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31-09-11 With Death of Anwar Awlaki Has U.S. Launched New Era of Killing U.S. Citizens Without Charge?

31-09-11 With Death of Anwar Awlaki Has U.S. Launched New Era of Killing U.S. Citizens Without Charge?

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Published by William J Greenberg
The United States has confirmed the killing of the radical Yemeni-American cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, in northern Yemen. The Obama administration says Al-Awlaki is one of the most influential al-Qaeda operatives on its 'most wanted' list. In response to news of al-Awlaki’s death, constitutional scholar Glenn Greenwald and others argue the assassination of U.S. citizens without due process has now has become a reality.
The United States has confirmed the killing of the radical Yemeni-American cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, in northern Yemen. The Obama administration says Al-Awlaki is one of the most influential al-Qaeda operatives on its 'most wanted' list. In response to news of al-Awlaki’s death, constitutional scholar Glenn Greenwald and others argue the assassination of U.S. citizens without due process has now has become a reality.

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Published by: William J Greenberg on Oct 01, 2011
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With Death of Anwar al-Awlaki, Has U.S.Launched New Era of Killing U.S. CitizensWithout Charge?
The United States has confirmed the killing of the radical Yemeni-American cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, in northern Yemen. The Obama administration says Al-Awlaki is one of the mostinfluential al-Qaeda operatives on its 'most wanted' list. In response to news of al-Awlaki’sdeath, constitutional scholar Glenn Greenwald and others argue the assassination of U.S. citizenswithout due process has now has become a reality. "One of the bizarre aspects of it is that mediaand government reports try to sell al-Awlaki as some grand terrorist mastermind … describinghim as the new bin Laden. The United States government needs a terrorist mastermind to replaceOsama bin Laden to justify this type of endless war … For a while, al-Awlaki was going to servethat function," Greenwald says. "If you are somebody that believes the President of the UnitedStates has the power to order your fellow citizens murdered, assassinated, killed without a shredof due process … then you are really declaring yourself to be as pure of an authoritarian as itgets."
JUAN GONZALEZ:
Shortly before we went on the air this morning, senior U.S. administrationofficials confirm the killing of the radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in northernYemen. The United States says Awlaki is one of the most influential Al Qaeda operatives on itsmost wanted list. News of the death was first announced by Yemen’s Defense Ministry in a textmessage sent to journalists the ministry wrote, "The terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki has been killedalong with some of his companions," but did not provide further details. In a separate emailstatement, the Yemeni government reported Awlaki was targeted and killed about 90 miles eastof the capital Sanaa. The statement said the attack was launched at 9:55 a.m. local time. Despitethe Yemeni government’s claims its forces successfully targeted Awlaki in a raid near thecapital, sources on the ground say he was likely killed in a U.S. air-strike. Awlaki was previouslytargeted in U.S. bombing of Yemen earlier this year. Well, for more, we turn to GlennGreenwald, constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for salon.com. He joins usvia
 Democracy Now!
video-stream from Brazil. He first reported in January of last year that theObama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom it had orderedassassinated without any due process. One of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki, despitesubstantial doubt among the Yemen experts about whether he had an operational role in AlQaeda Glenn Greenwald, welcome to
 DEMOCRACY NOW!
GLENN GREENWALD:
Good to be here.
 
