Obama Crosses the Rubicon: The Killing of Anwar al-Awlaki

On September 30th predator drones flying out of a secret airbase in Yemen blew up a car carrying Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, American citizens allegedly involved with Al Qaeda.  While Khan was considered “collateral damage,” Awlaki was the main target and a man who, based upon the President’s word, had been placed onto an official kill list. On Forbes.com, Daniel Schwartz and I argue that the administration’s actions were highly troubling, as they represented a heretofore unimagined expansion of executive power. A presidential-ordered assassination of an American citizen, without the involvement of either of the other two branches of government, is a matter of profound consequence, regardless of the heinousness of the target. In a constitutional democracy, we argue, process matters.

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