Can the president execute U.S. citizens?

By Christopher B. Daly 

A hat-tip to Charlie Savage of the Times for sticking with the story of one of the major constitutional, diplomatic, and military issues of our times:

Does the president of the United States have the constitutional authority to order the killings of U.S. citizens without so much as a trial?

That is the issue at heart of a lawsuit going forward in U.S. District Court in Washington. The suit was filed by survivors of Anwar al-Awlaki, the notorious America-hater who did so much to help al Qaeda before he was taken out last September in a drone attack in Yemen.

Things to keep in mind:

–al-Awlaki (although a rotten bastard for sure) was a U.S. citizen, born in New Mexico.

–al-Alawki was not bearing arms against the U.S. at the time.

–the president ordered his execution.

–al-Awlaki was never tried, convicted or sentenced in a U.S. court.

He was treated like a foreign enemy wearing a military uniform, only he wasn’t. This is the most troubling issue in the developing, high-tech, long-distance war on terror.



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