In Brief: The Murder of Anwar al-Awlaki Stinks (Updated):
Sometimes there's cases where the liberal rubber hits reality road and you gotta decide whether your beliefs are beliefs or just conveniences based on circumstances and filled with holes. See, if you believe in due process, if you believe in innocent until proven guilty, if you believe in trials, if you believe in the Constitution, then you have to believe that all of us have those rights. And that includes presumptive terrorists, like Anwar al-Awlaki, whose death by U.S. drone attack is being danced over by the supposed upholders of the very laws his murder violates. This time, no matter what, it doesn't pass the smell test. It doesn't pass the basic "What if Bush did it" test. It's bullshit.
Let's just put this in plain language: An American citizen was killed by the United States because of his speech. And, no, it wasn't Glenn Beck (although by the standards used here, it could have been).
1. Anwar al-Awlaki was an American because he was born in the United States. He was raised in the United States until he was 7. He was college-educated in the United States, including two graduate degrees. He was an imam at a mosque in the United States. And MSNBC is one of the few places willing to call him an "American" and not just "U.S. born." He had dual citizenship in the U.S. and Yemen. He has as much right to be called American as Rick Perry.
2. As far as "justifying" his murder by drone attack, he has never been charged with killing anyone or in plotting to kill anyone or even treason by the United States. His crime was "inspiring" people to criminal actions, or, you know, speaking. He was just a mouthpiece with a good internet connection, and even if you think that's awful and deserves punishment, he was one of us and deserves the same protections as you do (yeah, he does).
4. "Viewed as a spiritual mentor, Awlaki is neither a senior Islamic cleric nor the leader of AQAP, which is headed by Nasser al-Wuhayshi. Eloquent in English and Arabic, Awlaki encouraged attacks on the US and was seen as a leader who could draw in more al-Qaeda recruits from Western countries."
5. Even by that standard, Yemen sentenced him, in abstentia, to ten years in prison for the crime of "inciting" a murder. If someone strangles Michael Moore, would we blow the shit out of Glenn Beck's house?
6. Unless the world is a battlefield, he was not killed in any goddamn war. He was killed by a missile targeting him specifically in a place where no battle was occurring.
7. And if you believe that the president, any president, should have that power over Americans, then you have no right to call the president a "tyrant" on anything else.
8. And if you believe that the president, any president, should have that power over Americans, then you have no right to call yourself "liberal."
(Note: A couple of clarifications added: that al-Awlaki's never been charged with any crimes by the United States and that he did not live here for part of his early life. That does not change the fact that we killed an American without a trial, even for treason.)