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Friday, September 30, 2011

Do We Value Our Constitution?

Do we really?

Said a famous American* before there was an America:

"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself."

Today another brick fell from the once-impregnable wall of liberty.

The executive branch of the United States government targeted this day an American citizen for assassination without any authority to do so. No judge. No jury. Only an executioner.

This is not what Americans who value our way of life do to other Americans:

Anwar al-Aulaqi, U.S.-born cleric linked to al-Qaeda, killed in Yemen

Yeah, from all accounts this guy was an asshole. And a terrorist.  And he may have even deserved to be executed.

If the accounts are to be believed.

But what do we really know about him?

This: He - like every one of us - was an American citizen.

And this: He was targeted for assassination by our government. Without due process. Without a trial. Without a hearing. Hell, without any of us really knowing who he was or what his alleged crimes really were.

Every politician in Washington is orgasmic over the targeted killing of this New Mexico-born, Colorado State University graduate. As is every candidate for president - from Obama to Perry to Romney. Excepting Ron Paul.

 And, I'd bet, most of the country is supportive of this action as well.

A bad guy was taken out by the United States government. Break out the bubbly.

Speaking of bad guys, so you know, Richard Nixon had a really long list of bad guys.

As does, it is rumored, Obama himself.

I wonder which of us - and how many of us - have made it on that list so far.

We now know one name for sure.

Me? Nowhere in that document that spells out the specific authorities granted the United States government by We the People did we outline an authority to pass summary judgment on American citizens and carry out assassinations on them. Nowhere in that document that our government mocked today does it allow for a hierarchy of badness to be declared that gives it free rein under circumstances it deems acceptable, and suspends the Constitution because of that determination.

Today it was Anwar al-Awlaki.

Tomorrow ...

- - -

I'm reminded of the biography of one Martin Niemöller. In the early years of Hitler's Third Reich, it can be said that Pastor Niemöller was, like most Germans at the time, supportive of the dark turn that the German government made with regard to the treatment of the Jews. They, after all, deserved punishment.  Every German - the real ones - knew that.

He admitted later that he kept silent when they were systematically rounded up and hauled off to concentration camps beginning in the 30's.

It was only when the Gestapo came for his kind too that he turned against the Nazi Party. Only when it was too late.

Niemöller, after the war, made his way to a postage stamp, he was so revered for his stance against the Nazis.  When it was too late to make a difference.  Reverence can be curiously applied sometimes.

So everyone is accepting of the fact that the government of the United States of America came for Anwar al-Awlaki today.


Don't give this government the right to kill American citizens without due process or we're all in jeopardy.

Wrote Niemöller long after the damage was done and millions of his fellow countrymen were murdered in the Holocaust:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.
* Thomas Paine