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I could not find any posts on Awlaki and his due process rights except this post: http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=19477&hl=awlaki&fromsearch=1

Although this article makes a great point regarding citizenship, Awlaki was still legally considered a citizen so it doesn't help with my question.

Ron Paul recently criticized the administration for denying a US citizens his rights to due process by "assassinating" him. He stated, "I don't think that's a good way to deal with our problems," Paul told reporters. "Al-Awlaki was born here; he is an American citizen. He was never tried or charged for any crimes. No one knows if he killed anybody. We know he might have been associated with the underwear bomber. But if the American people accept this blindly and casually that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys, I think it's sad.

"I think what would people have said about Timothy McVeigh? We didn't assassinate him, who we were pretty certain that he had done it. Went and put through the courts then executed him. To start assassinating American citizens without charges, we should think very seriously about this."- From http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/09/30/140950953/ron-paul-condemns-al-awlakis-killing

Could anyone provide an Objectivist principled argument against or in or support of Ron Paul's statement. Was what the US government did in killing Anwar Al-Awlaki right or wrong?

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Ok, but Al-Awlaki's actions were no different than those of Osama Bin Laden who was killed in almost the same way. Perhaps extrajudicial killing is wrong but what could the government have done to take care of this active terrorist if it wasn't feasible to bring him to the US from Yemen?

The video you showed me above implies that the person hasn't broken a law. Awlaki has clearly committed treason and is fighting alongside our enemny so there is a pretty big difference.

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The U.S. government did a good thing by killing him. It should have set up a more elaborate process of checks, to ensure that such power is under check.

Also, I don't see why his being a U.S. Citizen should be a significant factor: a minor one perhaps, warranting some extra procedural check.

For non-emergency situations, I think the government should have a declaration which allows the person to surrender to a U.S. representative or some government recognized by the U.S. (or some similar rule). There should be a process whereby someone outside the executive branch reviews the available evidence before a name can go on such a list. The offences for which names can be put on the list ought to be narrowly defined, and should primarily be related to people who are physical threats and are likely to remain so.

Here is a blog post on the subject, which I agree with.

Edited by softwareNerd

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"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Obviously, in this case, an American citizen was "deprived of life" without due process or an indictment from a Grand Jury. It would have been very easy to charge and try him in absentia, find him, and hang him for treason. I wouldn't lose any sleep over that outcome, but what we've got here is a secretive and hush-hushed murder by unmanned aircraft on an untried citizen whose ties with AQ are unclear at best.

Even confirmed confederate war criminals got better treatment (a nice treason trial and expeditious execution) than this guy.

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The video you showed me above implies that the person hasn't broken a law. Awlaki has clearly committed treason and is fighting alongside our enemny so there is a pretty big difference.

Well, the argument is not that he necessarily hasn't broken any law, or isn't clearly a traitor, the point is that he hasn't been charged with anything, and the law hasn't been followed, therefore it is wrong to do this (and yes, even wrong in the case of bin Laden.) Think about it this way:

Jared Loughner, the guy who killed six people and shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head in a shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona earlier this year, is still awaiting his trial. So, in light of the government recently killing an American citizen (Anwar al-Awlaki) with no trial and with no evidence that he actually killed anyone (though he may have broken a law, and is clearly an enemy, and should be dealt with), should the government have just killed Jared Loughner?

After all, he actually killed people in front of many witnesses and tried to kill a member of Congress. Should we just say "He has clearly committed treason. He is an enemy. No need for a trial. Just put a bag over his head and shoot him."?

Or what about Timothy McVeigh, who actually committed acts of terrorism, had a trial before his execution? Heck, even Charles Manson had a trial. These are all killers who actually broke the law, who had a trial, where evidence was layed out on the table in front of a judge, where rules establishing guilt and punishment were followed. So Ron Paul is right to simply point out the dangers of those who would allow the chief executive, whoever he may be, to simply say "clearly, you are a terrorist" and assassinate a person, even a US citizen.

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Law enforcement frequently (edit: not frequently in terms of the percentage of all such confrontations) kills people in the act of committing a crime without even getting to arrest them let alone put them on trial.

Killing Awlaki was not the act of the law enforcement part of the government, nor was it within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S. This was an act of war, waged against a person and organization who was and is avowedly at war with the U.S. I like it when my government achieve victories in war.

It used to be that only nation-states could wage war. That is no longer the case.

