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Gary Johnson, Ron Paul criticize killing of alleged terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki by U.S. drone attack

The drone attacks that killed Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen have sparked renewed talks of due process for U.S. born citizens alleged to have been involved in terrorist activity.

Awlaki was born in New Mexico, and two presidential candidates, along with a host of civil liberties writers, have called into question the legality of killing a U.S. citizen without a court proceeding.

Former New Mexico governor and current presidential candidate Gary Johnson came out with fellow candidate Ron Paul against the drone attack, which also killed another U.S. citizen during an attack on a convoy carrying the two members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

From The Hill has Johnson’s comments:

“Well I as President of the United States I would have been a lot more transparent about what, and I understand all of the accusations against al-Awlaki and they are very significant and I don’t want to minimize at all the threat that he was posing to the United States. But he is a U.S. citizen, he was a U.S. citizen, and never before have we targeted a US citizen for death,” the former New Mexico governor said on Fox News.

And the Wall Street Journal has this from Ron Paul:

“Nobody knows if he ever killed anybody,” Mr. Paul said after a breakfast at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics. “If the American people accept this blindly and casually…I think that’s sad.”

Wall Street Journal does point out the congressman from Texas applauded the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, who said at the time, “Osama bin Laden applauded the 9/11 attacks. Such deliberate killing of innocent lives deserved retaliation. It is good that bin Laden is dead and justice is served.”

Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director for The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), denounced the killing of Awlaki, telling CBS News:

As we’ve seen today, this is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public but from the courts.

[…]

The government’s authority to use lethal force against its own citizens should be limited to circumstances in which the threat to life is concrete, specific and imminent. It is a mistake to invest the president – any president – with the unreviewable power to kill any American whom he deems to present a threat to the country.

And Glenn Greenwald, a former a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and writer for Salon, took exception to the government’s killing of Alwaki with incendiary prose:

Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even has any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt. When Awlaki’s father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were “state secrets” and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts. He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner. When Awlaki’s inclusion on President Obama’s hit list was confirmed, The New York Timesnoted that “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.”

After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it was the U.S.). It almost certainly was able to find and kill Awlaki with the help of its long-time close friend President Saleh, who took a little time off from murdering his own citizens to help the U.S. murder its. The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world. The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced.

Awlaki studied extensively in the U.S., earning a bachelors in engineering from Colorado State University and a masters in education leadership from San Diego State University.

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