Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tough Cases

I'm rather uncomfortable with giving the President the power to extrajudicially execute American citizens, but people like American-born Yemeni Islamic radical Anwar Al-Awlaki, who has taken to advocating the murder of American civilians on the internet, make it clear that preventing him from doing so creates strategic difficulties, and also makes it difficult to object persuasively to the practice purely on the basis of constitutional rights.

What we need is a legal mechanism by which people like Al-Awlaki, who have left the U.S. with the clear intent never to return and declared themselves mortal enemies of the country and its people, can be stripped of their citizenship, and their right to trial-by-jury. Trials for treason in absentia, perhaps. This would make them fair game to be blown to pieces without creating a troubling legal precedent as to the war powers of the President.

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