The American government has hunted down and killed an American citizen. This was done without charges filled or trial held. It was a deliberate, intentional targeting and, very arguably, outside the realm of law.
The person killed was Anwar Al-Awalaki, an American citizen who was working for al-Qaeda and hiding in Yemen. He was, no doubt, a very unpleasant person who, because he was born in America and lived here for the first seven years of his life, then came back to go to college, was able to get his evil message out in a language that was easier to understand for American audiences. In this way he was rather like Tokyo Rose.
Al-Awalaki was, as I said, someone who pushed an evil message, and the world is better for that message being stopped. But I cannot escape the fact that in this case the American government hunted down and murdered a US citizen against whom no charges were filed.
According to what I’ve read, he was killed when missiles were fired into a vehicle he was in. I must ask, if we knew where he was and were able to target him, shouldn’t we have been able to drop in some troops to take him into custody? Yes, it might have been a bit risky, and he might have gotten away, but anytime police go in to arrest suspects it’s a bit risky and the suspect might escape. That doesn’t mean that the cops get to shoot said suspect as soon as they are spotted.
I’m not displeased that Al-Awalaki is dead. The world is better without him being in it. But there are ways to do these things, and if we’re going to be a country of laws, and if we’re going to have the moral high ground, we need to find ways other than killing American citizens without charges or trial.