorizing the use of force in a single case and solely for that event, but no one claims al-Awlaki planned, authorized, committed or aided anyone in connection with those attacks, so that act does not authorize the current killing. Remember, he publicly condemned those attacks immediately afterward. He became radicalized and started condoning those kinds of actions years later. As I said earlier, there is scant evidence he was truly an “operative” in Al Qaeda, and the source of whatever evidence there is are precisely the people whose actions we are questioning.

        Can you explain what you mean by “fled the country”? From what I read, there was a warrant for his arrest in 2002 (for providing false information on a passport, nothing to do with terrorism) that was rescinded for lack of evidence, and he came into the US after that. He left later of his own free will, not as a fugitive.

        The Yemeni government can consider him a terrorist, arrest him, or whatever they want, the point is that the US has its own rules that prohibits it from doing things that may very well be legal in other countries.

    • There are excellent articles about Al-Awlaki, who he was, what he did, and the legality of killing him by John R. Bolton, Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and Christopher Hitchens among others that should be required reading for all. As to the use of force resolution. It was limited only in the sense that the attacks on 9/11 were the precipitating cause, but everyone knew at the time and since that those attacks were not isolated–they were the latest in a long line of attacks launched with money and aid from a host of world-wide state and non-state actors. You seriously think that there would have been a legal case against going after any member of Al-Qaida who wasn’t in the loop on 9/11 or, let’s take another example, would we be precluded from killing Japanese soldiers not specifically ties to the Pearl Harbor attack? Al-Awlaki’s status as an American would have created an interesting situation had he been captured, but he wasn’t because he was hiding out in a country where the government has scant control of various regions (I used to live in the country to the North so I know something of Yemen’s peculiar political situation and on-again, off-again civil war). He knew full well he was a wanted man–dead or alive (this was internationally broadcast months ago)–and chose to remain in hiding. As he’s allied himself with the organization that hatched the 9/11 attacks, he should have expected nothing less that being targeted and killed if he could be found in an area where capturing him entailed risks to perfectly loyal citizens under arms. This debate, such that it is, is silly more than anything else. No citizens of any government–least of all ours–has any legal right to join an international terrorists organization in a foreign country and hatch plots, encourage enrollment, and propagandize for the purpose of attacking his own country–all with an expectation that his country is then forced to get it’s soldiers killed or allow him to work in security because they must “arrest” him. It’s quite possibly the silliest notion to ever be injected into a war-time situation that I have come across in a long, long while.

      • Don’t forget, this man’s magazine was issuing death threats to American citizens who then felt forced to go into hiding because of his extensive radical contacts within the United States. He was teaching at the same Yemeni college that John Walker Lindh went through on the road to getting himself captured fighting with the Taliban against us and the Northern Alliance (now serving a prison term as part of a plea-deal to avoid the death penalty), and he was openly bragging about the role he played in the attempt to ship printing cartridges as bombs to the United States. He had given up any respect any of us owed him as a fellow American a long while ago by trying to kill us and encouraging others to do so. This wasn’t just some book on the shelf–to go to your absurdist Ayn Rand example–do you really think an internationally best-selling novel in print for over 50 years the main message of which is individual rights and leaving people uncoerced to pursue values, their creation and exchange, is comparable to carrying on a long email correspondence with Anwar Al-Awlaki, to listening to his jihadist rants calling people to violence against the west, and reading his jihadist magazine “Inspire”? If an American had gone to, say, Switzerland to distribute “Mein Kampf” to ethnic Germans and encourage them to go behind American lines to sabotage and undermine our war effort, do you think that there would have been any concern at all in trying to kill him? The only thing that would have blocked it–at least at first–was Swiss neutrality (not the case here, Yemen’s gov’t is an ally) but had the Swiss failed to expell or arrest the man, we certainly would have gone in and captured or killed him. Americans that did cross lines in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War were hunted down with impugnity as long as the war went on, many were deserts who were summarily hung. Such was also the case in the Civil War.

