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I am concerned that your disregard for civil liberties and due process is putting US citizens in danger.
Yesterday you finally succeeded in the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen. You authorized his assassination without charges or concrete evidence. Although al-Awlaki made incendiary Youtube videos and had contact with people who have carried out terrorist attacks or attempted to, you have yet to prove he had any operational role in those terrorist incidents.
It is my understanding that the First Amendment doesn’t permit speech that incites violence. In no way do I condone al-Awlaki’s messages but I also recognize that the Fifth Amendment says no person shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”.
Considering that al-Awlaki was a US citizen and had no proven operational role in Al-Qaeda, there is no reason he couldn’t have been charged and put on trial.
Your policy of killing him, or anyone else on the list, at first sight is troubling because it doesn’t give the alleged terrorists a chance to turn themselves in. Perhaps these people have valuable intelligence to share that might end this “war” (I use that term loosely). Maybe they have just been misunderstood. In al-Awlaki’s case, we’ll never know because you had him killed before we could get any semblance of the other side of the story.
Also, when you kill a person you just create more enemies amongst his friends and family. Someone will step into al-Awlaki’s alleged role in Al-Qaeda and the violence will continue (Was there any peace after we assassinated Osama bin Laden?) so what did you accomplish besides creating more enemies and justification for more war?
This is also troubling because it bears an eery resemblance to COINTELPRO, which combined a media smear campaign, illegal surveillance and assassination to target dissenting groups within the US such as the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement.
Some infamous COINTELPRO incidents include the murder of Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in his sleep by police and the slaying of California Panthers “Bunchy” Carter and John Huggins by informants within the United Slaves organization.
Public approval played a major role in these killings because the media (with help from FBI informants in its ranks) portrayed the Panthers as terrorists.
I noticed you pulled a similar tactic with al-Awlaki. Last year CNN broadcast a special about him called “The New bin Laden”. Although al-Awlaki’s biggest threat was his use of propaganda, the reports managed to scare the public into believing killing him on sight was a rational and legal response.
If you can get the public to cosign anything you do as long as you say, “terrorist,” then what is stopping you or future Presidents from assassinating anyone that publicly disagrees with your policies?
You’ve already normalized government assassination through the use of drones (There were more drone strikes in your first two years than Bush authorized in eight) as well as continued Bush’s policies of detention without due process and entrapment of US citizens.
What gives us the moral authority to invade other countries and displace their leaders for the same offenses you are authorizing against the global community and now, your own people?
Do you honestly believe these measures will end terrorism or decrease violence?
Perpetual violence is not moving this country forward. Nor is sewing the seeds of distrust amongst its citizens. Murder only begets more murder.
Mr. President, before you continue to ramp up your assassination program, I pray you consider what kind of precedent you’re setting for your predecessors as well as the American people.