E-mail Scott
Scott's Links
About the Author
Opinion Archives
Social Media:
Google Plus
Monthly Archives:

January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016
December 2016
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017

Powered by Blogger
Subscribe via RSS

Monday, October 10, 2011

Paul and Kucinich are right: Targeted assassinations are wrong

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:30 AM (#)

When Timothy McVeigh set off a fertilizer bomb in Oklahoma City, he did so as an explicit act against the U.S. government. One could argue that McVeigh's crime was not just mass murder and terrorism, but treason as defined by the U.S. Constitution. Would it have been acceptable, then, for a police officer to simply put a bullet in McVeigh's head when he was arrested, rather than send him to trial for his crimes?

Most people would say that would not be acceptable. (At least, I hope that is the case.) As evil as McVeigh was and as much as he deserved his execution, we knew we had to follow due process and give him a fair trial by a jury of his peers. So why are Republican candidates for President (Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry) lining up to praise President Obama for the targeted assassination of an American citizen?

National Review compares Anwar al-Awlaki's assassination to the case of Herbert Hans Haupt, a U.S. citizen who was tried in a military tribunal and executed for treason during World War II. The major problem with this argument is that Haupt was tried and convicted for his crime, not summarily executed when he was captured.

Al-Awlaki was clearly a traitor, because he gave aid and comfort to our enemies and inspired terrorist strikes against America. He deserved to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, which means he deserved to be executed. However, that execution should have came after al-Awlaki was convicted in a fair trial by a jury of his peers, not in a targeted assassination carried out by a drone strike.

I shed no tears for al-Awlaki's death. The world is a better place without him. But Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are right that this raises serious questions about where we are going with the War on Terror and the precedent it establishes. Is there really a fundamental difference between McVeigh and al-Awlaki, both sworn enemies of the United States? What makes an extrajudicial assassination appropriate in one case but not appropriate in the other?

The reason we have limits on government is not because we sympathize with the guilty. The reason we have limits on government is because as we give government more and more power, it is inevitable that those increased powers will be abused. This is because we live in a fallen world corrupted by sin, and that corruption reaches even into those we trust to protect us. (See Romans 3:10-12.) We have these limits to protect the innocent from abuses by government.

It's easy to see how this power could be abused, and it is troubling that there are so few voices outside of Paul and Kucinich raising objections to killing an American citizen without a trial and certainly without a conviction. Had al-Awlaki been killed on the battlefield or while resisting capture, that would have been appropriate. But simply killing him was wrong and should be condemned.

There should be a bright line between targeting foreign terrorists for death (such as Osama bin Laden) and killing an American citizen. When we're dealing with an American citizen, we should be careful to safeguard constitutional rights and due process to the greatest extent possible. The Constitution's protections for American citizens shouldn't be cast aside simply because it is easier to eliminate them by remote.

See articles about this controversy here, here, here, here, here and here.

Previous post - Extrajudicial assassinations of U.S. citizens: simply wrong.

Below are the rules for commenting on ConservaTibbs.com.

  1. A reasonable level of civility is expected. While it is expected that controversial political and social issues may generate heated debate, there are common-sense limits of civility that will be enforced.

  2. This blog is a family-friendly site. Therefore no cursing, profanity, vulgarity, obscenity, etc. will be allowed. This is a zero-tolerance rule and will result in automatic deletion of the offending post.

  3. Anonymity has greatly coarsened discourse on the Internet, so pseudonyms are discouraged but not forbidden. That said, any direct criticism of a person by name may not be done anonymously. If you criticize someone, you must subject yourself to the same level of scrutiny or the comment will be deleted.

  4. You must put a name or pseudonym on your comments. All comments by "Anonymous" will be deleted.

  5. Please keep your comments relevant to the topic of the post.

Thank you for your cooperation.