      • The articles I mentioned above for your perusal. I don’t agree with all of the conclusions obviously but they get to the fundamental issues quite nicely: – Bolton – Meleagrou-Hitchens – Hitchens

  8. For those who are interested, I’ll be taking up this topic again during today’s webcast, in light of new information published by the New York Times on the Obama Administration’s memo.

  9. Neil Roeth

    Alexander, thanks for the links, I read them. In the one by Meleagrou-Hitchens, it says, “The Obama administration has described Awlaki as an operational mastermind, such that his death is a significant blow to al Qaeda’s capacity to carry out successful attacks in the West. In fact, the details of his operational role are sketchy. Although there is evidence that he had a hand in at least three major plots, there is little in the public domain to suggest he was a key planner of terror attacks in Western cities.” “Sketchy”? “Little to suggest”? That’s what we’re basing an execution on? Bolton’s articles relies on statements by the Administration that what the Administration did was legitimate. There’s something wrong with that picture…

    I would still like to hear your justification for the claim you made that he “fled the country”. From all I’ve read, that is not true. Neither is calling Inspire “his magazine”. I read an article by him in one issue of that magazine in which he thanked the publishers for inviting him to write an article. Why would he be invited to write in his own magazine? I read several quotes by him in another issue, which had someone else’s name as the editor, and al-Awlaki was nowhere listed him as publisher, contributor or anything else. The reason I want such claims justified is that I think a main problem with the killing is that it is being justified with these and other claims which are just means to sidestep the required standard of proof (the “proper procedure”). No one disagrees that he wrote articles calling for the killing of Americans and preached the same many times. That is different than actually taking part in killing Americans himself or directly participating in plots to do so, which is precisely what no one has proven; the best anyone has been able to do is exaggerate every possible link he has to anti-American sentiment and action and avoid actual evidence. That is not sufficient.

    To use your example of Japanese soldiers, of course we wouldn’t hesitate to kill Japanese soldiers who weren’t directly involved in Pearl Harbor. More similar to this case would be the Japanese Americans that the US rounded up and put into internment camps afterward. If one of them, after being imprisoned for several years and becoming bitter about the US as a result, spoke out in support of the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor, and wrote an article for a Japanese anti-American magazine encouraging them to fight and kill Americans, but the US had no other evidence that this person actually did something connected to Pearl Harbor or actually was a weapon carrying soldier or took part in any plot against the US, would that have been sufficient reason for the US to kill that person without due process? I don’t think so, and I think that is more like what is going on here.

  10. You’re seriously comparing what happened to Americans of Japanese descent in the wake of Pearl Harbor to the nothing that occurred to Al-Awlaki in the United States as a way of offering him some manner of excuse to join the enemies of the republic in a foreign country? You don’t seem to understand that in a war, you are not obligated to follow the rules of civil procedure with foreign soldiers that aren’t captured or surrendered. You follow them in the case of prisoners and people on trial of course, but not in terms of those in the field.

  11. OK, let’s pretend for a moment that my characterization of his exodus from the country is incorrect. He didn’t flee under the knowledge that the authorities were on his heels, but simply left. And let’s also pretend that he was simply a contributor to Al-Qaida’s propaganda magazine, as opposed to its driving force. What does that change precisely? He’s still ensconsed in the Al-Qaida branch in Yemen writing articles for it’s propaganda magazine–offering all the aid and comfort you could ask for from an ex-grad student. (Also, it’s his Yemeni activities that got him bumped up to the big leagues of the CIA’s kill or capture list.) Downplay, excuse, or obfuscate this all you please, but the fact remains that in a war, when you ally yourself on a side in an open manner, you can be killed–and if you’re just some poor urchin trying not to bother anyone, you can still be killed while a belligerent is trying to kill someone else or destroy capital, or whathaveyou. Humorously, had we just got wind of an Al-Qaida meeting that this guy happened to also attend and we blew the meeting up and he died, there would be no stink about this at all. The mere fact that it was him targeted specifically is what seems to bother people, and in all seriousness, I’m flabbergasted.

