5.14.2010

Does the Constitution matter anymore?

Between the schizophrenic policy of when and where to read Miranda rights, the possibility of stripping citizenship of terror suspects, and the general let's-make-it-up-as-we-go approach to fighting terrorism and Islamic radicalism, this story in the NY Times makes me shudder.

Now, I have absolutely no sympathy for al-Awlaki. He is a despicable traitor to his country and deserves to be punished severely, but he is an American citizen. He deserves the protections of due process and trial by jury. This is why Treason is defined in the Constitution. Those are the rules by which our society is governed.

I'm a supporter of drone strikes against Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I think they are a legitimate and effective use of military power. But you can't just issue a death warrant for a United States citizen without any legal proceeding.

I want al-Awlaki dead. I want to stop him from recruiting more terrorists and radicals to attack the United States and our allies, but I don't see how green-lighting the assassination of an American citizen is a good thing for anyone.