How Obama Justified Killing Anwar al-Awlaki

Monday, March 11, 2013

The 2011 killing in Yemen of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki opened up a host of questions about the legal framework surrounding targeted killings. Charlie Savage, New York Times Washington correspondent covering presidential power and national security, discusses his recent reporting on the killing and the ongoing conversation around drone strikes.

Below: Rand Paul Addresses the al-Awlaki Killing in his 13-Hour Filibuster

Comments [27]

Bob from Brooklyn

When is Obama, or any other high placed spokesperson going to answer directly this question.......How is the President not violating the CONSTITUTION, by taking away a persons basic rights, especially when appoving the killing of an american citizen, without any form of due process?....When is the so-called main street media, which includes NPR, going to ask that fundamental question????

Mar. 11 2013 02:46 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

I'll bet all of those who believe that al Alwaki 16 year old son was a so-called terrorist, also believed the Bush administration when they said weapons of mass destruction were in Iraq, at the time of the last U.S. invasion........You know between Bush 41 and 43, those 2 may have caused the deaths of over 1,000,000 Iraqi's.

Mar. 11 2013 01:05 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Okay, so maybe the US should have sent Awlaki a warrant for his arrest, and if he did not respond and turn himself in within a certain specified time, he would be targeted for assassination for resisting arrest?

Mar. 11 2013 11:34 AM

and what if he was having tea with hitler, is it OK then?

Mar. 11 2013 11:33 AM
Lenore from Manhattan

Thank you for bringing up the broadening of the discussion beyond American citizens on or off US soil. ALL persons, according to international human rights law, should be free from being killed without any due process except in a recognizably war or combat situation. See Amnesty International.

It is shocking that the president thinks that he can sit in his office with John Brennan and calmly designate people to be killed by the far more bloody and numerous signature strikes, a "disposition matrix" according to the Washington Post, without any checks or balances on his power.

Even Nixon didn't say, "If the president kills people, that means it's not illegal."

Mar. 11 2013 11:33 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Garrett - you comment is irrelevant. Those pilots follow orders. They don't make the call whether to fire a weapon or not. They simply press the buttons and fly the drone.

Mar. 11 2013 11:32 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Charlie Savage - keep up the great work. Thank you for asking and investigating all these questions.

Mar. 11 2013 11:30 AM
Garrett from morristown

People are talking like and forgetting that these "Drones" are being operated by a human being In some room. They are following the same protocol that a pilot in a plane would be following. These "Drones" are not Drones, the use of the word drone is to imply flying and operating on own accord which is what is not happening.

Mar. 11 2013 11:28 AM

I disagree with the guest -- the weapons platform is relevant, particularity on US soil. Combat and law enforcement are supposed to be risky at times. Elimination of risk via robot bombers will lead to (or already has led to) indiscriminate use of lethal force. Just as elimination of existential risk to Wall Street entities has led to indiscriminate corruption.

Mar. 11 2013 11:27 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Cleo - you sound like my lunatic mother.

Mar. 11 2013 11:25 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Thank you CALLER and TIME WRITER. Killing us citizens w/o due process is ILLEGAL. There is no debate.

Mar. 11 2013 11:23 AM
Tom from PA from PA

Did I hear right? Did Rand Paul say Anwar al-Awlaki had renounced his citizenship?

Mar. 11 2013 11:23 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Do any of these politicians and administration officials have a clue that their policies of endless war and surveillance are destabilizing our country? People have stopped caring because there is no oversight or accountability, and so the loons are running the asylum.

Mar. 11 2013 11:21 AM
Sheldon from Brookkyn

jg..good for you but I don't want to live in your world.

I don't have a problem with potential killing of an "enemy combatant" per say. I just want to make sure that the government uses transparent legal means to get justification to carry through - as a warrant etc.

Mar. 11 2013 11:21 AM
jgarbuz from Queens


He was no killed for "expressing evil views." He was killed for aiding and abetting the enemy making war on the US. He was also hiding behind his family, thereby endangering their lives as well. The tactic of using family as "shields" is nothing new with these jihadists in particular.

And how can you capture him by not endangering the lives of many US soldiers? Sure, if it can be done by police with minimum loss of life, that would be great! But even police don't recklessly endanger their own lives to capture armed criminals who won't peacefully surrender. They take them out!

Mar. 11 2013 11:20 AM
john from office

The son was killed as a message to all future traitors. Good call on the part of the administration. He was a future threat.

And about capturing these a-holes, who wants to go to Yemin First??

Mar. 11 2013 11:19 AM
Tony from Bronx

Drones should be used in the same way piloted aircraft are used. There really is no need for separate rules for drones. The difference is where the "pilot" is located.

Mar. 11 2013 11:19 AM
Tom from Toronto

Charlie, what were the identities of the other dozen men killed in the cafe missile strike? Were they terrorists, or just regular folks at the cafe that day?

Mar. 11 2013 11:18 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Congress is a corrupt institution.

Mar. 11 2013 11:17 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Our government has become a terrorist organization. We have become our enemy when we don't protect rights. They should drone themselves to protect the Constitution from adversaries, foreign and domestic.

Mar. 11 2013 11:15 AM
john from office

Obama has Osama killed, the right and left scream, why was he not arrested.

Obama kills american born criminal enemies, the right and left scream, DUE PROCESS.

Bush begins two wars and kills 100's of thousands and American soldiers die. Silence from the Right.

Mar. 11 2013 11:13 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

This was another illegal killing by agents of our government. The guy was scum, but we need to protect eveyone's rights.

Mar. 11 2013 11:11 AM

One reason the Obama administration is hedging re whether the gov can legally use drones against US citizens on US soil may be the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), signed into law in Dec 2011. Hidden deep within the Act, Sections 1031 and 1032 do away with due process including habeas corpus, the cornerstone of our legal system, for anyone suspected of being an enemy non-combattant, even on US soil. Lifelong detention for US citizens without charge or trial, arrested in the US, is now legal: Assassination is just a short jump away, legally speaking. Rand Paul was right: We should all be very worried.

Mar. 11 2013 11:10 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

So he was killed for expressing evil views. No more 1st Amendment? If he did all these things to plan attacks on the US, then we need to see the evidence at trial. PERIOD.

How about the Westboro Baptist Church? Should we target that group and all those cute kids for assassination?

Mar. 11 2013 11:10 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The "laws of war" were used on American soil during the Civil War. Clearly, a traitor operating with the enemy on foreign soil is not much of a legal problem. But what to do with rebels, spies, foreign agents and saboteurs on US soil? What are the legal rights of rebels, spies, seditionists, and saboteurs who are US citizens operating on US soil?

Mar. 11 2013 11:09 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Liberals have been cowards on this issue.

Mar. 11 2013 11:07 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Another red meat segment. Yummy yummy. Can't wait!

Mar. 11 2013 10:28 AM

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