Friday, April 9, 2010

Obama Gives Due Process a New Meaning

Since the founding of our republic due process has meant an established course for judicial proceedings or other governmental activities designed to safeguard the legal rights of the individual. These safeguards comport with our constitutional provisions regarding criminal procedure and are found in Amendments IV, V, VI, and VIII.

When an official of government becomes a judge, a jury and an executioner, there has been no justice, and therefore No Due Process. This has now become the state of our law.

President Obama, who is himself an attorney, has authorized our CIA to assassinate an American citizen without providing this individual his day in court, indeed this is a very dangerous precedent.

Anwar al-Awlaki, is a Muslim cleric, born in New Mexico US, he is an American Citizen by birth. He stands accused of having ties to al-Qaeda in Yemen and links to two attacks inside the United States last year.

Awlaki may stand accused of these crimes but has not been convicted in any court of law, indeed he has not even been tried in absentia. The CIA has added Awlaki to a growing list of about two dozen people targeted for assassination. Several are Americans.

Both Bush and Obama have justified these lethal policies under what they perceive to be “the laws of war” which they premise allows them to use lethal force against enemy combatants. However, Enemy combatant is a term historically referring to members of the armed forces of the state with which another state is at war. But Awlaki has not been personally involved in attacks against either American’s or our interests, neither has he been involved in armed confrontations with US or NATO forces. So to apply this term against Awlaki may be an abuse of a political discretion and policy.

Of concern is that these death lists may be used to kill individuals far from any battlefield or when they are not presenting an immediate threat.

As for Awlaki, it is also unclear what intelligence exists that would justify CIA and military forces to hunt him down and kill him without any judicial review.

In February, constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley, who has become a champion of Civil rights, offered his opinion, “American citizens have the same protections whether on US soil or not”, pointing to Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1957),

This round of assassinations is yet another thorn prodding the American psyche. It is a dangerous precedent and should not be employed except as a last resort, and then only in an unusual circumstance with undisputed, verified and collaborated evidence.

The danger that emanates from this policy is that any American may be placed on this list even while living in the US, merely because he speaks out against government policy, this is not China or Russia, this is the United States, and so far we retain that right to descent.

As far as political expediency this is truly a step back through that portal leading to a medieval time, and the end result will be the creation of another Martyr eliciting more anger toward the US.