Edited by Grames

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Jared Loughner, the guy who killed six people and shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head in a shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona earlier this year, is still awaiting his trial. ... ...

Or what about Timothy McVeigh, who actually committed acts of terrorism, had a trial before his execution? Heck, even Charles Manson had a trial.

These were people in U.S. custody. If Al Awlaki had surrendered himself up to the U.S. government, there is no way he would have been killed. Even if he had surrendered to the Yemeni government, it is very unlikely that the U.S. would have tried to kill him as long as he was in custody.

Al Awlaki had ample notice that he was a target. I've seen public articles on this dating since April 2010. In addition, his father filed a court case asking that his named be taken off any such target-list and the ACLU supported that argument too. The judge dismissed the case. Regardless of whether the judge was right or wrong, the point is that Al Awlaki had ample notice that he was on a list of targets.

Yes, there need to be proper and far more objective processes set up not just as relates to capturing or killing such people, but even as regards to what judicial process they are provided once they are captured. The problem is that one side (Obama and Bush) wants all the leeway they can get, and the other side (many of the far-left) want to use unreasonable standards of evidence.

I'm not sure where Ron Paul stands on actually bringing people to justice. From the way he talks about Iran, he sound like he does not want to act pre-emptively on such issues. You mention that he sponsored something relating to declarations of war. Did he actually sponsor a motion saying that we should be going to war? or is he just making a general declaration that the Congress should be the one declaring war? If he has actually sponsored laws saying that we should be chasing down our enemies, and if he comes up with a good set of processes under which we should be doing so, then he doesn't seem to talk about those in his sound-bites and TV debates. If he is merely aiming for Congressional rather than Presidential power, then I would judge it as a way to opt for inaction, rather than for principled action. I would take him seriously if he was pushing for aggressive, principled action against those who seek to harm the U.S. -- if he has really done so, then I guess I'm just ill informed.

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I think there is a huge dropping of context here. al-Awlaki wasn't acting as a us citizen when he was killed he was an enemy combatant. He was actively engaged in a war against your country and as such he was a legitimate military target, no different than any Taliban terrorist firing his AK at US troops. His citizenship is not protection, nor does it provide an excuse for his direct and violent action against your country.

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Law enforcement frequently (edit: not frequently in terms of the percentage of all such confrontations) kills people in the act of committing a crime without even getting to arrest them let alone put them on trial.

This objection is unconvincing because if the police (ignoring that this was far from such an instance, seeing as how it was a Presidential authorization of the CIA to undertake a covert assassination) kill someone who are allegedly in the process of committing a crime, it doesn't just end there. "Oh, he was committing a crime. The officer who shot him says so. Clearly, the killing was okay then. Next topic, move along." No, obviously there are many things that happen in such a case. Most importantly, there is a trial, evidence is presented under strict rules, and the circumstances of the shooting are rigorously examined according to such procedures. We find out whether the alleged criminal was in fact committing a crime, and even then, the shooting may still not be found to be justified. In no such case do we ever see this happening:

We're not going to show any evidence, prove anything, that's it. He's dead. I have nothing further for you. Move along, citizen.

Killing Awlaki was not the act of the law enforcement part of the government, nor was it within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S. This was an act of war, waged against a person and organization who was and is avowedly at war with the U.S. I like it when my government achieve victories in war.

It used to be that only nation-states could wage war. That is no longer the case.

Right, so this is the only counter-argument you can fall back upon, given the above. Well, all that trial and evidence and law stuff, that only applies for criminal acts. This wasn't a criminal act. This was an act of war. It's different.

But Ron Paul would argue, we aren't legally "at war" at all. Congress has not declared war, or enacted legal procedures putting us at war. The Congressional authorization, apart from arguments as to its legitimacy, would say that that only authorized military force against those who planned or were involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, which the target in question was never implicated in.

Besides, if we can just open-endedly authorize the President to order assassinations of whoever can be said to "be at war" with the US and its interests, in the opinion of the President, don't you find problems with that? If legality of targeted killings hinges only upon the chief executive's say so, without any evidence necessary, then "we are at war, we have always been at war" and "legal" ceases to have any meaning.

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Besides, if we can just open-endedly authorize the President to order assassinations of whoever can be said to "be at war" with the US and its interests, in the opinion of the President, don't you find problems with that?

If the individual openly declares "war" on the US, in a very literal way, and if there is ample evidence that he has the means and connections to make good on his declaration, then I see no need to wait for our Congress to declare war back. I would have a problem with the government just deciding that someone is "at war" with the US, based on nothing but idealogical writings, for example. But I don't believe that is the case with this guy. If I'm wrong please correct me.

