and put him in prison for life without ever giving him or you a chance to answer the charges?
We have a Constitution to prevent such an abuse of power, don't we? Your child has the right
to face his accusers, to have counsel, to be accorded due process, and even a jury of his peers...
Can you imagine a situation where you would trust the government to be judge, jury, and
executioner? Imagine a time when the Constitution would be suspended because it suits the
needs of some in Washington? Does the end justify the means?
Under President Obama, our government has carried out more "targeted killings" through
the use of pilotless drones than were carried out during the entire Bush administration. The
drones are used to hunt down and kill suspected terrorists. So what, you say. These are bad
guys and we need to kill them to protect our nation. Besides, these are foreign fighters and we
don't owe them any special protections or rights.
Recently, U.S. authorities declared Anwar al-Awlaki a "global terrorist". Awlaki is said to
be linked to the Fort Hood shooting in which an army major is alleged to have killed thirteen
people and to the Christmas Day underpants bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Awlaki
is accused of being an internet inspiration for terrorists and to be actively working with
terrorists in Yemen associated with al Qaeda. By designating him a "global terrorist", the
United States is free to use a drone to attack and execute Mr. al-Awlaki. Oh, did I fail to
mention that Mr. al-Awlaki is an American citizen?
The United States government believes it has the right to execute Mr. Awlaki without
ever having to prove a single allegation against him. They don't have to get a warrant. They
don't need a grand jury indictment. They don't have to allow Mr. Awlaki counsel to dispute
these charges. Mr. Awlaki does not have any presumption of innocence. Our government says
he is guilty and given the opportunity, they will execute him without having to prove a thing.
Mr. Awlaki's father is trying to get legal help for his son. Unfortunately, U.S. law is such
if anyone helps the father help the son, they can be accused of giving aid to a terrorist and go
to prison themselves. This is starting to have a Catch 22 feel to it.
I have no idea if Anwar al-Awlaki is a terrorist or not. You don't know it either. The
government saying it doesn't make it so. The idea that some soldier in Nevada has the
authority to execute an American citizen using a drone without even having to prove his crime
and never give him his day in court is disturbing. It's frightening because I know any extra-
judicial powers the government asserts will be abused. The Patriot Act gave the government
unprecedented leeway to violate American's rights. We were assured it would be used
sparingly and only against really bad people. We now know that was a lie. The U.S.
government illegally spied on Americans. It mined email and cellphone traffic. It forced
libraries to give up records of what books we were reading (until librarians made a principled
stand and refused to cooperate). The FBI abused the use of "national security letters" and
the government used local police to spy on anti-war groups and groups engaged in political
Now, Mr. Obama and his team insist they have the right to execute an American citizen
without due process, solely based on their assertion he is a "global terrorist". Could they do
the same in this country? If they decided someone else was a really bad guy, could they just
The war on terror, as well as the war on drugs, have turned out to be wars on the
Constitution. The Patriot Act all but eviscerated the Fourth Amendment. Now the government
is in the process of destroying the 14th Amendment as well. When all our protections are gone,
who will protect us from the government? What do you think? I welcome your comments and
rebuttals. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org