JUAN GONZALEZ:
Well Glenn, your reaction, first of all, to this news and what it means interms of any new precedence now set by this administration in the targeting of U.S. citizens?
GLENN GREENWALD:
Let’s begin with the fact Anwar al-Awlaki is a U.S. citizen. He wasordered assassinated by the President of the United States without presenting any evidence of any kind as to his guilt, without attempting to indict him in any way or comply with any of therequirements of the Constitution that say that you can’t deprive someone of life without due process of law. The president ordered him killed wherever he was found, including far awayfrom a battle field, no matter what it was he was doing at the time. And if you’re somebody who believes that the president of the United States has the power to order your fellow citizensmurdered, assassinated, killed without even a shred of due process, without having to havecharged him with a crimes or indict him and prove in a court he’s actually guilty, then you’rereally declaring yourself to be as pure of an authoritarian as it gets. Remember that there wasgreat controversy that George Bush asserted the power simply to detain American citizenswithout due process or simply to eavesdrop on their conversations without warrants. Here youhave something much more severe. Not eavesdropping on American citizens, not detaining themwithout due process, but killing them without due process, and yet many Democrats and progressives, because it’s President Obama doing it, have no problem with it and are even infavor of it. To say that the President has the right to kill citizens without due process is really totake the constitution and to tear it up into as many little pieces as you can and then burn it andstep on it.
JUAN GONZALEZ:
Well, for those in the audience not familiar with him, give us the sketch owho Al-Awlaki is and what the alleged terrorist plots that he was involved with are.
GLENN GREENWALD:
Well, he, as I said, was born in the United States and went to collegein the United States and, for a long time, was considered by the U.S. government and the mediato be a moderate Muslim cleric. In fact the Pentagon invited him to a lunch in the wake of 9/11in order to talk to him and other Muslim leaders about how to root out extremism in the Muslimcommunity. The
Washington Post 
had him host his own chat about the meaning of variousMuslim holidays and the like. So, for a long time he was viewed as this, sort of, moderate figure.He became increasingly radicalized, like a lot of people have, over the last decade, as the UnitedStates has continued to slaughter Muslim men, women and children in multiple countries aroundthe world, and he definitely became much more hostile in his sermons to the United States, and began arguing that it wasn’t just the duty but the right of Muslims to not just be passive receiversof violence by the U.S., but also to begin to attack the United States back as a means of deterringfurther violence. And so, he definitely became a great concern to the U.S. because he was soeffective in communicating these ideas in English to large parts of the English speaking Muslimworld. And, of course, expressing those ideas that the United States is engaged in aggressionagainst the Muslim world and that Muslims have the right or even the duty to fight back rather than getting passively slaughtered, whether you agree with those ideas are not, or think they’rehorrible ideas, they’re obviously rights you have to express under the First Amendment of theConstitution. The government began claiming that it wasn’t just his messages and his ideas thatwere bothering them and making them want to kill him, but the fact he started to have anoperational role in various plots, such as the attempt by Abdulmutallab to detonate a bomb in a jet over Detroit over Christmas. They claim that he was involved in the attack by Nidal Hasan on
 
the Fort Hood base that killed 14 American service members. The problem with that is that,there’s been no evidence presented that he’s actually been involved in any of those plots. He isnot been indicted or charged. If he has been involved in those plots, then the solution is to chargehim with those crimes, bring him before a court of justice, and prove his guilt; not simply toorder him killed as though the President is judge, jury, and executioner.
JUAN GONZALEZ:
Now, his father had attempted, or started a court proceeding to try toenjoin the Obama administration from carrying out any attack on his son. Could you talk aboutthat and where that is?
GLENN GREENWALD:
Sure, well, Awlaki, himself, was incapable of suing to vindicate hisrights because, had he popped his head up at any time, as we proved today, he would have beenkilled by the Unites States government, which sought on several occasions before today to killhim. So, his father brought suit on his behalf, represented by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, asking a court to enjoin the President from murdering his son without due process, and in response the Obama administration made numerous claims, mostly arguingcourts have no right to interfere in the decisions the president makes about who is an enemycombatant using standard Bush-Cheney theories about how this is a military operation that thecourt shouldn’t be involved in it. They argued that whom the president decides to assassinate is astate secret. And that courts have no business meddling in or judging or adjudicating the president’s choices in that regard. A federal court, several months ago, accepted the argumentthat this was really a political and military number, and not a legal or constitutional or judicialquestion for courts to resolve. Although, the judge said there are very difficult questions raised because of what an extraordinary step this is for the president to order American citizens killed.He said it’s really up to the Congress to stop it or for the president to make decisions on his own.That, I believe that is being appealed; the appeal is pending, but, obviously, it’s now it is too late.There’s no point in trying to obtain an injunction now that Awlaki has been killed by PresidentObama.
JUAN GONZALEZ:
And the Bizarre irony of the government in Yemen which is clearlyillegitimate by any international standards, facing a huge popular rebellion among its own people, being involved, to some degree or other, with the United States in this killing?
GLENN GREENWALD:
Well, President Saleh, who, of course, has been slaughtering his owncitizens by the dozens over the last several months, and is still, you know—-has been a longtimeally of the United States. The State Department has issued some very meek statements,suggesting that there should be a democratic transition. But, we’ve continued to work withPresident Saleh, the U.S. government has, to try and kill those people that we want dead inYemen, including Awlaki, and this is widely viewed as an attempt by President Saleh to, sort of,offer an olive branch to the United States; we will help to kill the American citizen within our  borders whom you want dead in exchange for your continuing to support our regime. Of course,the United States has been trying to claim to the Arab world that it is on the right side of theArab Spring, and yet just yesterday, of course, in Bahrain, numerous medical professionals,doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, were imprisoned for the crime of treating protesters whowere shot by government forces just two weeks after the U.S. government announced that it plans to ship to Bahrain huge amounts of new weapons. Here, our long time ally, President

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