U.S. breaks its own laws

Anwar al-Awlaki’s assassination should be a warning to society.

Editorial board

President Barack Obama crossed a very clear line on Sept. 30 when he gave the order to assassinate a U.S. citizen without affording him any type of due process. This gives all U.S. citizens reason to worry.

Anwar al-Awlaki was a radical Muslim cleric whose speeches, blogs and Internet broadcasts were undisputedly provocative and propagandist. He may have been responsible for plans to commit a crime against all American citizens. Yet the world will never know the truth and not because the case is classified, but because he was never indicted for a crime or brought to trial.

The culture of American politics has once again demonstrated that the government not only has the power to ignore constitutional amendments âÄî the first and fifth amendments in this case âÄî but also to cultivate the support of its citizens for doing so.

This is far from a laudable act. The government cannot simply choose to ignore its own laws in cases where it sees fit. But what is even sadder is that few Americans find themselves outraged at the United StatesâÄô governmentâÄôs egregious attack on its own citizens, an attack which threatens the rights of every other American.

Obama has demonstrated, as he did in Libya, his view of executive power is even more expansive than that of Dick Cheney. Regardless of oneâÄôs views on war making, hundreds of years of legal precedent and constitutional protections for each of us have been swept aside overnight.

The dire implications of this killing sadly seem lost in our society. Nobody ought to cheer a man who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his bold dismissal of the rule of law and extrajudicial execution of an American citizen.