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President Obama: Judge, Jury and Executioner for Anwar al-Awlaki

30 September 2011 16 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

Anwar al-Awlaki

Anwar al-Awlaki

President Obama: Judge, Jury and Executioner for Anwar al-Awlaki

The title may offend some, but here at Loonwatch we do not believe in any sacred cows. By now we have all heard reports about the killing of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. The fact that he was on a “hit list” that included other US citizens was reported back in January:

It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki.

After several unsuccessful attempts by the US government Anwar al-Awlaki is finally dead. The indefatigable Glenn Greenwald spells out the tendentious nature of the hunt for Awlaki and all the resultant shadiness:

No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was “considering” indicting him).  Despite substantial doubtamong Yemen experts about whether he even has any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt.  When Awlaki’s father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were “state secrets” and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts.  He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner.  When Awlaki’s inclusion on President Obama’s hit list was confirmed, The New York Times noted that “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.”

Awlaki once was a marginal figure, on the run in the mountains of Yemen, his operational role in AlQaeda was nill, now he has been transformed into a martyr with a little help from our brutal friend, the President of Yemen:

After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it was the U.S.).  It almost certainly was able to find and kill Awlaki with the help of its long-time close friend President Saleh, who took a little time off frommurdering his own citizens to help the U.S. murder its.  The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world.  The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced.

The implications for our civil liberties and checks and balances on the power of the Executive are clear:

What’s most striking about this is not that the U.S. Government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar (“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”), and did so in a way that almost certainly violates core First Amendment protections (questions that will now never be decided in a court of law). What’s most amazing is that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. Government’s new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S. Government.  Many will celebrate the strong, decisive, Tough President’s ability to eradicate the life of Anwar al-Awlaki — including many who just so righteously condemned those Republican audience members as so terribly barbaric and crass for cheering Governor Perry’s execution of scores of serial murderers and rapists — criminals who were at least given a trial and appeals and the other trappings of due process before being killed.

From an authoritarian perspective, that’s the genius of America’s political culture.  It not only finds way to obliterate the most basic individual liberties designed to safeguard citizens from consummate abuses of power (such as extinguishing the lives of citizens without due process).  It actually gets its citizens to stand up and clap and even celebrate the destruction of those safeguards.

Greenwald’s evaluation is dark because of the uncomfortable truth he relates: we are cheering the destruction of the very liberties that safeguard us from the abuses of power.

This is all being done under the guise of defending our “freedom” and “security.” In reality, as terror expert Professor Charles Kurzman points out, very few Muslims were interested in Awlaki’s message:

Given that Awlaki’s messages is sitting on the internet, easily accessible to millions of English speaking Muslims, it’s very interesting how few have taken him up on his demand that Muslims join the revolutionary movement.

It is time that US citizens stand up for their rights and say we will not allow the government to take the life of our citizens without due process. We are not going to buy the line that our civil liberties and freedoms must be bargained in the interest of “security,” especially from a threat that is overblown in the first place.


  1. You know, when the U.S. government targets a Muslim person, almost always (except in Bin Laden’s case) he/she isn’t part of any terrorist organization. They just say they are. Like Mohammad Salah, he sent money to Hammas for Palestine, but this was BEFORE they were named a “terrorist group”. nobody knew. He certainly didn’t. But they arrested him. So the killing of this guy is ridiculous. Again I’m somewhat ashamed to call myself American. Next they’ll be going after me. Why? Maybe I’m saying too much. Maybe I’m really a bearded, turban wearing, billion year old guy that “belongs” to Al Qaida. No, I’m a young Muslim woman spreading the truth. But I guess that won’t stop them.

  2. Hello:
    I have my doubts that these two men can still be called citizens of the US. I am under the impression that you lose your citizenship when you join an opposing side in a war. I am a bit weak on this as I have a hard time believing that the “war on terror” is a true war. But the fact that they were on the side the US is opposing is evident in their written manifesto’s. It is my opinion that these manifesto’s have given the people biased against Muslim Americans an excuse for their unwarranted negative attitudes.

  3. I never thought of it that way. What an eye-opener.

  4. Americans who have engaged in insurrection have been killed on the battlefield before. Thousands of Americans were killed right here in America during the Civil War. Those were Americans who rebelled against the United States government in effort to setup their own country. In the case of al-Awlaki he has urged the killing of American citizens while working with people who have a stated purpose of destroying the country. I have no problem with what President Obama has done in going after Americans engaging in insurrection just as President Lincoln did.President Obama like members of the military took an oath to defend the United states against ALL enemies foreign and DOMESTIC.Under the US Constitution its also a death penalty offense to engage in treason against the United States.However, I would be troubled if the Obama administration began executing people for changing their religion or for speaking ill of a long dead prophet.

  5. The man should have surrendered to U.S. Authorities and his life would have been spared. Instead he elected to hide out in a foreign country and instigate rebellion and attacks within U.S. borders making an arrest almost impossible. It would not have been worth the life of a 21 year old soldier to even attempt to formulate a raid to take this man by force. His acts of treason and rebellion justified the United States response to his existence. He was an American citizen, if he wanted his civil rights respected he should have made himself available to United States law enforcement and surrendered through a lawyer who could have negotiated what jail he would be housed in. This man made his choices, he was made aware of his countries intentions, and he still chose to pursue his activities. There was nothing unfair or unjustified about any of this.

