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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Can a US President kill an American citizen without trial?


So says the Obama White House. And they did just that in the killing of Anwar al-Alawki, an American citizen living in Yemen.

White House and Justice Department officials say they had strong evidence that he was involved in major terrorism against the US. Which makes me wonder why they did not find him, arrest him, and bring him to trial. If the issue is that he would have been killed in such an attempt, fine, and that would be perfectly legal under US and international law given the right to kill in self-defense as part of a legitimate military or law enforcement operation.

Instead of that, they found him and shot him dead from the sky using a Predator Drone missile. Without trial (thus without due process).

Today on NPR I heard a Justice Department official--the Attorney General himself--say we are entitled to "due process" but not "judicial process." Yes, he actually said that.

To the credit of NPR, at least they covered it!

And the issue has generated some critical coverage in the past. Here are two examples:

And today even Fox News has a story about it!


  1. Hi there. UK left-leaning, disappointed in Obama, perspective here.

    Think that the killing of al-Awlaki incompatible with democracy, and that he should have gone through due, and judicial, process.

    However, that should apply equally to all those the USA is targeting with its drone strike campaigns. E.g we have an FBI target, al-Liby, living here. Will he be killed by drone strike?

    Highly doubt it, because the underlying question is about the legality of drone strikes. If not going to kill terrorists here by this method, when we have known terrorists residing here, then have to wonder whether the strategy itself is legal.

    Have covered this killing, and drone strikes, on my blog, Blinkered Justice, if anyone interested.

    All the best.


    1. Ya that correct if you have know that he is involve in any terrorist activity then killing is not the way to tackle him. They have to arrest him , not to kill him........

      Criminal Justice Degree