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U.S. Government vs. Citizens

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U.S. Government vs. Citizens

PostAuthor: kroz » Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:55 pm

With the assassination today of anwar al awlaki there is much debate about the implications of such actions. One side says, “Yea, we got him!” The other side says, “Hey wait a minute, this was an American citizen targeted by our government for assassination. Where is his Constitutional rights? He was not given Due Process.”

Hmmm . . . this does provoke an interesting new dynamic into Security vs. Constitutional Law. I really see both sides of this paradox. This could indeed set a precedence for expanded governmental powers over the citizens. Is it a slippery slope that we might one day find ourselves threatened by? Where exactly did our government get the “authority” to target an American citizen for death?

I fully realize that this man deserved to die for his terrorism against his own nation. That is not in question. The question is, WHAT is the criteria for justifying assassinating one of our own? Should he first have been tried in absentia for sedition or treason and THEN executing the verdict through assassination? What is the Constitutional answer to this dilemma?

I hear Libertarians say that this is the first time in history that the U.S. Government has ever targeted one of our own citizens for assassination. Well, I am not sure that is exactly accurate. During the Civil War our government certainly targeted some of our own citizens. You might say that Civil War is the exception to the rule. Hmmm. . . . that isn’t exactly right either. Can our government arbitrarily declare war on us for our actions?

Also, I am not sure that the U.S. has “officially” declared ourselves at war with anyone right now. I know we SAY there is a war on terror, but is it officially declared by Congress? Would that make any difference in this situation?

What are your thoughts?
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Re: U.S. Government vs. Citizens

PostAuthor: crazy like a fox » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:07 pm

Well first there is a differnce between law abiding citizen and exiled citizen or exiled traitor engaged in acts of sedition and terrorism on citizens.
Although Awlaki is not personlly tied to the deaths or attempted deaths of American civilians there is plenty of evidence that he has recruited and conspired with both the Fort Hood shooting and the Christmas bomber which in our laws holds conspiracy on the same footing as the actually acter in murder.

In regards to whether we are justified to place a hit on Ossama (not a citizen) but be restrained from doing the same with Awlaki (Exiled citizen and traitor) I believe the government perhaps should have tried him in abstenia before using a drone to kill him. It would have been easy and proper to convict him in abstensia, done before with others and then the "Wanted Dead or Alive" posters would give us moral cover to take him out.

Regarding the war on terror it is simply a rhetorical exercise to compare a declared war on a country with the on-going fight against terrorism. I think America is within her rights to bomb say a group ready to send a nuke heading toward us rather than wait for Congressional approval. Yet it is imperative that we have the necessary oversight after the fact to justify any aggression toward citizens or non-citizens that we target.
It was impossible to think Awlaki would be arrested, and extradited back to the States for a trial but in the aftermath of this targeting the Obama administration should be required to place into the record all the evidence of this traitor's murderous connection to Fort Hood deaths and any other evidence.

Although I understand that everyone gets nervous that the government could easily turn their power against law abiding Americans we equally can't be handcuffed to allow murderous ex-citizens the ability to create more 911 type destruction. Waiting to arrest after they kill civilians when you know they are preparing to kill civilians would be a government not doing the constitutional duty to protect citizens.

We need oversight and the citizen should demand that the House and the Senate make sure that the evidence is strong before allowing the government to target anyone for assination. This was a justified take out of a very powerful AlQuida recruiter.
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Re: U.S. Government vs. Citizens

PostAuthor: kroz » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:35 pm

I understand your reasoning on this issue Claudia. I agree that we must have a way to take out treasonous citizens. IMO, bin Laden didn't fall into the same category as anwar al awlaki. At issue is the Constitutional Rights of citizens. What is the Constitutionally correct procedure for this situation?

My thinking would be to pursue a military tribunal. The military is probably our most respected and apolitical forum for justice. IF they deem a citizen to be a threat to this nation, they have the structure in place to declare someone an enemy combatant and put them on trial in absentia. I would trust them more than our unpredictable Federal Courts. Officers of the Federal Courts are always out to make a name for themselves. They twist and contort the evidence to produce loopholes so that they can be deemed the cleverest in the Bar and therefore achieve more personal success. Justice is never the end game.

