GaryBaumgarten

GaryBaumgarten
Location
New York, New York, USA
Title
Director of News and Programming
Company
Paltalk.com
Bio
Award winning journalist Gary Baumgarten hosts the News Talk Online show on Paltalk.com. He asks critical questions, and invites people from all around the world to talk directly to his newsmaker guests using Paltalk's voice over IP technology. Gary came to Paltalk as director of news and programming from CNN where he was the radio bureau chief and correspondent in New York for a decade, where he covered, among other things, the 9/11 attacks in New York and Hurricane Katrina. He was previously reporter and assistant news director at CBS all news radio station WWJ in Detroit. Prior to that he was managing editor at Detroit Radio News Service and a reporter for the Jackson (MI) Citizen-Patriot, the Detroit News and a number of weekly newspapers. Paltalk is the largest multimedia interactive program on the Internet with more than 4 million unique users. News Talk Online is also syndicated by CRN Digital Talk Radio to cable systems serving an additional 12 million households.

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SEPTEMBER 30, 2011 9:36PM

Was the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki legal?

Rate: 6 Flag

Anwar al-Awlaki. Muhammad ud-Deen photo

By GARY BAUMGARTEN
ReporterGary.com

The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American turned al Qaeda spiritual and cheerleader, by the United States in Yemen is being heralded by people on both sides of the aisle.

President Obama called his killing a “major blow” to al Qaeda.

Republican Congressman Pete King of New York who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee echoed the president, praising the assassination as “a great success in our fight against al-Qaeda.”

Perhaps so. But was it legal?

Can the United States target U.S. citizens abroad?

It’s a question that members of the White House press corp wanted an answer to. But Talk Radio News Service White House correspondent Victoria Jones, reporting for News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network, said, although the question was asked in various ways during Friday’s White House press briefing, Obama spokesman Jay Carney refused to answer.

Perhaps the killing was constitutionally supported. But if so, shouldn’t the administration be forthcoming with an explanation?

I raised this issue during tonight’s show. And was met with a barrage of criticism from those in my audience who felt my questioning the issue was, as one put it “politically correct.” Many believed that because Awlaki presented a clear and present danger to the United States, because he’d have never even blinked had the Times Square bomber or the underwear bomber been successful, he deserved to be taken out.

Maybe so. But was his killing extrajudicial? Or supported by law?

Ron Paul, the libertarian congressman from Texas running for the GOP presidential nomination, lamented that Awlaki was killed even though he “was never tried or charged for any crimes.”

The ACLU charged that the killing was a violation of both U.S, and international law.

I don’t know if it was. But I do know that it’s a question that needs to be answered. By Carney. Or better yet. By his boss.

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To be around those waging war against the United States would make one a legitimate target of war. If we had wanted to, is he was in a building with other al Qaeda members, and we leveled the building, what's the difference, really?
Legal?
Don't know.
Necessary?
Don't know.
Understandable?
It is declared presidential policy that Obama has the right to kill anyone, American or otherwise, he deems a terrorist threat to the country. Forget it. Legality is dead and Obama has become Zeus with thunderbolts from the sky.
There is likely a powerful argument under both our laws and our founding philosophy that such "extra-judicial assasinations" are both illegal and repugnant whether Americans, or non-Americans, are the targets because of their presumed crimes against our country.
It's a question worth posing. I'm not sure how it counts as legal. And while in some moral or utilitarian sense it might be justified just this once, what precedent is being established?
This is how the Israelis act against the Palestinians.

Of course, the Israelis aren't bothered by a constitution, an admission that all men are created equal, a requirement for a speedy trial, a right to face one's accusers, nor a proscription against the deprivation of life without due process of law.

The difficulty here is . . . . we are so bothered.
There is this as well . . .

If the man is trying to kill you, then he dies. If he is merely presumed to be plotting against you, then he is tried.

