For most Americans, the death of a terrorist leader bent on killing fellow U.S. citizens is considered a good thing.
On Friday, officials confirmed al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, a 40-year-old U.S. citizen, was killed by a missile fired from a U.S. drone.
But GOP Presidential candidate Ron Paul condemned the killing, calling it an “assassination.”
“He was born here, Al-Awlaki was born here, he is an American citizen,” Paul said.
Al-Awlaki, the man described as the bin Laden of the Internet, has been associated with a number of plots, including the failed Underwear-Christmas Day bomber, and the mail bombs plot last October.
He is also linked to the Time Square bomber and the Ft. Hood shooting attacks.
The New York Times adds that several terrorists were inspired by his teachings, broadcast over the Internet:
Those individuals included Major Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the shootings at Fort Hood in which 13 people were killed; the young men who planned to attack Fort Dix, N.J.; and a 21-year-old British student who told the police she stabbed a member of Parliament after watching 100 hours of Awlaki videos.
“In many ways, Awlaki was, operationally, more important than Bin Laden,” Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told the Times.
“The death of Awlaki is a major blow to Al Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate,” President Obama said.
But his death raises a serious Constitutional question. Can the United States target American citizens for death without due process?
“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,” Paul said.
Paul cited Timothy McVeigh, the man who bombed the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City:
“I think what would people … have said about Timothy McVeigh? We didn’t assassinate him, who certainly he had done it. Went and put through the courts then executed him. To start assassinating American citizens without charges, we should think very seriously about this.”
According to an article at MSNBC, Paul does not feel the same about bin Laden. The Texas Congressman said bin Laden “was involved in 9/11 and I voted for authority to go after those individuals responsible for 9/11.”
But Paul had a different take in May, after bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs:
“I think things could have been done somewhat differently,” Paul said this week. “I would suggest the way they got Khalid [Sheikh] Mohammed. We went and cooperated with Pakistan. They arrested him, actually, and turned him over to us, and he’s been in prison. Why can’t we work with the government?”
At the time, he said it “absolutely was not necessary” to kill the 9/11 terror mastermind if it meant going into another country.
As for Al-Awlaki, Paul said “nobody ever suggested that he was participant in 9/11.”
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