Ron Paul has denounced President Obama today over what he called the “assassination” in Yemen of U.S.-born Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is said to have played a major role in motivating and recruiting prospective Al Qaeda affiliates:
“I don’t think that’s a good way to deal with our problems,” Paul told MSNBC this morning. “Al-Awlaki was born here; he is an American citizen. He was never tried or charged for any crimes. No one knows if he killed anybody. We know he might have been associated with the underwear bomber. But if the American people accept this blindly and casually that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys, I think it’s sad.”
Ron Paul, who holds some kooky positions on economic issues, makes a good point. It’s great that Awlaki can no longer foment hostilities against the United States. What’s disappointing is the disrespect President Obama has shown for the rule of law in achieving this. It would not have been difficult to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to say that a U.S. citizen who serves in a terrorist organization engaged in hostilities against the United States forfeits his citizenship. It would not have been difficult for Obama to make a presidential finding that Awlaki met these requirements and posed a serious threat. But these steps were not taken, making this a pretty clear case of the President depriving a U.S. citizen of life without due process of law — something the Fifth Amendment expressly forbids.