McCarthy on Awlaki

Here is Andrew McCarthy, National Review Online’s sole adult, replying yesterday to one of his NRO non-adult colleagues on the killing of Awlaki. I’m heartened to see that McCarthy’s main arguments are identical to those that I, without his legal expertise, have also used. He writes:

Kevin [Williamson] would have a stronger case if Awlaki had been killed in the U.S. But he was in Yemen—as an avowed member of al-Qaeda, a foreign enemy our nation is at war with under Congress’s authorization of military force. There already is precedent for conducting military operations against Americans under those circumstances, most recently the Supremes’ 2004 Hamdi ruling.

The precedent that would be radical is the one Kevin seems to be arguing for, namely, that American citizens carry the protections of the Constitution wherever in the world they go, and however hostile their stance toward the U.S., even in wartime. How far do we take that precedent? Would we have needed an arrest warrant to capture Awlaki? A search warrant to raid his hideout in Yemen? Would he need to be brought to the nearest available magistrate, assigned counsel, and advised of the charges against him? Does he get Miranda warnings? Does it matter the the writ of American courts and the authority of American law-enforcement agents do not apply in Yemen? Does it matter that Congress has authorized military operations and, therefore, that the laws of war apply?

I think you can see Awlaki as an enemy combatant or as a criminal defendant, but you have to follow through with the logic and consequences of either choice. In my mind, he’s an enemy combatant. I’d have defended the use of force against him if it had happened in New York—though I’d have to be prepared to answer the same sort of tough questions I think Kevin has to answer regarding Yemen. But I don’t think the killing of Awlaki in Yemen is a tough call. He was one of the enemy’s most effective operatives, and I salute our guys for getting him before he got more of us.

“[Y]ou can see Awlaki as an enemy combatant or as a criminal defendant, but you have to follow through with the logic and consequences of either choice.” Exactly. As I said in a previous entry, if you believe that Awlaki should have been treated as a criminal defendant, not as an enemy combattant, then you must believe that al Qaeda in general must be treated as criminals, not as enemy combattants. You can’t support military operations against al Qaeda in general, and then suddenly say that one of al Qaeda’s most dangerous operatives must not be treated as an enemy combattant, simply because he happens to have U.S. citizenship.

As can be seen from the readers’ comments following McCarthy’s post, the libertarians are out in force on this story, demonstrating, as usual, their uselessness to the human race.

For example, a commenter named DJT writes:

So, now McCarthy and Obama can murder at will any American citizen who may be living or visiting abroad?

To which another commenter, Waynester, aptly replies:

Why don’t you go to Yemen or the Sudan, become an Al Qaeda leader, direct operations against the U.S., and find out?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 01, 2011 08:15 AM | Send

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