  6. So if a Christian Evangelical priest preaches his congregation about the evils of Islam and summons them to fight against Muslims, do Muslim groups outside of America have a right to target and kill such a person? Because that is exactly what we did…..always remember to look at the other side because it may come back and haunt us one day….

  7. What’s funny is that people in my community never heard of Anwar until they saw it on yahoo news. They say we Muslims support this kind of treason or this “jihadist”. how many times must I say it. Jihad means struggle, not holy war or murder. Everyone, especially Americans, struggle nowadays. I guess we’re all in our own way jihadists. (not terrorists!)

    But what I don’t get is that this guy talked about Islam but i don’t see him calling for the “death” of America, not even the “islamization” of it. Exactly why do they think he was a threat to homeland security?

  8. It’s a very good day!

  9. anon

    I would agree that the day they killed Bin Laden was a good day. he was a pyscho ad he butchered Islam completely. So indeed, a good year of the U.S, and for Muslims all around the world, congrats Obama you got one right. But this guy? Something shady is going on here…


    Something everyone should see. If you wanna understand Islam, don’t watch Glenn Beck, watch this. You’ll learn the Arab’s history, and the Muslim history. Very cool, very accurate.

  11. You see, IF you want to know what islam is all about, you don’t just judge it by ONE MAN’s case, go to historical facts and confirm. Justice is Justice and should be carried out base on EVIDENCES and reliable FACTS not just uncertain talks of other people. Remember! “An UNJUST law, isn’t LAW at all.” Islam Is Peace

  12. I am sorry Insaan, but I have not heard of mainstream Christianity giving sermons calling for the killing and fighting against Muslims in a physical sense. Now some attitudes have solidified since the wars have started but I do not know what you’re talking about in the overall sense of the word. Many Christians believe that the teachings of Islam are false and that Christianity should be used as a counterpoint to reduce its spread and convert what members it can, however, it does not call for the killing of its followers.

    America is a Sovereign country and took action as such. Other Sovereign countries may take similar actions if they have similar abilities and diplomatic ties. A group of men who are angry at what they perceive as injustice are not sovereign and may not take such action. For Example I cannot declare a person an enemy of the state and then take action to kill that person regardless of what country he or she is in. It is simply murder. 75% of the country may agree with what I did, and it may affect my sentence but I would still be tried for murder because neither God or the state granted that right to me and I am restrained by the laws of man and the commandments of God forbidding me to seize that right or take that action. Now a man may claim “God wills it” in the utter arrogance of knowing the will of God, violating the strictures in both the Bible and Koran against murder, depriving the individual of the ability to seek religious redemption for his or her actions, thus judging the person as unworthy to form a relationship with god, and declaring the person’s soul as worthless. I, however, doubt anyone who kills or destroys in the name of God. God can carry out his own will, were just supposed to do as he instructed us.

  13. criley

    Now THAT is something I agree with

  14. elle,

    this guy has on multiple times called for killing american’s and for attacking american interest. according to an article on the website he was initially a moderate voice. in fact he was invited to the pentagon after 9/11 to speak about cooperation within the muslim community. but according to the article he turned radical after we killed some of his tribe (it didn’t say but i would presume, in a drone strike in yemen). the fort hood shooter was in direct contact with him. i think they also claim that the times square attempted bomber was a follower of his.


    “So if a Christian Evangelical priest preaches his congregation about the evils of Islam and summons them to fight against Muslims, do Muslim groups outside of America have a right to target and kill such a person?” if they actually do kill someone? and we refuse or are incapable of turning him over for trial? then of course. if you think you can get a war plane through our air defences. but i think we are operating in their air space with the permission of the yemenis. or you could go mossad style like they did with black september.


    “but I have not heard of mainstream Christianity giving sermons calling for the killing and fighting against Muslims in a physical sense” so many caveates in that sentence. “mainstream” and “physical sense”. you’re starting to sound like elle. so when does the retoric turn from philosophical to physical? is it not the duty of christians to struggle, as the arabs might say, jihad, against the devil? weather it be an internal struggle or a physical struggle. if you say islam is of the devil, isn’t it reasonable to forsee that some may take that to mean to take up arms? how’s the song go? onward christian soldiers…

  15. Well m2: I do not control everyone out there that states that they are Christians. I am comfortable stating that even if some Christian churches say Islam is of the devil it is not a call for violence it would simply be a call to counteract its influence and try to change the views of its members. Any Christian organization that makes such a claim isolates themselves from the very people they are supposed to fellowship with and minister to. So it is not a very effective strategy. Nuts are everywhere religious and otherwise. These people are destined to do crazy things and are just looking for an excuse. I would not classify one of them as a Christian soldier I would classify them as simply a loon.

    People grounded in their faith are not going to become physical. Of course there is always the Christian abortion doctor shooter who shoots to save children. They may seem grounded but they violate the very tenets of their faith by their actions.

    Christians may become physical to protect their families, when they join the armed forces, to save a group of people being held hostage, or for any number of reasons but they do not do it in the name of God. They do these things under our civil code which both allows and restricts such activities. The Bible tells Christians to follow our nations laws, though we all stray from such instructions at times.

  16. no doubt. no one controls anyone but themselves. but when you choose to identify yourself with a group it leaves you open to critisism when a member of your group behaves like a jackass, especially when it is done in the name of the ideology. but yes there are jackasses in all groups.

    even in the only religion i’ve known to be truely peacefull.

    but at least they didn’t kill them, just some crazy idea of hair and beards holding some sort of importance????? how many silly ancient superstitions persist?

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