Awlaki’s Rights Would Have Got in the Way of His Prosecution

John Glaser, October 04, 2011

I almost pity the Washington Times for so naively publishing the truth, yet having no idea what it means. Herein it is reported that Awlaki would have been eligible for too many rights if placed on trial…thus the decision for quick, easy, hassle-free murder.

Taking Anwar al-Awlaki alive would have presented a difficult challenge for U.S. government prosecutors seeking a terrorism conviction, legal experts say.

For one, the New Mexico-born al-Awlaki, as a U.S. citizen, would not be eligible for trial by a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where scores of foreign terrorism suspects are awaiting trial. The law establishing the commission system stipulates non-U.S. citizens only.

Criminal defendant al-Awlaki would have had more rights during a trial in a federal civilian court, which could have become for him an avenue to gain classified information on the war and a soapbox for his anti-West al Qaeda propaganda.

…“I think it’s pretty easy to understand why they didn’t take him alive. Would you want to deal with the hassle of trying to put him on trial, an American citizen that has gotten so much press for being the target of a CIA kill order? That would be a nightmare. The ACLU would be crawling all over the Justice Department for due process in an American court,” said a former military intelligence officer who worked with special operations troops to hunt down high-value terrorism targets.

The Times actually presents a pretty accurate iteration of the US policy at this point: if we have to grant human beings their rights, better to just commit homicide than embarrass ourselves in a court where they have the chance to defend themselves.

One objection I have to this articulation is that the Obama administration was worried he would “gain classified information on the war and a soapbox for his anti-West al Qaeda propaganda.” First of all…what war? Or perhaps I should say “which war?”

Second, I don’t think they care about his anti-West views coming to light. This “propaganda” is already out there. In reality, they were scared he would be found not guilty; they were weary of judicial scrutiny that could expose them as criminal thugs who target Americans for assassination without any evidence that they broken any laws. Considering the fact that the US military just came out with a study which concluded that Awlaki’s death will not weaken al Qaeda in the slightest and the fact that he was never an official member of al Qaeda, yes it would have been difficult to get him convicted of something he was not. Furthermore, given available evidence, it’s likely that Awlaki’s supposed role as Inspiration Provider is protected speech under the First Amendment.

Nobody should be flippant about this, though. We’re really at a point where the government can choose whether or not to afford its citizens with the rights guaranteed them under law. The government, even in the Imperial City, does not have the right to choose when to obey the Fifth Amendment and when to ignore it.




18 Responses to “Awlaki’s Rights Would Have Got in the Way of His Prosecution”

  1. Sign the petition to impeach Obama for this: https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petition/

  2. The White House sign up to sign the petition does NOT work. Nope. Wow, that just sort of figures. Okay, I went and jumped through all the White House hoops and signed up for the 'privilege' to be able to sign the petitions. So when you go to sign an actual petition, the White House thingy does NOT let you sign.
    OKAY AND YIPPEE! Got it figured out. First you've got to sign up and give the WH your email address, create a password, wait for the WH to send you back a confirmation email, THEN don't believe that you're there yet, then get logged on after the confirmation thingy, then log out, then log back in, THEN the freaking thing will work. Holy crap, tedious or what…

  3. White House has committed double murders.This not just any attack on Civil Rights and Due Process Clause of US Constitution. Little patience and spending little time in signing up is worth the effort.

  4. No other US President has committed any such murders of US citizens. If you won't stand up, get ready for more murders to come.

  5. In a sane, lawful America, O-Bomb-a would be impeached for much of what he's done. Bear in mind, however, that we're living in a quasi-fascist country whose government is heedless of the Constitution, the law, treaties, everything.

  6. If you haven't got the evidence to convict, or if it's just too Goddamn much trouble arresting someone and trying him, just kill him. Hell, the U.S. "Justice" Department will go along with anything.

  7. [...] John Glaser: Awlaki’s rights would have gotten in the way, if prosecuted [...]

  8. Right. THAT's done a heckuva lot of good in the past, now hasn't it?

  9. So if I want to bump somebody off- hey, it's just business, nothing personal- all I have to do is claim he's a terrorist or that I overheard him planning a terrorist attack or that I overhead him saying nice things about terrorists in general and I'm good to go to just shoot him on the spot? I've got just as much evidence as the government presented in Awlaki's case, right, and I'm just doing my part to protect America from The Terrorists ™, right?

    If the President has the right to summarily execute someone with or without evidence, why then ALL Americans should have that right.

    Maybe it's time to re-read The Turner Diaries, huh? /shudders at the thought

  10. Sorry, that is not the way it works. See, you are not President of the United States. Only the President of the United States can go out and kill someone based upon secret evidence and no due process of law. To paraphrase Nixon if the President does it, it is legal. You, on the other hand are not President of the United States. To hold the President of the United States to same laws that you must obey is the summit of presumption on your part.

  11. [...] [...]

  12. Ron Paul mentioned in his speech to the NPC yesterday that the administration could target journalists next. I think to an extent they've already started with Julian Assange. Anyone that threatens to or does publish something which the administration deems to be a national security issue could be taken out in this way.

  13. [...] the United States has tempered their calls for Saleh to step down ever since the successful assassination of US citizen Anwar al Awlaki by US operated Predator drones. Obama administration officials heaped praise on the Yemeni [...]

  14. [...] John Glaser explained how sanctions are illegitimate and ineffective, how Obama wanted to avoid the inconvenience of affording Awlaki his rights, and how Panetta’s visit with Egyptian military rulers is an illustration of continuing U.S. [...]

  15. [...] US drone attack that assassinated US citizen Anwar al Awlaki in Yemen seems to have renewed US relations with Saleh, as he hoped to parlay the killing to his [...]

  16. [...] son of the recently assassinated US citizen Anwar al Awlaki was among nine suspected jihadist militants killed by apparent US air strikes in [...]

  17. [...] all know about the extrajudicial assassination of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. It was murder without due process, guaranteed him by the Fifth Amendment. Less people know about the same fate befalling his 16-year [...]

  18. [...] US drone attack that assassinated US citizen Anwar al Awlaki in Yemen seems to have renewed US relations with Saleh, as he hoped to parlay the killing to his [...]