Attack of the Drones: The Proliferation in the Use of Drones Overseas and at Home Threatens Timeless Principles of Constitutional Liberty, Including Due Process and the Prohibition of Unlawful Searches and Seizures
J. D., Joe Wolverton, II, The New American
As he sat enjoying a roadside picnic L, in Yemen with a few second cousins and their friends--most of whom the young Colorado native had never met before that day--the teenager and all his companions were killed by two Hellfire missiles fired from a Predator drone.
The finger that pressed the button launching the lethal ordnance was American, and so was 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the target of the strike.
A question that has never been answered by President Barack Obama--the man who authorizes such assassinations is what law authorized the murder of 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, son of the American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was also killed by Hellfire missiles fired by a Predator drone. Both men were U.S. citizens, and neither was ever charged with a crime.
Some in the Obama administration, including the president, have argued that such sudden strikes are justified in the face of a credible threat posed by the victim. No such claim has been made in the case of the younger al-Awlaki. He posed no threat to the national security of the United States, but he was killed without opportunity to defend himself before an impartial judge in a court of law.
Denial of Due Process
Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed in October 2011, and to date the Obama administration has never informed the country of any wrongdoing by this teenager, other than being related to a man (his father) who posted on the Internet anti-American videos that allegedly influenced others to commit crimes. A government-sanctioned assassination of such an individual is repugnant to all those who cherish life, liberty, and the due process that protects them.
An additional denial of due process came from the fact that no known attempt was ever made to capture this young man and take him into U.S. custody. Of course, that could be because he might actually have ended up in a court of law if he had been apprehended; and President Obama, a former lawyer, knows that trials can be long, messy, and unpredictable. It is much quicker and cleaner just to launch a missile and kill someone without going through the hassle of due process.
Finally, with regard to civilian casualties, not even the White House claims that Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was a member of al-Qaeda or any associated group believed to pose a threat to the United States. He was quite literally killed for being associated with one who was allegedly associated with those allegedly associated with al-Qaeda.
As Tom Junod wrote in Esquire:
But Abdulrahman al-Awlaki wasn't on an American kill list. Nor was he a member of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Nor was he "an inspiration," as his father styled himself, for those determined to draw American blood; nor had he gone "operational," as American authorities said his father had, in drawing up plots against Americans and American interests. He was a boy who hadn't seen his father in two years, since his father had gone into hiding. He was a boy who knew his father was on an American kill list and who [sneaked] out of his family's home in the early morning hours of September 4, 2011, to try to find him.
Not only was the target of the night-time drone attack a civilian, but so were the boys sitting with him when two U.S. missiles lit up the area and killed them all. Being merely near a person related to someone accused of being associated with a group allegedly affiliated with an alleged al-Qaeda network is apparently sufficient provocation for becoming "collateral damage" in the U.S. "war on terror."
Tragically, the unjustified killing of these boys only added to the ever-increasing tally of victims of the death-by-drone program. As of press time, the death toll of people killed by the United States in the Middle East by drone strikes is rising. During the first two weeks of September, for example, 34 Yemenis were killed by missiles fired from U. …