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Besides, if we can just open-endedly authorize the President to order assassinations of whoever can be said to "be at war" with the US and its interests, in the opinion of the President, don't you find problems with that? If legality of targeted killings hinges only upon the chief executive's say so, without any evidence necessary, then "we are at war, we have always been at war" and "legal" ceases to have any meaning.

War is an inherently extra-legal activity. In what court would you want the tapes and transcripts of Awlaki's activities to be presented? Should the whole Congress have voted on Awlaki's status? (edit: i.e. literally adapt the previous methods of making war by requiring Congress to declare war on individuals?)

Edited by Grames

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If the individual openly declares "war" on the US, in a very literal way, and if there is ample evidence that he has the means and connections to make good on his declaration, then I see no need to wait for our Congress to declare war back. I would have a problem with the government just deciding that someone is "at war" with the US, based on nothing but idealogical writings, for example. But I don't believe that is the case with this guy. If I'm wrong please correct me.

Well, you may see no need to follow the Constitution, but I'm just saying, as the question is Ron Paul's position of the killing, then Ron Paul, seeing as how he is a constitutionalist, would simply disagree.

Ron Paul introduced numerous Congressional declarations of war, they were voted down. (He was told, according to his own anecdote, that that was antiquated, and we simply just don't follow that part of the Constitution anymore.) He introduced tools to treat individual terrorists legally as pirates and war criminals and legally go after them (Letters of marque and reprisal), they were also voted down. (So he can't be accused of not wanting to do anything, or of shirking his Congressional duties.) Instead, apparently people, including Objectivists, would just prefer the President be able to just say: He's making war. It's obvious. There's ample evidence, therefore we don't need to present any and follow the law. [?] No need to wait on such inconveniences.

Edited by 2046

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War is an inherently extra-legal activity. In what court would you want the tapes and transcripts of Awlaki's activities to be presented? Should the whole Congress have voted on Awlaki's status? (edit: i.e. literally adapt the previous methods of making war by requiring Congress to declare war on individuals?)

Ron Paul would not agree with the idea that war is inherently extra-legal. No, he would likely say, there are laws on when we can be said to be at war or not, viz. Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the US Constitution. If treason be the crime, then that too is prosecutable under the law of the land. As to what court, this is a minor question. The Somali pirate, Abdiwali Abdiqadir, was tried in federal court in New York City, under Judge Mark Davis. Ron Paul might endorse a similar procedure. Is this unsatisfactory?

The US Constitution and US Code authorizes prosecution of piracy, acts of terrorism, and war crimes. Is this unsatisfactory? Again, Timothy McVeigh, "The Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski, even Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, or Martin Bormann (tried in absentia), all openly took part in "war" declared against the United States, and received trials (and no, to respond to Snerd's argument, they all weren't necessarily in custody, as indicated), and where the US military was put into action, Congress had time to and did declare war. Again, Ron Paul sponsored declarations of war, which were voted down. Again, Ron Paul also sponsored Letters of Marque and Reprisal, as per the Constitution, treating the Sept. 11 attacks as acts of "air piracy" and war crimes, against Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, which were voted down.

Ron Paul simply opposes the idea that American citizens can be taken out on the President's say-so alone. What is needed is a Congressional declaration of war, thus statutorily putting the US at war, Letters of Marque and Reprisal, or a federal trial. In short, Ron Paul simply wants to law to be followed. Now, as Objectivists, why should we prefer the status quo of Obama's decision to Ron Paul's decision?

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Instead, apparently people, including Objectivists, would just prefer the President be able to just say: He's making war. It's obvious. There's ample evidence, therefore we don't need to present any and follow the law. [?] No need to wait on such inconveniences.

I know you meant this as a criticism, but I completely agree. When "following the law" means that individual rights are threatened, i.e. when allowing an incompetent Congress to ignore the necessity to declare an act of war in order to protect individual rights, then it is proper to do what is necessary to protect individual rights.

Obviously, the President could misuse such powers, but Congress has done the same with their own powers.

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Ron Paul simply opposes the idea that American citizens can be taken out on the President's say-so alone. What is needed is a Congressional declaration of war, thus statutorily putting the US at war, Letters of Marque and Reprisal, or a federal trial. In short, Ron Paul simply wants to law to be followed. Now, as Objectivists, why should we prefer the status quo of Obama's decision to Ron Paul's decision?

