Obama betrays American Constitution
On Sept. 30, President Obama was making remarks at Fort Myer in Virginia. During these remarks he spoke about the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki. Awlaki held dual citizenship with Yemen and the United States. The administration likes to euphemistically refer to it as a targeted killing but to put it bluntly, the Obama administration ordered and carried out the assassination of an American citizen, a line former President Bush even did not cross. This action is in direct violation of the American Constitution and the ideals upon which America was founded.
Let me make myself clear: I in no way support nor sympathize with Awlaki’s ideas and goals. I will not lose much sleep over Awlaki but what I have lost sleep over is the legal and moral implications of this government action.
The administration claims that it is within their legal right to murder American citizens so long as they were a part of entities that assisted in carrying out the 9/11 attacks as it is in accordance the 2001 statute, the Authorization for Use of
Military Force Against Terrorists. Obama claimed that Awlaki was the chief of “external operations” of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). He was also allegedly linked with the Fort Hood bomber and the failed Christmas Day bomber.
However, the American Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It determines the nature of the government and its interactions with the people of America. Under the fifth amendment, which is within the Bill of Rights, Americans cannot be deprived of their life, liberty and property without due process of the law. The assassination also violates the sixth amendment that guarantees a speedy and public trial.
Terrorism is covered in criminal law and regardless of what law a person breaks in the criminal code, they are supposed to be allowed to have a trial to allow them to state their case. Innocent until proven guilty is the way the system is supposed to work. Whether a person is guilty or not is determined through the courts not through public opinion or a bureaucrat working at the Department of Defence. Obama sentenced Awlaki to death without a public trial and presented the American people with no evidence. There really is no process for appealing decisions when a drone comes after you. At least Bush detained people, albeit unconstitutionally. Now Obama just sends drones after them.
Supporters of these policies argue that it keeps Americans safe. While this may very well be true in the case of keeping American’s safe from terrorists it certainly does not keep them safe from their own government.
The president ordering an assassination by a drone is essentially giving the citizen the death penalty. He determines them guilty and issues the sentence. This violates the separation of powers. The president is not the judiciary. The American founding fathers were painfully clear that these powers must be separated. The American founders drew from Montesquieu when Hamilton, in the 78th Federalist Paper, says “there is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers.”
What is greatly disturbing is that the government can simply pick and choose when to follow their constitution. Obama seemed to ignore it entirely. At least in Canada you have to deal with it by going through section one, the reasonable limits clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Can the American people also choose to pick and choose which laws to follow? The rule of law is fundamental to a free society. That law must be equally applied to all citizens and it must be clear. If the American government can choose to follow the Constitution or not follow the Constitution people cannot know which freedoms they have.
The Obama administration can claim that it was too difficult to bring Awlaki to trial which is why it killed him. They can also claim that very few Americans are actual targets. However, can Americans allow their government to undermine the law just for the sake of expediency? Even if you completely trust Obama with your life, by allowing Obama to use this power Americans are also allowing his successors to use it as well.
Obama certainly has been an interesting Nobel Peace Prize winner. What is interesting is how little media attention and outcry this received. So far three Republican presidential candidates oppose the assassination of American citizens: Herman Cain, Gary Johnson and Ron Paul. America, but more specifically Republicans, will have to choose whether these actions will be contested during the next presidential election or if they will continue walking down the road to serfdom. If the American government wants to chase down those committing treason they ought to look in a mirror and see what they are doing to their Constitution and the founding principles of their nation.