Awlaqi killing reignites US debate on rights

(AFP)

30 September 2011, 7:12 PM
WASHINGTON — The killing of US-born Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi has renewed the debate over how far Washington can go in hunting down and assassinating alleged terror suspects who are American citizens. Awlaqi, killed in Yemen with several other suspected militants, had been at the center of a court case filed last year challenging the US government’s right to target its own citizens for assassination which highlighted questions about constitutional rights.Many US lawmakers and other Americans cheered the news of Awlaqi’s death, but civil rights backers said the case raises serious questions.

Glenn Greenwald, a lawyer and commentator, said there had been no effort to indict Awlaqi on any crimes and that there was “substantial doubt” about his involvement in any attacks against the US.

“He was simply ordered killed by the president: his judge, jury and executioner,” Greenwald wrote on Salon.com.

“What’s most amazing is that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the US government’s new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process,” he added.

Last year, civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit on behalf of the cleric’s father, Nasser al-Awlaqi, saying it was unconstitutional for the CIA to order the death of an American citizen without due process.

A judge dismissed the case without ruling on the merit of the suit, saying he could not legally block the government from targeting Awlaqi, but said it raises serious constitutional issues.

“Can (the president) order the assassination of a US citizen without first affording him any form of judicial process whatsoever…

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