The NYT Belatedly Notices Targeted Killing Debate
The NYT’s Scott Shane notes that “The Obama administration’s decision to authorize the killing by the Central Intelligence Agency of a terrorism suspect who is an American citizen has set off a debate over the legal and political limits of drone missile strikes….” Uh, duh.. There was even a whole congressional subcommittee hearing about it, and lots of blogging! (see related posts below) Still, the article does provide a more detail on the Obama Administration’s attitude toward U.S. citizens it has targeted for killings:
Administration officials take the view that no legal or constitutional rights can protect Mr. Awlaki, a charismatic preacher who has said it is a religious duty to attack the United States and who the C.I.A. believes is actively plotting violence. The attempted bombing of Times Square on May 1 is the latest of more than a dozen terrorist plots in the West that investigators believe were inspired in part by Mr. Awlaki’s rhetoric.
“American citizenship doesn’t give you carte blanche to wage war against your own country,” said a counterterrorism official who discussed the classified program on condition of anonymity. “If you cast your lot with its enemies, you may well share their fate.”
This is tough talk that wouldn’t have been out of place in the much-maligned Bush administration. But as we’ve noted, the domestic and international law relevant here is immensely complicated and hardly clear cut. I agree that U.S. citizenship doesn’t give you carte blanche to wage war. But, as one critic quoted in the article points out, it does protect you from being wiretapped without a warrant or interrogated without your Miranda rights. So isn’t it weird that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t give you due process before you die in a drone attack, away from any conventional battlefield that is launched by an non-privileged combatant?