The most important question that should be asked by Bob Schieffer in tonight’s foreign policy-centered debate is whether the President of the United States has the executive authority to bypass the due process guaranteed by our Constitution and order the assassination of American citizens.
Last year, President Obama ordered the assassination of American born, American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. The President’s people deemed this American citizen a “terrorist.” Eric Holder found that this mean he could be assassinated without due process of law. Although Mr. Holder doesn’t fancy the term “assassinate” viewing it as a “loaded term.” I guess it implies unconstitutional killing.
Al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico and actually lived here in Virginia. Eventually, the American joined Al-Qaeda and became a Muslim extremist bent on spreading terror through violence in western countries. But this was never determined by a court, judge or jury. Nor was he placed before a military tribunal. President Obama’s agencies found him guilty of being a terrorist. What we had was the executive branch playing judge, jury and executioner.
It was a dangerous precedent and the largest violation on civil liberties – maybe in the history of the country. It is one thing to take away some one’s second amendment rights, infringe on their freedom of speech or even suspend habeas corpus. But ordered assassinations without due process is something else entirely.
The president has not been held accountable for this policy or this constitutional violation. Tonight, the moderator stands in the shoes of the American people in asking where the line is. How far is too far and how broadly can a “terrorist” be defined?
Republicans may not like someone interfering with their baby — the war on terror. But if democrats are going to give away the civil liberties issue, republicans should be more than happy to fill the void.
Not only should Obama be asked about this, but Romney should pound him on why it matters and where it stops not only for him, but for future presidents. Obama should be caught between both the left and the right, but someone has got to bring it up. Otherwise, we don’t just have the judicial branch ignoring the Constitution, but the executive branch as well.