When I wake up in the morning, usually the first thing I do is smack on my radio, turned to the local talk station. And this morning, I woke up with a smile at the good news — American-born (and citizen) Anwar Al-Awlaki, one of Al Qaeda’s top leaders, was killed in Yemen.
Details are sketchy — as are the sources — but apparently he and some of his buddies were in eastern Yemen when they were suddenly afflicted by fatal cases of “getting blowed up from above.”
As cheerful as this news is, I still have some trepidations. The first is, as a long-time comic book reader, I believe very much in the “Never Found The Body” trope. Until we get a corpse that we can positively identify, I ain’t buying it.
And this good news also resolves a very tricky legal situation. President Obama had issued a “kill order” on Al-Awlaki, meaning that there were to be no real efforts to capture him; it was essentially a “shoot on sight” order. And Al-Awlaki was an American citizen — born in the US, never renounced his citizenship. I find it deeply troubling that the President of the United States would order the summary execution of an American citizen who had never been convicted of a single crime.
Yeah, it’s Anwar Al-Awlaki. Had he been killed by US forces (and he very well might have been), I wouldn’t have a twinge of regret over his passing. But damn, that’s a troubling precedent. I really don’t care for the idea of the President of the United States — especially this one — having the authority to order the killing of American citizens.
There’s a saying among lawyers that “tough cases make for bad laws.” And this shows how true that is. If anyone deserved to get blowed to bits, it was this guy. But I worry about the precedent it sets.