I have no sympathy for Anwar al-Aulaqi. From all appearances, this native of New Mexico was a bad guy who was involved in trying to recruit fellow Americans to carry out criminal acts inside the United States. But we’re supposed to be a nation of laws. The U.S. government proved that isn’t the case when it assassinated him this week.
After Barack Obama ordered him killed, government spin masters have gone into overdrive to justify it. Before he was murdered, he was just a radical cleric working to recruit others. Now that he’s dead — and government officials need to justify it — he’s being referred to as the “chief of external operations” for al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen. Whoever made that up deserves some sort of prize for spin.
Most politicians were busy praising the Obama administration for al-Aulaqi’s death Friday, because it’s the popular position to take. In quote after quote from politicians talking about how it was a big step forward in the “war on terror,” nobody mentioned the simple and obvious point that the man was a U.S. citizen, deserving of the protections of our laws and Constitution — even though he’s turned against the country.
Ron Paul was one of the few to point out the obvious. This isn’t an act of war. This is a staged assassination of an American citizen who is accused of crimes. This isn’t the way we treat murder suspects. This isn’t the way we treat rape suspects. This isn’t the way the U.S. justice system says it’s legal to treat anyone accused of a crime — until now. And that’s all al-Aulaqi was — an American citizen accused by his government of a crime.
It’s a dangerous step for the U.S. government to assert the right to kill Americans unilaterally. Do you believe everything this government (or any government) says? Are you willing to hand politicians the unilateral authority to be prosecutor, judge and jury over the lives of Americans — possibly including you if someone decides you’re a threat? If this doesn’t alarm you, you’re not thinking it through clearly.
In his statement on the assassination, here’s what Ron Paul said:
“Nobody knows if he ever killed anybody. If the American people accept this blindly and casually…I think that’s sad.”
Americans are going to blindly and casually accept this. It’s going to be the popular thing with most people. It’s sad that most people don’t understand when their own rights are being eroded. This is another case of that.