It was obvious that we were never going to bring this guy to trial because of his location. We didn't want to put boots on the ground in yet another nation. The only way to eliminate his power and thereby his threat to our Country was to bomb him. Therefore, it seems to me that we had plenty of time and evidence to try in absentia and reach a verdict that could then be carried out by the military. I hate this idea as much as anyone else, but it may have been a worthwhile step which we bypassed. Was it a dangerous precedent? Many would say NO. There was a time that I would have agreed with that because I didn't distrust my own government. I am now much more inclined to err on the side of caution. To me, it very much looks like a slippery slope. This kind of power can be very dangerous for ALL citizens.
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Re: U.S. Government vs. Citizens

PostAuthor: hoodoo » Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:05 pm

The real question for me is; IF you are actively trying to get murder done against "your own country" and "your own countrymen" are you right that they are yours and are you any longer a "citizen" of that country. I think the answer is you have placed yourself far beyond any semblance of American citizenship and are in fact fair game as an enemy in military action against America.

It is a symptom of our illness that obvious enemies seem to have a claim to our most cherished rights. "Non-Judgmentalism " now means "tolerate all bad behaviour and find excuses for it.
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Re: U.S. Government vs. Citizens

PostAuthor: kroz » Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:25 pm

The real question for me is; IF you are actively trying to get murder done against "your own country" and "your own countrymen" are you right that they are yours and are you any longer a "citizen" of that country.


Fred, WHO makes this determination? Should there not be a criteria for such an action and a procedure by which it is validated?

I agree that this fellow needed to be taken out. My problem is with the power behind the process. If there are no boundaries specified for our Commander in Chief, we all could eventually be in jeopardy. That may sound silly by today's standards, but citizens have a history of giving this government too much power with little or no safeguards. I am trying to give critical analysis to an action that our Dads and Granddads would not have considered analyzing. They blindly followed their leaders. Hopefully, we won't repeat those mistakes.
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Re: U.S. Government vs. Citizens

PostAuthor: The Alaskan » Sat Oct 01, 2011 12:25 am

We are fighting Al-Queda. He was a high ranking leader of them. He is a combatant. That makes him a target.

Command and Control is a prime target. He was not assassinated.
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Re: U.S. Government vs. Citizens

PostAuthor: hoodoo » Sat Oct 01, 2011 12:45 am

Kroz, my point is a citizen does not have to formally renounce his citizenship on paper. He can do it by actions such as becoming a leader of the enemy, acting in a combat zone against the forces of America, or demanding deadly action from residents within the borders of America. This man did all of the above. Enemy combatants are just that, combatants on the enemy's side. This constant insistence that every resident of our Country is therefore a citizen and entitled to all the rights of citizenship, even when they are committing treason is repugnant to me.

We must value our own citizenship much higher and guard that title fiercely by refusing to confer it on enemy combatants just based on their former status. We have wept for the other side far too much. Do I distrust this person in the office of the Presidency? Most definitely. Does that mean that this is, somehow, anything but a victory over the enemy? No, certainly not in my estimation.
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Re: U.S. Government vs. Citizens

PostAuthor: Bing » Sat Oct 01, 2011 6:02 am

Perhaps I think too simplistically for this thread but if an American Citizen is trying to break into my house in order to kill me then the last thing I will think about when pulling the trigger is if he is a citizen that deserves a tribunal.
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Re: U.S. Government vs. Citizens

PostAuthor: kroz » Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:28 am

Well, I can see that my concerns of a "slippery slope" are not shared by any here, so I will not belabor the issue further.
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Re: U.S. Government vs. Citizens

PostAuthor: Bing » Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:54 am

Kroz, I understand yer concern but I think there is a distinction in our military targeting between a known terrorist and a Citizen who is not bent on destroying his fellow Americans.
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