In my view, there's not much that distinguishes Anwar al-Awlaki's death from that of Osama Bin Laden's.
The citizens of the United States knew of this was going to happen over 6 months ago, that we were going take down this person down alive or by death. His parents ask for mercy for his life. This US Citizen still promoted violence against US citizens, and needed to be brought to justice. I think this was the wrong way, yet it may have saved a lot of lives. Will we ever know the Truth. Time will tell.
The citizens of the United States knew of this was going to happen over 6 months ago, that we were going take down this person down alive or by death. His parents ask for mercy for his life. This US Citizen still promoted violence against US citizens, and needed to be brought to justice. I think this was the wrong way, yet it may have saved a lot of lives. Will we ever know the Truth. Time will tell.
The citizens of the United States knew of this was going to happen over 6 months ago, that we were going take down this person down alive or by death. His parents ask for mercy for his life. This US Citizen still promoted violence against US citizens, and needed to be brought to justice. I think this was the wrong way, yet it may have saved a lot of lives. Will we ever know the Truth. Time will tell.
The citizens of the United States knew of this was going to happen over 6 months ago, that we were going take down this person down alive or by death. His parents ask for mercy for his life. This US Citizen still promoted violence against US citizens, and needed to be brought to justice. I think this was the wrong way, yet it may have saved a lot of lives. Will we ever know the Truth. Time will tell.
Is there an echo around here?
The Fifth Amendment prohibits the executive from depriving a person of life without due process of law. This ancient concept of prohibiting arbitrary punishments, of insuring proper judicial procedure, can be traced to the Magna Carta of 1215.

I guess we are now entering a brave new world where even an American citizen can be executed without trial. This guy might have been up to no good, but that does not mean the Constitution can be promptly ignored.

Where do we draw the line in this new era of executive execution? What if this guy were on American soil? What level of involvement in criminal activities warrants an executive assassination?
If he weren't an American citizen, would we be having this debate? I would hope yes, but given that people are killed every day that we don't know about...

Also, Pres. Bush had his own policy in place to commit warrantless arrests, searches, and seizures and make people just disappear. Where did they go? Are they still alive? Being tortured? The difference this time? We know about this guy.
Anwar al-Awlaki, was an intelligent human being, educated in the United States. He knew what was coming. He chose his own fate. He provoked the killing of innocent human persons on American soil. He was an outspoken enemy of the US. It was he, not Obama nor the American government who initiated his own ending. No explanation of legality will change that fact.
My impression after hearing just a small amount of the details, including the coverage that was provided by Rachel last night, is that this should almost certainly raise some very serious questions about hw far this country is going with little or no scrutiny. My best guess is that a closer look might raise even more questions one way or another.

We nee some very major changes on our foreign policies and much more scrutiny; this was clear even before this latest incident.
Simple THANK YOU, Gary. [Sorry for caps but don't know how to italicize :-(] Believe it or not I didn't even know this had happened until today, Sunday, when I opened my Progressive Magazine e-mails. [By both choice and necessity I neither have nor watch tv.] So -- sitting here (as it happens) alone, in a quiet (though horribly cluttered!) room I'm probably more stunned (and therefore reactive) than thoughtful or analytical. Gary, I hope you'll keep this thread open for a while, and fellow OS-ers, I hope you'll keep following it. So many of our shared political posts reflect on the "what can we do?" question as much, perhaps, as the "what do you (or I) think?" bandyings back and forth. In this instance -- on all these important issues -- I hope that keeping this thread alive for a bit longer than the perhaps usual how-many-hits life span of OS posts can help us do our part of both? Analysing the issues _and_ trying to figure out what we can or can't "do" -- to affect or deflect the policies and acts under discussion here.

Sorry to be so longwinded. I've decided it's my Old Age Affliction!! ;-)
No it was not. And see, “Anwar al-Awlaki and Obama’s Queen of Hearts Memo” at http://open.salon.com/blog/f_arouete/2011/10/12/anwar_al-awlaki_and_obamas_queen_of_hearts_memo