When asked by reporters if U.S. troops would be sent to Yemen, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta responded, “There’s no consideration of that. Our operations now are directed with the Yemenese going after al-Qaida.”
“No consideration” is exactly the type of vague and undefined phrase the American people have come to expect from representatives of the national government, particularly when it comes to questions about the interminable “War on Terror.”
The links connecting Anwar al-Awlaki to anti-American terrorism were entirely suppositious, forged through unsubstantiated official assertion. He was, at most, a clerical propagandist who never exercised command authority. For that matter, no evidence has been presented that he ever had an operational role in a military force of any kind.
Awlaki – an American-born cleric who was once courted by the Pentagon – was accused of expressing support for armed attacks against U.S. military personnel and government interests. It is not terrorism to employ lethal violence against an invading and occupying army, nor is it a crime to express support for armed self-defense – including armed interposition against the aggressive designs of the U.S. government.
The administration asserted – without providing evidence – that Awlaki had an “operational” role in planning terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens. If evidence supporting that charge existed, the administration had the unconditional constitutional duty to indict Awlaki and put him on trial.
Intelligence officials knew Awlaki’s location. The government of Yemen, which is headed by a pliant thug named Ali Abdullah Saleh, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington and would have eagerly cooperated in an effort to track down and extradite Awlaki. But this would not have validated the claim – made by the Bush administration, and embraced by its successor – that the President of the United States isn’t bound by the Constitution, but rather is the Living Constitution.
As a guarantee of individual liberty, a political constitution is about as intrinsically valuable as a paper currency. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are irredeemable unless they are backed by a noble metal – lead, in the form of privately owned ammunition. Nonetheless, and for the record, this must be said:
There is nothing in the Constitution or laws of the United States of America that permits a president to order the summary execution of any human being. Only Congress can declare war. Only a jury can find someone guilty of a crime. Only a judge can impose a death sentence. Or such would be the case, were we still living in a constitutional republic, rather than the militarist empire into which that republic inevitably degenerated.
The vertically integrated murder apparatus that killed Awlaki and fellow U.S. citizen Samir Khan is entirely autonomous – and increasingly automated. Awlaki was………………..