2C: the FCNL Staff Blog

Another Assassination, More (In)justice?

By Matt Southworth on 09/30/2011 @ 06:45 PM

Tags: Afghanistan, War Is Not the Answer

Matt Southworth

The assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki is a big deal for two major reasons:

First, it is a big deal because it is yet another example of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan having nothing to do with “getting the bad guys” or whatever the Pentagon/CIA thinks that it is doing. The killing the disputed operational leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), an organizational arm of al Qaeda which is widely accepted as a “branch” as opposed to a “franchise” of the organization with a drone, not 100,000 troops, shows the futility of annually spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Regardless of the merits of that argument, this means the United States—using the Pentagon’s logic—has decimated the last truly veritable arm of al-Qaeda – aka the “Global War on (of) Terror” is over.

Second, and more importantly, al-Awlaki was a U.S. citizen, born in America. A second U.S. citizen, Samir Khan, was also killed. Al-Awlaki was assassinated by an unmanned drone without due process—without trial, without actually being charged with anything, without being sentenced by a jury of his peers, without any justice. As Glenn Greenwald writes, “He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner.” Maybe al-Awlaki and Khan were bad guys, but even bad guys have the lawful right to due process if they’re citizens of this country. I know targeted assassination and even assassination of U.S. citizens is not a new thing. It is still wrong.

This incident, much as a lot of what the U.S. has done in the last 10 years so ironically in the name of preserving freedom and justice, sets a very dangerous precedent. I’m not the alarmist type, but this kind of thing makes me think our republic is lost.

Due process aside (how could it ever be?), the legality of the use of drones themselves has been in question since they came onto the scene. Joe Volk sat down with Mary O’Connell, who testified to Congress about the use of the drones, nearly a year ago to discuss the issue. O’Connell questions the effectiveness of such methods to make us safer, saying “Just as with torture, targeted killing is not the way to greater security. It is generally unlawful, immoral, and ineffective.”

I believe it is time for us to take pause, as I’ve said on many occasions, so we can re-evaluate our foreign policy and ask the question: “what is security?” A safer, more secure world will not come through assassinations and ill-advised military follies in Muslim countries around the world—actions sure to lead to untold blowback. Instead of compromising our morals and integrity, let’s cut the military budget, stop selling billions of dollars of weapons around the world every year and end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These moves would be a good start to a safer world.


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