John Yoo Gives Partial Endorsement for Awlaki Memo
John Yoo, not surprisingly, has some thoughts on the leaked secret memo on Awlaki.(sorry forgot to link his full post earlier).
Let’s give partial credit where it is due. Apparently the Obama administration argues that al-Awlaki was a legitimate target because he is a member of an enemy engaged in hostile conduct against the United States. At least Obama has figured out that the war on terrorism is in fact a war, and that it is not limited just to Afghanistan. We should be thankful that Obama officials have quietly put aside the arguments they made during the Bush years that any terrorist outside the Afghani battlefield was a criminal suspect who deserved his day in federal court. By my lights, I would rather the Obama folks be hypocrites in favor of protecting the national security than principled fools (which they are free to be in the faculty lounges both before and after their time in government).
But the administration’s former worldview of terrorism still infects their decisions, to the country’s detriment. According to the reports, the Obama administration believes that force could only be used against al-Awlaki because arrest was impractical and al-Awlaki posed an imminent threat of harm to the United States. This is plainly wrong. It may make for good policy, especially toward American citizens who make the mistake of joining the enemy, but there is no legal reason why a nation at war must try to apprehend an enemy instead of shooting at him first. Every member of the enemy armed forces and leadership is a legitimate target in wartime, regardless of whether they can be caught or whether they pose an imminent threat. In fact, the Obama administration continues to confuse war with crime — the idea that you must try to arrest first and can only use force against an imminent attack is the standard that applies to the police, not the military.