  12. As to the this citizenship revocation issue, I think the ruling caselaw on that is Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. 253 (1967), which held that it could not be done involuntarily. That is, the citizen would have to consent to the revocation–again, I think this has almost always been applied to people who live in other countries and accept other citizenships or join foreign armies (not at war with ours). I know, Amy, that you’re attempting to posit a sort of hypothetical way of going about dealing with these sorts of situations, but I think Al-Awlaki clearly gave aid and comfort to all manner of enemies of the republic with whom we are waging war. A war every bit as real to Bin Laden and the rest as any declared war in history–though I obviously wholeheartedly endorse your last thought on the podcast tonight about actually going to war in earnest against Iran et al, once and for all. But we always have to remember that the alternative is not some encroaching and ever-aggressive militarist danger internally led by a peon like President Obama, but that we simply fall back into the pre-9/11 mode of lobbing untargeted missiles from ships and hope people get the message–whatever it happens to be. Personally I like the message this sends–no matter who you think you are and what protections you think you have, if you wage war against the United States, watch out. Of course, the people in Qom and Tehran will not get this message, but that’s another matter.

  13. Neil Roeth

    Yes, I understand that in a war, you are not obligated to follow the rules of civil procedures with foreign soldiers or those in the field. I would like you to understand that you (and the US government) need to prove (rather than take as a given) that he actually was a foreign soldier or someone in the field rather than someone who wrote offensive articles and otherwise verbally encouraged foreign soldiers and those in the field. Writing articles, however inflammatory, does not make one a soldier. Writing articles is all that anyone has presented so far as a certain activity al-Awlaki has engaged in. By your own links, “sketchy” and “little to suggest” are the best anyone has been able to do in trying to prove he is a foreign soldier or someone in the field. That is a far cry from real proof.

  14. “you (and the US government) need to prove (rather than take as a given) that he actually was a foreign soldier or someone in the field rather than someone who wrote offensive articles and otherwise verbally encouraged foreign soldiers and those in the field.”

    Let me get this straight–am I right that you believe a right exists, for Americans citizens in war-time, to “otherwise verbally encourag[e] foreign soldiers and those in the field” that are fighting and sometimes killing American soldiers and civilians? And to do so while abroad with said foreign soldiers? Your own attempt to obfuscate has indicted you–unless you want to take the opportunity now, to retract what you wrote.

    Writing articles in Al-Qaida’s propaganda magazine is not an acceptable action for an American citizen. It would be like someone going to live in Berlin in 1943 to write copy for Goebbels. Furthermore, Al-Awlaki’s activities have been written up everywhere, so I will not attempt to figure you why you’re not reading about them. A casual run through the internet turns up just the limited sample I include below. I did not link the previous three articles because I thought any one of the them was primarily concerned with the nuts and bolts of Al-Awlaki’s career–a career he unashamedly and openly broadcasted around the world and on the internet (thus making this quest of proof you’re on tantamount to demanding evidence for the existence of the tree you’re looking at)–but because I thought they intelligently went about dealing with the aftermath of his death, some of his activities, and some of the implications moving forward.

    I admit the man’s terror career is murky–but his associations and public doings, as well as his own affirmative statements of allegiance to Al-Qaida, are more than enough to condemn him. An enemy’s exhorters and recruiters and propagandists are just as much targets as the guys with the RPGs and suicide vests. It seems clear that he knew of Nidal Hasan’s plans and did nothing to stop them–quite the contrary, he seems to have encouraged them. In March 2010 he called for American muslims to launch terrorist attacks on American civilians. Even if all he did was go over to give Al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula catering services and legal advice he’d be engaged in treasonous activities with the enemies of the United States during a time of war and thus a legitimate target. His only out would be ignorance. Clearly, we’re not dealing with a Mr. Magoo type figure here. He knew what he was doing, and with whom he was dealing. And he’s known since April 2010 that we were hunting him (for capture or death)–so his refusal to negotiate a surrender to let us know we had it all wrong merely confirms his guilt. Bush was right when he told the world that they had to choose sides in the coming war. Al-Awlaki chose his and died for it. Such is war.

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