The Obama Administration should let the courts and Congress declare what should happen to Americans engaged in terrorism against the U.S.
Using drone strikes to kill alleged terrorists is justifiable in theory.
However, drone strikes are oftentimes used by the Obama Administration illegally against American citizens that joined Islamist, jihadist terror groups.
The correct, legal tactic to use against these alleged traitors is to capture them and later try them for treason.
Let’s consider the case of Anwar al-Aulaqi.
Anwar al-Aulaqi was a dual-citizen of Yemen and the U.S. After returning to U.S. as a young adult from Yemen, he obtained a M.A. in Education Leadership and worked on a doctorate. He lived 21 years of his 40 years of life in this country.
He was a top propagandist for al-Qaeda to the English-speaking world. He preached the Islamist message of hatred of non-Muslims, the West, and America and managed to “radicalize” Muslims from English-speaking countries to join the ranks of al-Qaeda.
Prior to being assassinated on Sept. 30, 2011, al-Aulaqi was promoted to being a “regional commander” in al-Qaeda’s Yemeni division.
On the day of his assassination, two Predator drones flew above al-Aulaqi and three of his associates in Yemen.
The Predators like swiftly moving clouds rained down death upon them by deploying Hellfire missiles on the vehicle they were driving in.
Al-Aulaqi’s assassination was necessary from a counter-terror perspective.
He was high ranking leader in a terrorist group that the U.S. is at war with. He even rallied English-speaking Muslims to engage in terrorism against the U.S. and other western nations.
However, his assassination was illegal and unconstitutional.
Al-Aulaqi’s death was illegal because there are Executive Orders signed by Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan which forbid the US government from ordering the assassinations of people, both U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens.
These Executive Orders have yet been rescinded.
President Obama is the head of government by virtue of what the Constitution says about his Office. As head of government, he has yet to rescind any of the Executive Orders forbidding the U.S. from issuing instructions for the assassination of individuals (especially its own citizens like al-Aulaqi) by using his powers as President.
President Obama’s assassination of al-Aulaqi was done contrary to what the current Executive Orders forbid him from doing.
His assassination was unconstitutional because of the clear wording of Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution.
It says that a citizen like al-Aulaqi is to “be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act (i.e. treason), or on the Confession in open Court.” He did not have any witnesses or any confession against him that indicated he was guilty of treason.
Plus, Congress did not declare the punishment for his treason. “The Congress (not the Executive branch and its head, the President) shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason…”
Instead of being given a trial that convicted him of treason with two witnesses or a confession against him, al-Aulaqi was placed on a hit-list by the president.
Congress did not dictate al-Aulaqi’s punishment for his treason.
The president had the Joint Special Operations Command execute him under the auspices of the CIA.
Al-Aulaqi should have been first tried in absentia for treason. Then, Congress could have declared that death via drone strike or any other means would be his punishment.
The legal choice of action for President Obama would have been to issue an order for his capture. If he were to be killed during his capture because the Special Forces Operatives or CIA agents shot him as he fired on them that would not be a violation of the law.
All of the other Americans that have joined jihadist groups like cannot be killed via drone strikes because of the president’s whim.
Congress must declare that they may be executed that way after they have been found to be guilty of treason in court by trial in absentia.
Until the president starts obeying the law and following the Constitution, he should do what George W. Bush did which was to detain these traitors and not put them on assassination lists.