Washington Post: Secret U.S. memo sanctioned killing of Aulaqi

The administration describes al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as an associated force of the original terrorist group that was led by Osama bin Laden until he was killed, making AQAP subject to congressionally authorized military force. Officials said Aulaqi was part of an enemy force and posed an ongoing, immediate danger.

Apparently it is the scope of the original congressional authorization of force that is in dispute, and whether AQAP and this guy comes under it or not.

Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists

(a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

So long as there is continuity of organization from the AQ that made 9/11 happen up to AQAP then they are in fact specifically targeted by the original resolution.

This is actually an epistemological dispute of the meaning of words, and what they refer to in reality. So long as Awlaki was self-professed as Al Qaeda I have to conclude he was a legitimate target morally and legally.

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If I can play Ron Paul's advocate here, I think his response would consist of questioning the legitimacy of H J Res 64 in 2001. It wasn't a legitimate declaration of war, it was an intentionally vaguely worded, open-ended proclamation that the Congress was handing over its war-making power to the executive, and hence it is unconstitutional. It gives the President ability to treat the military and intelligence agencies as his personal army, with its sweeping declaration of authority to kill any "persons" said (by whom?) to be engaged in "any future acts of international terrorism." After all, as Ron Paul points out, someone simply making his own personal gold coins was charged as a "terrorist" and imprisoned unjustly.

Moreover, Paul might say (I base this on his Fox interview with Cavuto below), Awlaki has never been shown to have "planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons." That's not even what the charges are, he was not involved at all. The attack then, was not legal, even pursuant to H J Res 64.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agT4SlqLayU

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...the Congress was handing over its war-making power to the executive,...

What does that mean? When did Congress ever micro-manage wars? No, Ron Paul is wrong and this is an ordinary exercise of the executive function.

Moreover, Paul might say (I base this on his Fox interview with Cavuto below), Awlaki has never been shown to have "planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons." That's not even what the charges are, he was not involved at all. The attack then, was not legal, even pursuant to H J Res 64.

Then Paul might be guilty of intentionally deceiving his listeners with his carefully calibrated list of activities that deliberately omits that Al Qaeda qua organization is a war target and that means (at the minimum) everyone who boasts and broadcasts his Al Qaeda affiliation worldwide. It would make no difference at all if Awlaki was not in Al Qaeda in 2001, anyone and everyone associated with AQ from now until forever is a war target.

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Another aspect of this case deserves emphasis.  The assassination was done with the help of the Yemen dictatorship, which the U.S. has propped up for years.  

I for one am sick of the U.S. propping up dictators all over the earth.  This is really what fosters “Al Qaeda.”  Sure, a few crazy Muslim clerics hate America for being the West, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the hatred the U.S. government engenders by at one time or another arming every government in the Middle East, including Uzbekistan – about which read Craig Murray:

http://www.craigmurr...orture_and_the/

former British ambassador whose career ended when he protested the torture there.  The “U.S. government engenders” as opposed to clueless Americans forced to pay for it, but innocents in war and all that.

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Love how you all ignored what Zip said.

I think there is a huge dropping of context here. al-Awlaki wasn't acting as a us citizen when he was killed he was an enemy combatant. He was actively engaged in a war against your country and as such he was a legitimate military target, no different than any Taliban terrorist firing his AK at US troops. His citizenship is not protection, nor does it provide an excuse for his direct and violent action against your country.

Though there is a dropping of context, I believe you're embellishing the acts that this man perpetrated. I don't know what it means to 'act as a US citizen', or how driving a truck in a country with which we are not at war is 'an act of war', or how being the editor of a jihadist magazine is akin to firing an assault rifle at US troops. His connections to other terrorist acts are very vague at best; the problem iswe don't know, and likely never will. This is going to get put in the 'case closed' file before it's ever open.

I'm more than willing to agree that this man was guilty of treason (and with proper evidence, terrorism). But that's not the point. The point is that it's a scary proposition to grant the Executive the right to choose who can be assassinated without due process. We may not be crossing the Rubicon, but the temptation is surely there for anyone currently in power to do so.

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how being the editor of a jihadist magazine is akin to firing an assault rifle at US troops

If I published a magazine specifically targetted at terrorists, and the magazine included such articles as "how to build a bomb in your kitchen sink", you would not consider me to have a legitimate connection to terrorists and terrorism in general?

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