Anwar Awlaki's killing presents thorny legal issues, including the limits of presidential power. Does the president have the right to act as judge, jury and executioner in a war with no defined battlefield? The board took on these issues in its Sunday editorial:
If Awlaki was in fact the architect of terrorism attacks inside the United States, as officials maintain he was, then perhaps his demise is to be welcomed. But we don't really know, do we? There was no transparent, legal, reviewable process by which he was placed on the list of those targeted for killing by the U.S. government. There was no judicial procedure, nor any public airing of the charges against him. He had no opportunity to respond to specific allegations.
The conversation became heated on our discussion board with readers debating what it means to be an American and whether President Obama should be impeached.
An impeachable offense
The 5th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:
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 offence 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.
This is a clear violation of the Constitution of the United States.
The unauthorized war in Libya and Yemen is a clear violation of the Constitution of the United States.
For a president to knowingly violate the Constitution is a high crime, subject to impeachment.
This paper's editorial staff cannot simply witness the violation, without attesting to the remedy.
This is an impeachable offense. This president, without congressional authority, is a tyrant. This president, without congressional authority, is a dictator.
Obama needs to be impeached.
-- Pasquino Marforio
Free speech for some, but not all?
We don't usually murder people because we don't like what they say. That's what makes us different (usually) from people like Al Qaeda
-- More to the Story
Obama was justified
I respectfully disagree with the premise of your editorial.
Our laws do allow the U.S. to deal with people who offend against the Law of Nations, in this case covered by the U.N. identifying Anwar Awlaki as an Al Qaeda leader.
He repeatedly identified himself as an intolerant, fundamentalist, religious fascist. This level of fanaticism has proven countless times to be the motivating force behind acts of terror or the facilitation of such acts.
Anwar Awlaki's case received the due process of his situation, which is different from the due process of a statutory criminal case (such as a DUI).
Is the Times too soft on terrorism?
It is a shame to see the Los Angeles Times being soft on terrorism. Awlaki was a cold-blooded killer trying to murder as many Americans as he could. He was at war with the United States of America. In a war, you don't worry about reading the enemy their rights. Because he chose to go to war against the United States of America, Awlaki forfeited his rights as an American citizen.
This is a world-wide war being fought on many fronts, not just Iraq and Afghanistan. No matter where they are hiding, terrorists at war with the United States of America should know that they will be killed or captured.
Awlaki was a legitimate military target
The question is whether to treat Awlaki as a street criminal afforded due process rights or a combatant on the battlefield, to be killed without any due process whatsoever? During the Civil War, the U.S. Union forces killed an estimated 300,000 American citizens serving with the secessionist Confederate forces; they were afforded no due process. During World War II, the U.S. government deliberately targeted Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of the successful Pearl Harbor attack, the "Greatest Generation's" equivalent of 9/11, while on an inspection tour of Japanese installations in the Solomon Islands. While Yamamoto was not a U.S. citizen, he was a critical enemy strategist and was appropriately targeted.
The question should not turn on one's citizenship but on whether Awlaki was at war against the United States. All criminals are afforded due process under the 14th Amendment, irrespective of citizenship. If Yamamoto had mugged a senior citizen in MacArthur Park, he would have been assigned a public defender and held for trial in the Los Angeles Superior Court. His citizenship would have been irrelevant!
In both instances, neither was a street criminal, who would have been entitled to due process at trial; each was an enemy combatant at war against the United States, and as such was a legitimate military target!
Spelling errors in the above comments have been corrected.
Yemen after Awlaki
How not to catch a terrorist
Anwar Awlaki's killing: Why it doesn't feel like a victory
-- Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: Anwar Awlaki. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency